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Rinpoche in front of the Ajanta Caves, India, January 2009
Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang
May 5 – June 6 1000-Arm Chenrezig Great Initiation and 100 million Mani Retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Institut Vajra Yogini, France
Maitripa College, USA
June 26 Chod initiation
June 27 & 28 Great Chenrezig initiation
June 29 – July 1 Chod commentary
September 8 – 22 Light of the Path teachings, Kadampa Center, USA
The answer to how quickly and easily we will achieve realizations of the path to enlightenment depends on our finding a qualified virtuous friend, and after having found him how well we devote ourselves to him. Before devoting ourselves to a guru, we should check him well; then after we have made the Dharma connection, we correctly devote ourselves to him with thought and with action. Devoting with thought means seeing the guru as a buddha, an enlightened being, by looking at him in that way; and devoting with action means carrying out the guru’s advice, serving and making offerings to him.
The main meditation subject of guru devotion is actually contained in devoting to the guru with thought. Using scriptural quotations, logic and our personal experiences of the guru, we look at the guru as a buddha, as having ceased all faults and possessing all good qualities. At the beginning we use analytical meditation with quotations and logic to prove to the mind that doesn’t see the guru as a buddha that they are a buddha, thus transforming this mind into the pure thought of devotion.
At first, when we are not actually doing analytical meditation on guru devotion, that feeling of devotion quickly disappears. However, through meditation, after some time the experience becomes stable. When we have some experience, some feeling in our heart that our guru is a buddha, even if it lasts just a short time, it is a sign of receiving the blessings of the guru. When we then come to spontaneously and constantly see the guru as a buddha, we have developed the realization of guru devotion.
Enjoy brief glimpses of Rinpoche on our streaming videos page, including Rinpoche and the young Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche at a ribbon cutting ceremony! Also, enjoy these photos from Rinpoche’s travels to Indonesia, India, and Singapore.
The FPMT Online Learning Center will be launched in April starting with the second module, “How to Meditate” from Discovering Buddhism. To easily enable all members and friends to view the content of this module, our new site we will offer this module for free. The twelfth module, “Wisdom of Emptiness,” will also become available in April. More information, including how to access the Online Learning Center, will be shared at the CPMT meeting and in listserv messages following that.
We give our apologies to anyone who tried to purchase our new Escaping your Inner Prison CD, a concise teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche that describes the real prison of samsara and presents the essential elements for a successful daily practice. There was a mistake in the formatting of the disc which has now been corrected. The CD is now available in the Foundation Store.
100 Year Vision:
To translate and make universally accessible the Buddhist literary heritage.
25 Year Goal:
To translate and make accessible all of the Kangyur and many volumes of the Tengyur and Tibetan commentaries.
5 Year Goal:
To translate and publish a representative sample of the Kangyur, Tengyur and Tibetan commentaries and to establish the infrastructure and resources necessary to accomplish the long-term vision.
Institut Vajra Yogini, France
FPMT’s Vast Mandala: Who We Are and What We Do
All those offering service in the FPMT mandala as center/project director, resident and touring teachers, spiritual program coordinator, board member, study group and regional and national coordinators are invited and strongly encouraged to attend – more information available in the FPMT Affiliates Area!
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He writes on March 14, 2009: “I am sure this needs some editing, but I wanted to mention that the point of the account should be kept intact. The feeling I experienced was real, not something I made up only with words. All I want is to share how each of Rinpoche’s actions are the true copy of those great master bodhisattva’s actions which we believe in only by hearing about them and seeing them described in the texts, but are rarely seen in person. I really hope that this account will be a good inspiration for all.
“After a long and busy tour in south East Asia and south India, we have come to this little valley of Himachal, a state of north India, due to a sudden change in the schedule. Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, myself, Ven. Sangpo and Ven. Kunsang are staying in a house owned by a very old student of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche – Jimi, a nice guy in his 60s. His house is made of all the material available around him such as mud from behind his house and bamboo from the nearby forest. The house is located just at the bottom of mountain below the small hill station in Dharamsala. It’s so quiet and peaceful; we’ve had no visitors and no more appointments since we’ve arrived here.
“Rinpoche put more Christmas lights inside and outside which has made the little house a temple of lights. We have come here to attend teachings by Denma Locho Rinpoche. The venue for the teachings is a twenty minute walk away in Gyuto Monastery. I feel happy to be in this environment as it reminds me of my home Rolwaling. We have planned for Rinpoche to walk everyday back and forth from the teachings as it gives Rinpoche some chance to have bit exercise which helps to bring his blood sugar levels down. I am excited to walk through the rice paddies and barley fields with Rinpoche every day.
“It’s a wonderful morning. The sun is just rising and its first rays have hit right through my window. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear my alarm clock. It felt like I had only just gone to sleep but it is 5:30 a.m. already. I go to Rinpoche’s room hoping to see him resting as we had just come back from Tushita at 3:30 a.m. after a long teaching followed by guru puja. But to my surprise, the holy guru is already sitting in meditation! Now I begin to panic and rush back to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.
“At 9:00 a.m. the tea that was offered at 6:00 a.m. is reheated for the third time, the bowl of porridge near Rinpoche’s bed is cold as ice and the two slices of toast are hard as stone, yet the holy guru seems not aware of the breakfast sitting there for him.
“At 10:00 a.m. I hear the bang of the bathroom door. I enter Rinpoche’s room to now find only half a bowl of the porridge and one slice of toast.
“Rinpoche is not in the bathroom more than 10 minutes when he suddenly comes out full speed, rushing towards the relics placed on a table in the middle of the room for people to circumambulate. Rinpoche has soap foam on the back of his head and the corners of his holy ears haven’t been wiped properly. A smudge of shaving cream is still on his throat; his upper shirt is fully wet. Rinpoche has seen a tiny ant and he is holding it in his holy hand (he must have picked up the ant from the bathroom floor.)
“Many times Rinpoche runs around the relics. He always emphasizes that the best method to help sentient beings is by helping them to purify the negativities by the power of holy objects. Rinpoche seems to have unbearable compassion in his heart for that little creature and feels so concerned about its safety.
“I am just happy because at least Rinpoche is getting some exercise.
“I keep reminding him of the time, always keeping at least 10 minutes ahead of the correct time so that I don’t panic later. Rinpoche knows the actual time and he has not shown any sign of moving. He is still reciting his prayers and I know it will be followed by hundreds of long prostrations. The time is getting more and more close to 2:00 p.m. and I remind Rinpoche of the time four more times. I am hoping that as soon he comes down from his room that he will sit at the dining table for lunch, but instead, when Rinpoche comes down, he runs straight outside where the water and food are ready for preta offerings.
“Rinpoche spends all his lunch feeding the pretas. I don’t know who else was invited.
“There is not even 15 minutes left until we have to leave. I am happy that it is just enough time for Rinpoche to eat his lunch properly. I am wrong again. Instead Rinpoche spends that time making extensive offerings.
“By the time he comes back to the food that is waiting on his plate, time has run out and we have to go, but I pretend that we have enough time so that Rinpoche can at least have a proper meal.
“As an attendant my priority is to try to look after Rinpoche’s meals and other private needs, particularly as Rinpoche seems to take care of himself last.
“No matter what excuses I make, Rinpoche knows the actual time left so he only chews some of the rice on the plate and seems to just swallow rest. I am thinking to myself, ‘how can it be digested like that!’
“Then Rinpoche says ‘let’s go’ even before half of his plate is empty. Although my mission was for Rinpoche to walk and have some exercise, time has run out, and poor Jimi has to run to get his little Maruti. During the ride, Rinpoche asks him twice to increase the speed. Sometimes the wheels touch the road and other times just two wheels touch. We make it just before the actual teachings begin. Hearing the chant of the mandala offering from the gate of the monastery makes Rinpoche run faster.
“The teachings begin with the powerful voice of Denma Locho Rinpoche. The powerful amplifier that belongs to Gyuto was imported from California and helps his voice be extra dynamic. Denma Locho Rinpoche is teaching about the three compiled teachings of Geshe Potowa, the great Kadampa practitioner of 16th century.
“The teachings are so powerful and moving to the heart, yet very simple. In between the oral transmission of the teachings, Rinpoche tells the story of the author. It is said that Geshe Potowa is not someone who is scholar, nor are his teachings very philosophically profound or vast. His teachings are simple yet they benefit so much to others, by moving their hearts. Even when Geshe Potawa tells the story of birds or animals it makes a great impact on people’s minds.
“Geshe Potowa is also called long me thug la trung pi potowa, meaning ‘Potowa in Whose Heart the Realization of No-Time Has Been Achieved,’ for Geshe Potowa never had the time for non-Dharma activities. He would constantly meditate or give teachings to others, otherwise he did prayers constantly. He was always in a hurry to do Dharma practice saying: ‘I should do Dharma now otherwise I shall die soon.’ For him everything he saw or every incident that happened in his life was a means of teaching or subduing the mind.
“This is all about the great Geshe Potowa of 16th century, but now I think that Geshe Potowa still exists in this world, in this degenerate time of 21st century. Furthermore, I am convinced that our guru is no other than Potowa.
“Denma Locho Rinpoche said that Geshe Potowa, because he had no grasping at all for his own self, never cared for his meals, health and clothing, and of course no question for shelter because his Dharma practice was placed ahead of every comfort of this life.
“As Denma Locho Rinpoche resumes the story about Potowa, he recites two lines of quotation that comment on Potowa’s action by the great Amdo lama, Gungthan Jampelyang: ‘he would have plenty of heart advice to give, [he] who is subdued by seeing every appearance acquired by him as examples [that] relate to his Dharma practice.’
“As soon I heard this I realized why Lama Zopa Rinpoche often mentions the animals he sees on TV, such as on the Animal Planet or the National Geography Channel during his teachings. I wonder why Rinpoche needs to spend hours talking about how and what the little creatures do, but now I understand that for Rinpoche all those things are not merely TV shows, but rather are direct teachings to develop bodhichitta and an understanding of karma.
“By the time we reach home it is almost dark. A cup of tea and some snacks are waiting for Rinpoche, but they are just ignored. Rinpoche sits down and begins to open the texts around him and starts to jot down notes.
“At 8:00 p.m. a jeep has come down from Tushita to take Rinpoche up to teach. All of sudden the holy voice says, ‘Jinpa, let’s go now.’ I pick up a few texts that Rinpoche has set aside to take with us and grab a chogo and run to the car following Rinpoche. Rinpoche is teaching at Tushita tonight and we have an hour drive and long night to go. I hope Rinpoche will be able to eat his dinner by 3:00 a.m.”
“Our focus was on getting things documented clearly for future Center Directors and Spiritual Program Coordinators to make their jobs easier. As we are all lacking resources in one way or another, we can pool our resources and all work together as Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche have always envisaged.
“I see this as a major stepping stone for all of us working much closer … [p]eople are seeing now that it is in their best interest (as well as for the organization’s) if we can all collaborate and share as much as we are able. It doesn’t take away from one center, but enriches the others, and then those centers can in turn receive something of benefit from the others. I see it as an act of generosity that will bring the results back into each and every contributing center.”
Taking part were students of JSL and other FPMT centers in Malaysia, as well members of the rural Triang community. JSL Director, Ven. Sonam, explained why participation rules were kept to a minimum: “I wanted to encourage first timers to try and dip their toes into it, particularly in a small town like Triang where most locals had never even heard of the word, ‘retreat.’ So long as that person participates in it, it will be the seed of liberation and enlightenment. And to do that, people can recite anywhere within a period of month to achieve 100,000 manis.”
As further encouragement, anyone who accumulates 100,000 manis has their name inscribed on a plate next to a Tara statue. As JSL intends to hold the retreat regularly, every year there will be a new statue with a new set of names. Only the dedication supplicating Rinpoche to live long will stay the same.
Opportunities include an experienced cook at Nalanda Monastery, France, work opportunities at Mahamudra Centre, New Zealand, and Spiritual Program Coordinator at Thubten Norbu Ling, New Mexico, USA.
NB: center details are always most up to date in the directory on the FPMT website.
Italian National Office, Italy
New coordinator – Lara Gatto
FPMT International Office
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In the lam-rim, there’s some advice on how to get up early in the morning without being overwhelmed by sleep. Before getting into bed the night before, wash your feet while thinking of light. Try it; it works.