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His Holiness The Dalai Lama
By Kathy Vichta
I have the best job in the world – especially for an old hippie! I get to buy some of the most exquisite objects imaginable, from some of the world’s best craftsmen, sometimes travelling to exotic places to find them because they must be as beautiful as possible. Working with some of the wisest and most precious people in this world, I organize to have these objects offered in a moving and wonderful ceremony. In doing this I am able to work with groups of Dharma students around the world, coming together with a common purpose, following the wishes of our teacher, and working for the benefit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. What more could a girl want?
Since 1996, when I fell into the role of organizing the Long Life Puja with which we followed the Kalachakra Initiation that His Holiness gave in Sydney, Australia, it has been my great delight to have the responsibility of organizing the FPMT’s annual offering of this lovely event. At that time I had no idea what was involved but jumped in feet first and, with valuable help from old friends Ven. Thubten Donyo, Ven. Thubten Gelek and [Education Department’s] Merry Colony, everything fell into place remarkably well.
… The Long Life Puja involves many prayers and offerings requesting the lama not to leave us for the pure realms, but to stay in this realm to teach and inspire us. Ritual offerings steeped in profound symbolic meaning are presented to the lama in a gorgeous and very moving procession to the chanting of prayers and mantras. It has taken years for me to understand even the most superficial level of this symbolism, and deeper I go, the more levels there seem to be. …
DHARMA IN THE MODERN WORLD
By Phillipa Rutherford
On June 8, His Holiness the Dalai Lama returned in Christchurch, New Zealand, the earthquake-struck city he visited just after the February 2011 quake. At that time, His Holiness brought hope, courage and loving kindness, as well as words of wisdom about how to build in the future to a very emotional audience.
This year, His Holiness gave two two-hour teachings in Christchurch, with public talks also in both Dunedin and Auckland. In Dunedin, His Holiness visited the Dhargyey Buddhist Centre founded by the late Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey in 1985 and shared a very intimate time with sincere Dharma practitioners.
The main theme of His Holiness’ teachings was secular ethics and the need for inner values such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness. His Holiness spoke of these inner qualities everywhere he went. He was a special guest invited by the students at both the University of Canterbury and Otago University, where he answered the prepared questions from students in a relaxed conversational manner. His Holiness reminded the young people they were the future generation, encouraging them to develop compassionate responsibility for the well-being of the whole world, including the environment.
Due to the small number of people and it being a safe place, we are so fortunate in New Zealand that His Holiness’ visits are always very intimate with everyone receiving a personal blessing and greeting. The highlight was visiting the Dhargyey Centre in Dunedin, where His Holiness gave pith instructions on preserving the Tibetan culture, especially Tibetan medicine, which he sees as one of the most valuable forms of medicine available. His Holiness also gave specific advice to the geshes on what to teach at their Dharma centers.
His Holiness is like a ray of light wherever he goes, and it is amazing to watch the people and their reactions to this living bodhisattva.
Phillipa Rutherford serves as co-director of Chandrakirti Meditation Centre in Richmond, New Zealand.
DHARMA AND THE MODERN WORLD
By Cynthia Karena
His Holiness the Dalai Lama had arrived. Standing near the stage, organizing committee member Karen Mayer overheard the conversation on the security person’s headpiece.
“A whisper started, ‘he’s arrived.’ I can remember feeling this burst of emotion traveling through my body, and I looked at the woman next to me who was crying. There was such an energy coming from everyone around me,” Karen said.
His Holiness was invited by Geshe Sonam Thargye from the Drol Kar Buddhist Centre in Geelong, an hour’s drive from Melbourne, to teach on the Heart Sutra and the Eight Verses of Mind Training.
Ven. Phuoc Tan kindly offered his temple, the Quang Minh Temple in Braybrook, Melbourne.
Karen often drove for over an hour from her house near Geelong to get to Melbourne and beyond to attend seemingly endless meetings in preparation for His Holiness’ only Melbourne teaching for 2013.
“I am not a diligent Dharma practitioner as far as meditation and study, so another way to practice the teachings is to work and offer your time.”
Karen was part of a small group that had to be at the venue well before sunrise in order to be ready to welcome and register volunteers.
“The breaking of dawn across the silhouette of the large white Buddha statue in the garden was a memorable moment, as was sitting on top of the shrine room steps looking down at all the excited Tibetan audience thinking how special this must be for them to meet His Holiness.”
The Vietnamese volunteers at the temple worked tirelessly and with a minimum of fuss.
“The generosity of the Vietnamese community was a humbling experience. They worked very hard, fed us all delicious meals with smiles, and seemed to work around the clock to make the day successful. They opened their hearts and offered their space with warmth. It is an inspiring community.
“[I remember] the exhale at the end of the day, smiling faces, people happy and joyous, knowing everyone enjoyed the day and it was worth the effort,” Karen said.
“At the end of the day you can dedicate and rejoice that you benefited a few thousand sentient beings by being part of an event that that gave them contact with His Holiness’ wisdom and compassion. I don’t think I could say that about many of my other activities!”
What struck stage manager Elyjah McLeod is the Dalai Lama’s exceptional ability to draw together such a mix of people. “I love seeing the love in the eyes of the people when they see him. My mother was in attendance for the first time and also a young man that I have known since he was a dot on the ultrasound machine,” Elyjan said.
“It’s all like a dream state now and I’m waking up out of it. I feel fortunate and lucky to have been able to help in the smallest way that I did.”
The most memorable moment for Sangha care volunteer Carol Amos was when the Dalai Lama first stepped out of the car and looked over everyone standing there. “He connected with each and every one of us. He brought us all into his world, which I found incredible.”
Carol, despite no Vietnamese language skills, was laughing and working with the Vietnamese volunteers who tirelessly prepared food for Sangha and volunteers. “Seeing the dining room abuzz with Sangha of all different nationalities was memorable,” Carol said.
“But the biggest highlight for me is seeing how people are transformed after being in teachings with His Holiness. It’s incredible – the sense of community is very much alive and I feel extremely blessed to be able to be a part of this.”
Volunteering is an opportunity to apply the teachings, said volunteer and chair whisperer Brian McTaggart, who moved chairs and managed to transform the seating plan into reality.
“What I get out of volunteering is knowing I’m being the change I wish to see of the world. Every day I pledge to be of benefit to all beings,” Brian said.
“One day in service to His Holiness is a life well spent. It’s also great to work with like-minded others to bring about a great event. Making new friends and connecting with some I only see at such events. What a community. I wish there was an opportunity to do this sort of work more often.”
Cynthia Karena lives in Melbourne and contributes regularly to Mandala.
DHARMA AND THE MODERN WORLD
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s [four-city] tour of Australia went very well and very smoothly,” reported Tony Steel, director of Vajrayana Institute, the FPMT center in Ashfield, New South Wales, which organized the “Young Minds” and “Happiness & Its Causes” conferences with His Holiness in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively. “His Holiness seemed pleased with the tour and appeared to be well and energetic. At the end of the tour, we requested His Holiness to return. He agreed to come back to Australia in June 2015 to give Gyalwa Gyatso initiation and commentary on the five stages of Guhyasamaja.”
His Holiness the Dalai Lama completed his ninth visit to Australia June 13-23, 2013. The tour’s theme was “Beyond Religion, the 14th Dalai Lama on the Benefits of Living Ethically.”
During the 10-day visit, His Holiness traveled to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and, for the first time, Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory. He was warmly welcomed everywhere and particularly in Darwin, where the Sunday Territorian’s front page read “Dalai Charmer: His Holiness Wins Over Top End Crowds.” It continued, “The Buddhist spiritual leader had a strong message for Territorians: ‘We need to truly consider the oneness of humanity.’”
He spoke about the importance of indigenous and non-indigenous Territorians “living together” to create a happier and more harmonious culture. “Harmony is very possible – this is something that is not impossible,” he told the Darwin media.
During June 14-16, His Holiness gave a two-and-a-half-day teaching in Sydney on Jewel Lamp: A Praise of Bodhichitta, a relatively recent text by Khunu Lama [published by Wisdom Publications under the title Vast as the Heavens, Deep as the Sea].
His Holiness gave a sold-out public talk in each of the major cities he visited. The public events throughout the visit carried the message from His Holiness’ recent book, Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World. Auxiliary events with Buddhist communities, the Tibetan community and other partner groups were included in the schedule. His Holiness attended and spoke at the “Young Minds Conference” [attended by 1,700] in Sydney and “Happiness and its Causes Conference” [attended by 1,800] in Melbourne.
In this most recent tour, more than 50,000 people heard His Holiness speak during his 10 days in Australia in the course of 20 events. Of these, 25,000 people heard him speak about compassion, kindness and secular ethics. Almost 10,000 attended Buddhist teachings in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin. He met with 2,500 Tibetans, Mongolians, Vietnamese and Chinese people in different parts of the country and online streaming reached a further 100,000.
Dalai Lama in Australia (DLIA), which has managed His Holiness’ last six tours to Australia, is a not-for-profit company formed in 2001 by George Farley and Alan Molloy, both students of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. DLIA’s role is to assist the Tibet Information Office in Canberra to coordinate His Holiness’ tours to Australia. DLIA works out of a small office in Paddington and brings together staff prior to the visit. Lynn Bain, general manager, and the board of DLIA oversee the operations and keep the organization alive between visits.
His Holiness has now visited Australia nine times. Each tour has been of a very different flavor, context and purpose, but all have affected the Australian society in a deep and moving way. In addition the extraordinary success, each tour has helped His Holiness further his own goals of promoting human values, inter-religious harmony and bringing the Tibet issue to public prominence.
Sally Dudgeon is an active member of the international FPMT community.
You can see photo galleries from the tour on DLIA’s website.
During His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Portland, Oregon, in May 2013, His Holiness spoke on the situation in China at a press conference. His Holiness told the media that while things have been very difficult for Tibetans, he is hopeful for the future.
His Holiness cites as an example how many mainland Chinese are now coming to see him in Dharamsala, India and that they are showing genuine interest in Tibetan Buddhism. In addition, His Holiness said there is growing recognition that censorship in China is ultimately self-destructive.
“1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality. Once they know reality, 1.3 billion Chinese people also have the ability to judge what’s right and what’s wrong,” His Holiness said. “So, censorship is morally wrong and very harmful. … Trust is the basis of harmony and unity. Censorship destroys that trust.”
His Holiness also called for improvement of the Chinese legal system, saying it must come up to the level of international legal standards.
You can listen to His Holiness’ complete response to the question of Tibet and China:
“It’s very sad,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama told ABC News in April 2013, responding to questions about the reported role of Buddhist monks in violent and deadly attacks against Muslims in Myanmar (also known as Burma). “All the major religions teach us the practice of love, compassion and forgiveness. So a genuine practitioner among these different religious traditions would not indulge in such violence and bullying of other people.”
An April 2013 report by Human Rights Watch describes “the role of the Burmese government and local authorities in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Burmese officials, community leaders, and Buddhist monks organized and encouraged ethnic Arakanese backed by state security forces to conduct coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population. The tens of thousands of displaced have been denied access to humanitarian aid and been unable to return home.”
ABC News asked what His Holiness would say to the Burmese Buddhist monks, if he had an opportunity to address them directly. “We are religious people,” His Holiness replied. “Buddha always teaches us about forgiveness, tolerance, compassion. If from one corner of your mind, some emotion makes you want to hit, or want to kill, then please remember Buddha’s faith. We are followers of Buddha.”
In May 2013, Reuters reported His Holiness called acts of violence perpetrated by Buddhist monks against Muslims in Myanmar “unthinkable.” “I think it is very sad,” he said, during a public talk at the University of Maryland, “I pray for them (the monks) to think of the face of Buddha.”
Archana Bharatee, a student of FPMT’s Choe Khor Sum Ling Study Group in Bangalore, India, reported to Mandala that several Choe Khor Sum Ling members attended teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala June 1-4, 2013.
“It was a special teaching for Indian students on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara. Every morning the teachings began with the recitation of Prajñaparamita Sutra and praises to the Seventeen Nalanda Masters. This teaching was focused on the first three chapters of the text.”
During the teachings, His Holiness emphasized the need for all people to practice love and compassion, gave an overview of the four noble truths, and discussed bodhichitta drawing from Shantideva’s writings. On the final day of teaching, His Holiness offered a Chenrezig initiation.
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During His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s tour of New Zealand, June 9-12, the resident geshes of the FPMT centers in New Zealand had their picture taken during a moment with His Holiness. Geshe Wangdu from Dorje Chang Institute and Geshe Jampa Tharchin from Chandrakirti Centre as well as Phillipa Rutherford, co-director of Chandrakirti Centre, posed for the photo.
About the visit, Phillipa Rutherford shared with Mandala:
His Holiness visited Christchurch, Dunedin and Auckland in New Zealand. The main theme of His Holiness teachings was secular ethics – bringing good conduct back into mainstream society – and how we can do this. His Holiness also visited two universities and spoke to hundreds of students.
This photo was taken at 5 a.m. at the hotel in Auckland. As His Holiness was leaving, he gave a short talk to the Tibetans, concluding with telling them to enjoy themselves while in the West.
From New Zealand, His Holiness toured Australia, June 14-23, visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Darwin. While in Sydney, His Holiness participated in the Young Minds conference, organized by Vajrayana Institute, the FPMT center in Sydney. In Melbourne, His Holiness spoke at Happiness & Its Causes, another project of Vajrayana Institute.
For reports on His Holiness’ activities in New Zealand and Australia, visit dalailama.com.
- Tagged: chandrakirti centre, dorje chang institute, geshe jampa tharchin, geshe kelsang wangdu, his holiness the dalai lama, mandala, new zealand, phillipa rutherford
DHARMA AND THE MODERN WORLD
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama toured India, Europe and the United States March-May 2013, he attended events coordinated by several FPMT centers: Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in Delhi, India; Gendun Drupa Centre in Muraz/Sierre, Switzerland; and Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon, U.S.
While His Holiness was in Portland, he also visited FPMT International Office. “This is the first time that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has visited FPMT International Office. The visit was an incredible blessing for the Office and the entire organization and all of its activities,” said Ven. Roger Kunsang, CEO of FPMT and assistant to Lama Zopa Rinpoche. “The visit was organized very well by Maitripa and will bring enormous benefit in the future. Thank you to Yangsi Rinpoche [Maitripa College president and founder] and the students of Maitripa for such excellent service, truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has mentioned recently, the merit created in offering service in this way to His Holiness is way beyond the ordinary imagination! We pray that as an organization the FPMT can continue to offer service to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the embodiment of the Buddha of Compassion.” (more…)
DHARMA AND THE MODERN WORLD
In April 2013, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Switzerland. His Holiness was in Fribourg April 13-16 at the invitation of Gendun Drupa Centre, the FPMT center in Muraz/Sierre, Switzerland; Rigdzin Community; and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Tibetan Culture. During the weekend in Fribourg, His Holiness taught on The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment by Atisha Dipamkara, conferred a White Tara initiation and gave a public talk on “Ethics Beyond Religions.” On April 15, His Holiness met with scientists from Université de Lausanne. The next day, His Holiness went to Bern to dialogue with university students in a session called “Towards a Sustainable Future.”
Séverine Gondouin, spiritual program coordinator for Gendun Drupa Centre, summarizes His Holiness’ main points from the April 15 discussion in Lausanne on “Living and Dying in Peace, Cross-views on the Elderly”:
The event began with a thought exercise proposed to the panelists and audience: A child comes to his grandpa and asks, “Grandpa is it nice to grow old?” What would you answer? Other questions followed: How can we grow old well? Is there spiritual health and spiritual illnesses?
His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke about preparing for old age and the importance of education for developing secular ethics or, more simply, a good heart. From His Holiness’ point of view, ethics prevents our disturbing emotions – anger, jealousy, craving, etc. – from arising. His Holiness also suggested that in addition to caring for our physical health, we also need hygiene for our emotions. His Holiness stressed that when we have compassion and warmheartedness, we cannot be lonely. It is our responsibility to train our mind to be peaceful and to keep it clear and sharp. And this has to be learned from an early age. Time is an important factor because developing inner qualities is a long process.
If our mind is trained, His Holiness continued, physical suffering that comes with old age won’t disturb us much. He suggested that we should have the determination and motivation to develop love and compassion. We need to be equipped with internal skills, to develop internal resources. Otherwise, if we are used to looking for pleasure in the sensorial world, when we grow old and lose our ability to perceive sights, sounds and smells, it becomes difficult.
His Holiness remarked that we may think “I’m not lucky,” but reminded us that all have difficulties. He encouraged us to look at others’ problems and feel that we’re the same human being and that our potential is the same. Concerning people who are loosing cognitive abilities, like dementia, His Holiness stressed the importance of surrounding them with affection, because affection goes beyond words.
In the afternoon, His Holiness answered questions about death. Seventy percent of the Swiss population dies in a hospital. Sociologists were concerned about this fact, as many people don’t like this idea. But His Holiness surprised everyone, re-framing this fact into an idea of being so lucky to have access to medical attention; many people in India would love to die in a hospital because that would mean everything possible had been done, so they could die without regret!
His Holiness also discussed the delicate question of euthanasia. He emphasized that one should reflect on every individual case through analysis. If it is done out of impatience, then one should not answer to that impulse. But if there’s too much suffering and problems for everyone, if there’s no hope, if it’s too many expenses, then perhaps, why not? He suggested that we have to think in terms of long-term benefit.
His Holiness advised that we need to prepare ourselves mentally in order to deal better with death when it happens. We can become familiarized with it, accepting it is part of life. We can visualize the process of the dissolution every day and train in lucid dreams. His Holiness commented that the best would be to die with joy, and if that’s not possible, to die without fear, or at least to die without regret.
There was also a debate about rituals. His Holiness expressed skepticism about them, saying that we really need to be careful and to understand what we are doing. For him, it is much more useful to think about death while we are living than trying to do something for the dead.
His Holiness was characteristically humorous, laughing and expressing his loving-kindness. Humble, he answered many times “I don’t know” throughout the event. He brought to university students many ideas for research, including studying the importance of surroundings for seniors and mental health’s link to physical health.
You can find Gendun Drupa Centre online.
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Basically, the human mind is mostly unconscious, ignorant, and gets so preoccupied with new experiences, that it forgets the old ones. Review the past month: exactly what happened, precisely what feelings did you have, every day? You can’t remember, can you? But if you practice this slowly, slowly, continuously checking within your mind, eventually, you’ll be able to remember more and more of your previous experiences.
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