IN THIS ISSUE• VIEW, MEDITATION, ACTION • “VISION WITHIN THE FOUR CORNERS OF FILM”
• INTERVIEW WITH NGAKPA KARMA RINPOCHE • PEACE VASES IN IRAQ
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
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View, Meditation, ActionDZONGSAR KHYENTSE RINPOCHE
What is wisdom? What is ignorance?And how can understanding theBuddhist view help us? In the first oftwo articles edited from a public talk inApril 2003, Dzongsar KhyentseRinpoche outlines the three mistakeswe make when perceiving phenomena,which cause us such suffering.
First of all, good evening, everyone. Thisis supposedly for those who have neverbeen to Buddhist teachings, but I can seesome old faces here, too. Anyway, I’vedecided to talk about something very,very basic. So for those who have notbeen to Buddhist teachings before,please don’t underestimate Buddhism asa result of this talk. First of all, due tomy own lack of knowledge, I will not bedoing any justice to it. And, secondly,our time is limited and Buddhismcannot be presented within a fewminutes or hours. I have myself been aBuddhist student for all these years andI still consider myself a student. Thereare so many things to discover and somany things to study because Buddhismis very vast and has many paradoxes. Itsvastness is something that I can’t reallysimplify, even though I will try tonight.
The very reason why Buddhism is complicated, vast anddeep is because it is, according to my interpretation, awisdom-oriented path. So it’s not an ethics- and morality-oriented path. It very much emphasises understandingthe truth. People have this idea that Buddhism is non-violent and compassionate. In one way that’s very nice.As a Buddhist I would take that as a compliment. But, onthe other hand, all the Buddhist concepts of compassion,loving kindness and non-violence are actually based on agreater wisdom. In fact, time and again, the masters ofthe past have taught us that without wisdom all this so-called love, compassion and non-violence merely becomephenomena that will eventually lead you to be a perfectco-dependent being. So wisdom is very muchemphasised. You will find that almost all Buddhist textseventually, if not right from the beginning, construct theidea of wisdom. The very purpose of a method such asmeditation is to cultivate wisdom. It’s not just to achievea simple, temporal sensation, but ultimately to createwisdom. And to do that we have to identify whatwisdom is. And this, I thought, we could discuss tonight:what is wisdom?
It’s very difficult to identify wisdom in simple language,but I think the mind that is in its height of normality is
wisdom. When the mind is absolutely normal, that isactually the wisdom Buddhists talk about. Now this leadsus to a really big discussion because, first of all, we haveto define what normal is. What is normal for some peopleis not normal for others. What is normal for one culture isnot normal for another culture. And this is why, from theBuddhist point of view, to identify a normal, sober personis very, very difficult. We are not normal from theBuddhist point of view; we are not sober. To define whatis normal, in most Buddhist philosophy, we have threecategories: view, meditation and action. And of thesethree, the first and the most important is the view. Ourview or idea - that needs to be finalised. So manycommentaries or shastras and so many sutras or Buddhistcanons are dedicated to presenting this view. Tonight Iwant to share with you a very simple approach that couldbe quite helpful.
From the Buddhist point of view, when we look at thisworld and phenomena, we always make three mistakes.Let’s not talk about all phenomena yet; let’s just talkabout our hand, for instance. When we look at our hand,we make three mistakes. The first mistake we make whenwe look at this hand is we see it as a permanent hand.That’s the first big mistake we make. You might think,‘No, we don’t.’ But we do. For instance, if I ask you, ‘Isthis the same hand that you had yesterday?’ you will say,
Photo Bridget Gebbie
‘Yes.’ We look at our hand and think this is exactly thesame hand that we had yesterday, the day beforeyesterday, a month ago. This is the first mistake we make,thinking that this is a permanent entity. And that is a bigmistake because it is not a permanent entity. It haschanged. Your yesterday’s hand is not going to comeback. It’s gone forever. Decayed. Dead!
The second mistake we make when we look at our handis we see our hand as a whole. That’s a very big mistakeagain. There is no such entity that you can call a hand. Ifyou are trained, you will not see a hand. You will seeskin, bones, blood, nerves and different components. Butwe don’t look at it that way. We look at our hand as awhole, which actually does not exist. That’s the secondmistake.
The third mistake we make when we look at our hand isthat we constantly forget this hand is dependent on many,many causes and conditions. It’s not just dependent onfood and moisturiser, it’s dependent on everything. Eventhe fact that this very ceiling is not falling on my hand iswhy my hand is moving. My hand is absolutelydependent on everything - on this microphone, this table,your existence, the ceiling, the space, the elements. Nowthis we don’t realise!
So the next question we ask is, ‘What’s wrong? Why dowe have to avoid making these mistakes?’ Now it’simportant to know that Buddhism is not a path todevelop a certain meditation so that you can replace thishand with a ‘divine’ hand. That is never the idea,although it might sound like that because you hear ofmeditation techniques, mantras, visualisations and so on.But we’re not doing those things to create a new handthat is permanent, independent and a whole. So what arewe doing here? First, we try to construct or establish thisview to really understand that this hand is impermanent,it’s interdependent and there is no such thing as a handas a whole. In fact, it consists of many components.
Now how does that help? Why do we have to know that?When we make these three constant mistakes, we gothrough pain. I’ve been referring to these as mistakes, butthe classic Buddhist term is ignorance. When we have thisignorance, it leads us to pain and suffering. And this isvery obvious. How many hand-moisturising creams areavailable? All because people don’t know that no matterwhat kind of hand moisturiser you use, this hand is goingto deform. Sooner or later it’s going fall apart; it’s goingto be eaten by birds one of these days. But most of usdon’t know that.
Okay, so now that we know our hand is impermanent,it’s not whole and it’s interdependent, should we stopusing moisturiser? No, not at all! In fact, we can usemoisturiser and buy more. Why? The fact that it isimpermanent is why moisturiser helps. If your hand isdry and if it is permanent, the dryness will be permanent.You will be stuck with a dry, uncomfortable hand! Butbecause it is impermanent, moisturiser helps. It will makeyour hand very smooth and soft. But also, because youknow that it is impermanent, finally when all themoisturiser runs out, you will not be too upset becauseyou have accepted the fact that your hand is
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impermanent. You understand? This is such importantknowledge. Now that is what we call ‘divine’ hand -when you know that this hand cannot be helpedpermanently, this hand cannot be replaced, this hand isimpermanent and it is interdependent. That is ‘divine’hand, Buddha’s hand. And actually, whether you believeit or not, it is nirvana, it is small-time nirvana, small-timeenlightenment already.
I’m using the hand just as an example. In our life thereare so many things like that - our political system, oureconomic system, our ideas about others, our ideas aboutourselves, democracy, Buddhism, the path, money andespecially relationship. I’m sure you know this. When welook at relationship, again we make these three mistakes.We look at this relationship as a whole, not in parts. Forexample, we don’t see that our partner has all these upsand downs. We are only attached to an abstract idea ofrelationship as a whole. But it doesn’t really work likethat, does it? When you are staying with somebody, yourego and their ego step on each other’s toes. And why?Because at that time the true nature that there is no suchthing as a whole relationship becomes clear. It comes inparts, in bits and pieces. When we have a relationship, wehave to accept that this comes in the package.
And relationship is impermanent, too. That’s veryobvious, I’m sure. Many of us have gone through this atleast once, if not five or six times! But it doesn’t stop. Westill think that one day we are going to have the perfectrelationship and this perfect relationship is usually apermanent relationship, an independent relationship anda relationship as a whole. We never look at it in parts.This is actually the Buddhist view. You might think this isoversimplified, but this is actually taught in theAvatamsaka Sutra, the Lankavatara Sutra and all the classicBuddhist teachings. And as I said before, Buddhism iswisdom-oriented so when we talk about wisdom we aretalking about seeing something without any interferenceof cultural or social upbringing, education or one’s owninhibitions. Seeing the truth, basically.
Where does compassion fit in here? Where does non-violence fit in here? Very much. If you have this greatview that everything is impermanent, interdependent andthat there is no such thing as a whole, this veryunderstanding is not only wisdom, it is empathy.Knowing that no matter what I do - plastic surgery,liposuction - my hand is getting closer and closer to decayhelps a lot. Then, when you look at your partner who iscompletely busy, blindly believing that this problem canbe cured with ginseng tonic or whatever, because youhave understood the truth, or the view, instead of somekind of arrogance you will want to make this personunderstand this truth. This is compassion. And this is alsothe act of non-violence. That is the Buddhist view.
Student: My general understanding is that the world as itis, is part of the whole, but you’re obviously saying thatit’s not. Understanding from you, I would say that we’reall just particles…
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Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s latest film, Travellersand Magicians, premiered in the Bhutanese capitalThimphu on 2 August 2003 and on 4 September it wasshown at the Venice Film Festival. Noa Jones speaks toDzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche about film-making.
How is Travellers and Magicians different to the last film?
In every aspect: scale, story, location. But I’m afraid Ihave used the same technique. I still haven’t achieved thecourage to do something different.
Some of your methods of teaching dharma are quiteprogressive…
No, not at all. I’m very traditional.
Well, your outward behavior is interpreted as very modern.
I may not be fulfilling some people’s expectations. If I amlucky, they only go so far as to call me ‘unorthodox’; if I amunlucky, they call me ‘wild and untamed’.
So that anticipation of your wild side exists and some peopleare surprised that your method of film-making is quiteconventional.
Because I’m not experienced yet, I dare not beunconventional. I can’t afford to make a film that will
flop, otherwise people won’t give me money to make thenext film. But at times it occurs to me to do somethingdifferent.
Like showing action in real time, for instance. ShoheiImamura’s film Warm Water under the Red Bridge comes tomind.
Is there any film-maker with whom you would like to study orwork?
Ridley Scott, John Boorman and Abbas Kirostani.
If money were no object, what would be the dream project foryou - which cameras would you be using, who would you beworking with?
The life of the Buddha actually, in Cinemascope. I wouldlike to work with a crew of only Buddhists who really puttheir heart into it, not just their artistic talent, not just aswork.
Working on a film is a pretty gruelling schedule. Did youmanage to keep up your own Buddhist practices?
Yes. It just meant I had one hour less sleep than theothers.
“ V i s i o n w i t h i n t h e f o u r c o r n e r s o f f i l m ”
A scene in the magic school from Travellers and Magicians
Cover photo: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche with the film crew in Bhutan (photo by Rasa; copyright PFP 2003)
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Sometimes on the road you’d be in the middle of calling a shotand a nomad would come to prostrate at your feet. How wasthat for you? Did you take any measures to conceal yourrinpoche-ness?
Since it was happening in Bhutan, it seemed very natural.I am sure some of the non-Buddhist crew may havethought I was practising tyranny, but I have to rememberthe Buddhist practice of not caring what people think.
One of the non-Buddhist crew members said he thought youwere pretty groovy, but your followers seemed kind of nuts, asif the reason we were following you was that we needed help.Would you care to comment?
I would take it as a compliment because in Buddhismpersonalities like myself are considered like a doctor andfollowers are like patients.
What are the differences and similarities between teaching anddirecting?
A big difference. Yet it can be very similar. It all dependson the motivation. I could be teaching dharma purely forworldly gain. In that case I might as well ride in alimousine, half-doped like some of the directors do.
What does your father say about your film-making habit?
My father? I am sure he thinks it is a useless worldlypursuit, ego-boosting, everything that’s not right. And Ihonestly believe he is right.
Can you think of an example of past vajra masters with such anunconventional pastime?
I’m not unconventional at all. In fact my biggest worry isthat I’m too conventional. My prayers include the wishthat I will not become a victim of common sense andconventional life. Being able to be unconventional is abig achievement from the Buddhist point of view. Ibelieve I could dye my hair pink or wear high-heel shoes,but that’s not being unconventional at all. That’s just asign of frustration.
What do you consider unconventional?
If I could lose all the inhibitions and hang-ups I havecollected, first as a man, then as a Buddhist, as aBhutanese, a Tibetan, a rinpoche. If I could teach astudent without having this fear that he or she might gethurt and eventually jilt me. If I could tell them what theyneed to hear even though it’s harsh, instead of justfeeding them with what they want to hear, that would beunconventional.
Why do you make films?
I make films because I love films. I love the wholeconcept - telling a story with pictures, the framing, thepacing, the sound, the dialogue. I like the fact that youcan present what you see in your mind’s eye. You look atthe whole picture, but your mind has chosen to focus
only on one thing - let’s say, this person’s eyes - and youcan demonstrate that choice, that vision within the fourcorners of film. Also, I like the fact that film is one of themost powerful mediums that we have today.
But don’t you do it for the money, too?
First of all, I am not that keen on making money. I stillconsider myself a yet uncorrupted artist. Besides, if Iwant to make money, there are many other ways to do so.In fact, film-making is very risky, especially the films thatI’ve been making where you have no entertainment, nosex, no violence. If I really wanted to make money, Iwould have chosen to make Hollywood- or evenBollywood-style films, avoiding the agony of not beingaccepted by festivals, not being liked by critics. It doesn’thave to be artistic. As long it’s entertaining, you makemoney. Having said all that, in the future I might actuallydo commercial films because being artistic andcommercially successful can be quite challenging.
So you plan to make more films?
Yes. I don’t see myself changing my profession into film-maker, but I definitely might make a few more films.
Will you make more films in Bhutan?
Yes. I have several more stories that I’ve writtenparticularly for Bhutan. One that I am quite ready for is asimple love story. I notice that many Bollywood andHollywood films over-sensationalise romance and itdoesn’t necessarily happen like that. It can be verysimple, very ordinary and at times corny, but at the sametime significant, like missing someone’s presence.
Are you putting spiritual messages into your films? Is this away of teaching dharma?
People ask, ‘You are a Buddhist lama so why do youmake films?’ This question is a bit puzzling. It indicatesto me that from certain standpoints this work is viewedas almost sacrilegious, as though I’m breaking some kindof holy rule. At the same time, I understand. Peopleautomatically associate films with money, sex andviolence because there are so many such films coming outof Hollywood and Bollywood. But if only they hadaccess to films by the likes of Yasujiro Ozu, Satyajit Rayand Antonioni, they would understand that film-makingdoesn’t have to be like that. In fact, it’s a tool. Film is amedium and Buddhism is a science. You can be ascientist and you can be a film-maker, a salesperson or apolitician at the same time.
So is this proper behaviour for a rinpoche?
I don’t know. But first of all, what I can tell you is thatbetween ethics, morality and wisdom, Buddhism hasalways put more emphasis on wisdom. Wisdomsurpasses behaviour. Some of the more conservativegenerations might raise their eyebrows at what I do andwhat I say. But what they have forgotten is that their so-called ‘right thing to do’ and their revered traditions wereonce upon a time very modern and progressive.
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Ngakpa Karma Lhundup Rinpoche was born in 1959 inupper Mustang in an area sacred to GuruPadmasambhava. Soon after his birth, Karma’s motheropened a sealed earthen jar of traditional “birth beer”and a blazing fire came out of the jar. This wasunderstood to mean that the child could be areincarnation of a powerful yogi. His parents andseveral nuns raised him with much love and affectionand in 1965 Rinpoche was accepted into a Tibetanschool for refugees in Dharamsala, run by Jetsün Pema,the younger sister of His Holiness Dalai. Rinpoche talksto the Gentle Voice about the twists and turns his lifehas taken.
When you finished your secondary studies, you enrolled atuniversity. But then you stopped your university studies andgained admission to the Holy Family Hospital in New Delhi.
The reason why I left university was that I went touniversity thinking there would be a lot of study to dolike we did in school, but I found that nothing washappening for half the year. And there were some strikesin India. Once the cooks started cooking some chapattis ongas stoves instead of firewood, so there was a strike aboutthat for a few days. I found life rather useless there and Idecided that I needed to do something useful.
So you joined the Holy Family Hospital and completed a two-year diploma in medical laboratory technology, Rinpoche?
Yes, I went there because before I’d finished secondaryschool, I worked in an orphanage school dispensary as anassistant to the nurses. So I got interested in nursing andwent to the hospital to see if I could get admission to do anursing course. But at that time there were no malenurses throughout India. They said if I wanted to domedical laboratory technology, there would be aninterview the next day. So I appeared and got selected ina very strange way: there were five interviewers and foursaid, ‘Not this boy. He’s going to spend a few monthshere and then leave.’ But a Christian nun called DrFernandez replied, ‘No, he was sent to us by Jesus Christ.’And she proved to be right in the end.
I stayed there and really dedicated all I did and wasgiven awards for my service. I was never a good studentin terms of scholarship, but I was a service-oriented man.When I left some Indians cried. Usually Indians don’t cryfor Tibetans!
During that time I also took great interest in Christianityand studied the Bible quite thoroughly with Catholics,Methodists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I also participated inthe holy communion, although I was never given the
flesh and blood of Jesus Christ!
So you left the hospital and decided to study tantra?
There were a few reasons why I did that. The main one isthat my father is a tantric master, a funeral master, and it’sthe responsibility of the eldest son to inherit his father’s joband carry on. The second reason was that His HolinessDalai Lama’s sister Jetsün Pema used to visit me every yearand one year she said, ‘Karma-la, you look like an Indian;you no longer look like a Tibetan.’ Jetsün Pema started theTibetan school for refugees in Dharamsala where I studied.And since I was one of the first batch of students tograduate, she always had a very soft heart for us andchecked what we were doing. So that really helped memake up my mind. And the third reason was that I hadstarted getting white patches on my skin from all theformaldehyde and ammonia toxins, working in thepathology department.
You’ve mentioned that your father was a tantric master. Andthe Tibetan word ngakpa means a tantric practitioner. Couldyou say something about this?
I N T E R V I E WNGAKPA KARMA RINPOCHE
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Ngak literally means mantra and pa is a person whopractises secret mantra. But when we say ngakpa, Tibetansoften have an idea of a person who can make rain, stophail, catch ghosts and get rid of all the evil spirits. That’sjust an idea and it’s quite sad because some Tibetansdon’t recognise that ngakpas also practise the mostprofound path of dzogchen. And I’ve also heard that inMongolia people are scared of even the word ngakpabecause it seems that the ngakpas were into black magicthere. So people are quite careful with ngakpas.
The group of ngakpas I belong to is from the Mt Everestregion, so most of them are students of Kyabje TrülshikRinpoche. One of my own lamas was even the student ofone of Kyabje Trülshik Rinpoche’s lamas, called NwagangTenzin Norbu. Nwagang Tenzin Norbu was actually thechief lama of the people around Mt Everest on both theTibetan and the Nepalese sides. Both Kyabje TrülshikRinpoche and Nwagang Tenzin Norbu belong to theMindroling tradition, although they practised theNorthern Treasures as well.
Over the next seven years you studied at Zilnon KagyelingMonastery and completed a three-year retreat in the lineage ofHis Holiness the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. Then in 1994 yougave up monastic life?
Yes, one reason was that my lama passed away. Also, thepolitics in the monastery really made me quite sick. And Iwas the only one who knew how to read, write and speakEnglish so the monastery was giving me all sorts ofresponsibilities, taking care of sponsorships, accountingand acting as a cashier. My main purpose had been tostudy dharma and yet I ended up not having any time todo anything with dharma. So I resigned from themonastery.
Then you travelled to all the sacred caves of GuruPadmasambhava?
Yes, perhaps I’m specialised in sacred caves! I went to allthe caves of Guru Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal,Machig Labdron and Milarepa. I made pilgrimage to allthe sacred caves in Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh, Nepaland India. And when I visited Germany I even went tosome underground caves that go on for about one and ahalf kilometres!
It’s quite unusual for rinpoches to be recognised later in life,but you were recognised in 2000?
Yes, I was quite amazed about that because at one pointin my life I was very critical about the whole system ofreincarnation. And then a lama recognised me as someyogi or mahasiddha - it was a strange feeling! Themahasiddha was known as Wariktsel Thokme and he wasone of the main students of one of the wildest yogis, DoKhyentse Yeshe Dorje, who was the body reincarnation ofthe all-knowing Jigme Lingpa. In one of Tulku Thondup’sbooks you’ll see that Wariktsel Thokme pushed DoKhyentseYeshe Dorje into a river, then they ended upriding on the same horse.
Apparently, I was recognised by the tulku of Do KhyentseYeshe Dorje who lives in Tibet and he was recognisedinternationally by His Holiness Dalai Lama, DodrupchenRinpoche and His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. So I thought,‘Maybe there’s no mistake, after all.’
Would you like to say something in conclusion, Rinpoche?
When I came to Australia this time I had to fill out myimmigration form. In the past I’ve always written down‘priest and meditation master’. But this time I wrote‘social worker’. During one of his annual teachings HisHoliness Dalai Lama said, ‘Now it’s high time that weTibetans, especially the monks, nuns and sangha, insteadof paying lip service to this bodhicitta practice, put it intoaction. We must really do something for others in action.’
So I made up my mind that I would be useful, at least inmy society to start with. I started acting as a bridgebetween the West and the East. I think the East needsmaterial wealth and the West needs spiritual wealth, sowe can do an exchange.
Till now I’ve found sponsors for about 100 nuns andelderly people in Tso Pema through Pantha Blazely andJudy Arpana, who lead pilgrimages from Australia everyyear. Most of the sponsors are Australians. Apart fromthat, I think I’ve been able to find sponsors for at least 300Tibetan children. I’ve also been actively involved with theTibetan Women’s Association in Dharamsala to raisefunds for an office and a gathering place. And I’ve beeninvolved in helping the Tibetan Day School and theTibetan Kindergarten in McLeod Ganj. Then last year Istarted a programme for the stray dogs in Dharamsala,feeding them regularly, sterilising both male and femaledogs, giving them anti-rabies injections and appealing toTibetans not to chain their dogs up or, if necessary, onlywith a long chain. So now I’m actively involved in auseful way.
In Asia people spend almost all their life trying to getmore food, better clothes, a better house, but in the West Isee you have already achieved that. So now it’s worthspending some time developing your inner qualities. Thequalities are there; they just have to grow.
Photos Gitama Day
8 - Gentle Voice
Although the world peace vase project was establishedat the behest of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpochein the late 1980s, the project’s genesis goes back toJamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820 - 1892) and ChogyurDechen Lingpa (1829 - 1870), who discoveredinstructions for establishing the vases as termas (ortreasure teachings) that were hidden by Guru Rinpochein the eighth century.
Of the approximately 6000 vases created for harmonisingand replenishing the earth’s natural energies, more than4000 have been moved from India to countries wherethey have, or will eventually, be carefully concealed in theearth and in some cases, in bodies of water.
Countries allowing freer access have been populated withvases first and as the project continues, it becomes moredifficult to complete the transfer of vases. While theproject continues to go forward right across the globe, weare now concentrating on building contacts to get vasesinto countries in northern Africa, the Middle East (such asPalestine, Syria and Lebanon), China, Russia and centralAsia.
It is ironic that the countries needing vases most urgentlyare often difficult to transfer vases to. Not all countriesenjoy the relative freedoms we do in Westerndemocracies. Armed conflict, religious practices and highlevels of corruption can make the job of transferring andplacing vases difficult. Even so, there have been manyauspicious coincidences arise that allowed us to transfervases to very sensitive areas such as those around Croatiaand Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Israel.
Here is an account of some very recent vase placementsin Iraq. Although Iraq continues to experience aheightened conflict, we would like to believe the presenceof vases there has and will continue to have a healing andregenerative effect in the present and for a long time tocome.
From the UN-Habitat’s Rehabilitation Program innorthern Iraq, Matthias Ernst reports, ‘I am pleased to tellyou we buried a peace vase in the foundations of ChaqChaq Dam in Suleimania on 8 November 2002. I wouldlike to acknowledge all of you who have allowed this tohappen, specially Engineer Nawzad, who has the merit tohave realised his childhood dream in erecting a dam inChaq Chaq to supply water to the Kurdish people inSuleimania.’
Matthias also tells of mountain climbers who placed avase on Mt Halgurd in northern Iraq. ‘Here’s a photo ofthe peace vase being placed at the peak of the highestmountain in Kurdistan. On 25 October 2002 a team ofclimbers, who enjoy the natural freedom of earth, climbedMt Halgurd, near Choman, one of the most remote areaof the world due to political reasons. They have dedicatedtheir journey to the holy message contained in the peace
vase. They feel honoured to have done it and haveexpressed high interest on the project.’
His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said that theprayers for peace and the intention to create conditionsfor peace are as powerful as the vases themselves! Withthis in mind our efforts to complete this wonderfulproject to spread prayers of peace and well-being acrossour troubled globe will continue with inspiredenthusiasm. If you have any reliable contacts in difficult-to-reach countries, please let us know so we can discusscreating links there. Contact details of various country co-ordinators are available on the Peace Vases websitehttp://www.siddharthasintent.org/peace/index.html orcontact me directly [email protected].
PEACE VASES IN IRAQ
Photos Matthias Ernst
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CREMATION OF KHANDRO LHAMO
LAMDRE LOBSHEY IN AUSTRALIA - 2004His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, an eminent master and head of the Ngor sect of the Sakya order ofTibetan Buddhism, will bestow the complete Lamdre Lobshey in Australia. This is Luding Khenchen Rinpoche’s firstvisit to Australia. At the request of Aenpo Kyabgon Rinpoche, His Eminence has kindly agreed to transmit this rarelygiven precious teaching in Australia before entering life-long retreat.
The full Lamdre Lobshey will be held at Vajradhara Gonpa from 3 May to 19 June 2004, the preliminary part of which, theTriple Vision, will comprise the first eight days. The Lamdre Lobshey is the esoteric or uncommon form of the Lamdre and isa theoretical and practical explanation of the entire Buddhist path, both sutra and tantra, from the beginning stages to thefruit of perfect enlightenment.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has been very supportive of this visit. Aenpo Kyabgon Rinpoche’s Sydney-based KyeguBuddhist Institute and the Lamdre Committee are hosting this rare and sacred teaching, which will be available inEnglish and Mandarin. His Eminence will also bestow various empowerments and teachings throughout Australia,especially in Sydney. For more information on the national tour and the Lamdre please visit our website: www.kbi.com.au
On 15 July 2003 Jakob Leschly wrote from ShechenMonastery, Nepal:
Khandro Lhamo, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s wife, wascremated last Wednesday. Present were many lamasincluding Kyabje Trülshik Rinpoche, Khyentse YangsiRinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Dzongsar KhyentseRinpoche, the two Chokling Rinpoches, Tenga Rinpocheand Sengdrak Rinpoche. They led various ceremoniesfrom each of the four directions. It’s monsoon right nowand it rained heavily during most of the precedingceremonies, but when the time for the actual cremationcame, the rain stopped. I’m sure various great beings sawmarvellous things. For the next three days there weredaily practices of guru yoga around the stupa and onSaturday evening, after guru yoga and feast offering,Rabjam Rinpoche and other lamas opened the stupa to
extract the remains. They found that most of the skull wasintact. The next day Kyabje Trülshik Rinpoche wentthrough the ashes and found the heart, tongue and eyes.That these three were not burnt is regarded as a sign of‘having captured the stronghold of wisdom’ (dgongs pabtsan sa zin pa’i rtags).
yDzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at the cremation
10 - Gentle Voice
S: …that everything is just particles. But aren’t thoseparticles part of something bigger and don’t theyeventually form something that is a whole?
R: Yes, but that whole just exists as an assumption.
S: An assumption of what?
R: An assumption coming from ignorance, actually,nothing else. It’s kind of disheartening to hear this, isn’tit? But that’s the truth.
S: No, actually I can understand that. But I don’tunderstand why people have told me, ‘When youmeditate you are part of the whole.’ What’s that?
R: When you meditate you are part of the whole? Okay.Meditation is a technique. When we talk about the view,one has to be quite ruthless. There is no loophole. Onehas to construct the truth. However, the technique ofmeditation is taught by all kinds of people and it is notusually accompanied by good logic.
This is a very good question that you’ve raised becausenot many people are interested in the view. Many peopleare interested in meditation because I guess people arevery sensation-oriented and meditation is kind ofsoothing. It’s kind of fashionable, also. But when we talkabout the truth, or the view, it’s not so nice to hear. It’skind of intangible and there’s nothing to hold on to.
S: It hurts our ego.
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R: Yes. And therefore meditation must always beaccompanied by wisdom. This is what I was saying in thebeginning. Buddhism should never be an ethics- andmorality- oriented path. Ethics and morals should comesecond. Wisdom, or the truth, is the most important thing.
(From a public talk by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche entitled“View, Meditation, Action”, Sydney, April 2003, which isavailable as an audio tape from Siddhartha’s Intent SouthernDoor, P.O. Box 1114, Strawberry Hills, NSW, 2012, Australia.The second half of this teaching will be featured in the nextissue of the newsletter.)
I’ve often heard that some people feel I am Westernised, Iguess partly because of my association with Westerners,but I totally disagree. It is true that I may be slightlymodern. But when it comes to Buddhist teachings itself, Itotally oppose people attempting to make Buddhismmore adaptable to the West or to the modern world. It isnot required. Buddhism has always been up to date.From the moment Buddha taught, the essence of theteachings hasn’t changed. And it shouldn’t change. Forinstance, the Buddha’s teaching that all compoundedthings are impermanent can never be changed; it’s not asif after 2000 years some compounded things now becomepermanent. Anyone who tries to modernise theBuddhadharma is making a grave mistake.
It’s important to make a distinction between the cultureand Buddhism. As the wisdom of Buddha travelled todifferent countries over different ages, the culture andtradition of each particular time or place became intrinsicto the teaching. Culture is indispensable because withoutit there is no medium to convey the teachings. Dharma isthe tea and culture is the cup. For someone who wants todrink tea, the tea is more important than the cup. Thecup is also necessary but it is not the most essential thing.Hence, you can say that I’m not attached to the cup. Ifnecessary, I’m ready to change the cup and for that reasonyou can say that I have a modern mind.
You are referred to as a Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche who teachesTibetan Buddhism, but you were born in Bhutan, weren’t you?Can you please clarify this?
I guess the concept of reincarnation and the laws ofcitizenship and naturalisation don’t work together. I’mrecognised as a reincarnation of one of the great Tibetanmasters - although I feel that for the first time in thehistory of karma, karma made a mistake. Regardless ofthat, in this life I’m Bhutanese. I feel more Bhutanesethan ever. And in many ways I’m proud of beingBhutanese. But my Buddhist training comes from theTibetan tradition, so I feel very loyal and sympathetic toTibetan culture and people. While I’m not a Tibetancitizen, I have undertaken the responsibility of severalTibetan monasteries and schools and I’ve done this for acouple of reasons. First, as a service to theBuddhadharma which, primarily, Tibetans aremaintaining at the moment by preserving it as a livingsystem. And secondly, because I am a reincarnation ofthis Tibetan master, I’m both obligated and obliged tocontinue his work.
(An article by Noa Jones will appear in the October 2003 issueof Shambhala Sun and her behind-the-scenes book about themaking of the film will be released later this year.)
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Photo Bridget Gebbie
Gentle Voice - 11
DHARMA DATESCHANGLING RINPOCHE’S TOUR
We’re delighted that Changling Rinpoche will return toAustralia to give teachings from 6 November to 15December 2003. Rinpoche will visit Brisbane, VajradharaGonpa, Byron Bay, Adelaide and the Blue Mountainsduring his stay.
• In Brisbane on 6 November there will be a public talkon “Cultivating Meditation as a Daily Practice”. Phone 07 3345 2978 for further information.
• At Vajradhara Gonpa, from 7 to 10 November, Rinpochewill present a spiritual poem, The Great Medicine, whichis a profound and succinct instruction on developingthe two aspects of bodhicitta - compassion and wisdom.Contact the gonpa on 02 6633 1382 [email protected] for details.
• In Byron Bay Rinpoche will explain shamathameditation on 12 November, give a public talk on “TheOrigin and End of Confusion” on 13 November and aweekend teaching on 15 and 16 November, entitled“The Spaces of Life and Death”, based on The TibetanBook of the Dead. Phone 02 6685 1646 for details.
• In Adelaide Rinpoche will teach on bodhicitta from 21to 23 November and will also teach on the preliminarypractices or ngöndro. Contact 08 8379 9942 for furtherinformation.
• In the Blue Mountains Rinpoche will give practicaladvice on “How to Die Well” on 12 December, as wellas teaching the One Hundred Verses of Advice of PadampaSangye on 13 and 14 December. Phone 02 4757 2339 fordetails.
DZIGAR KONGTRÜL RINPOCHE’S VISIT
Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche, who has blessed us severaltimes with his inspiring teachings, will visit Australiafrom 8 to16 November 2003. Rinpoche will teach at theRigpa Centre in Sydney on 8 and 9 November. [email protected] or phone 02 9211 5304 fordetails. At Vajradhara Gonpa Rinpoche will teach on theMadhyamika or Middle Way philosophy of Buddhism firstexpounded by the great India philosopher Nagarjuna. Forfurther details please ring 02 6633 1382 or [email protected].
VAJRADHARA GONPA SPRING SEMINAR 2003
Vajradhara Gonpa presents the Spring Seminar 2003,offering valuable instructions on the Buddhist path ofawakening, guided by these two brilliant teachers of theTibetan Buddhist tradition, Changling Rinpoche andDzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche. For further details about thegonpa’s programme please ring 02 6633 1382 or [email protected].
RETREAT HOUSE FOR DZONGSAR KHYENTSERINPOCHE
The site is prepared and work will begin in lateSeptember on the construction of Rinpoche’s retreathouse at Vajradhara Gonpa. The opportunity exists tomake a donation or sponsor specific items such as thesolar power system, light fittings, the kitchen fit-out,landscaping, painting, curtains, blinds, furniture, etc. Orperhaps you might like to volunteer your services to helpwith this wonderful project. Contact Vajradhara Gonpaon 02 6633 1382 or email [email protected]
WHITE LOTUS - EDUCATION THROUGHCOMPASSION
Since 1993 International White Lotus has been providingeducational sponsorship for disadvantaged Tibetan andIndian children, as well as offering health services,shelter, security and counselling. Dzongsar KhyentseRinpoche’s vision is to expand this work into Cambodia,Thailand and other South-East Asian countries to helpeducate children caught up in slavery and prostitution.There’ll be more information on the new projects in thenext edition of Gentle Voice, but in the meantime pleasecontact Meg Hart on 02 9955 9967 [email protected] if you would like to sponsora child or make a donation to White Lotus’s work.
THANK YOU FROM JANGCHUB
Jangchub Haubner has asked me to pass on to you all herwarmest greetings and thanks for your support and care.Her friend Janet Gay-Jordan spoke to her when she firstarrived in France and Jangchub said everything was“wonderful, wonderful, wonderful”. Since then we’veheard that she’s settled in well at the women’s sectionwith 22 others from all over the world and feels veryblessed to be in retreat. Just recently I transferred all ofthe donations ($1,225) into her French bank account. Ourthanks to all those who have contributed. I will need tosend another amount at the end of November so if youwish to continue your support of Jangchub, please do so.Also, let me know when you do, so that I can pass yournames on to her. If you wish to support Jangchub but donot have the banking details, please write to [email protected] or telephone 02 4757 2339.Once again, a great big thank you from Jangchub.
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
A documentary entitled Words of My Perfect Teacher willpremiere in Canada in September. From the World Cup tothe mythical mountain kingdom of Bhutan, Words of MyPerfect Teacher follows three students on a quest they hopewill lead to wisdom. The teacher is charismatic film-maker and citizen of the world Dzongsar KhyentseNorbu. This film by writer-director Lesley Ann Patten,featuring appearances by Bernardo Bertolucci, GesarMukpo, Aunt Shirley and Steven Seagal, was filmed inthe United Kingdom, Bhutan, Canada, the United Statesand in Germany at the World Cup. Words of My PerfectTeacher is a poignant and at times hilarious tale ofstudents and a teacher who defies convention. For moreinformation visit www.ziji.ca.
A set of four tapes of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’sManjushri teaching in Sydney, March 2003, is availablenow only to those who received this empowerment.Phone or fax Carol Weaver on 02 9810 4591.
SIDDHARTHA’S SCHOOL CHILDREN’S DAY
Siddhartha’s School holds its regular children’s day on thesecond Saturday of each month. For information andbookings ring Eva Thomas on 02 6633 1257.
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 Liverpool
ANEWSLETTER OF SIDDHARTHA’S
Street 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 ShantiSteiner on 0416 103 314 for details.
PRACTICE IN ADELAIDE
Shamatha meditation and Longchen Nyingthik ngöndropractices are held regularly in Adelaide. For informationabout these and about the Tsasum Drildrup practice,please phone Tineke Adolphus on 08 8362 7553.
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.
AND IN NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES
Since Wesak on the full moon in May, the traditional daycelebrating Buddha’s birth, a new Buddhist group, set upby Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, has been meeting in theByron Bay shire. BBB holds a shamatha meditation onWednesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. and a study groupevery alternate Monday evening from 6 to 7.30 p.m. inBrunswick Heads. Contact Paula Raymond-Yacoub on 026685 1646 for details. A Longchen Nyingthik ngöndropractice is held on the third Sunday of the month.Christina Peebles is the contact person for this practice on02 6688 2055.