Friday, May 28, 2010

Ready and Waiting

We are here and ready to broadcast. Some people are getting error messages and since they want everyone to be able to view, we are delaying until it¨s all resolved. Shouldnt be long.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Same Dharma Time, Same Dharma Channel

About an hour into broadcast time, we were still waiting for the server issues to be resolved. His Holiness had ice-cold Starbucks Frapuccino served to the translator team, told stories and generally maintained a joyful and light atmosphere as the tech team frantically pounded away on their keys. When His Holiness concluded that it was not going to be possible tonight, he gleefully noted that in fact according to the Tsurphu calendrical system, Vesak was tomorrow! Thus the decision was made that the webcast will take place tomorrow May 28, on Tsurphu Vesak, at the same time as had been planned for May 27.

Hope to see you all then!

Stay Tuned!

Quick update from the reception room where His Holiness will be teaching soon. Due to unanticipated volume of people logging in, we are having server issues. The moment they are resolved we will come online, so please stay tuned. It could be as much as half an hour delay.

Friday, May 21, 2010

living the dharma: live - CORRECTION


We've posted a number of blog entries with short summaries of teachings from our lama, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa. Now you have the opportunity to receive teachings from His Holiness yourself, live via webcast. On May 27--the most important holiday in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar, marking Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing into parinirvana--His Holiness will be giving a teaching especially for his European students, and these will be webcast live, on this site:

The teachings will be take place at 11:30 pm Indian time, 8pm continental European time, 7pm London time, 2pm New York time, 11 am California time and 4am on May 28 Sydney time. There will also be live translation into several other languages, including German, French, Spanish (translated by Damcho), Polish, Chinese and Russian. Links to the live translation will be placed on the webpage above. English translation will be broadcast on the main page.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

thinking about gender in buddhist monasticism

Sometimes the obvious questions get asked last. Two years into our lives together, here, one such question has come up in our community life, and we are now organizing a workshop to allow us to draw on others experiences as we wonder: If women tend to communicate with each other differently than men do, if women tend to respond differently to hierarchical authority, and if women tend to form different sorts of friendships than men do, then wouldn't communities comprised entirely of women flourish under different organizational structures and different communication practices than have historically been found productive for Buddhist male communities?

The vast preponderance of Buddhist monastic communities to date have been male communities, and therefore obviously employed practices and social structures that were designed by men for men. Yet this simple fact has often been overlooked when it comes to our thinking about and development of nuns’ communities. The planned workshop will ask the simple but overlooked question: Are there ways that Buddhist nuns' communities can draw on the particular strengths and needs we have as women? This workshop will be held at next year's Sakyadhita conference in Singapore. That conference is open to all, and we particularly welcome here your comments and thoughts.

Tibetan Buddhism teaches that women and men have the same essential nature. Both ultimately share the same basic potential for spiritual growth and enlightenment. Yet it also clearly acknowledges that social conditioning has a major impact on the tendencies, needs and strengths that any given person can bring to bear at any given moment. Whenever people live together, the habits, expectation and internalized roles that they have imbibed with their earlier socialization take on great relevance. This is certainly so in the case of gender socialization.

A great deal of sociological research has been done into the ways that men and women in the same society display differences in their friendships, their ways of caring for others and their styles of communication. If we are able to tailor the social practices within our monastic community to reflect the strengths we have as women, this could be of great benefit to the health and stability of our community. For example, as women we might tend to be more comfortable sharing our internal processes in ways that allow us to address more effectively the interpersonal and personal issues that will inevitably arise in any social group. Thinking about such differences gives us an opportunity to support each other in ways that might not readily occur to men to do, and that therefore might not be part of the traditional monastic practices developed in male communities. In order for us to better support each other in our spiritual growth and in our daily lives, we begin by asking what relative strengths we might have and how we might integrate them into our community life.

To read more, continue here for the full discussion of the issues this workshop will explore.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a pillar is missing from our house

An upcoming issue of Buddhadharma Magazine tackles the issue of women's place in Buddhism, and the following article on our spiritual guide's position on these issues will be featured in an article in that issue. The following is the full version of that article, an abbreviated version of which will be published in Buddhadharma

Last winter, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa stunned an international audience in Bodhgaya by making an unprecedented declaration of commitment to ordaining women as bhikshunis in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Responding to a question as to when there would ever be bhikshuni ordination in the Tibetan tradition, His Holiness leaned forward and spoke directly in English. “I will do it,” he said. As enthusiastic applause broke out across the large assembly hall, Gyalwang Karmapa cautioned against expecting quick results. “Be patient,” he said. “Be patient.”

“As to when it will begin, and when there will be bhikshuni ordination,” His Holiness stated, during his annual winter teachings at Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya last December. “I cannot say when exactly the right time will be. But I am making every effort, with a sincere motivation, and I believe there is great hope. So please rest easy. The bhikshuni vows that lead to liberation and enlightenment are extremely important, and are in a sense the root of the Buddha’s Dharma. Therefore I do not believe it is wise to act hastily. So please relax, and please be patient.”

Despite the warning that full ordination was not imminent, Gyalwang Karmapa’s statement in Bodhgaya was nevertheless ground-breaking, for it constitutes the first time that any spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism has publicly committed to making bhikshuni ordination available. His Holiness’ declaration marks the culmination of intensive research into the feasibility of establishing full ordination for women according to the monastic code that regulates Tibetan Buddhism. More broadly, it reflects Gyalwang Karmapa’s intense commitment to women’s issue and to nuns in particular.

Article by Dharmadattā Nuns' Community member Lhundup Damcho, originally written for publication in German in Dharma-Nektar Magazine.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

the earth quakes

The government that rules over us and the earth that lies beneath our feet are two forces we ordinarily count on to lend our lives stability and security. After the political turmoil of recent years, to have the earth churn in Tibet as well is asking more than most hearts can bear. Yet this is precisely what happened on April 14th, in eastern Tibet, at 5:30 am, an hour when the monks gather in the assembly hall pictured here to pray for peace and to set their minds on a firm course of virtue for the day ahead.

The home monastery of Thrangu Rinpoche--the abbot who granted our newest nun, Karma Lodro Drolma, her vows, was utterly demolished in this 6.9 earthquake that devastated eastern Tibet two weeks ago, while we ourselves were in retreat conditions here in India. Thrangu Monastery had been rebuilt with great effort and care after it had been leveled during the Cultural Revolution, and is once again reduced to piles of stone and timber. This time, not just the monastery's most precious statues and scriptures, but also the lives of 23 of the monastery's monks were laid to waste--lives that themselves had been dedicated to the service and well-being of the world.

The monks who had been staying apart in strict isolation for the three-year meditation retreat that is traditional in this lineage broke the bounds of their retreat to offer their own service to the survivors as well as the deceased. The following video news report, while not the most sophisticated in its presentation, is precious for its images of the monks of Thrangu Monastery, comforting one another, and engaging in sleepless prayers for those of their brethren no longer there to be comforted. One monk is first pictured, his nose staunched for nosebleeds as he helps another injured monk hobble along, and later engaging in intensive prayer for the deceased. Skip ahead if you like and just watch the last 80 seconds, from about minute 1:20.

Updates on the state of affairs in Thrangu Monastery can be found here.

His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa sent messages to his sangha and to this disciples, guiding us in our response, and we share them with you here:

As you know, a devastating earthquake recently struck the area of Yushu in Tso-ngön [Qinghai Province]. The earthquake took the lives of tens of thousands of humans and animals and left many survivors with serious injuries and intense physical and mental trauma. On top of all of this, Thrangu Monastery saw the destruction of its temple and its precious contents, as well as the deaths of several members of the monastic community. In short, the region and its inhabitants have undergone unbearable loss. Please think of both the survivors and the deceased with love and fondness. I humbly request you to thoroughly pray for them and dedicate your virtues to them with a heart of great compassion.

and from an earlier letter:

When I heard this tragic news, I was very saddened at the loss, and began immediately to offer prayers for those who have been affected by this incident, both those who have lost their lives and the survivors. May those who have died be freed from the bardo state of terror and suffering of such an unexpected death, and be reborn in the pure lands or a higher realm. May the survivors who have undergone the suffering of loss of relatives and friends and the trauma of losing their homes be comforted and find relief. May they receive the emergency help they need as soon as possible, and be able to rebuild their lives. I will pray ceaselessly for this.

In addition, I would ask everyone to contribute, directly or indirectly, to the relief work. I have instructed the Karmapa Foundation in America to donate $200,000 for immediate aid for the victims of this disaster and to help with the task of rebuilding. I have called on all Buddhists and compassionate people to pray sincerely for the victims of this earthquake, and to do their best, according to each one’s capacity, to become involved or sponsor different kinds of relief activity so that it will be effective.

Death and impermanence is an integral part of life. When this kind of disaster strikes, may the power of the natural goodness within all of us provide physical and mental comfort and the courage to start anew.

When you are happy, dedicate that happiness to all beings,
so that happiness may pervade the sky.
When you suffer, you are bearing the suffering of all beings.
May the ocean of suffering become dry completely.

We join our voices in asking you to think with love of those who were killed and those who bear the particular burden of surviving such trauma. For those who are moved to contribute towards creating a monastery home for the surviving monks for the second time in the past few decades:

From the website cited above:

The people and the monastery are in great need of help. Many are seriously injured, and all are homeless in the high altitude’s cold weather. Donating now will give them hope and make a big difference in their lives. The quickest way to help Thrangu Monastery is to donate directly to Lodro Nyima Rinpoche’s (Abbot of Thrangu Monastery) foundation account in Hong Kong. He can then withdraw funds directly from inside the disaster area. In particular, they desperately need rice and flour to feed the survivors. Here’s the wire transfer info:

Bank Name: The Bank of East Asia, Limited
Branch: Queen’s Road Central Branch
Account Name: Lodroe Nyima Charity Foundation Limited
Account No.: 015-187-25-00453-6
SWIFT Code: BEASHKHHBranch telephone No.: +852 2805-2206
Branch Address: Shop A-C, G/F. Wah Ying Cheong Central Building, 158-164 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong.

You can also make direct, tax-deductible donations to the efforts at Thrangu Monastery by going to the following websites:

The Thrangu Earthquake Fund

Organized by Thrangu House, Oxford, U.K.
Accepts payment by cheque, bank draft, PayPal, and major credit cards.

Himalayan Children’s Fund

A US-based charity that supports Thrangu Monastery in Tibet as well as Thrangu Monastery in Nepal and related projects. Accepts online donations.

The Vajra Vidya Foundation

A registered Canadian Charity for the Very Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s projects. Accepts online donations.

Thrangu Dharma Society Petaling Jaya (Malaysia)

Accepts donation by check or bank draft. See their website for details.