Category Archives: Mandala Today

New and archive stories from Mandala’s print and online editions.

New Advice on Wildfires

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Washington state, where large wildfires have been burning, US, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Washington State, where large wildfires have been burning, US, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

While staying near Madison, Wisconsin, US, Lama Zopa Rinpoche offered advice for the wildfires that were burning in Washington State, close to a number of students’ homes. Ven. Roger Kunsang, Rinpoche’s assistant and CEO of FPMT International Office in Portland, Oregon, scribed this advice for students eager to help:

1. Lama Zopa Rinpoche said that it is best to visualize the Lama Chöpa merit field and a great stream of nectar coming from the merit field and putting out the fires and especially helping the insects and animals who are suffering and perishing in the fire. This is best done in the context of doing the whole Lama Chöpa, if you have time.

Showers of nectar pour down purifying the negative karma of the suffering sentient beings, those who are suffering from the fire, and in general, the six realms sentient beings who are suffering, as well as those who have been harmed or destroyed in the fire. Also, the nectar is pouring down and changing the karma and the minds of the nagas, dergye (harmful spirits) and landlord beings, changing their negative minds, in order to not harm anymore.

It’s very important that one has one-pointed refuge in the merit field while doing this practice and one recites the mig-me mantras while doing this visualization.

2. Doing protector prayers is very good, especially tea offering to dergye as they control the elements, so it is important to appease them. But you can’t just offer tea and do nothing with the mind; you have to generate great bliss and emptiness.

3. If possible, do the extensive Medicine Buddha practice by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama.

When doing these practices, it is important to do them with good concentration and the motivation of bodhichitta.

Colophon: Scribed by Ven. Roger Kunsang, Madison, Wisconsin, US, July 2014. Lightly edited by Mandala.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Tara Redwood School: Sprouting the Seeds of Compassion

Children practicing mindfulness, Tara Redwood School, Soquel, California, US. Photo courtesy of Tara Redwood School.

Children practicing mindfulness, Tara Redwood School, Soquel, California, US. Photo courtesy of Tara Redwood School.

Curriculum developer Amanda Bauscher at Creating Compassionate Cultures shares some of the news from Tara Redwood School and the Online Institute for Creating Compassionate Cultures in the July-September 2014 issue of Mandala:

“In the heart of Soquel Village, California, located on the Pacific Coast south of San Francisco, the old post office stands transformed as the new Elementary Campus of Tara Redwood School (TRS). Tucked away in the forest up the road, the Redwood Campus remains a refuge for Tara’s toddlers and preschoolers. These precious learning sanctuaries serve as epicenters for empowering children to make a positive difference in the lives of their friends, families and communities. By starting with children, who are just developing a sense of self, TRS acts as a ‘nursery’ for the seeds of compassion to spread throughout the world.

“Inspired by Lama Yeshe’s vision of ‘Universal Education,’ Tara Redwood School has been developing this vision for more than 25 years by working with children to develop a logical basis for compassion. This begins with an empowered sense of self and critical thinking skills infused with an understanding of the inextricable interconnection of our outer and inner worlds. ..”

Read more …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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Our Main Enemy Is Our Negative Mind

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at long life puja for Geshe Sopa Rinpoche at Deer Park Buddhist Center, Wisconsin, US, July 20, 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at long life puja for Geshe Sopa Rinpoche at Deer Park Buddhist Center, Wisconsin, US, July 20, 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“[T]here’s no outside enemy. There’s a reason why people give harm to us, get angry with us or criticize us. There’s a reason, there’s a cause for that, and that cause is our mind,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche instructed. “For anybody, in any situation, even if a mosquito is biting us, the cause is our mind – attachment, anger, and of course no question about the root, ignorance. There’s no question, that’s the root. Ignorance – the concept holding things, the I and the aggregates as truly existent, which means the self-cherishing thought – that’s the real root.

“In the past we harmed others with these negative thoughts. We made mistakes, we did unrighteous actions and harmed others. What is happening now is the result of that. This mosquito biting us, that person who doesn’t like us even from the first time he saw us, that person who scolds us, even that unknown person who gets angry at us though we’ve never met before – all these things are just results, just creations of this mind. They are caused by this mind, by these negative thoughts, especially the self-cherishing thought.

“Actually, all these things are just like tools used by the people who are angry at us or who criticize us. All these things are like tools. The real enemy is our own self-cherishing thought, this ego, this ignorance, which causes anger, attachment and these delusions. The other things are like tools, like the stick that an angry person beats us with. The real reason is our own negative thought.

“It is very helpful to remember this when somebody is angry with us, scolding us or talking about our mistakes. If we can remember this at that time; that the situation is a tool, used by these negative thoughts. This is happening now because in the past we harmed that person, we did some wrong action to that person. The harm they are doing now is just a tool. The main enemy is our own negative mind.”

From Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teaching “Don’t Get Angry at the Stick,” given at Kopan Monastery in 2008 and recently posted on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

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The Meaning and Purpose of Life

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teachings at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teachings at Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Pomaia, Italy, June 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

“After waking up in the morning, the first thing to do is to feel happy that you haven’t died yet,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche taught at Osel Shen Phen Ling, an FPMT center in Missoula, Montana, US, on August 31, 1997. This teaching, given prior to a White Tara initiation, has recently been posted on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. “‘Even last night, many people in this world died. This morning, they are no longer human beings with the opportunity to practice Dharma. So far, I haven’t died. I didn’t die last night. This is a miracle! Life is full of so many obstacles – the inner obstacles of afflictive thoughts – the 84,000 delusions that shorten our lifespan and cause death – and the external obstacles of many sicknesses and dangers. I’m so fortunate to still have this opportunity to practice Dharma.’

“The meaning and purpose of your life is to be useful and bring happiness to other beings. We have this responsibility. Why do we have this universal responsibility for the happiness of all living beings? Because if we have compassion, then we won’t harm sentient beings and they will only feel peace and happiness in our presence. It all depends on what we do with our mind. If we don’t have compassion then we are only concerned about ourselves and our own happiness, due to thoughts of self-cherishing, anger, and other negative emotions that cause us to harm other living beings, directly or indirectly, from life to life. Therefore, we have full responsibility for the happiness of all beings. (Include people in your family, people who you work with, friends, enemies, and then all sentient beings. Feel this purpose of your life and your universal responsibility first thing in the morning before doing anything else. This is very important.)

“Think to yourself, ‘I have a perfect human body; I’ve met my guru who guides me on the path to enlightenment; and I’ve met the Buddhadharma, which explains the path and methods, the causes of happiness and of suffering, what is liberation and what is samsara, what is real happiness and peace and what is illusory happiness. I’m extremely fortunate!’ Rejoice – feel very happy and appreciative. Then think, ‘Therefore, I’m going to practice sutra and tantra as much as possible on the basis of correct guru devotion.’…”

Visit the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive to read the entire teaching “The Meaning and Purpose of Life,” which covers reasons for taking White Tara initiation, universal responsibility and advice on making life most beneficial.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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What Buddha Cherishes Most: The Story of the Goats at Root Institute

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing rescued goats, Bodhgaya, India, March 2014. Photo by Ven. Sarah Thresher.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing rescued goats, Bodhgaya, India, March 2014. Photo by Ven. Sarah Thresher.

Senior English nun and FPMT-registered teacher Ven. Sarah Thresher shared this story about a generous offering to the goats of Root Institute for the July-September 2014 issue of Mandala. Root Institute is a thriving FPMT center in Bodhgaya, India, the site where Buddha became enlightened:

Winter in Bodhgaya, India, can be cold. In January and February temperatures dip and nighttime is difficult without warm clothing.

This winter many goats were brought to Root Institute, the FPMT retreat center in Bodhgaya, the location of Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment. They were rescued from slaughter at roadside butchers by visiting pilgrims who then brought them to the center to be looked after. (It’s very hard to pass by these butchers and watch the goats tied up awaiting death standing next to the skinned corpse of the previous goat to be killed.) However, many of the goats were already sick when they were sent to the butcher and by the time they reached the center they were traumatized and weak and often died. …

Read more …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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Mandala en Español: La Gran Estupa de la Compasión Universal y Los Proyectos Maitreya

Lama Zopa Rinpoche being greeted, Kushinagar, India, December 13, 2013. Photo by Andy Melnic.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche being greeted, Kushinagar, India, December 13, 2013. Photo by Andy Melnic.

FPMT has more than 20 centers and study groups in four Spanish-speaking countries and Mandala features several articles translated into español, available for free online. 

Student and coordinator of Thubten Kunkyab Study Group in Mexico Alejandro M. García recently translated “La Gran Estupa de la Compasión Universal” and “Progreso Gigantesco Para Los Proyectos Maitreya,” which appeared in English in the April-June 2014 issue. Spanish-speaking students can now read about the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Australia, slated to be the largest stupa in the Western world and the venue of the CPMT 2014 meeting in September, and about the progress of the Maitreya Projects, among the largest FPMT holy objects currently being planned and built in India.

In addition to what Mandala offers, FPMT education and practice materials, including advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, are available in Spanish through the FPMT Foundation Store, FPMT Hispana, and Ediciones Mahayana. You can find links to Spanish-language books by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, published by Ediciones Dharma, on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. In addition, Spanish translations of many sutras can be found on FPMT.org via the search function.

Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.

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Watch Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Public Teaching in London [Video]

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Jamyang Buddhist Centre resident teacher Geshe Tashi (left) and Ven. Sherab, Rinpoche's attendant, enjoying the Kalacharka mandala in the Peace Garden near Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with Jamyang Buddhist Centre resident teacher Geshe Tashi (left) and Ven. Sherab, Rinpoche’s attendant, enjoying the Kalachakra mandala in the Tibetan Peace Garden near Jamyang Buddhist Centre, London, UK, July 2014. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Rinpoche’s public teaching in London, “Enlightened Courage,” can be watched as a streaming video recording. Rinpoche began the July 10 teaching by talking about the importance of the mind for creating happiness. He discussed how Dharma practice is the best psychology and how it can create the best healthy mind. If you don’t take care of your mind, if you use it like garbage, Rinpoche warned, then nothing pleasant results in this life and in future lives.

“The key thing is the mind,” Rinpoche said. “Happiness, you switch life to happiness or you switch mind to suffering. Like TV, which channel you want? Some war and fighting, or something very beautiful, countryside, something peaceful, people enjoying. What you do with your mind, its like that. So everything is about the mind.”

Rinpoche went on to teach about bodhichitta, Lama Atisha and lam-rim practice. He shared a Tibetan saying: “The turtle perseveres slowly, goes very slowly, but reaches there. Whereas the flea jumps, is jumping, but doesn’t reach far.” He explained that perserverance and continouity are very important to Dharma practice. Rinpoche also discussed karma.

The public teaching was organized by Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London. Rinpoche’s teaching in Leeds are also available as video recordings.

More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.

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Confessions of a Mahamudra Junkie

"Seeking the Source" by K. Kendall. Creative Commons Attributions via Flickr.

“Seeking the Source” by K. Kendall. Creative Commons Attributions via Flickr.

“Buddhist in the Trenches” columnist Sarah Shifferd offers insight into her personal experience with Mahamudra, a practice of the mind focused on mind in the July-September 2014 issue of 
Mandala.

Mahamudra is like standing in front of an aquarium. Normally, we’d watch the fish, but this time, we watch the water the fish swim in. The fish are still there, still swimming by, but the mind is on the water that holds them. With our minds, normally we are engrossed in our thoughts. In other forms of meditation, we create the thoughts and images that are supposed to be there. But this time, we just watch mind. The thoughts are still there, still arising and falling away, but mind is focused on mind.

Not only is mind focused on mind, but mind is all there is. Nothing exists but mind. All thoughts, all sensations, all objects, all sounds are merely mind. There is no “out there” to disturb the “in here,” and ultimately, the “in here” that is disturbed is revealed to be just mind. Nothing more.

The more we experience just mind, the more spacious and blissful we feel, and the harder it is for people or events to knock us out of that state. Ultimately, the mind becomes strong, unmovable even by catastrophic events. …

Read more …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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FPMT Education Services Updates Webpages

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with the card "Compassion is of the Utmost Need," created by FPMT Education Services, Land of Medicine Buddha, California, September 2013. Photo by Chris Majors.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche with the card “Compassion Is of the Utmost Need,” created by FPMT Education Services, Land of Medicine Buddha, California, September 2013. Photo by Chris Majors.

To help FPMT students around the world access the resources they need, FPMT Education Services have been working to restructure the pages, links and downloads on the FPMT Education Services sections of fpmt.org. You can find links to prayers and practices, sutras and mantras, advice, teachings and much more under the “Education” tab on fpmt.org.

FPMT Education Services has been called “the heart” of the FPMT organization because it creates high quality study programs suitable for all levels in accordance with the wishes and guidance of FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche. These programs are available in FPMT centers, as homestudy materials, or via the FPMT Online Learning Center. Education Services also publishes various practice materials in hard copy and digital formats, and works with a global network of educators, trainers, translators and publishers to develop valuable training programs and translations.

“If you look, then you can understand how fortunate we are having the opportunity to study [Dharma], Lama Zopa Rinpoche said. “With our Dharma knowledge and practice we can give the light of Dharma to others, in their heart. I think that’s the best service to sentient beings, the best service to the world.”

Please take a look at all the education resources that are available to you and share your suggestions (education@fpmt.org) for the continued improvement of the FPMT Education pages. 

The work of FPMT Education Services is supported in part by donations to the FPMT Education Fund and Friends of FPMT.

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Renewed Faith, Inspiration, Devotion and Understanding: Khadro-la Visits New Zealand

Khadro-la in New Zealand, April 2014. Photo by Carey Aburn.

Khadro-la in New Zealand, April 2014. Photo by Carey Aburn.

Mahamudra Centre, an FPMT retreat center in Colville, New Zealand, hosted an eight-day lam-rim retreat with Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drolma). The well attended retreat, which ran April 27-May 4, was described as “extraordinary” and “beyond words.”  Ven. Nangsel, Mahamudra Centre director, shared with Mandala highlights from the retreat for the July-September 2014 issue.

From the beginning, students quickly realized we were experiencing something rare and special when Khadro-la looked at us directly and said simply, “It’s not easy to practice Dharma, is it!” From there she took new and old students alike in hand, giving many examples of how as students we go astray in the practice of the Dharma, practicing for the material comfort of this life – food, clothes and good reputation – and endlessly engaging in practice, performing rituals, our commitments and mantras without any real understanding of what we are doing. Khadro-la was crystal clear: Dharma is about mental transformation, and if we are not experiencing positive results from our practice, looking to the Dharma for shortcomings isn’t the answer. Instead, we need to recognize the negativity associated with self-cherishing and self-grasping and see the faults in our own attitudes. …

Read more and see more photos …

From Mandala July-September 2014

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