A NEWSLETTER OF SIDDHARTHA’S INTENT · 2 - Gentle Voice The Wheel of Life DZONGSAR KHYENTSE...
Embed Size (px)
Transcript of A NEWSLETTER OF SIDDHARTHA’S INTENT · 2 - Gentle Voice The Wheel of Life DZONGSAR KHYENTSE...
IN THIS ISSUE• THE WHEEL OF LIFE • INTERVIEW WITH KHENPO SONAM TASHI
• THREE-YEAR RETREAT AT VAJRADHARA GONPA • LETTER FROM THE ENGLISH TUTOR• A BABY IN A BACKPACK TO BHUTAN
A N E W S L E T T E R O F S I D D H A R T H A ’ S I N T E N T
2 - Gentle Voice
The Wheel of LifeDZONGSAR KHYENTSE R INPOCHEDZONGSAR KHYENTSE R INPOCHE
I’m sure many of you have seen the painting of theWheel of Life. It’s quite a popular painting that you cansee in front of almost every Buddhist monastery. In fact,some Buddhist scholars believe that the paintingexisted prior to Buddha’s statues. This is probably thefirst ever Buddhist symbol that existed.
The painting is, loosely, a depiction of life. I guesscuriosity about life is one big curiosity that we have. Butthe definition of life is quite a diverse thing so this issomething that we have to come to a mutual agreementabout. I know many refer to this as the ‘wheel of life’, sridpa ’khor lo. But, actually, the Tibetan word srid pa is notreally ‘life’. Srid pa actually means ‘possible existence’ –maybe it’s existing, maybe it’s not, but it’s possible that itexists. That’s an interpretation of life according toBuddhism. The interpretation itself is quite profound, Ithink. And then ’khor lo means ‘the wheel’, ‘the chakra’,‘the mandala’, which again in itself has some profoundsignificance because when we talk about ‘mandala’ weare talking about chaos; at the same time we are talkingabout order. So we are talking about a chaotic order aboutlife.
I was asking people about the definition of the word ‘life’in English. There are many, but one that struck me was‘coming to life’, ‘becoming animated’. I have a feeling thatwhen we talk about ‘animate’ we are talking aboutsomething like consciousness. So, basically, when we talkabout ‘life’ I think somehow we are talking aboutsomething to do with a mind, consciousness, awareness.Would you agree with that?
So, okay, there’s this question: What is the purpose of life?But before we even talk about the purpose of life, what islife? Now according to Buddhism, life is nothing but aperception, a continuous perception. This has become themajor, fundamental subject of Buddhist teachings, whichis taught in many different ways, and one way is throughpainting, I guess. So if you look at the picture, you willsee the Buddhist interpretation of life. If you ask aBuddhist, ‘What is life?’ they will say, ‘This is it, this islife.’ Anyway, as I said, life is a perception. A perceptionof what? Who is the perceiver? The black pig in thecentre. It’s very difficult to teach about this. It has beenthe major subject of Buddhist studies because you have todefine what is ignorance. In Buddhism when we judgewhat is ignorance and what is not ignorance, we don’tjudge something as ignorant or evil based on morality orethics. It has to be judged based on wisdom. So when wetalk about ignorance, we are talking about a mind that isat its height of abnormality. When the mind is at itsheight of normality, then that’s wisdom.
Briefly, how do you define what is normal or what is notnormal? Nagarjuna’s definition of what is normal is whensomething is not dependent. If an entity depends onanother entity, then we are never sure whether the colouror the quality of this present entity is actually the ultimatenature because it is dependent on the second entity. Thereis always a possibility that the second entity can corruptthe first entity. So, likewise, a mind that is dependent onan object, a mind that is dependent on all kinds ofeducation, influence, meditation, is an abnormal mindaccording to Nagarjuna. So what is a normal mind? Whenyou completely renounce all these objects, all theseentities that your mind is totally or partially dependenton.
So for now you can say the pig, which represents ourignorance, is the one that causes all this perception. Thisis not the best painting. Ideally, the cock and the snakeshould be vomited out of the pig’s mouth because the piggives birth to passion, the cock, and aggression, thesnake. Now please don’t bring that petty mentality aboutthis being such a politically incorrect thing for a pig torepresent ignorance and so on and so forth. This is auseless debate! Please, you have to understand that this isa symbolic teaching. And somehow, I don’t know why,pigs have always been unfortunate. The Buddhists havedepicted pigs as the symbol of ignorance and Muslimshave even refrained from eating them.
Anyway, the pig represents ignorance. From theignorance comes hope, which is actually like the motherof passion, and then from the ignorance comes fear,which is like the mother of aggression. So we have threekinds of mental factors. Of course, the original one is theignorance, which gives birth to aggression and passion.So you can say that these three are what perceives things.We were talking about perception. These three perceivethings in so many, many different ways.
Sometimes, out of ignorance comes the hope of wantingto be good. Out of this wanting to be good, a personbehaves or manifests in a compassionate and non-violentway. In this case, such a person’s perceptions are morewholesome so you can say that this kind of personexperiences perceptions such as the god realm and theasura (or jealous god) realm. Sometimes out of ignorancecomes passion or aggression, which creates a lot of havoc– it kills, steals, destroys oneself or others and gives birthto unwholesome, painful, aggressive perceptions. That’sdepicted in what we call the ‘three lower realms’ - the hellrealm, the hungry ghost realm and the animal realm. Sothese are the six realms.
Here, there is quite an important message. WhenBuddhists talk about hell, they are not talking about aconcrete place somewhere underneath. And when we talkCover photo: Wheel of Life (Photo Stuart MacFarlane)
about heaven we are not talking about somewhere whereeverything works. We are not talking about a place tomigrate to, basically. When we talk about going to hell,we are not talking about being punished. I think theconcept of punishment is quite a new thing for theBuddhists, actually. Although we may say: ‘If you dosuch and such bad karma, because of this badkarma you will go to hell’, we are not sayingthat there is a someone called ‘karma’which is going to then force you as apunishment to experience the lowerrealms. As we spoke about before, it’sa perception, depending on yourmind, depending on your mentalstate.
Let’s discuss the six realms. Sincethe hell realm is the worst, let’s talkabout it first so we can get it out ofthe way. This is really quite profound.In the hell realm all kinds of sufferingare depicted. In the centre of the hell realmsits Yamaraja, who is like the Lord of Hell. AHell’s Angel, I guess, not on a Harley Davidson,but sitting comfortably on the throne made outof skulls. The interesting question is, ‘Who is this guy?’From many Mahayana texts we know who this is. This isnone other than the bodhisattva Manjushri. And who isManjushri? Manjushri is the symbol of wisdom. So again,here, the Lord of Hell who decides who is to suffer what,so to speak, is actually your own ultimate nature ofwisdom sitting there. Then there are things like beingburned in the hot hell and being trapped in the ice andsnow mountains of the cold hell, and then there are allkinds of animals. There’s one thing I need to tell you. Oneof the reasons why the Wheel of Life was painted outsidethe monasteries and on the walls (and was reallyencouraged even by the Buddha himself) is to teach thisvery profound Buddhist philosophy of life andperception to more simple-minded farmers or cowherds.So these images on the Wheel of Life are just tocommunicate to the general audience. The Lord of Hell,Yamaraja, holds a mirror. Again, this is very symbolic - tobe free of hell you don’t look for an external source, youlook at yourself: meditation such as shamatha meditationor vipashyana meditation.
Now there’s something else quite interesting about thehell realm. Within it you can see a white light going up,which symbolises that hell is also impermanent. It’s notas if once you go to hell then that’s it, there’s no way out.It’s not like that. After all, it’s your perception. If you canchange your perception, you can also get out of hell. Sothere’s a person depicted leaving hell.
Then there’s the animal realm with all kinds of animals.Tibetans have not seen many animals. Australians woulddo better painting this realm. The animals in the oceansand the animals on the land - I guess they must haveforgotten the animals in the sky, like birds.
And then there’s the hungry ghost realm. Beings herehave a very big stomach, a very thin neck and a verysmall mouth and are always hungry and thirsty, looking
Gentle Voice - 3
for food everywhere. Quite interestingly, there are somehungry ghosts sitting there who have jewels, but they areso stingy they don’t give them to other people. Of coursenot! But they don’t use them for themselves either. Theyjust save them for the next day or the next year.
Then there’s the god realm – castles, dancing girls,beautiful trees that have all sorts of ornaments,
people spending life just listening to music,playing music, taking baths, everything is
so perfect. And there’s the asura realm.They are as rich as gods, but they haveone problem which is fights. They lovefighting because they are jealous allthe time. For instance, they fight a lotwith the gods. This tree is called thewish-fulfilling tree. It actually growsin the asura realm. The jealous gods
are busy taking care of this tree but it isso tall, when it bears flowers and fruit, it
usually does so up on the top level andonly the gods can reach them. So all the
jealous gods’ effort in taking care of the tree iswasted. That really triggers so much anger andjealousy, which then creates a lot of fighting
between the asura realm and the god realm. Sadly, thegods almost always win, but the jealous gods just don’tgive up. They feel that one day they can topple those inthe god realm.
In the human realm we see suffering and pain – birth,death, old age, sickness. At the same time we also seepeople having fun, for instance. We also see peoplethinking, contemplating and discovering. So we have sixrealms. Loosely, you can say when the perception comesmore from aggression you experience things in a hellishway. When your perception is filtered throughattachment, grasping or miserliness, you experience thehungry ghost realm. When your perception is filteredthrough ignorance, then you experience the animal realm.When you have a lot of pride you are reborn in the godrealm. When you have jealousy you are reborn in theasura realm. When you have a lot of passion you arereborn in the human realm.
But the word ‘born’ or ‘reborn’ means a lot. It does notnecessarily mean that right now we are all in the humanrealm and we are not in the other five realms. Dependingon what kind of karma we create, we can go to otherrealms. If the karma to experience the hell realm is thestrongest then you will, I guess, change this form andthen with another form you will experience a hellish kindof perception. But according to Mahayana Buddhism, thesix realms are something that can happen during thecourse of a day!
(The Gentle Voice would like to thank Tom Pengelly and ClaireBlaxell for this transcription. The second half of the teaching onthe Wheel of Life will be featured in the next issue of thenewsletter. It is also available as an audio tape fromSiddhartha’s Intent, Southern Door, P.O. Box 1114, StrawberryHills, NSW, 2012, Australia.)
(Photo Stuart MacFarlane)
4 - Gentle Voice
From 1966 to 1983 Khenpo Sonam Tashi was DzongsarKhyentse Rinpoche’s attendant, accompanying him tohis enthronement in Sikkim, residing with him duringRinpoche’s studies at the Royal Chapel Monastery andalso studying at Sakya College. Khenpo is the abbot ofChökyi Gyatso Institute in Bhutan and kindly gave thisinterview without the aid of a translator. He speaks hereof his many years caring for the young Khyentse Norbu.
Khenpo, I believe your father knew Lama Sonam Zangpo,Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s grandfather?
Yes, I was born in Bhutan in 1952. Most of the peoplefrom the area around my home, which is called ChoekhorLing, knew Lama Sonam Zangpo and they invited him tostay in eastern Bhutan. Due to this invitation he agreed tocome and was accompanied by his grandson, DzongsarKhyentse Rinpoche. But at that time we didn’t know thatRinpoche is an incarnation of Dzongsar JamyangKhyentse Chökyi Lodrö. His other grandfather, HisHoliness Dudjom Rinpoche, had named him KhyentseNorbu, so we used the name Khyentse Norbu.
When Khyentse Norbu was very young, about four orfive years old, his grandfather Sonam Zangpo (circa 1888– 1984) told my father that I needed to come and take careof Khyentse Norbu. So I went to his place and stayedthere with Rinpoche and his grandfather. I’m very luckythat his grandfather chose me to stay there with him. Itwas a great blessing.
So you took care of Khyentse Norbu?
Yes, I took care of him very well. And his grandfathertrusted that I was taking care of him very well! I was verylucky that they were in that area. While they were there,his grandfather taught Khyentse Norbu how to read andwrite during meditation breaks, and he also taught mehow to read and write. And at the same time, hisgrandfather taught me how to do the shrine master’stasks according to both the Kagyü and Nyingmatraditions. Rinpoche’s grandfather would do the pujasand I needed to learn how to take the shrine master’srole, the chöpon. So Lama Sonam Zangpo trained me. Healso gave me the opportunity to do the foundation
I N T E R V I E WKHENPO SONAM TASHI
Khenpo Sonam Tashi at Vajradhara Gonpa, 2003 (Photo Bridget Gebbie)
Gentle Voice - 5
practices of the Kagyütradition under hisinstructions. So I finishedthese practices when I wasabout fifteen or sixteen.
Then, after that, hisgrandfather Sonam Zangpomoved to another areacalled Yong-la Gonpa. It’sthe monastery of one ofJigme Lingpa’s disciples,Jigme Küntröl. He movedthere to help repair themonastery. Khyentse Norbumoved with him, so I alsomoved there to take care ofRinpoche. There, KhyentseNorbu went to school – theonly school like a westernschool in that area at thetime. A year later he movedto another school in anotherarea. I went everywherethat he went; I had to,because I had to look after him. Anyway, while Rinpochewas at Kanglung School in eastern Bhutan, His HolinessSakya Trizin recognised him as an emanation of DzongsarJamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. Then the King ofSikkim and Rinpoche’s previous disciples and attendantsdiscussed this and two of his previous attendants came toinvite him to his original place in Sikkim. So he left thatschool to go to Sikkim, and his grandfather wished me togo with him as I was alwaystaking care of him. In thatway, I went to Sikkim, too.Khyentse Norbu was aboutseven or eight then.
When we arrived, therewere many beautifulreceptions in Gangtok; theKing of Sikkim, ministersand many high lamas,especially His HolinessDilgo Khyentse Rinpoche,received him very warmly.At Siliguri they made aspecial gate and at otherareas in Sikkim they alsomade gates; these led to thepeak or Holy Mountain ofSikkim, where the kinglived in the Royal ChapelMonastery. That was thefirst time I’d seen such royalsplendour and the first timeI had a chance to see HisHoliness Dilgo KhyentseRinpoche and the spiritual consort of Rinpoche’s previousincarnation, Khandro Tsering Chödrön. Then, on theauspicious day of 2 September 1968, many peoplegathered and His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse did theenthronement ceremony.
I was in a new country withnew languages and I was verysurprised by all this. HisHoliness Dilgo Khyentse gavemany wonderful speeches. Hewas very happy to receive anincarnation of his own teacher.At that time, too, I saw TulkuPema Wangyal (the son ofKangyur Rinpoche and brotherof Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche,who now lives and teaches atChanteloube, France),translating a few things intoEnglish. That was the first timethat I saw a Buddhist monkspeak English! At that time Ithought how great it would beif I could learn English!
After the enthronement inSikkim, I had a chance to seehigh lamas when Rinpochewent to see His HolinessSixteenth Karmapa at Rumtek,
His Holiness Sakya Trizin in Dehra Dun, and when hewent to Dharamsala to see His Holiness Dalai Lama. Iwas with him during these visits so it was a greatopportunity for me to be in their presence.
For the next seven years we stayed in the Royal ChapelMonastery, and one of Rinpoche’s attendants and shrinemaster from his past life, Lama Chogden, became
Rinpoche’s first tutor after hewas recognised. While LamaChogden was tutoringRinpoche, he also taught mehow to make tormas in theKhyentse tradition. (Thesewere the tormas I showed youhow to make here atVajradhara Gonpa.)
After a few months LamaChogden, who was quiteelderly, passed away.Rinpoche had several tutorsafter that, one of whom wasPema Tashi, the umze or pujaleader of Choling Monasteryin Kham, Tibet. During thetime he tutored Rinpoche,Pema Tashi also taught mehow to lead a puja and how tosing various puja tunes. Afterthat, Ragong Sota becameRinpoche’s tutor and from himI learned grammar, spelling
and so on. During that periodwe stayed in the Royal Chapel Monastery with KhandroTsering Chödrön and Tashi Namgyal, the attendant of thelate Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. On special days,
(Photo Steve Cline)
(continued page 10)
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche (Photo courtesy of Sonam and Tenzin)
6 - Gentle Voice
Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, who reached his eleventhbirthday at the end of June, spends most of his year inthe tranquil haven of Bhutan, often called the lastremaining Buddhist kingdom of the world. It is herethat, from around April to November, he is able tosettle into a much stricter routine of study and practice,away from the crowds.
Rinpoche’s compound is situated on a hill sevenkilometres outside Paro, with a stunning view of thefamous Taktsang monastery on the hillside opposite.Khyentse Rinpoche has his own house within thegrounds where he stays with his two attendants, his twodogs Yangchen and Akiko, and a baby deer namedJohnny.
Rabjam Rinpoche tries to spend as much time as he canin Bhutan with the Yangsi, whilst at the same timeworking hard to ensure the Shechen monasteries runsmoothly in preparation for Khyentse Rinpoche’s futuretake-over. Khyentse Rinpoche and Rabjam Rinpoche lovespending time together; it’s plain to see RabjamRinpoche’s relationship with Khyentse Rinpoche is just acontinuum of his relationship with Dilgo KhyentseRinpoche. They are both full of love and respect for eachother and miss each other when they’re apart.
Rinpoche studies from Monday to Friday with a half-dayon Saturday, and shares his class with his two youngcompanions, Dorja Tulku (12) and Tashi Chime (14).Their day is full, starting at six a.m. with morningprayers and prostrations. After breakfast they studyTibetan reading (The Kangyur) from nine till twelve,followed by an hour’s lunch break. Then they have anEnglish language class for two hours followed by‘teatime’. From half past three to five they study Tibetanwriting and grammar, and then in the evening they dotheir protector practice and evening prayers before bed.
The English class from Monday to Friday includesMaths, Geography, History, Science and Dharma. Theclass is often full of interesting discussions; we spendmore time talking than writing! I try to encourage themto question everything around them and come to theirown conclusions. In the beginning some of my westernteaching methods caused much amusement and perhapsconcern for the older monks. We often sing, act, paintand play games, but I think they’re used to it now!
Rinpoche loves to read and listen to stories, so we often(if they’ve been good!) finish the class with twentyminutes ‘story time’ or I’ll visit him in the evening toread a bedtime story. We’re presently reading TheMagician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. Rinpoche’s favouritewriters are Roald Dahl and Roger Hargreaves (the Mr.Men series) and the three boys are presently writing theirown Mr. Men books to add to the collection. Rinpoche’stitle is Mr. Old. Maybe one day we’ll get them published!
In the four years I’ve been here we have performed twoplays, making all the props and costumes ourselves: Jackin the Beanstalk and Snow White. Everybody joins in andplays a part (even Rabjam Rinpoche!) and we invite allthe children from the village to come and watch. Oftenon Sunday we’ll go for picnics to the riverside or in theforest, and once a year after the ‘dreaded annual exam’we all pack up and go camping in the forest for two orthree days relaxation.
Every day, between five and six, Rinpoche playsbasketball and he’s also slowly getting to grips withbalance on his brand new bicycle. We sometimes cooktogether at the weekend or even in class. In the pastwe’ve made gingerbread men, blueberry cheesecake,toad in the hole, strawberry biscuits and ice-cream. Heloves to get his hands messy!
Rinpoche sometimes spends the weekend in Thimpuwith Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi KesangWangchuk. They have a very close relationship, and it isthrough her kindness that we are all able to stay andwork for Rinpoche here in Bhutan. Rinpoche has amessage he would like to pass on to all the Gentle Voicereaders:
‘Thanks for reading my news. Do you like it? Thank you for learning Buddhism; thank you forthinking about me. When you learn about Buddhism itmight be a little bit hard, but when you get used to it,you’ll start to like it. Good luck. Khyentse Yangsi.’
With warm wishes,
LETTER FROM THE ENGLISH TUTOR
For twenty-five years His Holiness Dilgo KhyentseRinpoche’s retreat centre in Dordogne, France, hasquietly conducted a succession of traditional three-yearretreat programmes for Westerners. Inspired by thatexample, Vajradhara Gonpa, Dzongsar KhyentseRinpoche’s retreat centre in northern New South Wales,Australia, will inaugurate its first three-year retreatunder Rinpoche’s direction towards the end of this year.
Three-year retreat is a strenuous programme of intensivecontemplative practice based on the motivation to seekrealisation for the benefit of others. The gonpa’s seclusionon 800 acres of natural bushland near the Border RangesNational Park and theblessings of nearly twentyyears of hosting so manyauthentic teachers of theBuddhadharma make itparticularly well suited as avenue for such a long-termretreat.
Twenty-five to thirtyindividuals will undertakethis first retreat. Once theretreatants have receivedempowerments andinstructions from Rinpocheat the outset of the retreat,they will practise in fourdaily sessions, remaining within the retreat boundary forthe duration of the three-and-a-half-year training period.Rinpoche will return to give instructions for subsequentstages of the retreat about twice a year. Rinpoche alsoplans to invite other lineage masters to visit the retreatand teach from time to time. Interested students mayarrange to attend the retreat during those times whenRinpoche is giving empowerments and practiceinstructions.
Rinpoche has explained that the retreat programme willbe based on a scaled-down version of a five-year “EightChariots” retreat curriculum designed by JamyangKhyentse Wangpo and Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö.The “Eight Chariots” refers to the eight lineages ofBuddhadharma transmitted from India to Tibet. Duringthe three and a half years, retreat participants will
undertake the preliminary practices (ngöndro), thenpractise in turn the sadhanas of the three roots – guru,deva and dakini.
To prepare for this first three-and-a-half-year programmeVajradhara Gonpa has built a retreat house for Rinpochethat will serve as a venue for presenting retreatinstructions, and is renovating the dormitory rooms forindividual occupancy. At this stage the gonpa has eightself-contained cabins and the plan is to steadily buildmore cabins for use in future three-year retreats. Thesecond three-year retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa is expectedto commence in 2009.
The gonpa wasfortunate to recentlyreceive endorsement asa tax-deductible giftrecipient. Donations toRinpoche’shouse/teaching facility,as well as other futureeducational facilities,are now tax deductible.Donations can be madedirectly to theVajradhara GonpaShedra Building Fund,account 06 256310068739,
Commonwealth Bank, Kyogle, or mailed to P.O. Box 345,Kyogle, NSW, 2474. As approximately $Aus40,000 isneeded to complete the payment for Rinpoche’s house,your generosity will be deeply appreciated.
Your financial assistance can also provide partialsponsorships, matched by the Khyentse Foundation, forsome individuals wishing to participate in the three-yearretreat and support for renovations to dormitory rooms.For further details please contact Kathie Chodron [email protected] or phone 02 6633 1382.
Vajradhara Gonpa Committee extends sincere thanks tothe many people who have already donated generouslytowards Rinpoche’s house and other numerous projects atVajradhara Gonpa. Your generosity will benefit manybeings.
Gentle Voice - 7
THREE-YEAR RETREATHREE-YEAR RETREAT T AAT VT VAJRADHARAAJRADHARA GONPGONPAA
The three-year retreat should be taken as an ignition of your spiritual life.Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, 2003
(Photo Ani Lodrö Palmo)
(Photo Maree Tenzin)
8 - Gentle Voice
February:- - - - “The Sword of Wisdom”, swordsmanship display and an introduction to the themes of 2004.March: - - - - - “The Generous Heart”, the spirit of generosity and its effect on us.April: - - - - - - - “A Warrior’s Discipline”, exploring healthy boundaries through the martial arts.May: - - - - - - - “A World of Patience”, an introduction to indigenous culture and the strength of patience.June: - - - - - - “The Hero’s Effort”, learning self-confidence through circus skills.July: - - - - - - - Holiday break.August: - - - - “The Skill of Meditation”, respecting the clarity of our mind with fun and games.September: - - “Compassion’s Wisdom” focuses on the wisdom of our heart.October: - - - - “Putting it all Together” prepares for November’s Open Day.November: - - “Siddhartha’s School Open Day”, with presentations, performances, art and information.December: - - “End of Year Excursion”, a challenging and exciting day out for all.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has long expressed hiswish to see a school based on Buddhist principlesestablished in the West. Inspired by Rinpoche’s vision,a group was started in June 2003 in northern New SouthWales, Australia, which will culminate in theestablishment of a full-scale independent school.
The aim is to build an education system with strongemphasis on human values and responsibilities, togetherwith a sophisticated academic approach. There will beexploration of different cultural, religious andphilosophical ideas, while enhancing each child’s ownbelief system, to provide them with much needed supportin an ever-changing world. The first stage has been aseries of monthly gatherings known as Siddhartha’sSchool Children’s Days. These were originally held atVajradhara Gonpa, then more recently at the local CollinsCreek Hall. The group has grown from a handful ofparticipants to a regular attendance of between twentyand thirty children from all around the area, some drivingfor an hour and a half to take part. A highlight of theearly children’s day activities was a performance of thelocally written play Asanga and Maitreya at VajradharaGonpa in front of Rinpoche and a group of over 100guests. It was a great success and a tremendous thrill forthe brave young performers.
A group of dedicated parents and friends have developeda full and exciting programme with activities such asmartial arts, story-telling, music, visual arts and games. Itis designed to teach about the recognition of ourindividual qualities and strengths and to be a fun anduplifting experience for both participants and the manyhelpers who take part. Each month a different quality isexamined in detail and methods are explored to helpintegrate this quality into daily life. Special guests such asmartial artists, circus acrobats and medieval swordfighters have been invited to inspire the children withtheir skills and to demonstrate the importance of thatmonth’s quality in achieving one’s goals.
For all the people involved it is a very inspiring project,which causes us to think deeply about our values andhow to integrate them into an education system. We would like to thank Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche forhis inspiration and encouragement as well as thededicated volunteers whose tireless efforts bring thiswonderful project into reality.
(Photos Mic and Megan Edwards, Eva Thomas)
Gentle Voice - 9
“Would Kathryn and I like to spend three monthsin Bhutan, sleeping on the floor with twentystrangers whose names I can’t pronounce, while hedisappears up a yak trail six hours away, not evenaccessible by carrier pigeon? Of course, Maldoesn’t put it quite like that. Not at first. He saysRinpoche is making a new movie, bigger andmore sophisticated than The Cup and this time setin Bhutan.” With these words writer BuntyAvieson sets the scene for her adventurousjourney to Bhutan in 2002 with her eight-month-old daughter Kathryn and partner Mal Watson,who co-produced Travellers & Magicians forDzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
While Mal is away in the countryside supervisingthe shoot, Bunty and Kathryn live with fourBhutanese sisters and their families in Thimpu, thecapital city. A Baby in a Backpack to Bhutan isdedicated to Kathryn and to these four luminouswomen whom Bunty describes with such love andsensitivity. She is touched by their kindness towardstwo complete strangers and their unbridledwelcome of her and Kathryn into the family. At thestart of her stay she describes them in this way.
When I find out the English translations ofthe sisters’ names, I’m dumbfounded. Before,I was nervous about mispronouncing them,now I’m completely intimidated aboutspeaking to these exalted people at all.
The eldest sister is Karma Yangki, whichmeans ‘Activity of Spaciousness’. The nextsister is Phuntsho Wangmo, ‘PowerfulMother of Excellent Abundance’. BeautifulKarma Chokyi is ‘Activity of the Dharma’.And Wesel Wangmo, the kind, loving sisterwho looks after Kathryn most of the time, is‘Powerful Mother of Luminosity’. Accordingto the Australian Women’s Weekly Book ofNames, Bunty means ‘pet lamb’. It justdoesn’t compare.
For a few days I try thinking of the women inthese terms. Good morning, Activity ofSpaciousness, isn’t it a beautiful morning? Goodafternoon, Powerful Mother of Luminosity, how’sKathryn’s nappy rash? It transforms everyexchange into something verging on thedivine.
Living in this hospitable and generous household,Bunty learns about life in contemporary Bhutan, acountry moving cautiously towards democracy, butone that has great reverence for its king and royalfamily. She depicts excursions to a local temple tohelp a crying baby sleep and to an oracle for adviceon family matters. There are encounters withgomchen, serious Buddhist practitioners who havespent their lives meditating and studying (and nowacting in a scene from Travellers & Magicians), andmeetings with twelve of the nation’s most eminentand learned scholars who are developing a nationallanguage. Above all, a vivid portrait emerges of herkind-hearted, accomplished hosts, women whoembody the old and new that is Bhutan.
This is a lively, humorous and heartfelt account oflife in one of the world’s most intriguing countries.Bunty Avieson worked for twenty years as ajournalist on newspapers and magazines inAustralia and Britain. In 2000 she took up writingfull-time, with crime thrillers such as Apartment 255,The Affair and The Wrong Door to her credit. A Babyin a Backpack to Bhutan is her first non-fiction workand is published by Pan Macmillan Australia.
A BABY IN A BACKPACK TO BHUTAN
(All photos Bunty Avieson)
Wangchuk Rinpoche walked out of Tibet to see theincarnation of his previous master. Rinpoche asked me toguide Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk on a pilgrimage to theholy lands in India. So I did that and accompanied him tosee other rinpoches and other places in India.
Then in 1984 Rinpoche sent me to Dharamsala to study atthe Dialectics School there, to do teacher training. Then,in 1985, he sent me to eastern Bhutan to study astrologyand I spent one year at Tshanghkar Monastery there.
After that Rinpoche wanted to set up the Chökyi GyatsoInstitute in eastern Bhutan and in 1986 I became the abbotof that institute. His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpocheheld the first exams and my students offered theirknowledge to him at Thimpu in Bhutan. And at that timehe gave me the title of khenpo. He then gave me thescholar’s hat according to Tibetan tradition. Some yearslater I realised that he had written, advising me ofworking towards this goal. Later I realised it had cometrue!
So I’ve been looking after that institute until now,especially from 1986 to 1996, when I was the only teacherand was always there. In 1991 the institute moved toDewathang because it’s easier for transport and to getfood and hospital services. Rinpoche’s grandfather LamaSonam Zangpo had founded a monastery there. After themove to Dewathang I realised that Lama Sonam Zangpohad prophesised this. He’d said that in the future a shedrawould be built and monks from all over would come tostudy Buddhism there. I felt very blessed to be able tofulfill the wish of another of my root gurus. After thatRinpoche sent more khenpos and teachers to the institute.So now I can relax and travel a little bit!
10 - Gentle Voice
like the tenth and twenty-fifth days, wedid pujas with Khandro Tsering Chödrönand also Sogyal Rinpoche. It was awonderful chance for me to meet them.Most of the time I had to make the tormasand prepare everything as the shrinemaster, and sometimes even be the pujaleader. In those days the Royal ChapelMonastery was only for royalty; thereweren’t many monks there and as I wasthe youngest I had to do these things. It
was very good training for me.
At that time His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche gaveRinchen Terzöd teachings and also Lama Gongdu teachingsat Tashi Ding in western Sikkim. He offered theseteachings to Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, so I also got achance to receive them. And His Holiness also taughtRinpoche mudras at this time, so I learned mudras andhow to be a shrine master from His Holiness DilgoKhyentse Rinpoche, too.
In 1972 Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche joined SakyaCollege under Khenpo Appe. Again, I was very fortunateto receive wonderful teachings from teachers like KhenpoAppe and be with wonderful students like Gyalsay TulkuRinpoche and other tulkus and learned students. Weenjoyed those times with them and had a chance to studyMadhyamika, Vinaya, Logic and Prajnaparamita.
During those days, while we were in college, everywinter we had a holiday and Rinpoche had to go to manyplaces to receive teachings from many teachers.Sometimes we went to Nepal to receive Dudjom Tersarteachings from his grandfather, His Holiness DudjomRinpoche. Once we went to Nepal to receive Kagyüteachings from His Holiness Sixteenth Karmapa. Andsometimes during the winter holiday, we went to Rumtekin Sikkim to receive Shangpa Kagyü teachings from thelate Kalu Rinpoche, together with many high tulkus suchas Kongtrül Rinpoche and many others.
His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse wrote to me at that timepraising the role of attendant and encouraging me tocontinue with what I was doing. He often wrote poems tome that I still have. He was one of my gurus. He wasvery kind and gave me lots of advice, especially aboutChökyi Gyatso Institute. However, he died before I wasable to ask him about some of this advice.
I received some Drukpa Kagyü teachings from the lateKhamtrül Rinpoche in Tashi Jong, and some otherDrukpa Kagyü teachings from Rinpoche’s grandfather,Lama Sonam Zangpo, especially the Six Yogas of Naropawith Rinpoche in 1979. This would have been verydifficult to receive otherwise, and we had to finish thefour foundations first. But Rinpoche’s grandfather hadplanned this, so I’d already finished the foundations. Ittook place high up in the mountains, in the cold.
After Sakya College, Rinpoche studied again with histutor in Sikkim, and he did further studies with KhenpoRinchen and Khenpo Lodro Zangpo. Anyway, I stayedwith him from about 1966 to 1983. In 1983 Khenpo Kunga
(continued from page 5)
Self portrait in retreat by Jangchub Haubner, who sends her bestwishes and thanks for your continued support
(Photo Steve Cline)
Gentle Voice - 11
DHARMA DATESMADHYAMAKAVATARA IN SYDNEY
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche will teach the first in aseries of annual teachings on Chandrakirti’sMadhyamakavatara, an Introduction to the Middle Way, inSydney from 7 to 16 January 2005. This is one ofBuddhism’s key philosophical expositions – anopportunity not to be missed! Details of the event are tobe advised. For enquiries please [email protected]
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision for the KhyentseFoundation is quickly becoming reality. As the goal of$US2,800,000 for its Endowment for Monastic Educationapproaches, significant disbursements to the DzongsarInstitutes have already begun, gradually taking care ofRinpoche’s financial responsibilities to the monasteries.After the remaining $US300,000 has been raised, focuswill turn to the Publications and Scholarship Funds.Regarding publications, several exciting meetings havetaken place in the U.S.A. between the foundation andGene Smith of the Tibetan Buddhist Research Project.Much synergy was found between the two andmomentum is building to set up printing centres inBhutan and India in the near future. And hundreds ofstudents have downloaded Rinpoche’s new NgöndroManual: Advice on How to Practise, available free of chargeat the Khyentse Foundation website(www.khyentsefoundation.org).
The foundation is happy to announce that it will bepartially sponsoring a number of the three-yearretreatants in Australia for the duration of the retreat. (Ifyou would like to make a matching sponsorship, pleasecontact Kathie Chodron on 02 6633 1382 [email protected]) And Rinpoche announced to anastonished and grateful crowd in San Francisco thatstudents who attended the first two years of hisMadhyamakavatara series there would be invited to attendthe second two years free of charge.
All of this activity is made possible with the help ofRinpoche’s friends and supporters. The InvestmentCommittee, led by Bel Pedrosa, has made excellentprogress this year, which has allowed the foundation tostart putting funds to work. The foundation hopes toattract more new subscribers to the matching fundsprogramme made possible by a group of anonymousdonors who match every dollar donated on a recurringmonthly or quarterly basis.
SPRING SEMINAR AT VAJRADHARA GONPA
This year’s spring seminar from 16 to 26 September willfeature teachings by Changling Rinpoche, includingteachings on deity yoga, as well as part II of The GreatMedicine, a spiritual poem of profound and succinctinstruction on developing the two aspects of bodhicitta.Part II will emphasise the ultimate truth according to theMadhyamika viewpoint. For more information about thisseminar, and also about Buddhist courses in Kyogle andLismore, please phone 02 6633 1382 or [email protected]
THE GREAT ART RAFFLE
Here’s another way to support the activities of VajradharaGonpa, in particular the preparations for the three-yearretreat! The Great Art Raffle offers eighteen beautifulprizes, including three calligraphies by DzongsarKhyentse Rinpoche, Ani Lodrö Palmo and May Gu, sixartworks by Joan Ross, Raphael Zimmerman, TinekeAdolphus, Beth Norling and Ray Dargan, and muchmore. The raffle will be drawn on 1 November 2004 andall prize-winners will be notified. To find out how to buyyour $5 tickets or, better still, to sell a book of tickets toyour friends, contact Vajradhara Gonpa on 02 6633 1382or email [email protected] for details.
SIDDHARTHA’S SCHOOL CHILDREN’S DAY
Siddhartha’s School provides a programme based onBuddhist principles such as wisdom, compassion,courage and awareness, recognising that these qualitiesare fundamental to the nature of every human being. In arespectful and inquisitive atmosphere, children’sindividual growth is nurtured, allowing them to discovertheir own strengths and connection to the world. Theprogramme runs one day each month for primary-schoolaged children, offering a variety of activities including themartial arts, story-telling, drama, music, meditation,visual arts and games. For more information, or to beadded to our mailing list, please contact Eva Thomas on02 6633 1257 or [email protected] or Ari Summaon 02 6621 2193 or [email protected] Bookingsare essential and can be made with Eva.
POBox 1114 • Strawberry Hills
NSW 2012 • Australia
PLEASE NOTE: Because of its sacred content, pleasetreat this newsletter with respect. Should you need todispose of it, please burn it, rather than throwing itaway.
12 - Gentle Voice
BUDDHA DOWN UNDER
Buddha Down Under, New Zealand, was established byDzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in April 2003. Our groupmeets monthly on the tenth day of the Tibetan calendar inAuckland to offer a Shower of Blessings with tsog. Pleaseemail [email protected] for moreinformation or call Ani Dianne on 09 424 3334.
PRACTICE FOR SYDNEY-SIDERS
Shamatha meditation is held once a fortnight onWednesday at 7.30 p.m. at the dance studio ofDarlinghurst Public School at the corner of LiverpoolStreet and Barcom Avenue, Darlinghurst. Phone ChrisConlon on 02 9360 1304 or Hugo Croci on 0402 894 871for further details. A Tsasum Drildrup tsog is held on thetenth day of the lunar calendar. Please contact Rati on0400 841 553 for details.
PRACTICE IN ADELAIDE
A Longchen Nyingthik ngöndro practice is held on the firstSunday of every month, starting at 2 p.m. A TsasumDrildrup practice takes place on the third Sunday of everymonth, also starting at 2 p.m. Please phone TinekeAdolphus on 08 8362 7553 for details about the venues.
IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
A Tsasum Drildrup tsog is held each month on GuruRinpoche day. Shamatha meditation is held on Mondayevening at 7.30 p.m. Please ring Pamela Croci on 02 47572339 for further information about these and about theLongchen Nyingthik ngöndro practice in the BlueMountains.
ANEWSLETTER OF SIDDHARTHA’S
NEW CONTACT FOR TAPES
Anna Vlajkovic is the new contact person for orderingrecordings of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s teachings.CDs of Rinpoche’s latest teaching in Sydney, “How toLook for Guru and How to Be Student”, are nowavailable. You can reach Anna on 02 9518 1363 or [email protected] Siddhartha’s Intent would like tothank Carol Weaver for all her help over recent years inediting, copying and distributing the tapes with suchcalm and efficiency.
BYRON BAY BUDDHISTS
Over the past six months bbb has hosted teachings byHogan San, Ngakpa Karma Rinpoche and KhenpoNgawang Damchoe, and a public talk on bodhicitta byDzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. The Byron BayCommunity Centre venue was filled to capacity forRinpoche’s recent talk and many people took refuge andbodhisattva vows at the end of the evening. Byron BayBuddhists runs a regular programme of meditationsessions and study groups at 1/22 Fawcett Street,Brunswick Heads. Shamatha meditation, suitable forbeginners as well as established meditators, is held everyWednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. For further details aboutthis, the Madhyamika study group and other Buddhistcourses, please email [email protected] or phone/faxbbb on 02 6685 1646. For information about the LongchenNyingthik ngöndro practice on the third Sunday of everymonth, please phone Christina Peebles on 02 6688 2055.