March 2009
In This Issue
Teaching by Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok
Updates to the programme
This Month at Jamyang
Remembering and celebrating Ani Chodron
Sean Jones writes for Jamyangsters
50 years of Tibetan struggle
A day to celebrate kindness
Mandala magazine reaches UK prisons
FPMT
Your thoughts for Gentle Voice
Editor's welcome
TibetThis month marks 50 years since the Tibetans peaceful uprising against the Chinese invasionin 1959. Tibetans are not alone in their struggle for freedom and justice. Many bitter conflicts around the world remind us that human suffering caused under the influence of ignorance, attachment and anger is a reality we need to transform. Whether we do it at a grand scale level (ending oppressive regimes or unjust wars) or whether we do it at an individual level (eliminating our own delusions, anger and greed), we should never give up. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says:
Be compassionate.
Work for peace in your heart and in the world.
Work for peace and I say again
Never give up. No matter what is happening,
No matter what is going on around you,
Never give up.

In this edition of Gentle Voice we provide links to websites where you can find more information about the situation in Tibet. Also, an extract of a teaching by Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok on the Seven-Point Mind Training. Rinpoche will be giving teachings on the same subject at Jamyang in April and May.

Ingrid Kerma remembers and celebrates Ani Chodron's life, Sean Jones ex director tells of his recent visit to India and Bill Alexander tells how he got 150 Mandala magazines into UK prisons. Don't miss the updates on the Jamyang programme, and the invitation to "Be Kind".

Love,
Esther g.
Teaching by Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok-
KRJTThe perfect human rebirth is difficult to find because its causes are very difficult to create. Furthermore, it combines many different characteristics attributes and qualities that very rarely come together and therefore there's no certainty that we'll be able to enjoy this kind of opportunity again in future. Certain things almost never happen and this human life is even more difficult to acquire than those. Therefore we should definitely practise Dharma in this very life.

We might also think, "Yes, I should practise Dharma in this life but not right now-maybe next month, next year or some other time in future." This, too, is a big mistake because there's no guarantee that we'll be around that long. Our lifespan is not fixed. If we could be sure of living for, say, a hundred years, it might be reasonable to put things off for a while, but in fact our time of death is totally unfixed. We have no idea at all when we'll die. Therefore we should resolve to practise immediately.

As long as we're ignorant of such things it's quite understandable that we don't feel responsible for our future but once we do know, it's vital that we start making our life meaningful. As the Buddha taught, we are our own protector; the responsibility is ours. Nobody else can practise for us. We have to practise and take responsibility for ourselves, especially for our future lives. It's the same as when we're ill-the doctor makes the diagnosis and prescribes the appropriate medicine but it's our responsibility to actually follow the advice given and take the medicine prescribed. Nobody else can do it for us. Over the centuries many practitioners from all four major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism have attained enlightenment in a single lifetime but it's not easy to do. It takes hard work and great intelligence.

Therefore we should expect it to take many lifetimes for us to do so. But if we devote our life to developing qualities such as love and compassion and avoid actions that harm ourselves and others as much as we possibly can there's reason to hope that in our next life we'll be able to continue from where we left off. In this way, over a series of lives, we'll gradually progress to buddhahood.

The Kindness of OthersExtract from the book: "The Kindness of Others
" by Geshe Jampa Tegchok, published by the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. To read the full text, please visit the archive's website.
You can also download teachings from Geshe Jampa Tegchok at the Talking Buddhism website.

NOTE:
Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok will be visiting Jamyang at the end of April and beginning of May to teach on the
Seven Point Mind Training.
Please book now to attend his teachings.


Updates to the programme-
GentleVoice - The Newsletter of Jamyang Buddhist CentrePlease note that dates for visiting teachers in 2009 have been added to Jamyang's website, including dates for Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin'svisit, Alan Wallace's and Geshe Tashi's Vajrayogini retreat in December (http://www.jamyang.co.uk/retreats.html)

Unfortunately Ven. Robina's European tour has been cancelled.
Wehope to see you at Jamyang!

Uttaratantra teachings with Geshe Tashi-
Geshe TashiWednesday nights in March and April promise a real treat. Geshe Tashi will be sharing with us the essential advice given in the text Uttaratantra. The title is sometimes translated into English as "The Sublime Continuum". The text is available in readable English translations.
The record of a visionary teaching by the future Buddha Maitreya to the 4/5th century CE Indian meditator Asanga, the Uttaratantra gives the essential teaching that shows us our true nature.
There are many practices in Buddhist sutrayana and it is sometimes difficult to understand why so many are needed and what the real purpose of each is. In the Indian medical tradition, for example, the way to teach students is first to teach them different healing disciplines like the making of medicines, massage, surgery etc through a number of texts known as tantras. But is only at the end that the students are taught the final tantra which contains the essential teachings that bring all their previous medical studies together and to give them the key to really know, understand and practise Indian medicine. This last text acts like a keystone in an arch - without the keystone the arch cannot stand. Without this last text the student can't practise medicine. This final keystone text is known as an uttara tantra.
In the same way Maitreya's visionary Uttaratantra text gives the essential teaching of Mahayana Buddhism that brings everything together and acts as a keystone for the great arch of the Mahayana.
That essential teaching is that no matter how many moments a day we have of stupidity, cruelty, arrogance, jealousy, obsession, all of us - and that really is all of us - have as our inalienable birthright the ability to develop to our fullest positive potential completely free from suffering, and to really benefit others in a long-lasting way.This ability is not something that we need to go out and buy or get from someone else. This ability is a natural and inseparable part of our basic nature as thinking beings, an inseparable part of the deepest innermost level of our minds. All we need is to be pointed towards our natural beauty and to learn to recognise and rejoice in our innermost nature.
CentreThis natural ability and potential to develop our wise, loving, and socially engaged side to its fullest extent, to become fully enlightened, is explained in the text through a set of nine inspiring images taken directly from one of the greatest Mahayana sutras, known as the "Matrix" (Skt: Tathagata Garbha Sutra).
The text also looks at the nature of the "Three Jewels" of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (the enlightened ones, the enlightening teachings and the enlightening supportive community) both as things to rely on as we journey to full enlightenment, and as radiant powers that we in turn will manifest to others to help them travel along the path.
"Seize the day!" and join with Geshela in uncovering and rejoicing in this "Buddha Nature", our finest nature.
THIS MONTH AT JAMYANG

THIS MONTH AT JAMYANG

REGULAR CLASSES
Mondays @ 7.30pm
Buddhist Meditation
(starts on the 9th)
Tuesdays @ 7.00pm
Foundation of Buddhist Thought course(starts on the 10th)
Wednesdays @ 7.30pm
An explanation of the Uttaratantra text on Buddha Nature
(starts on the 18th)
Thursdays @ 6.15pm
Silent Meditation
(starts on the 12th)
Thursdays @ 7.30pm
Discussing Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's way of life


WEEKENDS
14-15March
Introduction to Buddhism with Geshe Tashi
21-22 March
Discovering Buddhism: the wisdom of Emptiness
28 March
Meditation practice day
29 March
Family days
GROUP PRACTICE
11 March
GREAT PRAYER DAY
6/21March
Lama Chopa Practice
Remembering and celebrating Ani Chodron's life by Ingrid Kerma-
Ani ChodronOn January 28th, after Ven. Chodron's funeral at West Norwood Crematorium a celebration of her life was held at Jamyang. Led by Geshe Tashi, a large gathering of her friends recited the King of Prayers and the Chenrezig mantra. The individual tributes were many and varied, painting a rich picture of her character and her life.
Ingrid Kerma, a close friend of Ani Chodorn, wrote a beautiful remembrance of her life.
On January 28th, after Ven. Chodron's funeral at West Norwood Crematorium a celebration of her life was held at Jamyang. Led by Geshe Tashi, a large gathering of her friends recited the King of Prayers and the Chenrezig mantra. The individual tributes were many and varied, painting a rich picture of her character and her life. Ingrid Kerma, a close friend of Ani Chodorn, wrote a beautiful remembrance of her life.

Venerable Lobsang Chodron/ Gunavati /Karin Maury was born in Helsinki, Finland on the 10.10 1928. Her mother died giving birth to twins. Her father died shortly afterwards. Karin was adopted into a wealthy Swedish - speaking family, her twin sister remained at the orphanage. Karin traced her sister during her thirties, but could not bring herself to contact her.
Her quest for a spiritual component in her life started early. In her youth she involved herself briefly with the Russian Orthodox church and experimented at length with advanced yogic breathing practices - to such an extent that she had to seek medical help!
When Karin encountered Buddhism in Helsinki in 1975, she said she immediately realised that Buddhism gave her the the practical means to change and to advance spiritually. The following year she was ordained into the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. She was given the name Gunavati, meaning abundant good qualities/someone who is trying to develop Bodhisattva qualities.
Gunavati wove her faith into every aspect of her daily life. She was a practical person, inventive, and loved tools and gadgets.When she was still living in Finland and when she wasn't riding around on her motorbike, she was driving a mini and she made this mini into a kind of prayerwheel by putting a reel of OM MANI PADME HUNG into each of the 4 hubcaps so they would repeat OM MANI PADME HUNG as she was driving along.

She believed that if you wanted to progress in your spriritual life, you had to observe yourself and you had to change. For example she had a serious fear of spiders. Throughout the 17 years I have known her she included spiders in her loving kindness meditations. Gradually she was even able to take spiders outside the house in her cupped hands, being especially careful not to injure their delicate legs.

She translated many of the teachings into Swedish in order to make sure that she completely understood and internalised the teachings, and in all her many note books and address books she glued typed texts of basic Buddhist teachings in the 4 languages she spoke (Finnish, Swedish, German, English) so that when she looked for a phone number she would come across Dharma teachings.

After completing Geshe Tashi's 2 year Foundation of Buddhist Thought course, Gunavati asked for ordination into the FPMT. She received the Rabjung ordination from Geshela on the 07.11.2001 and the Getsul ordination in Lavaur, France, on 26.07.2002 from Khensur Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche. She was now Lobsang Chodron, but was also still called Gunavati. Her Dharma practice became even more her daily life. Gunavati was a greate communicator - with people and animals. A walk along Brixton Road to the nearest Cafe took a long time. She would talk to everyone asking after their health and listening to their problems. Later some of these people, the shopkeepers and neighbours, said how kind she always was, listening to their problems. Many of her friends from years ago would write to her about her influence in their spiritual development.

Her love of animals is legendary. In Finland she had 3 dogs and a jackdaw she had rescued. The jackdaw liked to bite her ears, so she grew her hair over her ears. He had the run of her flat, and I've seen photos of books shredded by the bird. And in London, she had her beloved cat, Benny. She loved to visit, with her friend Beate, the various city farms. Going with her along the road, into the market or the park, she would stop and talk lovingly to every single dog at great length. That was a very good exercise in the practice of ksanti (patience) for the friend accompanying her. She said she had been very impatient herself, but had trained over many years to be patient by listening to other people's problems.

Lighting candles for Ani ChodronGunavati's need for communication and the practice of loving kindness became visibly pronounced during the last 4 weeks she spend in Homerton Hospital. Though very weak, she would wave to the other patients, stroke the nurses and tell everyone that she loved them. Her whole being had visibly become compassion. One of the nurses, Maria, said that never had she been so touched and moved by anyone in such a short time. She said Gunavati was exuding such a huge energy, the absence of which would be very strongly felt.
Sorting out her belongings I was struck by the depth of her wide interests. She played the guitar as long as I have known her, but recently decided to learn to play the violin - at the age of 80! She constructed intricate travelling shrines for friends. She was an accomplished photographer. Having worked in advertising, she had an 'eye', knowing how to control the light and her subject. She learned the art of thangkha painting in the Tibetan tradition with Andy Weber. At the age of 70 she bought her first PC, which she installed and subsequently became computer-fluent, even playing chess on her PC!
During the 4 weeks Gunavati / Chodron spend in Homerton Hospital her mental intensity and energy seemed to grow immensly. A week before she simply stopped breathing, I said how much I would miss her. Lobsang Chodron replied: 'I shall come back. Search for me.'
She died on January 17th 2009 at 12.55 pm at Homerton Hospital, London. Venerable Barbara and Padmaketu were with her at the time. Doctors and nurses respected our wish for her not to be touched. We chanted and recited the King of Prayers, the Vajrasattva Mantra and read the Bardo Prayers. Punjavati, Jayachitta, I and nurse Maria washed Lobsang Chodron and dressed her in her robes.

I was able to sit with her late into the evening. I am deeply grateful for having been part of her life

Sean Jones Writes for Jamyangsters-
Ex-director of Jamyang based in France, Sean Jones, sent an email to share with all of Jamyang's students his encounters with great teachers and lamas in a recent trip to India.
Some amazing photos and stories from these encounters!
Jamyangsters, especially old-timers, might like to hear something about the recent India tour Ariane and I and other members of the France-based Jamyang Study Group took, since we met some of Jamyang London's famous teachers and lamas along the way.
Late December 2008 sees us head from various countries to convene in India, to attend His Holiness's teachings - and chill on Goan beaches!

First to Dharamsala where we meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the group's patron, and paid respects. His Holiness tells us all about his laparoscopic surgery on 10th October when his gall bladder was removed, then he asks me about mine, on the very same day, when I had an adrenaline gland removed. Not to be outdone, Ariane says she had her gall bladder out years ago! His Holiness sums up with a laugh "Well, we all have something missing from our bodies, then!" He recommends a Tibetan nun-doctor for my back pain. So it's all a bit like an old crocks reunion. Then, he pulls us all together into a sports-type huddle before sending us forth once more to create havoc on the playing fields of dharma. Thence to Sarnath Deer Park, where His Holiness teaches Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara for a week and confers a Chenrezig empowerment. Wonderful! Here, amongst many other great lamas attending the teaching we can offer khatags to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who seems amazed to meet us there where Buddha walked and taught. He keeps saying "Amazing! Amazing!" as he blesses us with the khatags.

Evening, after a boat ride down the Ganges in Varanasi, India's "City of Learning and Burning", past the burning ghats, we are sitting in a tiny local restaurant in the middle of the Old City bazaar, when in walks long-time Jamyang favourite, Khyongla Rato Rinpoche with Ven Nicky Vreeland, so we all enjoy dinner together.

After relaxing on a beach in Goa, we head for Mundgod Tibetan Settlement and the great monasteries of Drepung and Ganden in the South. Ven Ling Rinpoche, now 23, kindly invites us to stay at his labrang and facilitates our tours of the vast and magnificent new prayer halls and visits to other lamas. These include Jamyang Buddhist Centre's first resident teacher Geshe Namgyal Wangchen who is now one of Ling Rinpoche's tutors. We are delighted to see Geshela looking very well and spend an hour remembering old times and catching up. On behalf of the Jamyang community we invite him back to visit and teach whenever he can, and then we all pose for a photo. Geshela sends his prayers and warmest wishes to everyone at Jamyang, London.

Next we visit Jampa Rinpoche who came to London in 1991 to re-consecrate Jamyang when during my term as Director we changed its name from Manjushri London Centre, having split from Manjushri Institute in Cumbria. Rinpoche studied consecration ritual under the previous Ling Rinpoche who was a great master of this art, and he spent several weeks in London giving teachings and carrying out the rituals. Members at the time will remember bringing in statues and thangkhas and other sacred objects to the Centre to be consecrated. Rinpoche has very good memories of his time with us in London and I tell him that following his work Jamyang has grown and prospered enormously. He is really happy to have some news and to remember his stay in London.

At Ganden we visit Zong Rinpoche whose previous incarnation memorably taught and gave initiations at Jamyang back in 1982, with Ven Geshe Wangchen interpreting. He is now 23 years old and has the very same attendant as then, the irrepressible Ven Tenzin Wangchuck. Like his famous predecessor Rinpoche has a very powerful presence, and now speaks excellent English. He is very happy to see us and chat and he very much looks forward to renewing his acquaintance with old students and invites you all to visit him.

The new prayer halls are highly impressive and full of monks all morning for lhungs given by Khyongla, and all afternoon for wangs given by Dhakpa Rinpoche - two of the few remaining super-scholars trained in pre-Chinese Tibet. Khyongla, as he likes to be called, was His Holiness's examiner when His Holiness took his Geshe degree about 1951. We are invited to join the assembly for the wangs and receive three of Zambala.

Khyongla is also at Drepung and we visit him in his labrang, though, as he is so busy giving lhungs all morning, we do not stay long. He returns our khatags and gets back to his text. And so, it's back to France for us.

50 years of Tibetan struggle for freedom-
The 10th of March marks the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and commemoratesthe flight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many tens of thousands of Tibetans from their homeland.

It is a dayfor us to remember the great suffering of the Tibetan peoplefromthis time even up to the present day. Repressive measures have been steadily increasing in Tibet since the protests of last year with many people missing, killed or imprisoned. There have beenmore and more controls on communications,the movementof people, and on religious freedom.

Some events are taking place to commemorate this anniversary. You can find out more at one of the following websites, though some of these are experiencing unusual outages.

GentleVoice - The Newsletter of Jamyang Buddhist CentreHis Holiness the Dalai Lama's official website: www.dalailama.com
The Tibet Society UK:www.tibetsociety.com
Free Tibet Campaign: www.freetibet.org/
Office of Tibet http://www.tibet.com
Students for a Free Tibet http://www.studentsforafreetibet.org
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy http://www.tchrd.org
Campaign for Tibet http://www.savetibet.org
A day to celebrate kindness-

LKPYLKPY (Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth)
is excited to launch the all new international day to be kind... BE KIND DAY, 31st March.
The concept is simple - everyone can be kind, all ages, cultures andlocations.
We have manyideas of how people can get involved in these project's website: www.bekindday.org



What to do with 150 or so back numbers of Mandala magazine? by Bill ALexander

"Stone walls do not a prison make" (Lovelace)

Bill Alexander delivers MandalasWhat to do with 150 or so back numbers of Mandala? Received by us, courtesy of friends who send them to Jamyang after perusal.
The answer seems to be to give them to prisoners in our jails - as Ven. Robina Courtin already does for prisoners in the USA.
So we contacted the Ministry of Justice, which has taken over responsibility for the prisons from the Home Office, and they liked the idea.
The Mandalas were delivered to the Ministry by Esther G. and myself on the 16 February (see the picture). We hope they will be read in our prisons quite soon now.



The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)-
FPTMJamyang is affiliated withFPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) and is one of more than 155 centres and projects worldwide.
FPMT is based on the Gelug tradition of Lama Tsongkhapa of Tibet as taught by our founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe and spiritual director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. If you would like to receive FPMT's monthly newsletters pleasesuscribeby visiting: www.fpmt.org/homepage/suscribe.asp
You can also find Lama Zopa Rinpoche's full teaching schedule. In May, Lama Zopa Rinpoche will be leading a 1 month retreat at Institut Vajrayogini at Lavaur in France. For more information please visit: www.institutvajrayogini.fr/VY.html
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