Thursday, September 9, 2010

Five Days of Teachings by HH Karmapa, Live Webcast

From September 15 through the 19th, His Holiness the Karmapa will be teaching here at Gyuto on How to Cultivate Relative Bodhicitta from 4pm to 6pm, our time. These teachings - which can with confidence call 'exquisite' even without having heard them yet, because we know where they come from! - will be broadcast live over the Internet at the following link.

To calculate what time that is in your neck of the woods, try World Clock.

But it is pretty early on the east coast of the US, and pretty even earlier on the west, though right smack in the middle of the waking world's day in Europe.

Hope to join you "there."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Suffering is not a Story

As we wrote earlier, two friends with whom our community shared the experience of the three-month study program in Nepal earlier this year are now in Ladakh, helping with the relief effort. Those affected in these photos are part of the Tibetan refugee community that had relocated to the harsh and unforgiving climate of Ladakh, and are once again rendered homeless by the terrible mudslides earlier this monsoon season. Here is some of what they have managed to do:

- Provide food for the whole tent camp for homeless people in Choglamsar (250-300 people) for one month and guarantee to provide a second month!
Cost: 140,000 Rupees (2380 Euros)

- Help 11 families who lost everything: providing warm blankets, a stove, kitchen basics and RS 2000 for clothes per family
Cost: 66,000 Rupees (1120 Euro)

Their efforts to raise and distribute funds have borne real fruits already, but there is a great deal more to be done before the mountain passes that encircle Ladakh are closed by the snows that begin there in early autumn. those below would welcome your prayers and well wishes. If you would also like to contribute materially, you can do so here.

Nike-Ann writes: Winter is coming soon and will bring very cold weather up here in the mountains. Currently there are appr. 75 families in the tent camp here. Out of these, the houses of 50 families were badly damaged and the houses of 10 families got completely destroyed including the loss of all belongings. One family lived in a rented room and lost all belongings.

All of the people on the photos attached and many more say THANK YOU SO MUCH to you!

Please continue to help me to help this people!
Thank you very much,
Nike-Ann Schroeder

Many families have lost their homes, they need help urgently since winter is coming soon. Here I give some examples of many, all these people live in ‘our’ tent camp:

Tsering Choedroen

Tsering Choedroen is 46 years old and her family has a hard struggle since many years. She has three children, the oldest is 10 years old. Since she gave birth to her first child, she is sick and needs permanent medical treatment. 4 years she was so sick that she had to stay in bed. Her husband works as a labor in road constructioning and other jobs, but often can’t work because he has to help at home. The family has struggled for many years, but now the flood made it worse to a point they can’t manage alone.

Gawa Thubten

Gawa Thupden is 73 years old, his family has 7 members. His house and all his belongings were destroyed by the flood.


Shesrab and Family

The photos are of Shesrab's wife and house.

Shesrab is 64 years old, his wife (unfortunately I forgot her name) was injured in the flood. They have six family members. In the night when the water came, he screamed loud and could wake up and save all family members in the last minute. The house got destroyed by the flood (see photos) and he could only find few of his belongings in the mud which fills the ruin of his house.


Dechen Choedroen

Dechen Choedroen’s family has 4 members including one baby. Her house was completely destroyed and all her belongings are lost.

Karma Thargyal

The following photos are of Karma Thargyal and his house.

Karma Thargyal’s family has 4 members. His house was filled with mud after the flood. Many people helped him cleaning. On one day the group was cleaning his house from 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. and took a rest after the working day. At 4 p.m. there was a strange sound and the house collapsed.


Shankar Wangchuk

Shankar Wangchuk’s family has 3 members. During the night of the water they woke up and found themselves and the bed swimming on water and could see the ceiling very near. All family members got out of the house, but the house was completely filled with water and mud which destroyed all belongings. They clean the house, but cracks are everywhere. They try to prevent he house from collapsing but think it will collapse. Buildings near the house were destroyed completely.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

December Dharma Events

For those considering joining the annual winter flourishing of Dharma in Bodhgaya, India, here are some dates:

December 8 and 9th - Opening Ceremony to mark the 900 years of the Karmapa incarnation, which began with the birth of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, in the year 1110.

December 10 through 12 - Teachings by HH Gyawlang Karmapa on Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. These teachings will be held daily from 9:00 - 10:30am and from 3:00 to 4:30 pm daily, Indian time, and will likely be webcast live, with translation available in numerous languages. We will post more information here on the webcast plans as the time draws near.

December 13 - Padmasambhava Initiation given by HH Gyalwang Karmapa

December 15 through 22 - Kagyu Monlam. More details of the daily schedule of the monlam. each day from Dec 15 through the 19th, HH Karmapa will teach from 9:00 am to 11:00 am on the King of Prayers, also known as the Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra. These teachings will also be webcast live, in all likelihood, and we will post more details as they become available.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

His Holiness the Dalai Lama´s Upcoming Teachings in Dharamsala

Today we begin two days of teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Diamond Cutter Sutra.

Since a few people have asked about visiting Dharamsala, for your convenience here is a list of dates of the upcoming teachings by hh the Dalai Lama here at his own temple in Dharamsala. Of course, our community will be attending to receive these teachings.

Teaching in Dharamsala, HP, India from August 28 & 29: His Holiness will give two-day teachings on The Diamond Sutra at the request of a group of Koreans.

Teaching in Dharamsala, HP, India from September 8 to 10: His Holiness will give three-day teachings on The Heart Sutra (sherab nyingpo) & Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo's 37 Practices of A Bodhisattva (gyalsey laklen sodunma) at the request of a group of Southeast Asians.Contact Website:

Teaching in Dharamsala, HP, India from October 4 to 7: His Holiness will give four-day teachings on Nagarjuna's The Fundamental Wisdom Treatise on the Middle Way), Atisha's Lama for the Path to Enlightenment, Tsongkhapa's In Praise of Dependent Origination & Tsongkhapa's Concise Stages for the Path to Enlightenment at the request of a group of Taiwanese.

Teaching in Dharamsala, HP, India from November 30 to December 2: His Holiness will give three-day teachings on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo's 37 Practices of A Boddhisattva at the request of a group of Russian Buddhists. Contact Website: &

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Many Moods of Monsoon

Along with the many mysterious new forms of mold that grow here in the monsoon, the season also has its own particular moods.

These moods seem at times to be better expressed in images than in words, although one of the finest pieces of Sanskrit poetry has a cloud as one of its main protagonists, and the monsoon is a favored setting for some of the most moving literature in the language.

All these photos are taken from the roof or balconies of our home.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mudslides in Ladakh

When mudslides in remote corners of the Himalayas make international news, you know it must be very serious. The following two letters offer eyewitness account of the recent disaster in Ladakh -- the worst anyone now alive there can recall -- as well as a way to help. The letters were written by a German friend of our community who happened to be there at that time, ostensibly to do research. The disasters affect areas that Drolma and Damcho visited when His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa was there teaching in 2008. We had tea with the family of a Tibetan friend in Camp 12, where so many families lost their homes. As yet, we have no word as to whether he and his family survived or not.

Letter No 1

Dear friends,

The family I stay with and I am fine, but here many people died, the number of bodies found is about 140 by now, but still more than 500 people are missing and more than 1000 houses were destroyed during one night Thursday to Friday. The areas which got hit at worst were in Leh the governmental hospital, radio station and busstand, and the villages of Phyang and Saboo, but also Choglamsar, where I live right now. We were lucky since the huge landslide and mud disaster didn"t hit our part of the refugee camp, but we had to flee in the middle of the night since a big river appeared right next our house. We had some minutes to collect 7 children, grandma and grandpa and us 5 people of the generation inbetween, free the 4 dogs and collect some things, and leave the house, all and everything in one jeep. Hundreds of people were not so lucky and got buried under tons of mud. The rain finally stopped and our house and the area around didn"t get destroyed, but since nobody knew and knows how things will develop, we moved to another place which hopefully is more safe. Situation is very bad, many dead people, people missing and many injured; bridges, roads, mobile and telephone, hospitals, radio station and much more got destroyed or severely damaged.

On Sunday morning I managed to get out of Choglamsar and go to Leh. Yesterday I helped to carry the mud out of the hospital and everybody including me goes here and there and tries to find out whether the dear ones are well and alive. Researchwork is not possible since the situation is far beyond asking someone for an interview or taking individual photos.

It would be helpful to collect some money, I think. WIll send photos of destruction when possible, now internet is too slow.

Letter No.2

Dear all

actual situation in Ladakh

The recent natural disaster in Ladakh hit not only Leh, nearby settlements and the Tibetan refugeecamp Choglamsar, but all villages along the Indus, villages in Nubra valley as well as in the Markha valley and in the Changthang area. This list is not complete---

The actual numbers as given by the Ladakh Buddhist Association - which is one of the major groups organizing volunteers and collecting / giving donations to support Ladakhi flood victims are as follows: 200 people died, 800 are still missing, 500 people are severely injured. The houses of more than 1000 families are destroyed / severely damaged; 15 schools, governmental hospital in Leh, the radio station and telephone exchange as well as 5 major bridges and 20 village bridges have been destroyed / completely damaged. Also people lost cattle and crops, and all kinds of properties.

This situation is the result of the worst natural disaster Ladakhi people can remember. Still there are lots of rain clouds, many looks go up to the sky to check the weather condition. The number of people camping high up in the mountains surrounding Leh to be safe in case of further floods is still immense.

Cleaning and repairing goes on everywhere. Through the efforts of lots of people working together the hospital could be cleaned compeletely within a few days. The army and different road building organisations work hard on clearing the roads of mud and stones, and repair roads as well as bridges. The linking highway to Kargil was re-opened today, the highway to Manali was re-opened between Manali and Sarchu, while there are still 20 km of road to be reconstructed between Leh and Sarchu.

A lot of help is needed for both, providing the nasic needs for flood victims immediately as well as reconstruct houses, and the whole infrastructure which got destroyed.

In Choglamsar, which belongs to the areas which got hit worst, Camp No. 12 has the most losses and damages. Of 63 families, the houses of 34 families got destroyed. Since the whole area is contaminated by the destruction through the flashflood and huge mud landslide, all families had to leave the area.

Now, all these families live in tents in camp No. 2 in Choglamsar. Some basic infrastructure is provided by the Indian army and government such as the tents and some basic medical aid. Apart from that, these people who lost everything got no institutional help so far.

Please help me to collect some money now to be able to provide some basic help where needed most urgently!

Starting from today, there was no money for providing food for the people who lost their homes in Choglamsar. In the name of Tara Trust and Bodhicitta e.V. Germany, I gave money for providing 3 meals for all the 180 people for one week to the groupleader of the camp. Apart from that, at the moment I try to help old people who have no children and support, by buying food and bring it to their homes. During the next days, I will check further possibilities for a useful support of the flood victims.

If you can help, every Euro is useful!

We can provide
food for 1 day (3 meals pf rice and dal) for 180 people for 42 Euro and 50 cent.
a bag of 10 Kg rice for less than 5 Euro,
a bag of 10 Kg of flour for 3 Euro and 40 cent.

If you can give a donation, please do this via the following organizations which send your money directly to me here in Ladakh:

Tara Trust: "Ladakh"


Bodhicitta e.V.
Klaudia Bluecher
Kto. 1225124716
Blz 20050550
Sparkasse HAmburg


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī and Wheel-Turning Day

Today, July 15, is the day celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists as the anniversary of the very first teaching by Buddha. The act of teaching the Dharma is known as "turning the wheel," evoking the image of an action that involves some initial effort, but then continues on through a momentum of its own to have real effects long afterwards.

Tenzin Dapel, Tenzin Nangpel and Karma Lodro Drolma spent the day together in Dharamsala as usual, but revised their usual daily schedule to include special prayers in the morning, a double study session, and an additional session to rejoice and dedicate in the evening.

Meanwhile, the day finds me, Damcho, still in Hamburg, wondering how Bhikṣuṇī Jampa Tsedroen (Dr. Carola Roloff) managed to get me to commit to writing a collection of brief summaries of the life stories of some of the more important bhikṣuṇīs over the centuries. The collection will be short, no more than 50 pages, and will be translated into Tibetan and published as a bilingual edition, aimed mainly for circulation among Tibetan communities in India and Nepal. I made an auspicious start on the project today, and given how many other commitments await me once I leave Germany on July 23, I hope to finish before I fly out. As a small sign that indeed the wheel set in motion by the Buddha 2,500 years ago continues to turn productively on its axis, moving my heart and mind here many miles and centuries from the place it all began, I offer my own tiny contribution to the ongoing movement of that wheel... in the form of the first set of lifestories I have summarized, that of the very first Buddhist nun, Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī.

It is taken from accounts in the Mūlasarvāstivādavinaya, the vinaya followed by Tibetan Buddhists today, and therefore by our monastic community, and is based on the text I am currently translated for an upcoming collection of those stories, to be published by Wisdom Publications. Ironically, the classical Tibetan from which I am translating the canonical tales is too difficult and distanced from most Tibetan speakers, so extracting the stories directly is not a viable option, since the aim is to help increase general social awareness of the presence and place of bhikṣuṇīs throughout Buddhist history.

The Life of Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī

Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī occupies a special place in Buddhist history, as both the first bhikṣuṇī and the aunt who raised Lord Buddha from birth. The many stories about Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī in the Buddhist canon also reveal that she held leadership roles throughout her life, and was particularly committed to making the Dharma fully available to women.

The very first time that women in Buddha’s hometown of Kapilavastu were able to attend Buddha’s teaching was made possible through Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī’s efforts. As described in the Vinayavastu (Derge volume Ga), a leading male citizen of the town of Kapilavastu came home enthusiastically proclaiming to his wife how fruitful the Buddha’s teachings are. The wife tells him, “It is true that the arising of a Buddha is fruitful for you, but only for men, not for women.”

She has drawn this conclusion because only men have been attending the Buddha’s teachings in the morning and afternoon both, and according to the social mores of that time, it is highly inappropriate for women to attend the same public assemblies as men. She suggests that if men would go in the morning and let women go in the afternoon, then perhaps Buddha’s presence in the world could truly be fruitful for all. He promises to arrange something but is uncomfortable asking the king for a favor for his wife. Since he knows that the king of Kapilavastu, Buddha’s father Śuddhodana, always listens to the queen’s advice, he decides to hand the matter over to the queen, namely Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī.

Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī explains to the king that women are occupied all morning with household duties, but instructs the king how to proceed, and, the vinaya tells us that “as was the practice of King Śuddhodana, when Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī was giving orders he remained standing, with his body stiff as a rod, and the king did not sit down until Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī had finished giving her orders.” The next day ... click here to continue reading.