at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre
4 June to 2 July 2019
Saga Dawa within the Tibetan Calendar falls this year on 4 June to 2 July 2019.
The most important month in the Tibetan lunar calendar is Saga Dawa, the 4th month and the 15th day of the lunar month, the full moon day is called Saga Dawa Düchen which falls on Monday 17 June 2019. 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 on the same day of the Full Moon within this month.
Although, there is a specific separate day in which Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth is celebrated. This is referred to as Tampei Düchen, this year falling on Sunday 9 June.
In other Buddhist traditions this occasion is known as Vesak 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, virtue, and compassion in order to accumulate greater merit. Tibetans believe that during this month, the merits of one’s actions are multiplied. On the 15th day of the month the merits of one’s actions are hugely increased. Accumulating this merit is understood in many ways, it could be seen as the fruits of good karma, especially when it brings us closer 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 worms, crickets, or fish), 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. The act of giving life in this way is believed to extend the practitioner or benefactor’s lifespan and create positive circumstances. Another excellent way to make offering of life on this special day is to observe a vegetarian or vegan diet, a common tradition during this month. 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
A special day of practice will be held for Saga Dawa Düchen at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre, 9000 Princes Highway – programme to be announced shortly.
Held at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre
In the very first gathering in the gompa for the 1st term of year three of The Complete Path (TCP), we offered the Sixteen Arhat Puja. Praying for the long life of all the great masters, may they remain teaching the Dharma and may the Dharma flourish. To dedicate all this merit to all beings for their happiness, liberation and enlightenment.
This concluding year of TCP in Australia is on the vast and foundational teachings on Ngöndro. Here are some excerpts from the eight-day study program.
How to reflect about Refuge:
Khenpo-la explained the benefits of taking Refuge.
Teachings on taking vows:
Khenpo-la gave refuge and bodhicitta transmissions to participants and explained in detail the importance of cultivating bodhicitta mind - the genuine, heartfelt and driving motivation to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of all beings - for Mahyahana (and Vajrayana) practitioners. Put simply, without bodhicitta, Buddhahood is not achievable, and you’ve got to feel it - it can’t be dry and intellectual, it must be juicy, warm and real. The heart must be engaged. All sentient beings - including those really challenging ones - are needed to develop, refine and beautify our mind and heart by practising loving-kindness and Great compassion to generate conventional bodhicitta (both wishing and engaging) and eventually realise Absolute bodhicitta (from the first bhumi onwards). It’s tough, yes, but the samsaric mind is tougher and harder because it’s endless. Bodhicitta is needed at the beginning (to enter the path), in the middle (to stay on the path) and at the end (to share the path by benefiting others).
Motivation excerpts on taking refuge during the teachings:
We focused on the reasons, practices and benefits of performing Vajrasattva practice as part of uncommon Ngöndro practice. Khenpo-la explained the symbolism of the father and mother Vajrasattva (clarity and empty aspect) and the common and uncommon visualisations to perform. Khenpo-la recommended students to say the mantra daily (minimum of 21 times) in order to gradually cleanse our mind streams which have been accumulating all manners of habits since beginningless time. Khenpo-la also explained the meaning of the 100-syllable mantra which is extraordinarily beautiful, profound and heartfelt.
Suzi’s farewell in service to Khenpo-la:
We all gathered to celebrated Suzi Walker who has overseen looking after food for all Dharma retreats for 17 years with Khenpo-la. She has been like a Dharma mum to all of us and has worked tirelessly to make sure we get fed both nourishing food mentally and physically!
A group of us after the exam prepared and performed a live recording of a song dedicated to Suzi called “An Ode to Suzi” to celebrate the love we all share for her. It was written by Russell to the tune of the Australian folk song called “old man emu”, so much fun was had by all.
The group photo of the Complete Path students from Year 3 at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre was positioned under the glorious presence of Mount Gulaga. Thank you to Dean for his beautiful photos during the entire week, as well as some additional images from Khenpo-la, and other students.
Message from Khenpo la:
“The eight days of the Complete Path program were filled with richness and warmth. I encourage all students to share what you learnt with others and embody the knowledge and practise we did together. See you all in September. Thank you everyone.”
Held at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre
His Holiness then spoke about the significance of the namesake of the centre – Kamalashila, the renowned 8th century Buddhist master from Nalanda University, India – who journeyed to Tibet and the future seat of the Sakya order.
The teaching program commenced with an early Green Tara puja led by Khenpo-la, followed by a tremendous day of two Empowerments bestowed by His Holiness. The King Tradition Avalokiteshvara Empowerment was conducted in the morning and the Six Dome Uncommon White Tara Empowerment in the late afternoon.
His Holiness proceeded to give two teaching sessions for two days on the Uncommon White Tara. He explained the importance of the practice being an unbroken direct lineage traced back to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha in terms of authenticity. The Uncommon White Tara sadhana belongs to the Kriya class of tantra but sealed by higher tantra to perform different practices. His Holiness outlined the three parts of the sadhana practice (preliminaries, main practice and conclusion) and gave detailed guidance on the common and uncommon aspects.
At the end of the last teaching session, His Holiness bestowed the Vajrakilaya Torma Empowerment that has been in the Khon family lineage since around the 10th century, when directly received from Padmasambhava in Tibet!
In addition to the sadhana teachings and empowerments over the three days, His Holiness shared many pithy and practical teachings for new and old practitioners alike. This included reminding us that we cannot hide any action of body, speech and mind from the Law of Karma (cause and effect), that our mindfulness and vigilance need to act as our teacher.
Over 60 people attended the complete teaching program in Tilba, as all the practitioners look forward to receiving teachings from His Holiness in the future.
We wished His Holiness the safest of travels back to India, and thanked Him for turning the Wheel of Dharma for all of us at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre.
Held at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre
Zara Kaye of Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre (a primary school teacher and senior student of Khenpo-la’s), presented a seven-week workshop/course under Khenpo-la’s guidance on meditation.
Families of the local south coast area came each week with great enthusiasm and energy to learn about meditation and the bringing of these new tools into their everyday lives. They carried out lots of different craftwork based on mantra themes, songs about loving kindness, weekly family picnics to finish the morning time together and so much more.
On the last day, the children wrote thank you’s to Khenpo-la, Zara and to the centre through their creative artwork.
BY KHENPO NGAWANG DHAMCHOE
12 and 13 April 2019
Khenpo-la gave his inaugural dharma talk in Bega NSW, far south coast recently.
He spoke on the topic of “Facing Difficulties with Optimism”. The talk was very well attended, with around 70 people, who listened intently and asked some wonderful questions.
Thank you Khenpo-la and thank you Tjenka for your superb organising of this event.
Khenpo-la gave the second in a series of Public Talks on the far south coast of NSW, at Merimbula.
This topic was “How to Give with a Warm Heart”. Around 30 people attended, listening to Khenpo-la speak on the basic human desire, which is to be happy, though this needs to be trained and nurtured. An honest kindness and generosity to others, requires honesty and truthfulness to, and about, oneself. We potentially can attain happiness and good thoughts, speech and actions as Buddha did, with persistent effort.
Reflections by Jan
Thank you Khenpo-la, thank you to Chris and to Ingrid at Yoga Humm for facilitating this event.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE
19 February 2019
It was a very special day at the centre, Khenpo la and sangha members commemorated Chotrul Düchen, also known as the ‘Festival of Miracles’. This auspicious day coincided with Khenpo la’s birthday and all of us wish and pray for Khenpo la’s long healthy life. Many flower offerings were made and lamp offerings were lit to mark the occasion. Khenpo la lead meditation and prayers. Lael offered a delicious Birthday cake for Khenpo la, which all enjoyed afterwards at morning tea. It is wonderful to be sharing these very special spiritual days together.
It is one of the four major Buddhist holy days and occurs on the fifteenth day of the Tibetan New Year. During the first fifteen days of the Tibetan New Year, in order to increase the merit and the devotion of future disciples, Buddha displayed a different miracle each day at Shravasti in India.
During this time, it is believed that the effects of both positive and negative actions are multiplied ten million times.
To commemorate the occasion, Tibetans make lamps, traditionally of yak butter, called butter lamps in the shapes of flowers, trees, birds, and other auspicious symbols. They also create elaborate displays for the lamps in their homes and in public spaces, sometimes erecting structures as large as a building. All the lanterns are lit in celebration on the fifteenth day of the month.
Visit by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe
10 February 2019
Khenpo la completed a very successful visit to The Bau Sen Buddha Ru Yi Temple at Kinglake, Victoria in mid-February, 2019. Over the weekend Khenpo la gave a dharma talk on “Transforming Difficulty to Positive”, conducted a tour of the temple and led a guided meditation session “Meditation - Bringing Calm and Peace to our Life”.
This talk and temple tour was enthusiastically received by the community with many people attending, travelling from as far as Melbourne. There was extremely positive feedback from the attendees, who appreciated being able to attend such events close to home and are keen to have Khenpo la visit again next year.
This past Sunday 3rd February at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre, sangha members gathered for Medicine Buddha meditation, then cleaned the gompa, worked in the garden together, and then shared lunch of traditional barley soup and fortune dumplings that Khenpo la and Ani la had prepared. Thank you Khenpo la and Ani la for sharing this very special Losar family tradition with us all. The soup was delicious and the fortune dumplings a lot of fun.
We look forward to sharing Losar together on Tuesday 10-11am at the centre.
Wishing you all a very Happy Tibetan New Year 2146, from Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe and all at Drogmi Buddhist Institute / Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre (KTBC).
Khenpo la and friends at the centre this coming Sunday (3rd February) and Tuesday (5th February) extend an invitation to celebrate “Losar”, the Tibetan New Year 2146 (2019), the Year of the Earth Pig.
Losar itself falls on Tuesday, 5th February. Traditionally, Tibetans start the period of celebration by cleaning their houses and local monasteries / nunneries 2 days prior, that is this Sunday. On this day they gather after cleaning to enjoy a Tibetan festive soup. Then at Losar, monasteries perform pujas and families gather together.
KTBC will be holding a program to celebrate this very special time.
Sunday 3 February:
Tuesday 5 February
Please feel welcome to attend some or all of the program at this festive time.
His Eminence Kyabje Luding Khen Rinpoche arrived in Sydney Australia to commence a three-week program of Empowerments and Teachings at Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre (KTBC). His Eminence was greeted at the airport by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe, other Lamas and sangha members. A short welcome ceremony was conducted before His Eminence made the trip down to Kamalashila, Tilba. Upon arrival at KTBC, His Eminence was greeted by Alan and Annie Ray who warmly presented khatas and flowers to Him as they approached the property entrance and lead His Eminence and entourage for a traditional welcome ceremony by Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe who escorted them to the gompa. Tea and auspicious rice offerings were made to His Eminence, as it was also wonderful to have so many of the local community in attendance along with participants in the precious Vajrayogini program. Immediately upon conclusion of the ceremony a thunderstorm with torrential rain descended as His Eminence departed to His residence, a most auspicious blessing to the beginning of such a wonderful event.
The following day His Eminence commenced the program of empowerments, blessings and teachings, starting with the first group (2 days each) of the Chakrasamvara Empowerment. Twenty-five new initiates attended along with nearly the same number of previous recipients. This was followed by another two days of the second group to receive this most precious empowerment and then two days of the Vajryogini Blessing all together. On the auspicious day of the Blessing, His Eminence and Khenpo la both planted a Bodhi Tree seedling at the south-eastern corner of the gompa.
Early each morning prior to His Eminences teachings, Khenpo la would lead Green Tara Puja with all the sangha members who gathered from all over Australia, New Zealand and Canada for this most precious program.
At the conclusion of the Vajrayogini two-day Blessing, His Eminence so graciously offered the Ngondro Transmission to the group and many others attending the centre from the surrounding communities, who are now all welcome to join in the 3rd year of The Complete Path in the May and September eight day study period, of the Ngondro teachings and practices. A tremendous thunderstorm hit once more, which descended during the Vajrayogini Blessing, where the gompa was struck by lightning causing the power to go out temporarily. Very exciting indeed! The following day the Vajrayogini Nine Day teaching program commenced.
On Day five of the teachings, His Eminence very kindly lead a Tsog offering being the 10th Day of the Tibetan month. This followed by a glorious lunch for which His Eminence, Khenpo la and sangha attended, offered by our beautiful Alan Ray. A new standing Buddha arrived at KTBC during this event from Penny Moody and the Melbourne Sakya Centre as a gift. It has been sited in a new glorious silent garden creatively designed by Aylar.
There were daily Mandala Offerings for His Eminence, for all of our great gratitude towards His Eminence’s kindness and wisdom continually shared.
The two-day Hevajra Empowerment was extraordinary and truly beyond words. As well as His Eminence carrying out three last empowerments on the two last days open to all which were Chenrezig, Vajrapani and Green Tara!
It is extremely difficult to put into words the gratitude we have for this precious Master, so we do rely on the rituals of offering khatas, to whisper a most heartfelt thank you to Him and to bravely raise our eyes to His. We deeply thank Tsering-la, wonderful Tsekyab-la (Shrine master), and to Ngawang-la, whose translating was exceptional. Thank you as well to Venerable Tsultim for sponsoring Ngawang to fulfil that role.
At the conclusion of these magical and extraordinary three weeks, His Eminence commented that we all “felt like family”, was completely reciprocated by all who attended. Rinpoche-la said that, at first when he was told he was going to the Australian bush, he was not sure what to expect! But he was very happy to discover that Kamalashila was “like a pure land”, with it’s natural beauty and peacefulness.
His Eminence thanked Khenpo-la, the Drogmi Committee and to all of those who helped with the event, as all present were touched by the humility of this powerful and authentic Master. Quoting Nagarjuna, His Eminence reminded us that ‘There is nothing that doesn’t become easier with practice’ and encouraged us to take joy in our daily Dharma activities.
Our gratitude towards His Eminence is boundless and will continue into the future as we incorporate His teachings into our lives.
Deep deep gratitude to our precious teacher, Khenpo-la, without whose pure samaya, wisdom and compassion for all beings, we would never have had the opportunity to benefit from His Eminence’s profound presence.
DBI’s president Jack Heath, on behalf of all present, made a heartfelt request to His Eminence to return in the not too distant future. This was a very joyous time, as we wish His Eminence safe travels and for giving us all so much during His time in Australia…
May all who long to receive teachings from this most generous and kind Master be able to do so and may all of us who were able to attend be blessed to hear the Dharma from His Eminence again and again, may all beings benefit from our efforts.