HIS HOLINESS THE 41ST KYABGON SAKYA GONGMA TRICHEN A FEW SHORT EXCERPTS FROM HIS HOLINESS’ TEACHINGS
Dharma in everyday life
“The Sanskrit word dharma has many different meanings, but the word generally means to change: to change our impure or wild mind that is so involved with defilements toward the right path. Although of course even just doing practice has some benefit, the point of practice is to change one’s mind. If one’s mind does not change, then it is not very effective. We must look to see whether the practices we are doing are making a real difference in our mind or not. If the practice changes our mind, then, if we use it in the right way, we could be the busiest person in the busiest city but still be a very good Dharma practitioner because everything we see and do, everyone we associate with, gives us a chance to practice Dharma.
“For example, when traveling in cities and noticing many changes, we witness the truth of impermanence. When we see so much suffering, we are experiencing the Buddha’s teaching that everything is suffering. The fact that we actually see it with our own naked eyes means we can immediately learn it. When we associate with the vast numbers of people in cities, we have a chance to help them, to practice compassion. When people disturb us or are angry with us, it gives us a chance to practice patience. In this way, if we can apply the teachings to our everyday life, then wherever we are, at work or at home, we can use our experiences and surroundings to practice the Dharma. “These different experiences can help us to understand more deeply how important it is to practice the Dharma. Higher meditations like concentration and insight are very important, but in order to reach that level, it is necessary to cultivate the basic foundations – such as contemplating the difficulty of obtaining precious human birth, impermanence and death, the cause of karma, and the suffering of saṃsāra, together known as the Four Common Foundations. These you can learn from a teacher or study in books.”
“Today we find that many people are interested in the Dharma path, and many people follow a set of associated traditions. We go to temples, do prostrations, recite prayers and mantras, make offerings, perform circumambulations, and do meditations. All of this is of course very meritorious, but these practices alone are not truly effective unless we are making inner mental changes.
“First, we must think, ‘What is the most important thing in life?’ Many people want nothing more than higher positions, wealth, fame, friends, and supporters, but all this worldly prosperity has no ultimate purpose. In the human realm, very few people attain an age of even one hundred years. Our lifetime is just a matter of, at most, one hundred years. And after that, our worldly attainments will not matter. On the day that you leave this world, no matter how clever you are, how powerful you are, how rich you are, how many supporters you have, or how many friends you have, none of these will help. We must die by ourselves, alone. Nobody can share that suffering or prevent it for us. “The only thing that will help at that moment is our Dharma practice. The virtuous deeds that we do can help us at that moment, and for this reason it is especially important to perform positive actions right now, while we can. You never know whether you will have an opportunity to practise in the future. Many people think, ‘At the moment, I am young, so for the time being, I will enjoy life, and then when I get older, I will enter the spiritual path’. But there are many young people who die before old people. Many healthy people die before people who are extremely sick. Truly, no one can ever tell when they will die. Therefore, it is important to begin the spiritual path right away and then to practise it very diligently.”
“Nobody else can remove your suffering. Each person must work their own way out of suffering. The Buddha said, ‘You yourself are you own saviour’. Nobody else can save you; only you can save yourself. For example, when a person is sick, although it is very important to have a good doctor, good medicine, and good helpers, the main factor is that the patient themself has to take the medicine and abstain from the cause of the disease. Otherwise, no matter how good the doctor or how good the medicine, the patient will never get well. Similarly, the Buddha is like a doctor and the Dharma is like medicine – together, they help us to be free from suffering.
“Even though we receive help in the form of the Buddha’s blessing, compassion, and grace, due to our own faults and defilements, we have not yet been able to relieve ourselves from the suffering of saṃsāra.
“Among the sentient beings of the six realms, we human beings are endowed with superior knowledge and intelligence so we can work effectively to free ourselves from suffering. Even animals can do this to a degree, but we are different from animals; we have intelligence, we have a mind to think, and we have the capability to overcome all our problems. Therefore, we must not lose precious time.
“What we are seeking is the state beyond suffering. Therefore, the Buddha spoke of ‘the truth of cessation, which one must obtain’. That is the goal we are seeking: the state that is permanently free, the state where we have permanently parted from all types of suffering and there can be no more relapse. In such a state, we are not only free from suffering, but suffering never reoccurs.”
“What is the cause of suffering? The cause of suffering are actions and defilements. Where do defilements come from? They come from ignorance, from self-clinging. Our mind’s true nature is pure, but we do not recognise this; instead, we cling to a ‘self’ without authentic reasons and logic. We cling to our overall existence; we mistakenly believe that our being exists as a self.
“When you have a self, then automatically you have an ‘other’. Self and other depend on each other. When you have self and other, then there is attachment to one’s own friends and relatives and so forth. And there is also the other side – the people you do not like, beings that you do not appreciate, beings that you do not agree with, etc, and so anger arises. From ignorance comes both desire and hatred.
“To be able to meditate on insight wisdom you need to go step by step. The first step is to understand that outer objects, outer visions, are mental visions. All the phenomena we see, the life we go through, all things, do not appear without a cause. All phenomena are not the creation of a force coming from outside, they arise from our own mind and propensities. When a seed planted in our mind ripens, we move from life to life, so there is no outer creator, no outer projector other than our own mind.
“The second step is to recognise that all mental visions are magical illusions: all things we see now or the life we go through are like a magical show or like a dream. For example, in our dreams we can visit many different countries, we can meet many different beings, we may have very sad or happy dreams, nightmares and all kind of experiences. When you wake up, not even one tiny trace remains of all the things you saw in your dreams. Similarly, our life itself is like a dream or like a reflection in a mirror: nothing is real, all is a magical illusion.
“The third step is to realise that all magical illusions are devoid of self-nature. From the relative point of view, in the various lives we go through, visions never cease, and even though they are the result of cause and effect we never perceive the interdependent origination of visions. However, by means of very careful investigation one cannot find anything real, not even one tiny bit. All is emptiness, and although vision and emptiness seem to be in contradiction, there is no discrepancy between the two because emptiness and the interdependent origination of all visions are inseparable.”
“In this way, the defilements are formed, which are known as the three main poisons: ignorance, desire, and hatred. These three give rise to the other defilements. For instance, when you have attachment to your wealth and possessions, then you generate stinginess and pride. And when other people have wealth and prosperity, you then have jealousy and competitiveness and so forth. All these impure mental states arise. Based on these impure mental states, you then take actions – physical actions, mental actions, and verbal actions. These actions are like planting a seed of suffering. Actions that arise from the defilements are all forms of suffering. If the root of a tree is poisonous, then anything that grows on the tree, such as fruits, flowers, and leaves, are all poisonous. Similarly, the actions arising from defilements – ignorance, hatred, and desire – are all non-virtuous deeds and are the cause of suffering. Performing an action is like planting a seed. When you plant a seed, its fruit depends on causes and conditions. When the right causes and conditions are brought together, then you are bound to produce a result. Through our own actions, we have created all of our own situations. Through all of our own actions, we have created our own suffering. It is through all our own actions that we have created all of our happiness. Everything comes from our own actions.”
The 41st Sakya Trizin, His Holiness Kyabgon Gongma Trichen Rinpoche
CHOEKAR DUCHEN – THE BUDDHA’S FIRST TURNING OF THE WHEEL OF DHARMA 24 July 2020
Choekhor Duchen falls on the 4th day of the 6th month in the Tibetan calendar, this year on 24 July 2020. It is important to be aware on this day all positive and negative actions are multiplied ten millionfold, an extremely meritorious day to carry out as much practice as possible for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Please enjoy reading this beautiful passage from Jamgon Kontrul’s Treasury of Knowledge, Volume two, describing Choekhor Duchen, the first teachings the Buddha gave at Saranath, Varanasi, India, on The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path.
The Eleventh Deed
At the request of Brahma and others, He taught in known places Expedient and Definitive meanings in three successive turnings of the Wheel of Dharma.
During the time the perfect Buddha sat beneath the tree of liberation, he thought that no worldly being could realise the profound understanding he had attained.
Thus, he said:
“Deep, tranquil, unformulated, non-composite clear light. This ambrosia-like reality I have gained is unfathomable by anyone I might teach. Thus, I will dwell at the forest’s edge in silence. He sat alone with little activity in his mind.”
Through the Buddha’s power, Brahma with a tufted crown arrived with his retinue of sixty-eight hundred thousand, and beseeched Him to teach the Dharma, but the Buddha did not do so. Brahma then called on Shakra for assistance. After the third request, the Buddha, clearly seeing His disciples’ different capabilities, promised to open the door of ambrosia-like teachings, beginning with the teachings to any kind of sentient being. The tidings, “The Transcendent Buddha will Turn the Wheel of Dharma”! resounded as far as Brahma’s realm.
The Buddha then went to seek alms in Varanasi. When He arrived at Deer Park, Descent of the Sages, the five excellent ones came to greet Him. The Buddha called forth, and they thereby became true fully ordained monks.
At that place, one thousand magnificent lion-supported thrones appeared. The Buddha circumambulated the first three; when He sat in cross-legged posture on the fourth, a great light spread throughout worlds in the ten direction, and a sound arose beings to listen to His teachings. A god called ‘Bodhisattva Who Turned the Wheel of the Teachings to Attain Awakening’ presented Him with a one thousand-spoked wheel made of gold from the Jambu River. He and countless other bodhisattvas and gods assembled.
On the fourth day of the sixth lunar month, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths in three enunciations: (He first explained) their essence, then their function, and finally their result. In this way, He presented that cycle of teaching in twelve aspects. As a result, the five excellent ones attained (the state of) Arhat (foe-subduer), and for the first time the Three Jewels (Buddha, Teaching and the Spiritual Community) appeared in this world.
Beginning with instruction in the Expedient and Definitive meanings (of Dharma), the Buddha turned the Great Wheel of Dharma ~ virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end in three stages. He taught in known locations such as Gaya Peak, Gandhamadana Mountain, Rajgir, Vulture’s Peak, Shravasti, Jetavana, Kosala, Kapilavastu, and the city of Vaishali, as well as in many places unknown (to humans), such as realms of gods and nagas, and the precious Vajra Place.
The Buddha lead innumerable disciples of the four kinds, including the sublime pair, to the attainment of four results. He foretold the awakening of countless humans and gods who had affinity with the Great Way. In Shravasti, He displayed supreme miracles, both mundane and supramundane. For His mother Mayadevi’s sake, He spent one summer retreat period in Heaven of the thirty-three, then descended from the god’s realm (back to earth) at Sankashya. At glorious Treasure Mound Stupa and other places, the Buddha taught the secret mantra way to exceptional disciples. In these ways, His displays of the Four Taming Miracles were inconceivable and indescribable.
In summary, the Buddha stayed in His father’s royal residence until the age of twenty-nine. He practiced the austerities over six years, and at the age of thirty-five attained enlightenment. From then until His eightieth year, he conducted forty-five summer retreats and set in motion the highest Wheel of the teachings.
From the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism 31 July 2014
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama A few short excerpts from His Holiness’ teachings
“This is a bit like a river that is flowing quite strongly, in which you cannot see the riverbed very clearly. If, however, there was some way you could stop the flow in both directions, from where the water is coming and to where the water is flowing, then you could keep the water still. That would allow you to see the base of the river quite clearly. Similarly, when you are able to stop your mind from chasing sensory objects and thinking about the past and future and so on, and when you can free your mind from being totally ‘blanked out’ as well, then you will begin to see underneath this turbulence of the thought processes. There is an underlying stillness, an underlying clarity of the mind. You should try to observe or experience this…”
“Similarly, when mental wandering arises, we can think of an unpleasant subject, such as the suffering nature of samsara. When our mind is low, changing to a happy subject can bring it back up; when it is wandering, changing to an unpleasant subject can bring it down out of the sky and back to earth.”
“The antidote to depression is tightening the concentration; the antidote to wandering is loosening it.
“When counteracting mental sinking with tightness, we must be careful to avoid the excessive tightness that a lack of natural desire to meditate can create; we need to balance tightness with relaxation.
“When our mind gets too tight like this we should just relax within our meditation. If that doesn’t work, we can forget the object for a while and concentrate on happy thoughts, such as the beneficial effects of bodhicitta, until our mind regains its composure, and then return to our object of meditation. This is akin to washing our face in cold water. If contemplating a happy subject does not pick us up, we can visualise that our mind takes the form of a tiny seed at our heart and then shoot this seed out of the crown of our head into the clouds above, leave it there for a few moments and then bring it back. If this does not help, we can just take a short break from our meditation.
“If somebody insults, abuses, or criticises us, saying that we are incompetent and do not know how to do anything and so forth, we are likely to get truly angry and contradict what the person has said. We should not react in this way; instead, with humility and tolerance, we should accept what has been said.
“Where it says that we should accept defeat and offer the victory to others, we must differentiate the two kinds of the situation. If, on the one hand, we are obsessed with our own welfare and very selfishly motivated, we should accept defeat and offer victory to the other, even if our life is at stake. But if, on the other hand, the situation is such that the welfare of others is at stake, we must work extremely hard to fight for the rights of others and not accept the loss at all.
“One of the forty-six secondary vows of a bodhisattva refers to a situation in which somebody is doing something very harmful and you have to use forceful methods or whatever else is necessary to stop that person’s actions immediately - if you don’t, you have transgressed that commitment.36 It might appear that this bodhisattva vow and the fifth stanza, which says that one must accept defeat and give the victory to the other, are contradictory but they are not. The bodhisattva precept deals with a situation in which one’s prime concern is the welfare of others: if somebody is doing something extremely harmful and dangerous it is wrong not to take strong measures to stop it if necessary. Nowadays, in incredibly competitive societies, strong defensive or similar actions are often required. The motivation for these should not be selfish concern but extensive feelings of kindness and compassion toward others. If we act out of such feelings to save others from creating negative karma this is entirely correct.”
In Loving Memory of Wendy Brennen and Jan Proos 27 June and 11 May
Wendy’s enthusiasm and energy for life was wonderful to be around. She brought this into her love of the Buddhadharma twofold.
From 2005, Wendy maintained a close connection with Khenpo la and the centre. She was the co-ordinator of Khenpo la’s community teaching events in and around the Richmond area in NSW for many years. Wendy was always there to run these events, including the regular weekly evening teachings. She often described how she felt so fortunate to have met Khenpo la and the precious dharma in her life. Her warm and friendly nature endeared her to all she met. Wendy always went out of her way to make people feel welcome at events, including baking delicious cakes for the traditional cup of tea after the programme. Wendy volunteered her time and skills with such grace and humour.
Wendy passed away on 27 June from a long and brave battle with illness. We will miss her a lot, and we all pray for Wendy to have a precious human rebirth swiftly.
Jan was one of life’s real gentlemen. When you were with Jan you knew he had a genuine interest and care in you and your life. Though having found the dharma later in his life, Jan embraced it with such openness that was extraordinary to see.
Jan did a lot of work for the Centre, in the garden, and on the road. Even when he was quite ill, Jan continued to turned up to contribute. During the drought late last year, Jan would be seen bringing up containers of water from his home to water the garden, so as not to deplete the centres water supply. He was a regular attendee at Tuesday and Sunday practice, and often shared delicious treats at morning tea afterwards with everyone.
Jan passed away on 11 May, after a long and courageous battle with illness. We all shall miss his beautiful light presence and wish for him too to have a precious human rebirth swiftly.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 20 June 2020
The first Working Bee for 2020 at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre, everyone worked extremely hard including Khenpo la, leading from the front! Thank you to everyone who came and contributed. We achieved so much which is to reduce the fuel load for the upcoming summer season and for this we cleared fallen trees and countless branches. The centre will be holding Working Bees every second Saturday until summer.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE May – June 2020
Throughout the month of Saga Dawa over 1,000 candles were lit at KTBC for the benefit of all sentient beings, for COVID-19 to cease, for all those who have passed away to attain precious human rebirth and celebrate the Buddhadharma in our lives. On day 17 of this month, light offerings from many sponsors – may all beings be happy!
On Saga Dawa Duchen Khenpo la lead The Sixteen Arhat Puja with sangha in person seated at social distancing and via Zoom. There were over 100 butter lamps and many more candles lit on this most auspicious day and the shrine was truly extraordinary with so many exquisite offerings.
AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 23 MAY – 21 JUNE 2020
Saga Dawa/Saga Dawa Duchen begins on the 1st day of the 4th lunar month calendar – 2147
This being the most important month in the Tibetan lunar calendar, called Saga Dawa. The 15th day of this 4th lunar month, the full moon day is called Saga Dawa Düchen ས་ག་ཟླ་བ་དུས་ཆེན་ which falls this year on Monday 5 June 2020 (Sangye & Nyangde Düchen). Düchen means “Great Occasion” and this day is the single most holy day of the year for Tibetan Buddhists. Saga Dawa Düchen commemorates the Birth, Enlightenment, and Parinirvana of Buddha Shakyamuni marked all on this same day. Although, there is a specific separate day in which Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth is celebrated, referred to as Tampei Düchen, this year falling on Sunday 29 May 2020.
In other Buddhist traditions this occasion is known as Wesak or is sometimes called Buddha Day and may fall within a different month, yet around the same time of the year. Saga Dawa is known as the month of merits. Tibetan Buddhists make extra efforts to practice more generosity (Dana), virtue, and compassion to accumulate greater merit. Tibetans believe that on the 10th and 15th day of this month the merits of one’s actions are hugely increased, 100,000x positive actions or negative. Accumulating this merit is understood in many ways, it could be the fruits of good karma, especially when it brings us closer to enlightenment. The three grounds of meritorious actions are generosity and mental culture or meditation.
Traditionally, the holy day of Saga Dawa Düchen is observed through practice, generosity, and the performance of meritorious deeds, such as the practice of Life Release. This is commonly performed by purchasing animals that are destined to be killed (like lambs, fish, worms and/or crickets), and releasing them into their natural habitats with prayers and positive aspirations. One must be mindful though that this release does not cause them more suffering being in the wrong environment. As Khenpo-la always suggests and reminds us during this most auspicious and sacred month to be vegetarian, to release any animals that may have otherwise been killed for food or other reasons. The act of giving life in this way is believed to extend the practitioner or benefactor’s lifespan and create positive circumstances. You can also take an extended vow or vegetarianism, creating vast merit through your noble aspiration to reduce suffering.
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.” The Buddha
At Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre there is an opportunity to sponsor (Dana) towards the daily lighting of candles. The first 9 days of Saga Dawa there will be 50 candles lit on each day at the centre, on the 10th and 15th days, 100 candles will be offered.
We are all in this state of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing uncertainty in all our lives and causing disturbances mentally, emotionally, as well as economically. In this way, we are facing big challenges right now, so I advise everyone not to panic. At this time, it is very important to reflect upon all the dharma teachings we have received in the past and put them into action, for the good aspect of COVID-19 is if we can remain in a state of mindfulness, and follow all of the health profession’s advice, then there is no chance to get this disease. Emotionally and mentally, we need to remember that there is no one more professional than Lord Buddha. His main teachings show us how to keep a healthy mind which is the sole topic from the Buddha, and this positive mind is for all beings. This mind is the remedy for this pandemic and for any other circumstance.
If we all can keep our mind completely positive, meaning to wish that all others are to be happy, that no one faces challenges, free from all the difficulties, if we can develop love and compassion, and to remain in this state, this will be the best medicine to keep the mind and emotions healthy.
Conventionally, the Buddha’s teachings are about impermanence, which is good and bad. This pandemic will not last, it will end sooner or later. Until then, please take responsibility to protect oneself and to help others to not spread this disease. The pandemic is an excellent opportunity for more time to practise by oneself and/or with loved ones, such a rare opportunity to find this kind of time. I strongly recommend that you chant Medicine Buddha, Parṇaśavarī, Tara and Compassion mantras, which can help ease our fear of this disease. The fear is also a sentient being, so we can send loving-kindness and compassion to this being, so it can be free from its negative karma. I also recommend that you practise Lojong meditation (the exchanging meditation).
We can view these current circumstances in a negative or selfish way, or we can think from a dharmic point of view, being a perfect opportunity to practise the dharma. We must not think that we are in isolation and restricted. This time with oneself and others is also a time for our precious Mother Planet to rest, so let us take advantage of this time. At the end of the day, this is not a bad time, although we sincerely offer our prayers for all who are sick and for all those who have passed away from this disease. As well, our prayers are for all the committed health workers and all other beings who keep the world less stressed and provide help in so many ways in order to bring comfort to all.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We can pray that all beings be free from this disease all over the world.
AFTER THE FIRES – Kamalashila tibetan buddhist centre February 2020
Kamalashila was miraculously spared from the traumatising monster fire that brewed on the west side of Mt Gulaga overlooking our entire Centre property. It hovered over the 150 acres that hold all the precious teachings and blessings of Kamalashila, the master’s home, the gompa, as well as all down the far South Coast to the Victorian border and beyond, into parts of Victoria, and the North Coast of NSW up to the Queensland border, the Snowy Mountains, outskirts all around Canberra. Due to the most recent heavenly and heavy rainfall, it has now been declared “put out”!!!
During the beginning of the year the Kyegu Buddhist Institute (KBI) monks carried out two Nagaraja rituals which aim to produce rain and also to promote environmental health and stability by rejuvenating weakened Nagas, as prayers were also being made for the favourable rebirth of the vast numbers of animals who have been killed. They carried out these two pujas within a few weeks of one another at Bronte Beach, Sydney NSW.
We thank all for the deepest of heartfelt prayers from the highest of Tibetan Buddhist masters abroad in India, to our locals. So many, during these fires since 26 November 2019 up until a few weeks ago, have lost their loved ones, animals, all possessions – some had to flee in the middle of the night from the flames unexpectedly without even their wallet; more than the mind can comprehend. One must continue prayers for those lost – they are saying over one billion animals perished not even including all types of creatures, insects, endangered species; the list is frightful (uncountable Om Mani Padme Hum mantras)!
There is so much healing needed which inevitably will happen in time yet seeing the immensity of it all in bits and pieces in the aftermath brings a deep sinking feeling in one’s heart and brings one to tears. Now we are seeing some encouraging growth which arises out of this inexplicable despair as our communities continue to support, love and hear one another so we can mend. Here are a few smoke-filled images over the last few months at the centre along with some beautiful images of the KBI monks performing the Naga pujas.
Rain glorious rain!!! Much has fallen on the far South Coast overnight including at Kamalashila. It seems like only a blink ago that we evacuated due to fires. We hope there is enough water for all the people, animals and crops and that everyone stays safe on the roads and in their communities.
AFTER THE FIRES – SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES February 2020
Drogmi Buddhist Institute sangha offered an evening meal at Quaama for the fourth week, a beautiful community 20 minutes’ drive south of Tilba that was devastatingly affected by fires at New Year. There are signs of great recovery in the community, yet challenging times ahead as many are still living in tents and vans.
The community say they really look forward to Karma la’s delicious and nutritious food and visits by our sangha. We also enjoy connecting with new friends each week. Around 100 people attended for the meal this Sunday 9 February, with a special addition of momos added to the menu which were all eaten up.
We have warmly invited the Quaama community to the Centre to enjoy Losar celebrations on 23 February.
A special big thank you to Karma la – you are an inspiration to us all.
AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 29 January 2020
The centre recently during the bushfire aftermath partnered with local wildlife community grassroots group Animal Australia to keep up food and water for wildlife living and those escaping fires and taking refuge at the Centre.
We set up three designated watering and feeding stations for all the animals on Kamalashila’s land, from the small insects to the larger animals like wombats and wallabies. Thank you to Annie, Penny and Rebecca who helped set this all up. Rebecca, a local wildlife expert, was impressed with some of the birds she saw on the property, birds she has not seen for months in the local area. With her help we have strategically placed food for the various birds and animals.
Al has done a great job in designing and making these watering pipes that keep the flow of water up to the animals. Thank you to Karma la who is doing the feeding and care of the animals.
PILGRIMAGE TO INDIA AND NEPAL DECEMBER 2019-JANUARY 2020
We dedicate this 11th pilgrimage to Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe, our teacher, in commemoration of the four major holy sites we visited, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar and Lumbini, and the minor sites of Vulture Peak, Shravasti and the holy places in Kathmandu. The pilgrimage went from 28 December 2019 to 18 January 2020.
We were so fortunate to have Khenpo la guide us on this 2019-2020 pilgrimage to India and Nepal. There was a memorable and dramatic start to our pilgrimage with eight days in Bodhgaya, not only because Bodhgaya was the place of the Buddha's enlightenment, but because it was here we learned of the extent of the devastation by fires back in Australia.
We all chanted and meditated under the Bodhi Tree praying to Guru Rinpoche to dispel natural disaster for friends and family at home. Khenpo la’s equanimity and composure steadied us, even though Kamalashila itself was in danger. We were also fortunate to have the prayers and blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche, and Jetsun Kushok Chimey Luding, to alleviate the fires...
“Following in the footsteps of the Buddha with Khenpo la as our guide and mentor and having the Sangha as fellow pilgrims on this journey through India and Nepal was a truly memorable experience that cannot be justified through words alone. Khenpo la’s energy, devotion and care was truly inspirational. For me personally, revisiting those holy sites once again has allowed me to come full circle and finally close some old doors and open a new chapter. I never imagined that a pilgrimage could be so challenging, powerful and inspirational at the same time. Thank you Drogmi Buddhist Institute for your efforts and putting together an amazing itinerary. I look forward to the next one!” Nat J.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 12 January 2020
Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre, its buildings, wildlife and gardens remained safe during the bushfires. We are grateful for all the prayers and good wishes from our local community and abroad.
On Sunday 12 January we gathered for a special compassion meditation, including reciting healing mantras and prayers. People came from as far away as Canberra. The group focused on all those sentient beings who have lost so much. We prayed for pain and suffering to be eased. We asked for equanimity, peace of mind and contentment to grow within all our lives. The group recognised the generosity, compassion and service that so many offered during this devastating period. We acknowledged our members who shared their homes with others. We also noted with gratitude what has been saved from the fires in our local towns. We prayed for the people that have passed, those suffering injuries or illnesses. We also prayed for the pets, livestock and wildlife that have been injured or lost, or those that have died.
Our meeting was followed by a tasty lunch cooked by Karma. It had been challenging to focus on the meditation, as the wonderful aromas from the kitchen wafted through. As I left the Centre, Karma was busy cooking food to take to the Quaama community. I could see him adding his kindness to the meals. Karma mirrored the amazing energy and service we have experienced from so many volunteers from all beliefs. Deborah T.
At Drogmi Buddhist Institute 2019 AGM 7 December 2019
As a Buddhist organisation our goal is to help others, others meaning everyone, yet practically we are living in Australia and as everyone is aware this year in a climate point of view we are in drought and so many are suffering, all the farmers out there – we must send good wishes, so I would like to invite everyone to join me in wishing for them that this drought be ended soon.
Secondly, due to the drought, many parts of New South Wales and some parts of Queensland are experiencing many bushfires and have affected most people. As well as all the wild animals are suffering, we can also send kind wishes that they are free from losing their lives and free from danger. I offer my wishes and prayers – may all be free of this danger.
Thirdly, this is our Annual General Meeting of 2019 and planning for 2020. Since the beginning of this year we had a most wonderful visit by His Eminence Luding Khen Rinpoche over three weeks, a very wonderful program and many people went to the retreat. Then following this the amazing visit of the head of the Sakya lineage, His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin, for a short period of time which was such a great benefit to many people. Following this as normal as last year we completed The Complete Path Course very successfully. As well as our regular weekly meditation days and the running of regular retreats, all being extremely successful, so if we look back from January up to today this has been one of the busiest and most successful times at Kamalashila. This success doesn’t come from mere one or two people’s hard work – this success comes from everyone’s joint efforts.
We are looking forward to working together similarly to have success in the future. Success depends on the organisation, the organisation is run by people, the people depend on the right motivation and right mind. Of course, I am less experienced in running an organisation than many of you, but one thing I have more experience than others is in the running of dharma activities, due to growing up in a dharma environment. This organisation is very different than other organisations, because a normal organisation focuses on mundane success, whereas this organisation is more of spiritual success, meaning the more we evolve in this organisation the less we have a self-cherishing mind – becoming more kind towards each other. Most importantly when one is part of this organisation it’s not about what one is going to get out of it, how can I control things, how I can be in a better position than others. Instead: how can I serve others, how can I make someone feel welcome here at the centre. In the running of the centre we need to remember that when people visit here they have certain expectations, being out in the communities they have particular difficulties and issues in their lives, having stresses in their lives. Due to this they may think if I go to a Buddhist centre it may help me to reduce my stress, it may help me to bring more peace, this is the reason people come here. Therefore, as an organisation we have a responsibility to provide that facility rather than to disturb their minds. This is so very important, as a spiritual organisation we must do our best to have a good environment here. It is impossible to please every single person, this is human nature, but if we look back to January up until now most of the people who have come to the centre, I believe are very satisfied of what we offer. One or two may not be satisfied which is nature and we cannot do anything to change that.
In the future I am not too interested in physical constructions, whereas in some centres organisations are so caught up in physical construction – for which I do say this centre is a place for long-term study, long time retreats, and in order to do that we need to have comfortable accommodation to have enough electricity, water, a comfortable place. At the moment we do not have completely comfortable things to offer others, for example we are having a lot of trouble due to water shortage, as in Grace kindly staying at the centre long-term, she has no water, so we do need to practically focus on developing necessary things for the future as in water, electricity and comfortable accommodation. Once achieving this, I will encourage the centre to have no more constructions done, for if we get too caught up in the material side we will lose the essence of focussing on the Buddhadharma, this is my wish.
Primarily and legally this centre is run by the committee, which I say they have extreme generosity due to it all being voluntarily, they receive nothing – their kindness in their efforts and their professionalism, so from the bottom of my heart I thank all of the committee for working so hard. I, also would like to thank all the general members, due to each member contributing in their own way from January until today, without all of you the trees or plants are not going to do what we need to do, in this way we need humans to help run this centre, so I would like to thank all the members and friends of Kamalashila.
I would like to thank Peter Green who was part of the committee before I came to Australia and have known him since 1994. He is a person without much drama, without hassles, if I ask him to do something, he will immediately attend to it, the reason he does things so fast is because he always practises Tara, he is quick like Tara. After these 25 years he has worked tirelessly as our treasurer, very efficiently and amazingly, and deserves to take a rest from the committee and resigning from the treasurer position, in this way to Peter I say thank you very much for all of your hard work and huge contribution. Yet he only wants one-year rest and hopefully will return as our treasurer by next year. This is the only way I can accept his resignation, if it was forever - I would have to think over again. After 25 years as treasurer it is very acceptable to have a year break.
In conclusion as a team we work together to benefit others. As many of you have heard me say many times also reading many times the greatest happiness comes when you generally help others. All the problems we face comes from individual interest, having a strong tendency and habit working in a normal place, there is ego, selfishness, misunderstandings, but as soon as you are working for the centre, we must remember we are not working in a mundane environment, we work in the dharma. At least if I am not working for others, just not to delude other minds – this being a big responsibility. In this way I invite more people to join, not necessarily in the form of committee but in form of a team, we all can work together to make this place benefit many people throughout the future here.
Finally, now coming to the end of the year, with Christmas and the New Year I wish everyone not only here but everywhere a wonderful holiday, I wish during this time that all beings be safe, to live an enjoyable life and free all nature of suffering such as the bush fires and drought. Thank you very much everyone… Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe
Khenpo la added information about the 2021 three-year Course:
The main focus is the Buddhadharma, teaching, practice and meditation, this is the main aim. Some people work within the Buddhadharma in a casual way as in our regular Tuesday and Sunday meditation practices and retreats. I also like to run more on the academic reaching out to non-Buddhist people, this has been a long time wish for myself. I feel so lucky now, for I have met some scholars and professors such as Carole, who approached me as to how can she aid to help promote the Buddhadharma. We started talking about this course at the beginning of this year, and up to now she has actively got volunteers to transcribe, for which 80 to 90 pages have been done already, it is advancing so well. Carole is being supported by two other professors, Richard and Gerlese from the ACT National University – all highly experienced professors, we are so lucky as a team to run an education system in 2021 at this centre. I am looking forward to another three-year course. Maybe having an education sub-committee with these three professors. In addition to this team we have Tjenka from Bega and Jane from New Zealand. These five will be a strong team together with this 2021 course. In conclusion I truly would like to thank Carole, she is offering to help the Buddhadharma in this way.
VISIT BY KHENPO NGAWANG DHAMCHOE 23/24/30 November and 1 December 2019
Khenpo la completed two successful weekend teachings visiting The Bau Sen Buddhu Ru Yi Temple, Kinglake, Victoria. The four talks given at the temple by Khenpo la were: “Coping with Stress”, “Facing Difficulties with Optimism”, “A Buddhist Perspective on Mental Health”, and “Meditation for Peace and Overcome Stress”. Khenpo la travels down to Kinglake annually and is so beautifully received and appreciated for his tremendous efforts and extraordinary teachings.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 15-17 November 2019
Our Annual Family Retreat proved a real treat for the families as we dropped our ordinary life to get a glimpse into what is truly possible. Khenpo la gifted us space, harmony, fun, warmth, a feeling of connectedness and freedom from our habits, a real breath of fresh air in the context of our busy family lives. We have taken home so much in our hearts and minds and as if this wasn’t enough of a blessing, he sent us off with a prayer he plucked from his mind stream to keep us from losing our way. With so much love and gratitude we say thanks to Khenpo and Kamalashila for holding our families with so much care.
When Khenpo asked a first-time child to the retreat what did he like about the retreat, he said “really loved having fun and laughing with his family”.
Daily Reminder Prayer (Composed by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe at the 4th Annual Family Retreat at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre 2019) When I am angry may I remember patience, When I am greedy may I remember gratitude, When I am jealous may I remember to rejoice, When people criticise, me may I remember my teacher, When I am stressed may I remember the meditation, When I am confused may I remember the wisdom, When I am scared may I remember the Triple Gem, When I am uncertain may I remember my precious human rebirth, When things don’t turn out may I remember cause and effect, When things change unexpectedly may I remember impermanence, When I am sad may I remember the liberation. May all beings be free, and may all beings be happy.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 10 November 2019
The Inaugural Three Visions Festival at Kamalashila was a wonderful success. Khenpo la’s extraordinary vision in bringing the three cultures together: Tibetan, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous at the base of Gulaga Mountain for a day of joy and sharing came to reality. Many people came to the festival to participate in a grand display of culture through music, dance, food and drinks. A very warm thank you to the Indigenous Community from Wallaga Lake, the Tibetan Community members from Nowra NSW and Canberra ACT, to the musicians from the ‘Chill Set’, ‘Tangent’ and Matt.
To all those who attended and made this most special festival, may there be many more. The day ended with a beautiful traditional Circle Dance lead by the Tibetan Communities.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 4-13 October 2019
At the Annual Shamatha Retreat Khenpo la taught on the methods of how to meditate, including a detailed explanation of the sitting posture. Khenpo la led the retreat attendees on a walking meditation around the centre, and then a sitting meditation in the open-air environment, facing Gulaga Mountain. This was a very special experience and demonstrated that there are no limitations to our point of focus in single pointed meditation. When we returned to the Gompa, Khenpo la continued teachings on the Five Obstacles to meditation and the Eight Antidotes. Khenpo la gave incredible teachings on the Nine Stages of Meditation, from the beginner level of Stage 1: Placement of the Mind to the very advanced 9th level Equanimous Placement of the Mind. Khenpo emphasised the importance of enjoying meditation, if we train our minds to really enjoy it, we can overcome all the obstacles and challenges that may present themselves.
Reflections at the conclusion of the Shamatha Retreat The gift of the week and journeys through Khenpo la offering us the teachings on Shamatha and “The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva”, have shone through and I am sure have opened all of us to a deeper level of inspirational wisdom, to polish our hearts with loving-kindness and compassion. The gentle rain soaking the earth and filling the empty tanks, the cosy beautiful gompa with golden embers of log fire warming us in this cold spell and gourmet clean divine food cooked and served with love by various members of the sangha (mainly Karma) have been the perfect place for meditation and learning. It is hard to capture in words the beauty and lucidity of Khenpo la reading the purity of the Tibetan verse and embellished with perfect present life stories to make each verse relevant and practical. The essence that I intend to carry from this precious time, is the source and solution of all happiness and suffering - is within my mind. Any difficulty I may suffer can be perceived as a perfect opportunity to practice patience with more loving-kindness and compassion, to live each moment with gratitude and joy.
Thank you to Khenpo la for embodying the essence of the Buddha and bringing these teachings with such grace, ease and inspiration to us. Pippa
From The Wisdom Age Special Pilgrimage Edition Issue 14
For me, every moment on Pilgrimage was extraordinary.
We were cared for in every way possible and protected for the entire journey by our most precious teacher, Khenpo-la. He was always there, yet we had to have our own experiences and some times witnessing the relentless suffering of others from our own perception and somehow bring this into our lives and practice and understand our own suffering to be able to help others and to continue along the precious Dharma path.
There are three instances of Khenpo-la’s wisdom that I would like to share, which still six years later resonate within me. The first being at the Mahabodhi Stupa, Bodhgaya. Whilst sitting only metres away from the actual Seat of Buddha Shakyamuni’s place of enlightenment, Khenpo-la reminded us: This very place is the most holy Buddhist site in the whole world, no other is more important and to place our minds here and nowhere else; that nothing else matters right now except this very moment of being there. Everyone in your world, all your tasks and problems are safe, let them be at this time and practice loving-kindness.
Secondly, along the way we asked Khenpo-la, how can we help these tragically suffering people as it is clear that offering money, clothing, and food to the begging children, some with polio and/or lying on the filthy ground disfigured and disabled to say the least, is not necessarily helping. One of Khenpo-la’s responses was: Some of our offerings may help them a little bit, yet the best way to help them is to include them in every aspect of your practice, to include them in ‘all sentient beings’, include them in developing Bodhicitta Mind, so you and they can achieve perfect Buddhahood and find everlasting true happiness.
Tara was with us every place we travelled, for Khenpo-la and Lama would chant the Twenty-one praises to Tara at the beginning of each day on our bus trips, long or short, then we all chanted Her mantra together. Her exquisite statue is within the structure of the Mahabodhi Stupa and is said to be the “Talking Tara”. As it is said that She spoke to a genuinely devoted pilgrim! At a later part of pilgrimage in Kathmandu, I found myself sitting within arm’s length of the “Arising Tara”, which rested on a rock within a very small temple encasing it, only able to squeeze in around 20 monks and another 40 lay people sitting on the ground. Somehow, I found myself nestled and gently pushed forward in our group towards the very front of this temple staring face to face with this miracle/phenomena presented to me. This leads to the third instance, as Khenpo-la had just expressed to me prior to this experience with the Arising Tara, as we climbed the hill to Padmasambhava’s Cave, as I was extremely ill, I nearly didn’t make it up there (karma): that whatever conditions arise from our own causes, we must fully except this. Not to punish oneself, or to judge, yet to learn and experience the condition, to transform it to a positive and then continue along the path.
Thugs rje che Thugs rje che (thank you thank you), to our most precious teacher, Khenpo-la. We are completely blessed with such a pure spiritual guide and teacher. To all of Khenpo-la’s beautiful family, we are forever grateful! And thank you to Vanessa most wholeheartedly for your great kindness and devotion in helping Khenpo-la organise and run a most beautiful and successful pilgrimage. Lael
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE September 2019
The Complete Path group gathered for the opening of the last term of the three-year program in Australia at Kamalashila, with Khenpo-la leading Sixteen Arhat Puja. It was lovely to see everyone again. Khenpo-la described this as the Spring Term of TCP – sowing seeds in Australia over the last three years, with the opportunity for those seeds to flourish for students continuing the seven-year program in Kathmandu in 2020. He gave an overview of the last term, outlining the key points and commenced teachings on the Mandala Offering and the reasons why to do this practice, being the accumulation of merit, which then leads to the accumulation wisdom.
Upon Khenpo-la concluding the teachings on the Uncommon Guru Yoga, individual presentations to the whole class were given. Khenpo-la asked each of us to present in no more than 2 minutes what our overall view was of the past three years of The Complete Path and how it has affected our everyday lives.
Following this Khenpo-la presented Certificates for 2019 to those completing all the necessary assessments. We then concluded with Mandala and Guru Yoga practice together, followed by concluding prayers and a Thanksgiving Mandala Offering, Dedication and Long-Life Prayers.
The course has been a great success, and we thank His Holiness the 42nd Sakya Trizin, for through His great wisdom in providing this course for us here in Australia, and to Khenpo-la for teaching the course and in making these profound teachings, so much more accessible. We then held a celebratory dinner, which was lots of fun with delicious food and entertainments. Thank you to Karma-la for heading the catering team for the week and for all who contributed.
Many are continuing their studies for the remaining four years of this wonderful course with His Holiness 42nd Sakya Trizin in Kathmandu, Nepal (solely offered at IBA).
We wish each of them every success in their studies and Dharma activities. Thank you, Dean for the lovely group photo.
Conducted by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe 9 September 2019
Khenpo-la conducted the special Naga Puja and Naga Sang with several sangha members in attendance. These ancient Tibetan rituals can assist with bringing rain. The ceremony was very elaborate with many offerings being made. Afterwards everyone shared in a delicious lunch. Thank you Khenpo-la for conducting this for all beings and the environment. Thank you as well to Al and Annie for hosting this very special morning. That afternoon some gentle rain fell around the Eden and Bega areas.
Visit by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe 30 August - 1 September 2019
Khenpo-la made His annual teaching visit to the NSW mid north coast last weekend, visiting Tuncurry. All who attended were so happy to be able to listen to Khenpo-la’s wise words. Thank you, Jule, for organising a lovely program.
“We are very grateful to Khenpo-la for taking the time to come and give us so much of his time. All who attended send their heartfelt thank you to Khenpo and to ask can he please make the journey back here in the not too distant future. Yours in gratitude, Jule and all at TBIS”
tour hosted by Drogmi Buddhist Institute 24-29 August 2019
The Men-Tsee-Khang Medical and Astro-science team arrived at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre late August this year from Dharmsala India. Doctor Dolma and Ms Tsundue gave very informative talks on their specialties and conducted consultations for two days.
Then visiting Dr Dolma and Ms Tsundue and the administrative team visited Bega, NSW to run a program, a Public Talk and more consultations with the local community. It was a lovely day for everyone in attendance.
Khenpo-la joined Dr Dolma-la and Astrologer Tsundue-la, and support team for a lovely lunch overlooking the beautiful ocean and Gulaga Mountain. Dolphins played in the water below. This was the final day on the South Coast for the team after a very successful program. The visiting Medical and Astro team travelled up to Sydney, sharing a very delicious breakfast with Khenpo-la before departing Tilba.
There was a stop at Nowra to see some patients organised by the local Tibetan Community. The community’s President Phurbu Tsering and family hosted a wonderful luncheon for everyone. Finally, onto Sydney, with a quick stop at the harbour to complete a very full yet wonderful day.
The Men-Tsee-Khang team were based at the Vajrayana Institute, giving consultations and a Public Talk. The event was very well received and attended, with many requests for a return visit soon. The knowledge and expertise of these practitioners is very gratefully received. Thank you to Geshe-la, the committee at Vajrayana Institute and all the sangha there for being so hospitable and welcoming for Drogmi Buddhist Institute to run this Sydney part of the Men-Tsee-Khang tour from their beautiful centre.
Visit by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe 16-18 August 2019
“The Weekend of teachings began on the Friday night with a Public Talk on Mindfulness & Compassion from Khenpo-la. Khenpo-la’s great knowledge on these topics was well received by the sangha and visitors to the centre. “During the Saturday and Sunday teachings, attendees experienced the healing and purification practices contained in the Vajrasattva & Medicine Buddha teachings which was attended by 25 students.
“We offer our many thanks to the people who worked towards the success of this time and a special thank you to Khenpo-la for travelling to Rockhampton, Queensland to provide us with these special teachings.” Warmest regards, Geoffrey.
“Prior to the weekend retreat, I had been looking forward to listening to Khenpo Ngawang Damchoe teach due to his excellent reputation as a dharma teacher and am thankful to everyone involved in organising his visit to Rockhampton. I found the teachings we received were as expected concise, but I appreciate the time taken by Khenpo to explain the teachings in a way that was intended to be applied in our day to day lives. We also received good advice on working through the difficulties we are likely to encounter when practicing the meditation techniques and applying them in life off the cushion. The teachings drew a large number of long-time practitioners to the centre as well as a number of people new to the dharma.” I hope to see Khenpo visiting Rockhampton next year. Alex M.