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maitreya

Letter from Lama Zopa Rinpoche

My dear kind friends, those who like to benefit other sentient being through the teachings of the Buddha.

I would like to announce that the Maitreya Project director is changing from the current director, the precious kind Peter Kedge, to the precious kind Nita Ing.

Also, the Maitreya statue will now be built in Bodhgaya, but due to restrictions there, the statue won’t be as tall as originally planned (500 feet); now it is going to be 150 feet in height. For the past nine years we have worked hard with Uttar Pradesh state government to locate the Project in Kushinagar but because of very difficult issues regarding land acquisition, with the approval of His Holiness the Dalai Lama we have now decided to build the Maitreya Statue in Bodhgaya.

For the last fifteen years Peter Kedge has dedicated his life to the Maitreya Project, working really, really hard. He has travelled to many countries such as China, Japan and so forth where other large statues have been built, to check the statues, meet the organizers and find out what difficulties they encountered with different aspects of the project, gathering as much information as possible so that our planned 500-foot Maitreya statue would be a great success, last for a thousand years or more and bring vast benefit to sentient beings and the world.

Peter also worked for many years in India, bearing many hardships and experiencing problems and difficulties there. The key difficulty, however, has been acquiring sufficient land together in one parcel.

There have also been other significant setbacks, such as major donors being unable to fulfill their commitments through difficult economic conditions and untimely death.

Once the Maitreya Statue has been built it will benefit the world and the sentient beings of the six realms, particularly those in this world, not only for a thousand years but also for a very long time after that. Any sentient being who remembers, sees, touches or hears about the statue—and of course, no question, those who actually build the statue, who offer time, life, money and all the different things needed to actualize the statue—all those sentient beings will ultimately achieve full enlightenment. By the way, they will also achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara and temporary samsaric pleasure while still in samsara. So it is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable, the benefits that the Maitreya Statue will bring. It will bring happiness to numberless sentient beings; this is what they will receive from the statue.

Because of the inconceivable benefits that the statue will bring sentient beings, then of course we have to expect there will be many obstacles. As you know, you have to have good karma and unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merit to be able to finish building such a statue and then for it to last for such an incredible length of time, benefiting so many sentient beings. Even many ordinary companies in India that are only doing work for this life have to stop all their work and close down after some time because it is too difficult or there are too many obstacles. Of course, for us, there is no way that we will close down the Maitreya Project.

Thank you

I want to thank from my heart all the people who have dedicated so much of their life trying to help us build the Maitreya statue—those who have made offerings and given their time and energy. All the merit you have created will become the cause of enlightenment, to fully awaken your own mind. Even though we have not yet actualized the statue, helping in the various ways you have still becomes the most unbelievable purification, purifying negative karma and defilements created from beginningless rebirths, and an unbelievable way to collect skies of merit, especially if your help has been offered with bodhicitta motivation. In that way, every single action becomes a cause to actualize the Maitreya statue, every single action becomes highly meaningful, and so you have already collected immense, immense merits. So don’t have any regret at all. You should have not one single regret—if you do, you will harm the merit that you have already collected.

The benefits

Just to briefly mention the benefits of this statue, not only for those who have dedicated their time and made donations, even one rupee, but for anybody who touches, sees, remembers, makes offerings to or circumambulates the statue and so forth. Such actions immediately become the cause of full enlightenment for sentient beings and, by the way, an unbelievable, unbelievable cause of temporary pleasure and, after that, ultimate happiness, total liberation from oceans of samsaric suffering. But the main benefit is the ultimate one, full enlightenment for sentient beings—the total cessation of all defilements, even the subtle ones, and the completion of all qualities; full enlightenment, where there is not one sentient being left and all beings are enlightened by you, through all those actions done in relation to the Maitreya statue. Then the ultimate goal is reached.

Even if you offer just one grain of rice to the Maitreya Buddha statue, that will be the result—all temporal and ultimate happiness up until every single sentient being has been brought to full enlightenment. When that happens, the benefits of having offered that single grain of rice to the Buddha have been realized. So you can see that the benefits of the statue are really incredible.

A sutra states that even if you look at a drawing of the Buddha on a stone wall with anger, that still creates the cause to eventually see ten million buddhas.

There are five Mahayana paths to enlightenment: the paths of merit, preparation, right seeing, meditation and no more learning. The first path, the path of merit, has three categories: small, middle and great. When you achieve the great path of merit, wherever you are, you see an unbelievable number of buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect.

Just like the Kadampa Geshe Chayulwa, who was following his guru Chengawa, doing service with great devotion. He cleaned his guru’s room every day, collecting the dirt in his robes and throwing it outside. One day, when he was going down the stairs with all the room’s dirt gathered in his robes, upon reaching the third step he achieved the great path of merit and right there saw innumerable buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect.

So the benefit is not just seeing countless buddhas but ultimately achieving the total cessation of both gross and subtle obscurations and completing all qualities: full enlightenment.

The Sutra of the Mudra Entering, Generating the Power of Devotion mentions another benefit:

Buddha said to Manjushri, “Of any son or daughter of the race (lineage) or other person offering every day divine food of a hundred tastes and divine clothing to self-buddhas (solitary realizer arhats) equaling the number of atoms of the entire universe for eons equaling the number of sand grains of the Pacific Ocean and, Manjushri, any son or daughter of the race or other person seeing a drawing of the Buddha or other material representation such as a painting or statue, the latter (seeing the image) collect infinitely greater merit than the former (making the offerings). So there’s no question that those putting their palms together or offering flowers, perfume, incense or light collect infinitely greater merit than those (merely seeing a drawing, painting or statue of the Buddha).”

Another common example of this comes from ancient India, where an extremely poor person who had nothing offered medicinal food to four fully ordained monks—not arya beings who have direct perception of emptiness but just ordinary sangha. The result of just this one time offering to the sangha was that in his next life he was reborn as the very powerful worldly king, Kashigar. That was the result of this very simple karma.

The quote above mentions solitary realizer arhats, who are liberated from karma and delusion. You can’t imagine the karma of making just one offering of food and clothing to solitary realizer arhats equaling the number of sand particles of the Pacific Ocean and offering one hundred devas’ food and clothing every day for one hundred eons. You can’t imagine; you can’t imagine. If you think about it, you might completely faint; you can’t imagine it. But this merit becomes miniscule compared to the merit of merely seeing a statue of the Buddha. Therefore, any sentient being who sees the Maitreya statue or just a picture of the Maitreya statue, you really can’t imagine! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! By merely seeing it once in their lifetime they receive an incredible amount of merit.

The Piled Flower Sutra states,

The benefit you experience from offering just one flower to a stupa is as great as all the happiness you have experienced since beginningless rebirths up to now.

If you think well about the benefit of making just this one offering, it’s amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing! You receive all happiness up to ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, nirvana, and then ultimate full enlightenment for all sentient beings. Then, as I mentioned before, the final result is to free everybody—numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings—from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment. That is the result of offering one flower to a stupa just once. The sutra says a stupa, but it means a statue, stupa or scripture; basically any holy object. So, whether it’s a statue of the Buddha or a painting of Buddha, it’s the same.

Here you can see that the benefits are unbelievable, unbelievable. It really is most amazing, most amazing, most amazing how building this Maitreya statue will benefit sentient beings!

This is really what the world needs. The real need is the good heart, the ultimate good heart—bodhicitta and compassion for all living beings: for numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings. Great compassion is needed more than anything else.

That is beginning of bodhicitta. From the five Mahayana paths to enlightenment, that is the root of all success up to enlightenment, all happiness; the root of temporary and ultimate happiness, full enlightenment, for the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings. Developing bodhicitta is unbelievable, most important, even without talking about buddhas in the world; the most important thing to bring peace and happiness. So we need to develop the good heart, if not bodhicitta realization, as much as possible. With simply a good heart we give no harm and only benefit to sentient beings. In that way we can be the cause of happiness for other sentient beings. As much great compassion as possible is what is really needed in the heart of everybody in the world.

To create the cause, talk is not enough. To generate compassion and bodhicitta we need a great deal of merit. Therefore you can see how important it is to build the Maitreya statue and to actualize bodhicitta.

The great holy being Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo wrote on a stone in Ladakh that building Maitreya statues helps decrease famine all over the world. Every year, countless people all over the world die from famine, sickness and weapons, so the more Maitreya statues we build, the less this happens.

So it is my dedication and plan to build large Maitreya statues, not small, like tsa-tsas, but one story or more than one story high, as many as possible, in this world, so that such problems become fewer and all the benefits that I have mentioned accrue. So building the Maitreya statue also has this last benefit that I mentioned.

Even the name Maitreya, Gyalwa Jampa, means Victorious Loving Kind One. One of my main aims in building the Maitreya statue is for as many people as possible in the world to generate the good heart. That will bring much more peace and happiness in the world and at the same time all undesirable things will decrease: economic problems, disease, war and tsunamis and so forth; all such things will be pacified.

The need for merit

The main thing people need to have all comfort and freedom from all such problems is good karma; it is impossible to experience all comfort, success and so forth without good karma. For example, even though many people are trying to help others in Africa and other countries where they are homeless and dying of starvation and sickness, they receive very little aid. Either it is confiscated by officials or stolen by other people, so ultimately they do not receive the help. This is because from their side they haven’t created the good karma to receive the comfort and success.

Many years ago there was a severe drought in Africa and some countries tried to help by providing water by airplane, but the minute the planes arrived in Africa the water diminished in quantity and got contaminated and could not be used for drinking. This happened because they did not have the karma to receive it.

We always hear stories of how people are missing this and that, but from their side, what they really need is good karma. That’s what is actually missing. Even generating a good heart is not easy because even for that we need a lot of merit. If we want to generate a good heart, as a preliminary cause we need to create much merit.

The Maitreya Project

Regarding the Maitreya statue, it’s true that we made some mistakes. This was due to karma. We discovered much later that we made some wrong decisions with respect to expecting more money for Maitreya after we spent some or hoping to get a big amount and so forth. That didn’t work out. So we did make some mistakes along the way.

However, there are no words left to thank Peter Kedge, the past director of the Maitreya Project. For the past fifteen years he has sincerely dedicated one hundred percent of the efforts of his body, speech and mind to the Maitreya statue. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! It is amazing the way he has dedicated his life to this. From the depths of my heart, I really, really want to thank Peter and express my appreciation for him. There really are no words left to thank him.

He never wasted his life, his perfect human rebirth. He never wasted it; he made it so meaningful. Even though the statue has not yet been actualized, all the work Peter did has laid the groundwork for the statue to be built. It has also served as a way for us to gain experience and has helped us prepare to actualize the statue.

I also want to thank from my heart all the past directors of the Maitreya Project and Ven. Pende Hawter, Marcel Bertels, all the kind benefactors, and the many other people and companies who dedicated their time and energy as well.

All their work and our many years of experience will serve as the basis for building the statue in Bodhgaya. Also, I hope that we will be able to build large Maitreya statues in other countries. So all that has happened has been very useful, very important experience, for the future and for the many other large statues that I hope will be built in this world.

Now the responsibility for the Maitreya Project passes to our most kind Nita Ing. She has been a great supporter of the FPMT organization for many, many years and through her immeasurable kindness Nita is going to actualize the Maitreya statue. So I rejoice and I ask you to please rejoice too.

Finally, I request anybody who wants to achieve the benefits I have mentioned above and especially wants to benefit sentient beings in this world to please continue helping the Maitreya Statue Project in whatever way you can so that this time we will be able to overcome the obstacles and actually see the statue.

Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers,

Lama Zopa

Scribe Holly Ansett, Kachoe Dechen Ling, CA, USA, 26–28 August 2012, Edited by Dr.Nick Ribush Nov 2012.

 


 

Letter from Nita Ing

Dear Friends ,

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our most beloved  precious Rinpoche, for Rinpoche’s patience and guidance which has brought me to The Maitreya Project. I promise to dedicate all my efforts in fulfilling Rinpoche’s Holy Wish, to actualize this Statue of Maitreya in Bodhgaya.

I wish to thank Peter Kedge for his assistance in bringing clarity to the years of the most difficult and intricate work carried out by himself and so many others. Peter and all those who were involved had tirelessly devoted over fifteen years of their lives, overcoming enormous obstacles with their devotion to Rinpoche and the Project. My deepest appreciation for Peter’s assistance in this transition, my admiration for all of his team’s dedication to the Project. I am humbled by their endeavors.

At this time the Project is in the re-organization phase, it is my wish that in the very near future we will be able to provide an update, and be able to re-open new channels for donation.

The Maitreya Project cannot succeed without your support. I wish to thank you for your patience and understanding,  I also  earnestly  request for your future support in fulfilling Rinpoche’s Holy Wish together.

Sincerely with love,

Nita Ing

 


 

Letter from Peter Kedge

November 2012

Dear Friends and Supporters of Maitreya Project,

As you now know, we are delighted to announce a major reorganization within Maitreya Project.

Nita Ing, a long time student of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, is now taking over from myself as Director of the Maitreya Project. With Nita’s vast and highly successful commercial and construction experience, we are confident the goal of building Lama Yeshe’s vision in Bodhgaya will quickly succeed.

As Director, Nita kindly takes responsibility for the construction of a Maitreya Buddha statue in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India. This will now be the principal focus for the Maitreya Project.

In addition to design and construction, Nita also takes on responsibility for fundraising for the Bodhgaya Statue Project. Fundraising will be coordinated through FPMT Inc. in Portland USA. 

The Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relic Tour continues as a standalone FPMT project based in UK, and dedicated to the promotion, support, and success of, Maitreya Project.

 
Maitreya Project was the vision of Lama Thubten Yeshe more than 30 years ago. The Project began with the wish to build a Maitreya Buddha statue symbolizing loving kindness, the root cause of fulfillment and peace.

Carrying this forward this has been a herculean task. Over time, the specification was developed to one that demanded the boundaries of technical, architectural, and engineering skills to be pushed to the very limit.

At times the legal, social, financial, technical, and logistical, challenges have seemed overwhelming and insurmountable. A succession of truly fearless directors and project staff have faced and overcome difficulties and situations which, without any exaggeration at all, have been unthinkable and unimaginable.

In the meantime I thank most sincerely, those who have worked directly for, and with Maitreya Project over these 30 years, and during the 15 years of my own involvement.

Thank you to those who have carried forward the vision. I thank all those who have volunteered in so many ways with time, energy, ideas, and skills, to bring the project to this point.

Each stage of the Project’s development takes place, “on the shoulders” of those who have carried the vision this far – my predecessor Project Directors, our wonderful and dedicated Project staff, our exceptional international architectural and engineering team, our fund raisers, donors, volunteers, sculptors, accountants, legal advisors, spiritual advisors, contractors,  printers, webmasters, lamas, monks, and monasteries who performed pujas, drivers, cooks, those who have supported the Project in unimaginable ways – where the Project is today has been made possible by the efforts of thousands of people all over the world. I thank all those who have sincerely donated in order that the Project could continue. Lama Zopa has expressed the fact that building Maitreya Project is not just the job of those on the construction site. Every person who has played any part whatsoever in the process over the last 30 years and who will do so into the future, is building Maitreya Project even though the physical statue has not yet appeared.

Some of the great monuments existing today have stood for centuries, even millennia, but they took hundreds of years to complete. We expect things to happen fast in today’s world – we don’t build buildings to last more than about 100 years. The Maitreya statues are being designed and built to last like monuments of old.


Thank you to Lama Zopa Rinpoche for allowing me the privilege of participating in Maitreya Project, and thank you all for your belief and patience. You will not be disappointed.

With very best wishes to Nita and her team,



Peter Kedge
Maitreya Project Director 1997 – 2012

 

 

EM-books

Publishing and Translation Department of FPMT Mongolia


Since the political climate changed in 1990, an increasing number of Mongolian students are endeavoring to read and study Dharma texts in their native language. Many of the old Buddhist texts that survived the purges were either in Tibetan or in the original Mongolian script. This script is difficult for many modern day Mongolians to understand as it was replaced by a new alphabet during the time of the Communist occupation.

There is an urgent need to print Dharma books, especially in modern Mongolian language that our youth can relate to and understand. People are becoming more interested in their traditional religion but are having difficulty in finding literature that clearly explains the Dharma.

To help address this need, FPMT Mongolia established a publishing department to translate and publish Dharma texts and practice booklets in modern Mongolian. Translation works commenced and in October 2004, the Publishing and Translation Department of FPMT Mongolia officially formed. Subsequently in October 2010, Lama Zopa Rinpoche kindly gave the department the name, “Enlightening Mind”.

EM has translated and published books of teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche, Kunu Rinpoche, etc. Since 2001, more than 175,000 copies of these books have been distributed to the people of Mongolia for free, or for an amount to simply cover the printing cost. Several of these were sent to the countryside, especially to the monasteries, many of which are newly established and have a lack of study materials and library books. If you wish to contribute to this project, please click on the link below and chose Enlightening Mind Publications from the drop down menu.

 

Make a Donation for the Publication of Dharma Texts in Mongolian

 

FPMT has established FPMT Mongolia as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate in Mongolia. All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

With Mongolia’s economy near collapse, funding within Mongolia is extremely limited. It is therefore essential that help comes from friends of Buddhism and Mongolia in other countries. Please consider making even a small donation to FPMT Mongolia to make these projects a reality.

All the projects of FPMT Mongolia represent an effective process of reviving Buddhist culture in Mongolia. Your financial help is greatly needed.

  • $25 donation will provide food to one monk for one month. (Choose Mongolian Monks Food Fund in the drop down menu.)
  • $50 donation will contribute towards the printing of 100 copies of Dharma books for free distribution. (Choose Mongolia General Fund in the drop down menu.)
  • $100 donation will support the nuns of Dolma Ling with food, utilities, and general maintenance of the nunnery. (Choose Dolma Ling Nunnery in the drop down menu.)
  • $200 donation will sponsor one volunteer working at the City Center in Ulaanbaatar for an entire month, which includes food and a small stipend. (Choose Mongolia General Fund in the drop down menu.)
  • $500 donation will provide one month of food supplies at the Soup Kitchen, which distributes about 3,000 free meals each month. (Choose Lamp of the Path NGO in the drop down menu.)
  • $1,000 donation will pay for three months of salaries and of general expenses in support of the English Language Department at the City Center, which teaches English to over 200 people free of charge. (Choose Mongolia General Fund in the drop down menu.)
When it comes to other countries, each nation has its own religious heritage so the people of these various countries follow the religious traditions in which they are raised. In the case of Mongolia and Tibet, our own native religious heritage is Buddhist —the tradition in which we have been raised by our parents.
–His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

 
Make a Donation to FPMT Mongolia

If you chose to mail a donation, please make a check payable to:

FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

FPMT has established Mongolia, FPMT (MGN) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, Mongolia, FPMT (MGN). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

by Frances Howland

 

Health advisor Frances Howland visited Tsum in June 2005, to assess the health situation in the valley. During the visit she visited many villages in the area, interviewing a number of residents of the valley. Her report below gives a vivid image of the overall health situation, a result of extreme poverty combined with lack access to health facilities and and trained health care workers. The Tsum Project is working on improving this area of daily life for the sangha and lay community of the tsum valley.

Tsum Valley in Nepal
A State of Health

The objective of the visit was as follows -

  1. Conduct a health survey to assess the health care needs.
  2. To visit and assess existing health care workers and facilities.
  3. To provide medicines for the treatment of acute illnesses.
  4. To identify future health care workers who can be trained.
  5. To make a proposal for the next step.
A Health Assessment Questionnaire was developed and than filled out in Tsum by eighteen people covering the sangha community and nine villages.

Over one hundred sick people were seen and treated for a variety of illnesses. These varied from a lady we met on the trail who had just been bitten by a dog and another lady bitten on the face by a chicken to a young boy who had a severe fracture of his femur from a falling rock. He had been in bed unable to move for a number of weeks. He was transported back to Kathmandu and received treatment at the orthopedic hospital there, with the cost covered by the Tsum project. Without he help of the project, with no medical facilities nearby, he would have been crippled for life.

We met a number of fathers coping alone because their wife had died in childbirth from hemorrhage. Two men had baby twins to look after on their own.

Many of the older monks and nuns had high blood pressure and arthritic joint pains. Gastric problems and eye problems were amongst the most frequent complaints from all adults, while children mostly had intestinal worms, cough and cold and ear infections.

Many older people had cataract. An early success of this visit has been the organization of an eye screening camp during which reading glasses were handed out to those in need, and simple eye problems received treatment. A camp for removal of cataract and implantation of intra ocular lens for more than 70 people is planned to take place in Spring 2006.

Please see the complete report for details.

How Can I Make a Donation?

Any amount of donation is welcome. To make a donation simply send your check in US dollars to FPMT Inc. and write Tsum on the check or provide your credit card details and mail to:



FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

Click here to Donate On-Line
Your donation will go towards supporting the following activities

  • Building new rooms for the sangha at Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa
  • Providing the daily food for all sangha
  • Developing infrastructure (water supply and sanitation for nunnery and monastery)
  • Developing educational facilities – teachers wages, education material
  • Providing continued health care and affordable medicines for everybody



FPMT has established Tsum (TSUM) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, Tsum (TSUM). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Tsum – the blessed valley

Ani Fran Mohoupt

The trip to Tsum was really, really wonderful. Tsum just felt like home. I know that sounds strange and probably many people talk like that, just blah blah. For me, arriving in Tsum and jumping out of the helicopter was like coming home.

This was a very powerful experience for me. And it was so incredible to see all the places I had talked about to various people in preparation for the project over this past year.

The Tsum valley is truly beautiful, a long valley, with the pathways lined with stupas and mani walls, the mountains dotted with the holy places of Milarepa and Guru Rinpoche, and the caves of yogis and yoginis who have achieved realizations in this valley for many hundreds of years.

The atmosphere is imbued with spiritual energy: the wish for Dharma practice comes nearly naturally, effortlessly – an amazing and transforming experience.

For the first few days we were staying at Rachen Nunnery, which is right in the center of the valley. We were very fortunate with the weather – not too cold, not too hot. Nighttimes a warm sleeping bag was in order. What it would be like in winter is hard to imagine.

The nuns at Rachen Gompa are so sweet; there are many young ones, and a very impressive group of older nuns that have done retreat and have a lot of knowledge. We attended a guru puja at Rachen Nunnery with all the nuns. The puja lasted for seven hours and I have to admit we all started to squirm on our seats a bit, while the nuns were sitting unperturbed, beautifully concentrating on the prayers. There was much laughter afterwards as we staggered out of the gompa with stiff legs.

The author, after a long walk up a very steep hill.

From Rachen Nunnery we made a number of excursions in the valley, walking every day. It was sometimes quite tiring, with getting used to the altitude and the unaccustomed exercise. I am not fit at all, your proverbial couch potato. However the inspiring environment made up for all of it. Gelek Gyatso stayed in the lama room at Rachen, decorated with very beautifully painted murals, whereas the rest of the group stayed in the guest rooms.

Although living conditions are very tough at Rachen and Mu, one of the delightful things that the nuns and also the monks have created for themselves are the beautiful little private courtyards which provide shelter from the constant wind and trap the warmth of the sun, making it the perfect place for growing some flowers and vegetables, a welcome addition for their otherwise simple meals. Going from the courtyard to the outside area was like going under a cold shower – out comes the coat and the hat.

We visited Mu Gompa, a very a long walk of 7 hours for us, (the local Tsumpas do it in 4 hours). Mu Gompa was absolutely fantastic – everything you dream of when you image a remote monastery in a rugged valley. The monastery is built on a steep slope of a mountain. Again, it felt very familiar, specially the little house above the monastery where we stayed. Geshe Chokley, the resident teacher of both Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa, and the monks at Mu took excellent care of us.

We offered toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap to all the Sangha, and Frances and Chodak gave everyone a hygiene talk, which had everyone in stitches.

On the last two days we went for the longest and most beautiful walk along the mountain ridge far above the villages visiting all of Geshe Lama Konchog’s holy places. It was really very moving to know this is where Geshe-la had meditated, where he did his practices, to see his cave, the small little house where he did his main retreat. The house was not in good repair, but a beautiful wild red climbing rose was in full bloom covering the house and garden.

During the ten days of our stay, we did a health survey of people at the monastery, nunnery and in various villages. Frances Howland, a nurse who works in Kathmandu, accompanied us. She organized the survey and held a clinic each day in the nunnery courtyard with Ven. Chodak, the head master of the school at Kopan, interpreting for her.

Interviewing people for the health survey was a real eye-opener to all of us about the poor conditions that people live in – there were always many people coming to see Frances; wherever we stopped there was a bunch of people already waiting as they had heard we were on the way. It made our progress very slow, but Frances could help many people even with thelimited medicine that we had brought with us.

We saw quite a few babies whose mothers had died in childbirth; there were even two sets of twins whose mother had died, leaving the father all alone to take care of them. Not an easy task.

Many people had eye problems, mainly from working in smoky kitchens. Many old people were blind from cataracts. There was really nothing we could do for them as they needed surgery. Cataracts are very common due to the high ultraviolet light exposure. Being blind or of poor eyesight is pretty terrible there as it means you can’t go anywhere by yourself.

Gelek Gyatso Rinpoche suggested that organizing an eye camp would be very helpful for the local people. After approaching a leading eye hospital in Kathmandu, we now have a commitment from them to do an eye camp with cataract removal and lens implant early next year. Already more than 60 people have been identified as recipient for the lens implants.

Tsum remains an impression not just in the memory, but in the heart. From Kopan I look at Himal Ganesh, the snow mountain behind which the Tsum valley is hidden, and I am instantly transported back there, the smell of the wild garlic that the nuns collected, the constant roar of the wind, the hermitage clinging to the side of the mountain like a bird’s nest, and the smile of people living there.

—Photos courtesy N. Dawson & F. Howland

How Can I Make a Donation?

Any amount of donation is welcome. To make a donation simply send your check in US dollars to FPMT Inc. and write Tsum on the check or provide your credit card details and mail to:

FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

Click here to Donate On-Line

 

Your donation will go towards supporting the following activities
  • Building new rooms for the sangha at Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa
  • Providing the daily food for all sangha
  • Developing infrastructure (water supply and sanitation for nunnery and monastery)
  • Developing educational facilities – teachers wages, education material
  • Providing continued health care and affordable medicines for everybody

FPMT has established Tsum (TSUM) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, Tsum (TSUM). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

The next year should see some more improvements in infrastructure with the installation of solar lights, a must for the area, as there is no electricity supply. A solar company in Kathmandu kindly offered to help with the manufacture and installation of the solar lights for the monastery and nunnery by next year.

A hydroelectric scheme based on the river flowing through the valley could supply the whole valley with electricity and help with irrigation of the fields.


a woman with her child with
Chromosome 23 syndrome

During a recent health survey it was found that many women die quite young because of lack of maternal health care; children die from simple childhood diseases, accidents that elsewhere can be treated easily tend to cripple people for life. Many people are blind due to have cataracts and eye infections. Next year we will provide training in allopathic medicine to the traditional Tibetan doctors and organize regular health camps for special problems.

A hostel is needed near the nunnery to allow the children from other villages to attend school. The school and the hostel will continue to be under the care of the nuns of Rachen Nunnery.

An old people’s home needs to be set up to take care of those with no family to care for them

Many needs, many plans – with all of us helping it will become a reality for the people of Tsum valley.

All the monks and nuns at Tsum and all of us involved in the project thank you from our hearts for your kindness and generosity. Without your help this would not have been possible.

We request you with folded hands to continue supporting our work, and save this special Dharma Jewel from extinction.

—Photos courtesy N. Dawson & F. Howland

How Can I Make a Donation?

Any amount of donation is welcome. To make a donation simply send your check in US dollars to FPMT Inc. and write Tsum on the check or provide your credit card details and mail to:



FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

Click here to Donate On-Line
Your donation will go towards supporting the following activities

  • Building new rooms for the sangha at Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa
  • Providing the daily food for all sangha
  • Developing infrastructure (water supply and sanitation for nunnery and monastery)
  • Developing educational facilities – teachers wages, education material
  • Providing continued health care and affordable medicines for everybody



FPMT has established Tsum (TSUM) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, Tsum (TSUM). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Light snow at Rachen nunnery
in March

Life in this remote, high altitude area is hard beyond imagination. The weather is cold all year around, and in winter, snow is piled high, making any movement impossible for more than two months. A fierce wind is a daily companion, making life difficult.

Before the monastery and nunnery were handed over to the care of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, most of the nuns and monks depended for survival on the kindness of their family or maybe some rare benefactor. Each person had to take care of their own food, and quite often they needed to go begging to the villages. As the families are also poor, they will give food only in exchange for work in the fields. A little bit of tsampa, and some hot water, sometimes black tea was the daily diet, supplemented in summer by some herbs, potatoes and vegetables.


kitchen where the meals for 90
people are prepared

The rooms and sleeping places were very simple; a mat or some stones or a sheet of wood in the floor. There are no tables, no beds, no carpets, not even glass in the windows. The roofs consist of slabs of stone over a simple beam construction and do not provide much protection from the elements. There were no toilets in the nunnery or monastery, and the hygienic conditions were very poor.

Improvements that have already
been made with your kind help:

The monastery and nunnery now offer food and medical care to all its residents. To cover the cost of food in the coming years, a food fund has been established.


a class room -
open air style

A teacher has been employed for Tibetan and English classes. The resident geshe of Mu gompa comes three days every week to the nunnery to teach on philosophy and supervise the memorizing of the prayers and rituals. A Tibetan doctor is available for basic medical care.

New buildings are cropping up – a new dining room, kitchen and storeroom has nearly been completed. The kitchen will have a fuel efficient fireplace for cooking, and a solar system for hot water.

Several classrooms are under construction now. All the rooms will have large windows with glass (quite a novelty in this area) and are built using a special stone construction with thick walls to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Special material will be used in the walls and ceiling to provide insulation from the cold and windy climate.


the new kitchen and dining room

The new buildings are the first step to upgrade the buildings in the nunnery. Next year the renovation and rebuilding of the actual accommodation will start.

Work on improving the infrastructure of the monastery and nunnery is being carried out continuously: Water pipes have been laid to bring clean water directly to the monastery and nunnery buildings, toilets are being built. A satellite telephone available to all the villagers has been installed to help with communication with Kathmandu and the neighboring valleys.

Difficulties in carrying out the work in a remote area.

Work in the Tsum Valley is restricted to the summer months, when the temperatures are more conducive to outdoor work.

Due to the Maoists controlling the access routes to the valley carrying the supplies in by porters is not possible. Therefore most of the building material and supplies has to be taken by helicopter – at great expense.

—Photos courtesy N. Dawson & F. Howland

How Can I Make a Donation?

Any amount of donation is welcome. To make a donation simply send your check in US dollars to FPMT Inc. and write Tsum on the check or provide your credit card details and mail to:



FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

Click here to Donate On-Line
Your donation will go towards supporting the following activities

  • Building new rooms for the sangha at Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa
  • Providing the daily food for all sangha
  • Developing infrastructure (water supply and sanitation for nunnery and monastery)
  • Developing educational facilities – teachers wages, education material
  • Providing continued health care and affordable medicines for everybody



FPMT has established Tsum (TSUM) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, Tsum (TSUM). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Jan

everywhere there are stupas
and mani stone walls

In 2003, Lama Zopa Rinpoche was requested by Dukpa Rinpoche, a Bhutanese lama, to take care of his monastery and nunnery in the remote Tsum valley. Tsum valley is located in the northern border area of Nepal close to Tibet. The monks and nuns of these two places were in desperate need of help, being unable to support themselves any longer. Lama Zopa Rinpoche accepted the request immediately. He asked Tenzin Zopa, a disciple of the late Lama Konchok, to take on the task of finding support for the people of Tsum. Work started last year on improving the living conditions of the sangha in Tsum. People all over the world have shown keen interest in helping to make this possible and have donated generously.

 


Chokang near Rachen Nunnery

Beyul Kyimolung – The Valley of Happiness

In the remote borderlands of the high Himalayas, several valleys are said to be Beyul’s – hidden or secret valley, that are only open to those with a very pure mind and heart. According to ancient scriptures, they were established by Guru Rinpoche, the 8th century Indian saint credited with spreading Buddhism into the Himalayas and Tibet. Hidden valleys are havens of peace, prosperity and spiritual progress, a place of refuge for believers. In the 17th century the Tsum valley that branches off the Buri Gandaki river towards the north of Ganesh Himalaya (Mountain) in upper Gorkha, was named Beyul Kyimolung.

Even non-Buddhists understand why Tsum is perceived as a blessed land. Perhaps one of Nepal’s most beautiful valleys, it is cut off from the southern lowlands of Nepal by deep, forested gorges and swift rivers, and from Tibet in the north by snow-covered passes. The surprisingly flat valley floor provides for some 4,000 inhabitants of almost exclusively Tibetan origin.

This is the home of around 100 monks and nuns at Mu Monastery and Rachen Nunnery.

 


the young monks with their
teacher at Mu gompa

Mu Monastery

Thirty monks were living at Mu monastery when Geshe Lama Konchok was abbot in the 1970′s. The three monastic practices (monthly confession and the two summer retreat ceremonies) were observed. During summer Geshe la would take the monks and nuns to some holy place in the valley such as one of the Milarepa caves and give teachings for several months, begging in the surrounding villages for food for his disciples.

Of the original 30 monks only 7 are still there, all of them 60 years or more. They spend their time in life long retreat, living in utmost poverty. One of them explains the situation like this:

“Before, it was very sad here; the walls were falling down, there was hardly any food, nobody came to make offerings or to support us. It seemed there was no hope.”

Because the monastery could not provide education, food and shelter, not one single boy or man had joined the monastery in the past 20 years.

 


Gyatso Rinpoche ordained many
young monks and nuns

Now, however, there is hope. Since the monastery was handed over to the care of Lama Zopa Rinpoche the living conditions already have improved a lot. Now there is a regular food supply. Caravans of yaks travel to Tibet every two months to get the necessary food supplies. Some ten young monks have joined the monastery and are studying Tibetan and learning prayers and rituals from a qualified resident teacher that joined the monastery from Sera University in India earlier this year.

 


a young girl waiting
to join the nunnery

Rachen Nunnery

After Rachen nunnery was founded in 1936 by Drukpa Rinpoche, many women joined. They are dedicated their whole life to spiritual practice under the guidance of experienced masters, and eventually the nunnery grew even larger than nearby Mu monastery.

 

Rachen nunnery is currently home and safe haven for around 80 nuns, with more young women registered to be ordained in the near future. The oldest nun is 75 years old, and the youngest is now 7 years old.

Many of the nuns come from poor families, and have suffered a life of abuse, beating and threats of forced marriage before joining the nunnery.

Being young and female in these remote areas means quite often to be a victim of abuse; one of the ways to escape this fate is to run away as far as possible, or join a nunnery, an accepted place of protection and refuge.


at prayers

There is an even greater interest in joining the nunnery now that the living conditions have improved. By entering the nunnery they have the chance to make their life most meaningful through the study of the Dharma. Taking on incredible hardships, living the simplest life they proceed steadily on the path to liberation.

—Photos courtesy N. Dawson & F. Howland

Please contact Kopan Monastery for more information.

How Can I Make a Donation?

Any amount of donation is welcome. To make a donation simply send your check in US dollars to FPMT Inc. and write Tsum on the check or provide your credit card details and mail to:

FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

Click here to Donate On-Line

Your donation will go towards supporting the following activities:

  • Building new rooms for the sangha at Rachen Nunnery and Mu Gompa
  • Providing the daily food for all sangha
  • Developing infrastructure (water supply and sanitation for nunnery and monastery)
  • Developing educational facilities – teachers wages, education material
  • Providing continued health care and affordable medicines for everybody

FPMT has established Tsum (TSUM) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, Tsum (TSUM). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Jan

Observations by Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other lamas and oracles have consistently indicated that the success of the FPMT in general and specifically the success of FPMT businesses will be greatly improved by performing the 100,000 Praises to the 21 Taras from time to time. Rinpoche feels that by doing this puja, businesses working for the FPMT will be benefited and obstacles to their success eliminated.

These 100,000 Praises to Tara for the success of FPMT businesses were first done on Saka Dawa (the day of Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment) in 1990. Initially they were performed annually at Sera Monastery, but since 2002 the Praises have been done at Ganden and Drepung Monasteries as well.

 

The Praises to the 21 Taras will be performed by over 10,000 lamas, geshes and monks at the three great monasteries. Apart from pujas, Rinpoche has also suggested to sponsor some other meritorious and charitable activities on auspicious days.

On special Buddhist Holy days such as Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment Day (Saka Dawa), all merits are said to multiply 100 million times. Along with other auspicious dedications, all the merits of these virtuous activities will be dedicated to the complete success in your business without any obstacles as well as the long life and health of all the past and current sponsors of the Tara Puja Fund and their families and that all their wishes may be fulfilled according to dharma.

Again, as in previous years, we hope to raise sufficient funds to cover the cost of the pujas and charitable activities for this year, as well as some extra, which will be added to the Tara Puja Fund. The activities of the fund on special Buddhist holy days will be expanded as the capacity of the fund increases.


Contribute to the Tara Puja Fund


To donate by check in US funds, please make the check payable to FPMT, Inc.,
and mail your donation to:

Tara Puja Fund
c/o FPMT Inc.
1632 SE 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214-4702 USA

 

 

FPMT has established the Tara Puja Fund (TPF) as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate, the Tara Puja Fund (TPF). All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

 

 

In late 1999, FPMT established FPMT Mongolia (a non-profit religious organization) to help re-light the lamp of Mongolian Buddhist culture – which was almost completely destroyed by the Communist regime – and to provide assistance for the poor and under-privileged.

The first major success was the establishment of Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling, the FPMT Dharma center in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. With this as a starting point, generous donors from all over the world have helped FPMT Mongolia reach remarkable milestones. These include:

  • The construction of Idgaa Choizinling College

  • The formation of the Mongolian Sangha Food Fund, which provides for the food of the monks at the Idgaa Choizinling College

  • The renovation of Dolma Ling Nunnery

  • The establishment of the Lamp of the Path NGO, to carry out social services in Ulaanbaatar and elsewhere in the country

  • The establishment of the Golden Light Sutra Center in Darkhan in northern Mongolia to provide teachings and social services to the people in this city and the surrounding countryside

  • The establishment of the Aryadeva Study Group in Erdenet, the third largest Mongolian city by population
  • Daily Dharma teachings and meditation classes at the Ganden Do Ngag Shedrup Ling and Golden Light Sutra Centers and outreach teachings in prisons, schools, universities and other monasteries

  • The translation and publication of 27 different titles of Dharma texts and prayers from Tibetan and English into Mongolian, by Enlightening Mind Publications

  • The presentation of the television series Discovering Buddhism to hundreds of thousands of viewers and the broadcast of FM-radio Dharma programs.

  • The hosting of the fourth Enlightenment Experience Celebration (EEC4) event in conjunction with FPMT International Office

  • Listing of all the FPMT centers, projects and services in Mongolia
  • Watch our short presentation of FPMT Mongolia activities
  • To find out more please visit the FPMT Mongolia website.

 

Make a Donation to Support FPMT Mongolia

 

FPMT has established FPMT Mongolia as a designated purpose fund, which with the support of generous benefactors, supports the work of FPMT’s affiliate in Mongolia. All donations made to the fund are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.