Lotus Blooms In the Blog

March 22, 2007

Another lamrim retreat

Filed under: lamrim,Practices — by Sugatagarbha @ 4:31 am

Just a quick note that we would be starting another lamrim retreat here in Bangalore today. This would be second after the first we had in June last year, and the text we would be following for this is the Lamrim De Lam (Easy path or Path of Bliss) by Panchen Lama Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen. I’ll be posting more on this in the coming weeks…

October 18, 2006

Seven Point Mind Training Website

Filed under: Practices — by Warren Moriarity @ 2:55 am

I just came across a nice site on the Seven Points of Mind Training. It’s at:

http://www.kagyu.org/slogans/

The page displays each line of the root text and each line has a link to a commentary on that line by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Thrangu Rinpoche not only holds a Kagyu Khenchen degree but also the highest Gelug degree of Geshe Lharampa. He is a humanitarian, a great scholar and a terrific teacher.

June 21, 2006

8 day lam-rim retreat

Filed under: Practices — by Sugatagarbha @ 4:55 am

Statue and Pagoda Some great posts here by everybody so far, and this one may not match up to them. But this is some news from Bangalore. Here the local dharma group had a 8 day Lam-rim retreat that ended on Saka Dawa. And as though it was an effect of the ripening of the karma, Kent was kind enough to start this blog for all of us the day the retreat ended.

The retreat was led by Geshe Ngawang Jangchup with the support of the Swiss monk Tenzin Michael and members of our local dharma group. Since most of the members of the dharma group have day time jobs to attend to, Geshe la was kind enough to structure the retreat so that it was possible for us to attend to some of our daily chores in between and get back to the retreat.

The day started around 6 am with the six preliminary practices, followed by refuge meditation. Then there were afternoon sessions on bodhichitta, and prostrations to the 35 Buddhas. The day ended with a dedication based on Shantideva’s chapter 10 from the Bodhisattva way of life. The meditations were interspersed with teaching from ‘Liberation in the palm of my hands’, ‘Words of my perfect teacher’, ‘Bodhisattva way of life’ and many more Tibetan texts that geshe la was kind enough to translate for us. On the first day and the last day (Saka Dawa) we took Mahayana vows as well.

This was the first such retreat attended by me, and really an experience I would cherish for a long time to come. Hopefull there will be more to come…

June 15, 2006

Podcasting and Nirvana

Filed under: Practices — by Kent Sandvik @ 5:31 am

Dhara_in_itunesLet’s do a gedanken experiment of transporting a Western Buddhist practitioner from twenty years ago to our time, and see what he or she thinks about the current situation. What would be new and strange? What about ordering any possible Buddhist book from Amazon that arrives in any address within days, and many classical texts are now translated to English? Or the possibility to download hundreds of hours of Buddhist teachings to an iPod and always have it available. Many Buddhist traditions have teachers and organizations available close-by. You could do google searches and find all kind of commentaries, translated texts, online dictionaries, mailing lists, and much more. If nothing else, flight tickets to India are cheap.

So it would seem that Buddhism has indeed taking a firm root here in the West. And as a trained engineer I’m always amazed by the possibilities, and have the inclinations to want to push the boundaries even further — let’s see what we could do with unlimited internet video streaming and automated translation tools…

In this wild excitement of all the possibilities, options, varieties and choices, it is very easy to forget the basics.

To reflect that, I really like the life story of Ngawang Lekpa, a very import Sakya lineage teacher who lived between 1864 and 1941. His life story is beautifully described in the biography of Dezhung Rinpoche, A Saint In Seattle, by David Jackson.

To keep this short, Ngawang Lekpa was born into a poor family, and spent a lot of his early days in retreat, and received the important Lam Dre instructions when he was 19. He even had a hard time attending teachings by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, was even thrown out from the room. He usually stayed far back in the audience, and he finally received instructions and empowerments from Khyentse himself.

After this he went into a 15-year long retreat, and even if he knew that his practice was Avalokiteshvara, he took upon himself to master Lam Dre as he felt there were few in Tibet at that time who mastered this important lineage, and there were many who had mastered Avalokiteshvara.

To get a good start on his retreat, he initially practiced 4.1 million verses of praise to Sakya Pandita combined with the same number of prostrations. After that he did 2.4 million refuge recitations, 1.8 million Vajrasattva recitations, one million mandala offerings. He spent a whole year contemplating on impermanence alone.

During the fifteen years he offered 700 thousand water offerings, and 1.5 million offerings of butter lamps.

On top of this he mastered all the parts of Lam Dre during the fifteen years, and attained the realizations. He emerged out from his retreat at the age of 50 and started a very fruitful teaching career, and was quickly acknowledged as one of the most important Lam Dre lineage holders of recent generations.

We need knowledge to a certain point, but after a personal threshold it is practice that is more important, especially a very strong personal practice using the tools that were taught to us. When the realizations are in place, then what is left is to teach the knowledge to future practitioners.

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