GivingTuesday™ at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra – December 2, 2014

Make Your Gift Go Twice as Far – $12,000 Matching Grant Announced!

Karma Triyana Dharmachakra has joined the global generosity movement called “Giving Tuesday” – in which non-profit organizations encourage donors to practice generosity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

This year’s Giving Tuesday is Dec. 2 – and from now until Dec. 2, your donation will be DOUBLED in size! Matching grant donors have pledged to give KTD up to $12,000 if we can raise an equal amount between now and Dec. 2.

So, whether you are supporting our weekly Free Classes in Meditation Instruction, or our weekly support group for those struggling with substance addiction, Family Day, or our daily public meditation, this is a great time to give.

Click the link below and your gift will double for the dharma. May all beings benefit!

Donation Links Here 

If you could give one gift to the world, what would it be?

Peace. 

Love.

Understanding.

Sanity.

Goodness.

All of these gifts spring to mind when we think of what the world needs most.

Here at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, we are committed to giving the world the best of what we have to offer: meditation practice, a place to connect to nature and to the best part of ourselves – our basic, inner sanity and goodness.

To do this, we open our doors to the public each and every day, offering periods of quiet meditation and chanting in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

We offer free meditation instruction to the public every Saturday afternoon, showing people how mindfulness can help and heal the world.

We sponsor weekly recovery meetings that help connect those struggling with addictions of all types.

We offer classes to parents looking to raise their children with love and goodness.

And we are a center for the principals of socially responsible “active compassion” espoused by His Holiness Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje.

We accomplish all of this with the help of our donors and friends. And we are delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the “Giving Tuesday” campaign, which allows people to give back to the organizations and places that have given them so much.

GivingTuesday™ (#GivingTuesday) is a movement to create a National Day of Giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It only makes sense: our social calendar already has a day for giving thanks, and two days for getting deals on our holiday shopping. “Giving Tuesday” encourages people to give generously to others by donating to their favorite non-profit organizations.

This year’s Giving Tuesday is Dec. 2, 2014. Between now and then, we invite you to give in whatever way you can – volunteer hours, meditation and prayer, or good old fashioned cash. Whatever you give, it will help Karma Triyana Dharmachakra carry out its mission of being a beacon of love and goodness in a troubled world.

Giving Tuesday video

Giving Tuesday information on the KTD Website

givingtuesdaylogo

I have never gotten over the fact that I could be part of a “religion” that I actually loved and that also was the truth! KTD History from Michael Erlewine

This article was first published on Michael Erlewine’s Facebook page. All photos from Michael Erlewine and his Facebook page unless specified otherwise.

Beginning of Involvement with KTD – Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche

“In for a penny, in for a pound.” is an old saying about getting involved. Anyway, getting involved with the dharma and our monastery (Karma Triyana Dharmachakra) in the mountains high above Woodstock, New York was for me not quite a hop, skip, and a jump. It took time and it took encouragement. And we were newbies. I love the dharma, but I also had some thoughts about joining a dharma organization. Here is my story.

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Margaret Erlewine, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, and Michael Erlewine.

My wife and I had already made the most important dharma contact of all, meeting the Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. Aside from that, we had about nothing in the way of dharma supports, not even a cushion, and probably even less knowledge.

Mark Rothe, KTD Fundraiser and later Executive Director, during His Holiness Karmapa's 2011 visit to KTD.

Mark Rothe, KTD Fundraiser and later Executive Director, during His Holiness Karmapa’s 2011 visit to KTD.

I am forever indebted to the monastery’s fundraiser Mark Rothe for bringing us along. It was as simple as kind words, a phone call, and some help along the way. I can remember that Rothe sent me a little card with an image of the Buddha on it. I had none. I placed it on a shelf, sat down before it, and began to learn to meditate. This was many years ago.

And while I loved the dharma that I was discovering, that love did not easily extend to religious establishments, even Buddhist ones. Organized religion, in my opinion, is a very mixed bag, one that I wanted little to do with. I had already been there and done that, with church on Sundays, Catholic school, being an altar boy, and all of that stuff. It was harsh! I happily had left all that behind years ago.

On the other hand, as mentioned, we were becoming increasingly devoted to Khenpo Rinpoche because of his incredible kindness and qualities. My every contact with him was inspiring, and witnessing how he treated other people was extraordinary. He treated everyone the same, which was kindly and with actual attention. I could understand why he would treat me well. After all, to my mind, I was his devoted student, but it used to irritate me that Rinpoche would treat some rude college student (who was trying to poke fun at him) as well as he treated me. In my world we had hierarchies of affection. Rinpoche treated everyone the same, which was, to me, remarkable.

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His Holiness 16th Karmapa and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche

Getting to Know KTD

As we started to travel more and more frequently to the monastery (kids and all!), a trip of over 800 miles (one way), I began to mix a little more with the folks living there. I am not a joiner and, as mentioned, I don’t exactly love authority in any form, even if it’s Buddhist, so this took time. Yet I did slowly get to know the staff at KTD, eventually even serving on this or that advisory or project board.

I also found that it was much better (for me) if I did or gave something to the monastery outright than it was getting involved in endless committees and meetings. Of course, I soon learned that Buddhist politics are no different from any other kind, mostly not my cup of tea. After all, this is Samsara, even if it is Buddhist Samsara.

Year after year I would travel to KTD, promising my family and myself that I would not get too involved in this or that project, only to find myself up to my ears in politics and projects, and, surprisingly, often carrying the charge. Oh well, that I guess is just me.

My point here is that, despite my distaste for organized anything, I found myself doing this, that, and the other thing around KTD. They were still just trying to get on their feet and needed all the help they could get. There was no monastery when I showed up, just a dilapidated old summer guest house on the mountain. Before I knew it, I was creating all kinds of graphics, layouts, brochures, and you-name-it. I secured their URL (Kagyu.org), helped them start a web site, worked on fundraising, and I (and my company staff) even created the little booklets they hand out for taking the refuge and bodhisattva vows. Margaret and I, along with the devoted Chinese Buddhist community, became the main fundraisers for their 3-year retreat buildings (Karmé Ling). So for someone who is not a joiner, I was joined.

The office at Karme Ling.

The office at Karme Ling.

Heart Center KTC is Formed

Meanwhile, on the home front we started our own dharma center locally, one of the many centers sponsored by the monastery all over the country and the world. We became the Heart Center KTC (Karma Thegsum Chöling), offering meditation instruction, group sitting, and all kinds of events.

For a number of years we sponsored what was known as the “Family Dharma Weekend” at a couple of lake cottages we had. This was a weekend of dharma teachings for the whole family, with events and activities for the kids, great food, empowerments, and a rinpoche on hand. After all, we had kids. What are we supposed to do with them and the dharma?

We also had a seminar on learning Tibetan, and another one that took weeks working with Ponlop Rinpoche building a dharma curriculum for the sangha, and all kinds of other stuff.

And there were frequent visits by many great lamas aside from our own Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. These include H.H. Tai Situ Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Lama Namse Rinpoche, Traleg Rinpoche, Bardor Rinpoche, Ken McLeod, Lama Karma, H.E. Shamar Rinoche, and many others.

Over the years, even with all of the many other things I was involved in (like running a business!), around our home it became something like ‘all dharma, all of the time’. For me the dharma is the way things naturally are and I have never gotten over the fact that I could be part of a “religion” that I actually loved and that also was the truth!

The Heart Center KTC was more than just the average KTC. We became a production house for all kinds of dharma support. For example, here is one huge project we undertook.

About KTD Dharma Goods

From left to right: Michael Andrew Erlewine, May Erlewine, Margaret Erlewine, and Michael Erlewine

From left to right: Michael Andrew Erlewine, May Erlewine, Margaret Erlewine, and Michael Erlewine

For many years my wife and I funded and helped to run an arm of our monastery called “KTD Dharma Goods, a mail-order dharma-goods business that actually resided right here at our dharma center in Michigan. I set aside an area of my company just for this business, which was the monastery’s business. And I staffed it.

The monastery, which was still being built and getting started, was unable at that time to operate such a business on site for themselves, and hundreds of practitioners needed support materials, texts, sadhanas, etc. So we volunteered to do it. I once calculated that over the years we spent upward of a quarter of a million dollars on the project, with all revenues going back into the dharma business. I have never wished to make a penny from the dharma, so I didn’t. This is just my way of tithing.

Lama Tsultrim Gyaltsen talks to Lama David Bole during His Holiness Karmapa's 2011 visit.

Lama Tsultrim Gyaltsen talks to Lama David Bole during His Holiness Karmapa’s 2011 visit.

One of the things we did was to transcribe and publish English versions of a large number of Tibetan dharma teachings, mostly by my root guru Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. We had, until very recently, rooms full of thousands of cassette tapes that contained the original Tibetan and English translations of Tibetan teachings. They have been or are now being digitized by my good friend Lama Tsultrim, who is the men’s retreat master at Karmé Ling, our three-year retreat center in Delhi, NY.

I have transcribed and edited scores of these teachings myself, some the size of entire books, and my staff did the same. For a number of years one of our staff members was Sange Wangchug, originally a Bhutanese monk and scholar who spoke something like seven languages, including Sanskrit and Pali, and of course Tibetan. He was also a brilliant calligrapher and artist. With Wangchug’s help we designed and built our own stupa right here on our property. Today Wangchug is a member of the Privy Counsel of Bhutan, serving as the Minister of Culture or some such title.

David McCarthy during His Holiness Karmapa's 2011 visit. Photo by Stephanie Colvey.

David McCarthy during His Holiness Karmapa’s 2011 visit. Photo by Stephanie Colvey.

My very dear friend David McCarthy, who both reads and writes Tibetan, ran our operation for something like five years himself. David is a very dedicated practitioner, videographer, and generally a brilliant person. And there were others there too, like Robert Walker, who today manages the writings and books of Pema Chödrön, Clarke Fountain (an editor), and Bob Martinez from the Chicago center of our monastery.

We not only published many dharma teachings in English, but also produced a whole series of Tibetan sadhanas (practice texts) for some of the main practices done in our lineage, complete with embossed foil covers and fine linen paper. Many were illustrated by Sange Wangchug, who also wrote out the texts by hand in calligraphy. In addition, we had a full line of cushions, statues, and other practice items that we imported from Nepal and India. We provided dharma support to our sangha for many years.

KTD Today

Today our main center, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, is located in the mountains above Woodstock, New York, and is the seat of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje in North America. KTD has its own mail-order business called “Namse Bangdzo Bookstore,” and they produce a great many teachings and books. Here is the link:

http://www.namsebangdzo.com/

So there you have a brief history of my involvement with the organized end of Buddhism, at first perhaps with caution, but later with abandon.

Photo taken by me of our main shrine room at KTD Monastery. None of this was here when I first travelled there and building such a magnificent place was not easy.

Photo taken by me of our main shrine room at KTD Monastery. None of this was here when I first travelled there and building such a magnificent place was not easy.

Years of hard work by hundreds of people made Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery a reality. Today it offers teachings and empowerments all year long.

Years of hard work by hundreds of people made Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery a reality. Today it offers teachings and empowerments all year long.

You can find out more about KTD and it’s mission here: http://www.kagyu.org/

THE MANDALA AND A PERSONAL NOTE by Michael Erlewine

10631266_10152702422622658_1891124098287281179_oThese last eleven days here at the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery located high on a mountain above the legendary Woodstock, New York have been extraordinary. I have been here many times, many long trips from Michigan and back. This series of 10-day Mahamudra intensives alone have gone on for 26 years and Margaret and I have not yet missed a one. And we have been here many other times as well, in the early years with all of our kids. Imagine that!

The teaching ended yesterday afternoon and before I knew it, one after another, my fellow dharma brothers and sisters were streaming out of the complex, loading up their cars, and heading home or to an airport. This was such a gathering of senior students. Margaret and I stayed on for another day since tomorrow is a holiday and we decided not to drive the thirteen or fourteen hour trip when the highways are so packed. So I sat outside on one of the lovely teakwood benches and watched folks leave. Many hugs were had. This elaborate mandala was breaking up.

Mandalas are offerings. We have all seen photos of the elaborate sand mandalas that the Tibetans create and then sweep into a river. Why destroy such a lovely creation? I guess it is that impermanence dictates that all “things” created in this world must end, their components scattered to the four elements. Mandalas are no different, and many do not understand what the actual mandala is.

The key part of the elaborate sand mandalas is not the colored sand that is gathered up and thrown into the water. Dust to dust… or sand to sand. No, the mandala is the act of offering itself, the process of creation and not what is created. The mandala is the concentration, intent, life, prayers, and mantras we pour into the creation of the mandala, not just the resulting sand image which is destroyed. In this case, it is the process of offering itself that is the result. And this holds true for gatherings like these 10-day teaching as well. The offering itself, these precious teachings, unlike the sand, is not destroyed, but is dedicated to the eventual enlightenment of all sentient beings.

Later as I sat in the daily Mahakala puja, a practice offered to the fierce dharmapalas, the protectors of the dharma, the sky just opened and poured rain. In Tibetan teachings it is considered auspicious if it rains during the teachings or at the end. Well, indeed this whole ten days has been auspicious. Many of the most senior students present said that this teaching was the most profound and glorious they had ever attended. I feel the same way. This was something we will be talking about for years to come, as I say, like the finale at the fireworks. And this reminds me of an important event in my life that occurred at the very first 10-day teaching, back in 1989. I have never told this story before except to a few, but I am getting old and there is no reason it has to be a secret other than vanity.

This happened at the end of the first ten-day teaching in 1989, that last session when Rinpoche was saying goodbye to the group. There we were, sitting in the newly constructed great shrine hall which took so much effort and time to complete. Rinpoche was thanking all of us for coming, many from great distances. And he reflected on the original plans for this center, which came from his guru, the great 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, whom I was fortunate to meet in 1974.

And Rinpoche spoke of the yet unrealized plans of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa to also build a retreat facility, a place where men and women could be trained in the traditional Tibetan closed retreat that lasts three years, three months, and three days. And as he spoke, tears flowed down Rinpoche’s face that he had not been able to build such a retreat as His Holiness had requested.

I can tell you, Rinpoche does not speak like this often, and there was not a dry eye in the place. When Rinpoche stopped speaking and we all headed out of the shrine room I was in a kind of shock. I can remember the exact moment and place where I was as I walked around the side of the monastery. I was so moved by Rinpoche’s sharing with us his dreams. And it had been so difficult just building the new monastery shrine hall that I had no idea how we would ever be able (so it seemed at the time) to build a whole retreat complex. I cast about in my mind to see who among the students that I was just sitting with would be capable of such a project and came up with only one option, and it took me by surprise. Perhaps only I could do such a thing, if I really put my heart into it.

This realization found me shocked at the thought, but at the same time I knew I had to do it. My memory is not so good, but I must have sent a note or signaled somehow to rinpoche that I was willing to try to help make this retreat center a reality, because I got a message that Rinpoche wanted to see me.

When I got to his room, there was no translator and Rinpoche does not speak English. He approached me with something in his hand, quite close. He placed into my hands what I now saw was a mala, the rosary like beads that Tibetans use for counting prayers. And he was saying something, something that I at first did not understand. He was saying “Mala, my mala.”

As I looked down I saw that he was handing me his own personal mala, giving it to me. Of course I and probably all of his students had seen this incredible mala that was worn down from use like none I had ever seen. I was speechless. Rinpoche was entrusting me with his own mala and at the same time the responsibility of furthering the retreat project. That was all that was said that day, those few words and the placing of that precious mala in my hands.

When his translator learned of what Rinpoche had done, he was dumbfounded. He pointed out that Rinpoche had this mala from before he ever came to this country and had used it for many years to prepare for empowerment after empowerment, not to mention his own practice. And the translator said he had hoped one day to inherit it, but he was probably just kidding me.

Well that’s my story and I am glad to have finally said it openly. As for the retreat center, my wife Margaret and I actually helped to create that center, working to raise the funds and organize the whole thing, along with help from the Chinese Buddhist community in and around New York. Our Chinese community is so incredible, so generous and so diligent. Americans are just beginning to learn how to support the dharma, if we want it flourish, but the Chinese are raised in this ethic. I am so thankful for their support.

Anyway, the three-year retreat center was built. It is called Karmé Ling and is now in its fifth or sixth (I can’t remember which) three-year retreat, turning out fully-trained lamas. Today it is a whole complex, with a separate retreat house for men and woman, a lama house for Rinpoche and a great many separate retreat buildings for individuals. It also has a columbarium where the ashes of the sangha are placed. It is a wonderful place indeed.

Later on when during a visit by Rinpoche to our center he went over his mala with me, almost bead by bead showing me where all of the parts came from, this bead from a particular great lama, another from the same lama but in a previous life and so on.

Aside from my family, it is the most precious thing that I have, so precious that I am almost afraid to use it. So that’s my story. I am happy to get it out and tell it. Perhaps I will use the mala more now.

– Sempa Chönyi Rangdrol

This is my dharma (bodhisattva) name given to me by my teacher Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. “Sempa” means intention, “Chönyi” means Dharmata (true nature of the mind), and “Rangdrol” means self-liberating, so “self-liberating nature-of-the-mind.”

 

Ceremonia de Clausura – Retiro de Tara Verde, KTD 2014

“Rinpoché, estoy encargada de una tarea imposible:
expresar con palabras el agradecimiento,
la devoción y las aspiraciones de 70 personas
cuyos corazones están más que llenos con lo que han recibido esta semana”
-Ven Damchö durante la clausura del retiro

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Ha llegado el momento de la ceremonia de clausura de este hermoso retiro de Tara Verde. Una experiencia conmovedora para nuestros corazones que nos estimula a vivir de manera significativa y ecuánime para beneficio de todos los seres sintientes. Cada una de las actividades planeadas cuidadosamente fluyó de manera extraordinaria, como un rompecabezas cuyas piezas encajan perfectamente a medida que se avanza en su ensamblaje y cuya dimensión real sólo puede empezar a apreciarse al terminar el trabajo y valorar el empeño ofrecido.

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Ha sido una oportunidad invaluable que sin la voluntad decidida y las bendiciones de S. S. El XVII Karmapa, de la sabiduría inagotable de nuestro Gurú Khempo Khartar Rinpoché, del liderazgo de Venerable Damchö, la colaboración sostenida de las monjas de la Comunidad Dharmadatta y de KTD, y por supuesto de todo el staff, habría sido imposible de materializar. Podría decirse que junto con la intensión de todas las personas participantes en este retiro se juntaron las condiciones para que floreciera este momento irrepetible lleno de tanta riqueza espiritual y práctica para la vida misma.

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Por solicitud de Khenpo Khartar Rinpoché la ceremonia comenzó con las palabras de Venerable Damchö, quien señala lo afortunados que somos al percatarnos la claridad y precisión de las enseñanzas que hemos recibido, por este motivo nos invita a estar a la altura de este diamante precioso que nuestro Gurú nos ha compartido y nos invita a practicar con entusiasmo y con la certeza de que somos Tara Verde. Termina mencionando a cada una de las personas que con su profundo amor y firme propósito de ayudarnos a avanzar en este retiro nos ayudaron a comprender la riqueza y complejidad de estas enseñanzas. Gracias a Lama Karma por su alegría y entusiasmo, a Lama Lodro con sus cualidades y actitud benévola, Lama Karuna y las monjas de KTD que nos acompañaron sin descuido alguno en las instrucciones prácticas, el staff de KTD, Leslie que detrás de la computadora facilitó que muchas personas pudiera acceder al Dharma, a nuestro traductor que con su atención e interés genuino nos permitió conocer esta riqueza infinita que Rinpoché nos transmitía sin titubear. Sin duda alguna, somos afortunados.

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De manera subsiguiente las monjas de la Comunidad Dharmadatta empezando por Venerable Damchö realizan la Procesión de Ofrecimiento del  Mandala que consiste en presentar a Khenpo Khartar Rinpoché los elementos representativos del mandala: el cuerpo de Buda, la palabra de Buda, la mente de Buda, la bumpa o jarra y el doble dorje. Una vez realizada esta procesión, los participantes realizan sus ofrendas presentando kata a Khenpo Khartar Rinpoché. Todas las personas pudieron recibir una imagen de Tara que él entrego en este momento, fue un momento de regocijo de saber que somos bendecidos y acogidos en esta familia que es una en su diversidad.

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Posteriormente, Rinpoché con su bondadoso amor nos transmitió unas palabras. Cada vez que nos habla nos estremecemos al reconocer su sabiduría infinita, al saber que él es la luz que nos permite confiar en que realmente tenemos una naturaleza búdica, sus enseñanzas son el tesoro que nuestros corazones albergan. Inicia su reflexión compartiendo las instrucciones que recibió de S. S. El XVI Karmapa de construir un monasterio aquí en Norte América para el beneficio de todos los seres humanos, dice que al ver tanta diversidad reunida es claro que esta intensión puede cumplirse, lo cual lo llena de gozo e inspiración, ya que el XVII Karmapa ha dado continuidad a esta intensión mediante la transmisión del Dharma en otros idiomas. Agrega que el XVI Karmapa también le pidió que creara un lugar para realizar el retiro de 3 años para aquellas que lo desearan hacer. Dice que en un principio pensó que esta tarea sería difícil de realizar, pero que sin embargo las condiciones se juntaron y hoy varias personas llevan a cabo este retiro, siendo motivo de profunda alegría en su corazón.

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_MG_8985Una emoción indescriptible nos invade, sentados en la gompa sentimos lo afortunados que somos de poder estar aquí, de poder utilizar nuestras preciosas vidas humanas para practicar el Dharma y poder ser de beneficio a los demás. Después de esta experiencia, ya no somos los mismos. Algo cambió en cada uno de nosotros. Algo hermoso floreció en nuestro interior y derramamos lágrimas de felicidad al sentirlo. Todos aquí reunidos somos una sola familia que por diez días compartió lo mejor que tenía: su corazón.

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RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier

Closing Ceremony at the Green Tara Retreat, KTD 2014

“Rinpoche, I am in charge of an impossible task:
to express in words the gratitude,
the devotion and the aspirations of 70 people
whose hearts are more than filled with what they’ve received during this week.”
Venerable Damchö, during the closing ceremony.

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It’s time for the closing ceremony of the Green Tara Retreat. The retreat has been a heart opening experience for everyone, one that has inspired us to live in new and meaningful ways, with greater equanimity, and on behalf of all sentient beings. Each of its carefully planned activities came together in an extraordinary manner, like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces perfectly fit together as they are being assembled, but whose real dimension can only be fully appreciated once it is done, when the true value of its gifts start to reveal themselves.

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This has been an invaluable experience. Without the blessings of HH the 17th Karmapa, the boundless love of our Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, the leadership of Venerable Damchö, the ongoing efforts of the nuns of the Dharmadatta Community, and the KTD staff, it would have been impossible to achieve. However, joined with the intentions of each of the participants, the conditions came together for this retreat so that it could be realized, filled with spiritual richness, and lessons for everyday life.

_MG_8945The ceremony began with Venerable Damchö’s expression of just how fortunate we truly are to have received these clear, precise and profound teachings. As participants we are left inspired to live up to the stature of the precious diamond that Rinpoche shared with us. We are encouraged to practice with enthusiasm, connecting with our true nature, and with the knowing that we are one with Green Tara. Venerable Damchö concluded by giving thanks to each person whose love and firm determination helped us to advance on the path by assisting us with understanding the richness of these teachings. She offered her heartfelt thanks to Lama Karma for his joy and enthusiasm; to Lama Lodro for sharing her gifts and beneficial attitude; to Lama Karuna and the KTD nuns for their generosity and support; and to all the KTD staff for their hard work and diligence. Thanks also went to Leslie Serna who spent much of the retreat at her computer, making the Dharma teachings accessible over the web so that many could benefit; and to Jigme, our Tibetan translator, whose great capacity and genuine desire to help, enabled us to access Rinpoche’s infinite wisdom. In the end we realize just how very fortunate we are.

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Venerable Damchö then led the Mandala Offering Procession along with the nuns of the Dharmadatta Community, in which Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche was offered the traditional representative elements of the mandala: the Buddha’s body, speech and mind; the bumpa or ritual vase; and the double dorje. The participants followed suit by offering Rinpoche their kathas and gifts of thanks. And as a gesture of his love, Rinpoche gave each of us a special picture of Tara. We feel blessed and welcomed into this beautiful dharma family with all its diversity.

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Rinpoche concluded the ceremony by offering a dedication prayer. Each time he addresses us, we shiver in recognition of his infinite wisdom, knowing that he is the light that enables us to trust that we truly carry buddha nature. We will hold his teachings like a precious treasure in our hearts.

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_MG_8985He shared with us that he had received instructions from HH the 16th Karmapa to build a monastery here in North America to be of benefit to all sentient beings. As a result of this retreat and witnessing the diversity among us as well as the transmission of the dharma into other languages, he expressed that it felt like a clear indication to him that indeed the Karmapa’s mission is being accomplished. Knowing that we are all a part of fulfilling these wishes fills him with great joy and inspiration. He also shared that the Karmapa asked him to prepare a suitable place for the three year retreat. At first he thought that this would be very difficult to achieve, however, the conditions came together and today many fortunate practitioners have been able to complete the three year retreat. This too fills him with great joy.

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In the closing ceremony we too were filled up by this indescribable feeling. Sitting in the Gompa, we feel how fortunate we are to be here, to be able to use our precious human lives to practice dharma and to be of service to all sentient beings. After this experience, we are not the same. Something has changed inside of each one of us. Something beautiful is flourishing, our hearts are full and tears of joy abound. Everyone here has been a part of one family for the past ten days, sharing the best of what we have: our own hearts.

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RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier

WEBCAST

_MG_7916Además de los retirantes, las cámaras, micrófonos, grabadoras y computadoras están listas desde muy temprano. El equipo se prepara y, con la motivación de poder compartir esta hermosa experiencia con todo aquel que esté interesado, transcurre el día haciendo posible que personas de 32 países se conecten diariamente para seguir las actividades del retiro. Entre ellos personas en México, España, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Estados Unidos, Colombia, Venezuela, Líbano, Nepal, Hong Kong, Panamá e Indonesia. Es  maravilloso cómo con herramientas tan poderosas como el internet no sólo los retirantes tienen la posibilidad de beneficiarse de las enseñanzas. Esto se hace realidad gracias a los esfuerzos de Ven. Damcho y de todo el equipo que la apoya en el proyecto de Facebuda -que es una plataforma en español, cuyo objetivo es motivarnos a practicar, conocer las enseñanzas y recibir sus beneficios de manera gratuita  e inmediata sin importar dónde nos encontremos. Enlace: www.facebuda.org

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Durante este retiro, hemos podido contar con el enlace en vivo de todas las actividades que se llevan a cabo en la gompa: las prácticas matutinas de las 6 de la mañana, las enseñanzas de la sadhana de Tara Verde otorgadas por Khenpo Karthar Rinpoché y las dos sesiones diarias de práctica. Esto representa una gran oportunidad para conectar con un gran maestro como lo es Rinpoché.  El único requisito para participar es ver la serie completa ya que en esta se presenta la práctica con todo el detalle y profundidad que implica,  el principio, su desarrollo y la conclusión o final.

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Esto permite que los participantes virtuales se sientan conectados con las prácticas, se involucren en ellas y se sientan parte de este maravilloso retiro.  De hecho, la comunidad que se da cita para asistir virtualmente a una enseñanza participa con preguntas activamente todos los días.  No hay mucho más que desde KTD podamos decir, les dejamos entonces con un mensaje en línea de Guillermo que sigue las enseñanzas desde Argentina: “Me gustaría hacerle llegar mi más profundo agradecimiento a Rinpoché porque su respuesta me ha aclarado todas las dudas que he tenido en mi práctica hasta el día de hoy. Guardo esta respuesta como una joya”.

Esperamos de todo corazón que los esfuerzos, grandes y pequeños, de todos los que contribuyen en las actividades en línea, desde el retiro y desde sus casas, sean de beneficio para todos los seres.

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RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier

Webcasting the Green Tara Retreat at KTD in Spanish

_MG_7916Cameras, microphones, and voice recorders are ready and set to go as the online retreatants prepare to receive every morning’s teachings live on www.facebuda.org The simultaneous webcast of the day’s teachings reaches people from 32 countries around the world including practitioners from Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico, the USA, Colombia, Venezuela, Lebanon, Nepal, Hong Kong, Panama and Indonesia. It is marvelous to see how the internet serves as such a powerful aid and makes it possible for people living at a distance to follow the Green Tara Retreat at KTD monastery and benefit from these profound teachings. These free online dharma talks and practice sessions are made available as a result of the efforts of Venerable Damcho and the Facebuda project team –which is the Spanish-speaking platform designed to motivate and share tools for dharma practice.

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During the retreat we have been able to offer online streaming of all the activities conducted inside the gompa, including our two practice sessions, the daily Green Tara sadhana teachings given by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoché and the subsequent question and answer periods he offers in the late afternoons. This has been an incredible opportunity to connect with a great master, and it’s made even better by the fact that it can be shared with others. The only requirement to participate is to attend the complete series in order to receive the thorough and detailed instructions on the practice and as well as in-depth teachings on its profound meanings and use.

_MG_8427The retreat’s virtual participants have expressed feeling wonderfully connected to the retreat while learning at a distance. Members of the Facebuda virtual community that attend the sessions are able to participate actively during the question and answer period with Rinpoche by emailing us their questions and receiving an immediate response by watching and listening to Rinpoche respond online. One such participant, Guillermo from Argentina, wrote, “I would like to deliver my most profound thanks to Rinpoche because his answers helped to clear up the doubts I’ve been having regarding my practice. I will cherish his responses like a precious jewel.”

Our motivation was to be able to share this precious jewel of dharma and make it accessible to anyone who has a sincere interest while making the teachings available at no cost to Spanish speakers everywhere. We hope with all our hearts that all the efforts made by the webcast team are helping to fulfill this goal and are of great benefit to all sentient beings.

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RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier

Taller de Tsa Tsas

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Por las tardes, uno de los talleres es dedicado a pintar tsa tsas. Se preguntarán ¿qué es eso? El término tsa tsa se refiere a una estatuilla que representa a un buda, y se hace con yeso o barro. Para su elaboración se usan moldes con todos los elementos simbólicos que caracterizan a cada deidad: puede ser una campana en una mano, o cierto tipo de flores, o una mano haciendo algún mudra.

Los participantes de este retiro recibimos algunos hermosos regalos al inicio. Entre ellos había una tsa tsa de Tara Verde, la cual pintamos en este taller bajo las instrucciones de Drolma La, quien con mucha generosidad y amor hizo las tsa tsas para nosotros.

Es importante comentar que elaborar o pintar tsa tsas no se trata de una manualidad, sino de una tarea que tiene como fin conocer cada detalle de la imagen de la deidad, de tal manera que se facilite la visualización al realizar la práctica cotidiana.

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En este taller utilizamos delantal, pinceles, mascarillas y pinturas acrílicas de varios colores. Lo primero que hay que hacer es limpiar la figura del polvo o remanentes de yeso que tenga, cuidando de no soplar sobre ella. Al limpiarla, es conveniente percibir que se limpian a la vez las propias acciones negativas y al pintarla, se puede recitar el mantra continuamente y poner mucha atención en sus rasgos para compenetrarse con la imagen.

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Luego, cada practicante elige cómo decorar la tsa tsa, puede ser cubriéndola de un solo color: verde azulado que es lo característico de Tara Verde, o bien dorado o blanco tornasol. Hay quien confía en su buen pulso y pinta la tsa tsa siguiendo el modelo de la imagen que todos tienen a la vista, y que presenta muchos detalles. Para esto hay que usar pinceles muy delgados y combinar colores hasta encontrar el tono deseado para cada parte.

Las tsa tsas se colocan en los altares y también se usan en otro tipo de ocasiones, como cuando se construye una estupa. En este caso se requiere elaborar grandes cantidades de estas figuras que se colocan en el interior junto con otros objetos rituales.

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En el proceso de elaboración de las tsa tsas y luego en su decoración puede ocurrir que éstas se rompan o se dañen pues algunas tienen partes que sobresalen y que son frágiles, como una pequeña flor o el pie del buda. Cuando esto sucede ya no es posible usar esa tsa tsa en el altar, pero se puede colocar en una parte alta, que no esté a la vista de los ojos de las personas que pasan, para evitar que se impriman en sus mentes imágenes imperfectas de la deidad. Las tsa tsas con alguna deficiencia pueden ponerse en un techo o en la parte alta de un árbol, por ejemplo; así, algunos animales podrán beneficiarse al entrar en contacto con la figura búdica. ¡Esperemos que las tsa tsas de todos lleguen sin daño al regresar a nuestras casas para colocarlas en nuestros respectivos altares!

RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier

Tsa Tsa Workshop at the Green Tara Retreat

_MG_8179_MG_8187One of the afternoon workshops at KTD was dedicated to painting tsa tsas. The term tsa tsa refers to a figurine that represents a Buddha, and is made from clay or plaster. Tsas tsas are made by using molds with symbolic elements that characterize each deity; they might have a bell in their hand, or a certain type of flower, or might be displaying a special kind of mudra. At the beginning of the Tara Retreat, we received beautiful gifts and among them was a Green Tara tsa tsa. We painted them together under the loving direction of Ani Drolma-la, who very generously and lovingly made these for us. It’s important to share that making or painting a tsa tsa is not a handicraft per se, but rather a task that has as its objective, to become familiar with each and every detail of the deity’s image, thereby assisting us with visualizing it in our daily practice sessions.

_MG_8170In the tsa tsa workshop we wore an apron and face masks, used brushes to paint with, and had a variety of acrylics to choose from in a variety of colors. Our first step was to clean the figure of dust or remnant plaster without blowing on it. When cleaning our tsa tsa, we were invited to be conscious of cleansing our own negative actions at the same time. When painting it, we could recite the mantra associated with Green Tara, OM TARE TUTARE TURE SVAHA, while continuously putting our attention on incorporating her qualities and inviting ourselves to merge with her.

_MG_8184Each practitioner got to choose how they wanted to decorate their tsa tsa, by either painting it with one solid color or a variety of colors. Green-blue is the color associated with Green Tara. We also used gold and iridescent white. It’s good to have a stable hand when painting tsa tsas as they have many fine details. We used very thin brushes and combined colors until we created the desired tones we wanted for each detail.

Tsa tsas are placed on altars and are also used for special occasions such as the construction of a stupa. In the case of a stupa, large quantities of tsa tsas are placed inside it, along with other ritual objects.

_MG_8171During the elaborate process of making tsa tsas and decorating them, they can easily become damaged or break. If this should happen, it is not advisable to place them on your altar. Instead they should be put in a high place, above eye level, to avoid having imperfect images of the deity pressed into our minds. A tsa tsa with a deficiency may be placed near the celling or in the high branches of a tree, so that animals may benefit from having contact with them.

We are hoping that our newly painted tsa tsas make it back home safely so that they can be placed on our altars and be a source of benefit and inspiration to all who see them!

RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier

El Cuidado del Medioambiente en KTD

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Que yo sea como la Tierra,

que nos proporciona el aire, el suelo, el agua,

y todo lo que nos da

es fuente sagrada de nuestra vida.

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Es conocida la importancia que Su Santidad el XVII Karmapa le da al cuidado del medioambiente. Él nos ha enseñado que proteger el medio ambiente, del que todos dependemos para nuestra supervivencia, es una manera inmediata de cuidado a todos los seres. Entre sus escritos tenemos los 108 consejos para este propósito y en congruencia, en KTD se han tomado medidas para aprovechar los recursos y procurar no dañar el entorno.

En este retiro tenemos la oportunidad de estar más cerca de la naturaleza. Muchas veces en las grandes ciudades llenas de concreto, olvidamos que somos parte de ella. De hecho, desde que uno llega aquí puede notar su integración armónica con la naturaleza. El camino que se recorre desde Woodstock hasta el monasterio es limpio y verde, al igual que la entrada, el estacionamiento, los pasillos del edificio- todos son un cúmulo de aspectos que transmiten una sensación de ecuanimidad con el espacio. A sus alrededores hay osos, ardillas y otros animales. El monasterio está rodeado de árboles y cerca hay un pequeño lago.

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Cuando recorremos los senderos cercanos al monasterio, podemos reflexionar sobre nuestra relación con la naturaleza. Muchas veces, nos referimos al planeta como si se tratara de un objeto pero en realidad no es objeto inanimado. S.S. Karmapa nos invita a pensar en ella como un ser vivo. Cuando no sentamos en el pasto, en la tierra es como estar descansando en el regazo de una madre. Es gracias a ella que todo existe. La Tierra es como una diosa que vive, respira y permanece en una actitud de ofrecimiento constante.

Para contrarrestar la codicia y la falta de conciencia hacia el medio ambiente, la compasión es fundamental porque nos mueve a actuar para ayudar y cuidar a los demás. Ya disponemos de mucha información sobre cómo estamos devastando al planeta, ¿pero qué acciones tomar? Aquí en KTD tenemos una gran lección de cómo comenzar a cuidar más del planeta. Para empezar, todas las comidas son vegetarianas. Si bien el vegetarianismo implica muchas cuestiones éticas, es también una forma de protección ambiental. Algunos estudios indican que la tierra utilizada para producir alimento para una sola persona carnívora podría sostener a 20 vegetarianos. Y ni hablar de la cantidad de emisiones de gases que contribuyen al efecto invernadero emitidos por la industria de la carne.

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Otras medidas que se toman en KTD se pueden apreciar a simple vista, como las celdas solares fotovoltaicas en uno de los techos de dos aguas del edificio. También hay un lugar para hacer composta en un costado del monasterio, en diversas partes hay letreros recordando el cuidado del agua al asearse; y hay distintos contenedores para reciclar los desechos orgánicos cerca de la cocina, otros para las baterías, los bombillos, el vidrio, el cartón, las latas o desechos metálicos, entre otros.

Todas estas medidas, nos invitan a reflexionar sobre lo prácticas y fáciles que pueden resultar. Por ejemplo, separar la basura orgánica de la inorgánica no cuesta ni requiere una infraestructura o inversión importante para llevarla a cabo. Lo mismo ocurre cuando se trata de hacer una composta en casa, familiar o con los vecinos, lo importante es que nos demos la oportunidad de no dañar y no contaminar el medioambiente.

IMG_7790Estas medidas se relacionan con uno de los valores fundamentales del budismo que es la interdependencia, que significa el reconocimiento de la relación intrínseca que guardamos con todos los seres sintientes y la madre tierra que nos sustenta día tras día con su nobleza y generosidad. El retiro nos ofrece una oportunidad para materializar y tomar conciencia del sentido de la interdependencia y de la compasión, de la importancia de cuidar del entorno que nos permite sobrevivir. Además nos anima a enriquecer nuestra práctica cuando regresemos a casa siendo más conscientes del medioambiente aplicando algunas de estas medidas en nuestros entornos más próximos. Esta experiencia nos invita a relacionarnos con el medio ambiente con compasión y sabiduría, poniendo mente y corazón en ello.

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RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014

Writers / Escritores
Andrea Tague
Lorena Orozco
Verónica Frutos
Arturo Cordero
América Vera

Translator / Traductora
Raquel Cajiga

Editors / Editores
Hope Jinishian
Beth Keenan

Photographs / Fotografías
Alessandra Otero
Nelly Toledo

Coordinators / Coordinadores
Leslie Serna
Ven. Tenzin Dapel
Alberto Fournier