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FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche spent February and March 2013 touring FPMT centers in Asia, including the three FPMT centers in Taiwan – Shakyamuni Center in Taichung, Jinsiu Farlin in Taipei and Heruka Center in Kaohsiung; Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore; Losang Dragpa Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Mahayana Buddhist Association (Cham-Tse-Ling) in Hong Kong. Rinpoche offered inspiration and teachings to hundreds, if not thousands, of students, most of whom had not seen Rinpoche since he manifested a stroke in April 2011. While on tour, Rinpoche displayed his extraordinary commitment to benefiting all sentient beings, tirelessly guiding Sangha and lay students with his wisdom and compassion. Here are some favorite photos from the tour. (more…)
- Tagged: amitabha buddhist centre, fpmt taiwan, lama zopa rinpoche, losang dragpa centre, mahayana buddhist association, malaysia, photo gallery
The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom (FDCW) is an international FPMT project advancing Universal Education for Compassion and Wisdom secular education programs for people of all ages and cultures.
In this issue’s online content, FDCW is highlighting two FPMT centers that are finding innovative, contemporary and authentic ways to communicate the essence of the Dharma teachings to children and young people using its educational initiative 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life. You can read about Losang Dragpa Centre in Malaysia below. Learn about Centro Yamantaka’s Colombian program here.
By Yeo Puay Huei, Losang Dragpa Centre deputy director
“Patience is like an umbrella against the rain of anger.” – Child participant at Losang Dragpa Centre’s Dharma for Kids
Over the past four years, Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) has developed an energetic program for children and young people, which blends together traditional Dharma teachings and FDCW resources in a way that is appropriate for the local audience and culture, and specifically for the children of the center’s members. The following report may be of particular interest to other Buddhist centers who wish to develop activities for younger age groups.
For the 5- to 12-year-olds, we relied on the Ready, Set, Happy manual and named our children’s Dharma program Dharma for Kids (DfK). Our team of volunteer teachers prepared classes using these materials as well as self-created activities suited to Asian children. Parents were at first a little skeptical, but soon became part of the class. They generously brought snacks for tea breaks and frequently accompanied the children and teachers on outings. They would sometimes buy art supplies to support DfK’s activities.
Our center’s then-resident Buddhist teacher Geshe Tenzin Zopa would periodically attend DfK sessions and lead the storytelling. Geshe-la was a fun companion and teacher to the children. An example of the pearls of wisdom that would come out of the children arose during the Patience guideline. When an art assignment was given, one of the children wrote, “Patience is like an umbrella against the rain of anger.” All the adult teachers were stunned at this profundity.
We have an average of 25 children attending DfK every Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. This year, we intend to create simple homework for the children that will involve the children asking their parents’ for input on a few things. This is intended to guide parents to become the continuing supporting framework for the guidelines and in this way extend the benefit to the rest of the family. Thus far, all 16 guidelines have been studied and the class materials and slides have been kept as part of the center archives.
The teenagers (ages 12 to 18) were a greater challenge. They learn differently from children, so no classroom format was used when introducing the values to them. Instead, we planned for them to discover the 16 Guidelines via project work and outdoor group activity: they were to plan, implement and later analyze how they felt, what they found useful, what was not useful, etc. The adult facilitators were called coaches and the program was initially called “16 To Live By.”
In year one, the teens carried out several projects like supporting a home of special-needs and orphaned children, organizing an outing for the whole center to an elephant sanctuary, and going on a rescue mission to Thailand to assist flood victims. Once again, Geshe Tenzin Zopa had a strong presence in the teens’ program. He also encouraged the setting-up of a teen choir group, called Maitri Choir, to produce and perform Dharma music.
Under the supervision of the coaches, the teens managed most of the projects. Currently, the center is redirecting its teens’ program towards the 10 virtues. Again, this will be project and outdoor activity based, with coaches to supervise the teens. We are calling it “10 For Good.”
The coaches are putting some effort into planning activities that will involve some or all of the virtues, so that when the projects have passed, the teens can look back and discover the worth of the 10 virtues from their own experience. This, we hope, will enable the 10 virtues to establish a firmer foothold among teens. Without a manual on how to accomplish this, it will be an adventure for everyone involved. The coaches are diligent in documenting the plan and intend to do so as part of the center archives.
LDC expresses deep gratitude to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Tenzin Zopa, Alison Murdoch and the FDCW Team for giving us the inspiration and courage to embark on our work with youth!
For more information on FDCW and its programs, or to sign up for newsletters and updates, visit www.compassionandwisdom.org.
In this issue’s print edition of Mandala, you can read about Kadampa Center’s Children and Youth Program in the United States.
- Tagged: 16 guidelines, children's program, foundation for developing compassion and wisdom, losang dragpa centre, malaysia
TAKING CARE OF OTHERS
By Tan Hup Cheng
In early November, just before the Deepavali weekend, we received a request from a fellow Dharma student of Khen Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup, Ms. Irene Ong, living in Bangkok to donate 3,000 blankets for distribution to stricken Thai villagers. The urgency of the immense suffering endured by the thousands of homeless people without food and clothing moved us to work fast. Within a few days, students from Amitabha Buddhist Centre pledged S$18,000 and placed orders with suppliers for the blankets and food. Our tireless and compassionate bodhisattva sister, Irene, organized the transport of the 3,000 blankets, drinking water and food stuffs to the homeless people in Lopbhuri province that weekend. She had invited ABC members to join her for the food distribution but, due to the short notice, we could not make the trip to help distribute the blankets and food. From the pictures that were sent, we observe that the state of suffering of the people is heart breaking. Thousands of homes are underwater, and with them, people’s home appliances and belongings. Thousands of acres of rice fields have been submerged and destroyed. Many thousands are without proper shelter, food and warm clothing during this winter season.
The generosity of the benefactors in donating the blankets and food for the cold and hungry villages really made a deep imprint in their minds. The smile of relief in their faces as they received the precious goods was enough to make all the effort worthwhile.
We thank all the generous benefactors and members who kindly donated to make this mercy relief operation such a success.
Turn to page 72 in the January-March 2011 issue to read about how Losang Dragpa Centre’s 16 To Live By also contributed to the relief efforts.
As Buddhists, you should be proud of yourself as you have chosen a path of non-violence and caring for all beings. The intrinsic nature of all beings is that of wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. The benefits received from a guru are no different from that received from the Buddha. Therefore, the guru should be regarded as Buddha because there is no kinder person than the person who introduced Dharma to our life. Geshe Tenzin Zopa who is here giving lo-jong (mind-training) and lam-rim teachings is covering the entire Buddhadharma; therefore, you should put effort to study well. Practicing Dharma is not merely collecting intellectual knowledge but to be practiced from the heart.
I would like to say that from my observations, in this country, there are all sorts of lamas without proper study and lineage, claiming to be lamas. If you follow such persons, you will end up wasting your precious human rebirth. Therefore, think how fortunate you are to be in a center guided by true lamas and where proper teachings are being given – please don’t waste such a precious opportunity.
Many Buddhist practitioners give up Dharma when facing great difficulties. This is solely because of the person herself. The main purpose of Dharma is not about power. It is not about running after initiations and hunting for high-titled lamas. If you do that, you could end up being overwhelmed by your own superstitious thoughts, and when great problems arise, you give up Dharma altogether. Instead, you need to study. You need to understand well the teachings of lam-rim and lo-jong. Even if you take 100 initiations and have 100 ritual implements, as long as you don’t fully comprehend mind-training and lam-rim, you will deceive yourself and you will become disappointed. Therefore, it is very necessary to engage in the study of mind-training and lam-rim.
Why is it necessary to practice mind-training? Because the purpose of learning Dharma is to find solutions in life, to overcome the samsaric aggregates which keep us in suffering.
In ordinary life, gaining wealth, food and shelter brings some pleasure at a physical level but not at a mental level. The worst suffering is mental suffering. Therefore, we have no choice but to learn how to transform such suffering. To do this, one needs to transform the mind. Wealth, rank and position can never handle or deal with mental suffering. Even having a large number of friends or guardians does not help because when faced with mental suffering, nothing can help except for mind-training.
All the sufferings, fears and problems arise due to our hallucinations, wrong concepts, wrong perceptions and therefore, we must subdue our minds through applying Dharma. The root cause of suffering is self-grasping [and the belief in inherent existence]. This gives rise to all sorts of suffering and superstitions. In order to purify the grasping to self and the grasping to phenomena, one must learn about and understand the true nature of existence. Otherwise, there is no way to eliminate suffering.
Since we seek happiness and wish to avoid suffering, it is necessary to investigate where happiness comes from. Every experience is dependent on causes and conditions. Positive experiences come from positive causes and negative experiences come from negative causes. There is nothing existing that is not in the nature of dependent arising. By being able to understand this, one will gain conviction that nirvana is definitely possible.
If we honestly investigate how Buddha revealed his teachings in the various schools of philosophy – in sutra teachings, in tantra teachings – we see that Buddha was teaching according to the mental capabilities of the sentient beings he was teaching to. This in itself shows how Buddha’s teachings themselves are based on interdependence.
For people in contemporary times, it is recommended to follow lam-rim teachings and in particular, the teachings on bodhichitta. To achieve bodhichitta, one needs to first realize all sentient beings as mother. In these times, this idea of sentient beings as mother might appear strange or contradictory. Practices such as exchanging self for others also seem to be difficult practices. It is difficult only because we don’t realize that our happiness is dependent on other sentient beings. Again, the realization of dependent arising is important. Without engaging in the six perfections, it will be impossible for us to gain liberation. Yet, there is no way of gaining realizations in the six perfections without sentient beings.
The self-cherishing mind and self-grasping are reasons why we cannot see others as mother sentient beings. Buddha’s teaching on refuge itself is already emphasizing to us the need to relate our Dharma practice to other sentient beings.
We have reached the 21st century and we are engaging in preliminary practices which is very good. However, we should not expect ourselves to achieve the benefits tomorrow. When you analyze the nature of cause and effect, as well as the nature of dependent arising, you find so much excitement and interest in wanting to study Dharma.
There is no miracle to enable one to change one’s life, but there is a solution: to know the right cause to gain the right result. After all, even in the case of machines, without the right causes and conditions, the machines cannot function. Therefore, similarly with happiness, even though we do understand lam-rim and chant prayers, without dedicating our lives to carrying out what is taught in the lam-rim [and creating the right causes], we will continue to trigger all our problems.
There are various ways of accumulating merit and virtue, but one of the greatest ways of doing this is to learn about and understand the true nature of existence. As long as one cannot eliminate self-grasping – thinking of “I, I, I” all the time – it will be difficult to gain lasting happiness. The stronger the self-grasping, the greater the suffering.
Going after physical comforts, serving the self-grasping mind brings only insecurity. Why not fight with this trouble-making self-grasping mind instead? Be more contented. Be more renounced.
Through my visit to various countries, I noticed that there are many self-appointed lamas providing initiations. They do this because they don’t know how to teach, and just confer initiations by ringing bells and say “goodbye” without even giving a proper teaching on refuge. There is even the danger of their giving commitments to people to recite powerful mantras, but a person receiving such a commitment [without proper understanding and motivation] can end up having enhanced anger, attachments and other delusions which cause them to end up in the lower realms. To really learn Dharma, one has no choice but to learn lam-rim and lo-jong. Thus in daily life, the transformation of delusions can only happen by applying mind-training. If one meditates without understanding Dharma, one might gain the benefit of some relaxation but otherwise, the meditation is wasted.
The actual power of Dharma is its ability to help us subdue our minds and therefore enables us to handle samsaric life better and equip us to cope with the pressures of daily life. Since delusions are not always active in our mental continuum, it means that we have the opportunity to meditate on antidotes and we should do so. In any situation, including in family situations, there will be more harmony, less fights, less problems if we understand dependent arising, by understanding that care and respect must be mutual.
In short, try your best to gain the understanding of emptiness through the knowledge of dependent arising. Actualize bodhichitta through practicing non-harmful thoughts. Reduce anxiety, fear and insecurity in your daily life because these bring out problems and suffering in your daily life. As long as one has proper refuge, the blessings of the guru and one puts effort in understanding and applying Dharma [happiness can be gained].
I am just an ordinary woman lacking in knowledge and thus it may be impolite of me to give you advice. But whatever I have advised you here is based on my own life in building a sense of security, fearlessness, contentment and unshakeable faith in the Dharma, my gurus, karma and dependent arising. My life changed due to my little understanding of dependent arising, due to the inspiration that came from learning about dependent arising.
Question: Seeing how difficult Khadro-la’s life was before and now, how does Khadro-la feel about life now?
Answer: I don’t cling to past experiences because life in this contaminated body will naturally have all forms of difficult experiences and changes. So I don’t dwell on the past.
Question: Women seem to have more difficulties in practicing Dharma – temperament, jealousy, tendency to idle-talk. What advice does Khadro-la have?
Answer: In Dharma [potential], there is no difference between men and women. The nature of delusions, the nature of clear light and the antidotes to be applied are the same for men and women. In physical aspects, there are differences, but, in Dharma practice, both have the same capabilities. I would say that women are more suited to being leaders of countries because they have an innate sense of care and would more willingly embrace other countries. For the practice of bodhichitta, women have a quicker potential to actualize that because of this deep sense of caring and sacrificing for others. Whether the men support women or not, the buddhas and bodhisattvas support us! (laughter) And when the Buddha taught, he taught by referring to mother sentient beings and not father sentient beings! (more laughter). But yes, some women do have narrow thinking and cling to small issues. Better to be broad-minded and think at a higher level.
Teaching given by Khadro-la at Losang Dragpa Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 16, 2009. Lightly edited for inclusion in Mandala.
An exclusive interview with Khadro-la can be found in the January/March 2009 issue of Mandala.
Telling the story of FPMT has been no simple matter. We’ve learned that if you ask three different people the details of a situation that occurred 20+ years ago, you’ll likely receive three different (and possibly contradictory) interpretations of the same memory, even when all three were there in the flesh when the event (or events) happened! Because of this we sincerely apologize to anyone who feels important details of FPMT’s history have been left out or overlooked. And PLEASE do send me any amendments you have. We certainly want to get all of the stories correct.
Some additions/amendments to last issue’s history on FPMT centers:
Aryatara Institut: FPMT activity spread to Germany through the efforts of a psychologist named Jena Bruer. Jena started a meditation group in Munich in the late 1970s and then invited Konchog Sherab (known as Dieter Kratzer) to give courses in Germany from 1977-1980. Lama Yeshe directed Konchog Sherab, “You go Germany, you start center.” And thus, Aryatara Institut was founded. In our history of the Aryatara Institut we indicated that Sylvia Wetzel was responsible for instigating efforts for the center. While Sylvia has been hugely influential on the success of the center, in fact, she arrived after the center was already founded.
Amitabha Buddhist Center: In 1986, Lama Zopa Rinpoche sent Konchog Sherab to Singapore to start a center. Konchog Sherab established a large base of students interested in Buddhist teachings. Ven. Thubten Chodron followed and established Amitabha Buddhist Center (ABC). Ven. Sangye Khadro arrived next and made Singapore (and ABC) her home. Our history of ABC does include all of these key players but it seems our chronology of who arrived first wasn’t quite correct.
Losang Drakpa Center: Mandala incorrectly noted Jangsem Ling Retreat Center as the first FPMT center to be established in Malaysia in 2003. Tremendous apologies to those dedicated students responsible for establishing Losang Drakpa Center, founded in 1995.
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Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
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