From: Jamyang Buddhist Centre [[email protected]] on behalf of Jamyang Buddhist Centre [[email protected]]
Sent: 02 August 2008 17:02
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Subject: GentleVoice August 2008
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August 2008
In This Issue
Geshe Tashi's Column
FPMT Monks and Nuns
This Month at Jamyang
Sutra of Golden Light
Director's column
Manager's bit
Jumble sale
Keeping the Buddha's teachings alive- by Alice Hunter
Raffle thank you
Brighton Jamyang
Jamyang Walk
Quick Links
Editor's welcome 
MonkThis month FPMT celebrates ordained Nuns and Monks with the International Sangha Day (5th August). You will find lots of the contributions in this edition of Gentle Voice refer to that date, including Geshe Tashi's column, which explains the role of the International Mahayana Institute (IMI) and the importance of keeping pure the true practice of Buddhist monastic ordination in the 21st century.

Alice Hunter, student at Jamyang, took on the task of interviewing 3 of Jamyang's sangha  to find out a little more about how they live their lives and what are their biggest challenges; don't miss her contribution.

By reading Sally's and Anil's columns you will find out what is going on at Jamyang behind the scenes, including an update on the financial situation.

And, of course, it is time for Jamyang's annual JUMBLE SALE! Yes, we need your jumble. Read specifications below.

Finally, don't miss the update on events this month: from the 2 additional Monday meditation sessions, the Golden Light sutra Recitation, Ven. Rita, Gareth and Marisol's classes, the Jamyang walk and more.

Enjoy the summer and get ready for a very active autumn programme at Jamyang!
Much love, 
esther g.
Geshe Tashi's Column-
GT Next Tuesday 5th August has been chosen as International Sangha day by the International Mahayana Institute (IMI) to celebrate the role of the monastic sangha in Buddhism and the mutual benefit and interdepence of the Monastic sangha and the lay Buddhists.  The IMI is the organisation set up by the FPMT to take forward into the 21st century and beyond the valid and authentic tradition of Buddhist monastic ordination and to look after those people who have courageously chosen to be monks or nuns.

On the day the monks and nuns of the IMI will offer prayers for world peace, as they have done since the full moon of the month of miracles.  The 5th of August is also the day we celebrate the first teaching of the Buddha at Sarnath, the teaching on the four noble truths.  I think it is a really good idea to have a day every year where we all remember the preciousness of the monastic sangha and very skilful to use that day for prayers for world peace in this troubled planet we live on.

In advance of that day I would like to share four things with you:
* My deep appreciation to Kyabje Thubten Zopa Rinpoche for all the hard work and effort he has put in to creating and maintaining the IMI and to make the IMI capable of providing for the needs of monks and nuns: their needs for education, their needs for help in keeping vows and their needs for monasteries and nunneries;
* The great work done by the IMI to ensure the transmission of authentic forms of monastic ordination for men and women and "a big thank you" for the support and help they give monks and nuns in the FMPT worldwide; and
* My appreciation of the sincere efforts of our FPMT monks and nuns to take up, uphold and maintain the precious vinaya of the monastic ordination lineages;
* My thanks to the friends of the western monastic sangha who have been supportive in helping this tradition to come to the West.
The IMI very skilfully and thoughtfully follows the traditions of the ordained orders which Buddha himself introduced to the Buddhist monks and nuns.  All this is done very thoughtfully and skilfully to help to introduce Buddhist ordinations in this 21st century for western men and women who are interested in becoming Buddhist monks and nuns.  Many conferences, discussions and trainings have been held and more will be held in the future initially for each and every centre under the FPMT organisation so as to give information to the centres and centre teachers, particularly how to give support and provide information to meet the needs of individuals who are interested in becoming Buddhist monks and nuns.  Not only that, but IMI have taken great care and thought to introduce valid and authentic traditional Buddhist monastic ordination.  Starting with giving the pre-ordination training for 2 to 3 weeks and after that taking the ordinations.  Again, giving the ordinations gradually and according to the Vinaya that Buddha himself introduced to his monastic community.  The Buddha himself said on a number of occasions that the measure of whether the true teachings of the Buddha continue to exist in the world will depend on whether the traditional authentic lineages of monastic ordinations continue to exist in the world.  When Buddha was near to parinirvana he was requested to say who would be the guide of the monastic sangha once he had passed away. Buddha answered that "the vinaya will be your teacher".  So a very strong emphasis is given to the Vinaya.
If you then come to the Tibetan traditions, when Buddhism came to Tibet, the monastic tradition was one of its key pillars. All the four Buddhist traditions follow the same monastic Vinaya for ordaining men and women as monks and nuns.  Lama Tsongkhapapa strongly emphasised the importance of the monastic vinaya and its practice.  In some sense and for certain reasons many past and present great Buddhist practitioners and scholars understand that one of the main contributions of Lama Tsongkhapa to Tibetan Buddhism was in his re-emphasising the key role of the authentic Buddhist monastic tradition based on the Vinaya. Therefore it is something really joyous and really to be admired that the sangha members under the IMI go through the process to take the ordinations based on the traditional monastic Vinaya.
Not all groups called sangha are monastic sangha.  This is something understandable because the term sangha has different meanings in different contexts.  The Sangha Jewel of the Three Jewels refers strictly to the community of people who, as minimum, have full direct realisation of selflessness.  So in that context sangha does not have to be ordained monks and nuns as long as that person has direct realisation of selflessness.  More generally four sanghas are talked about: the community of Monks, the community of nuns, the community of lay women and the community of lay men. 
But when we talk of the monastic sangha, the communities of ordained monks and nuns, then we are talking about communities of people who have been ordained following authentic valid traditions of ordination coming from the Buddha himself, the vinaya.  The vinaya tradition followed by all monks and nuns in all the Tibetan schools is the ancient Indian vinaya of the Mula Sarvastivada.  The Theravada vinaya is followed in the Theravada tradition found in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma.  The Dharmaguptaka vinaya in the far Eastern traditions of China and so on.  These traditions differ but they are all authentic vinaya traditions with long practice and transmission lineages traditions stemming from ancient Indian Buddhism and the time of the Buddha.  Based on those we carry on the process of becoming an ordained member stage by stage up to becoming fully ordained monks and nuns. Although we all know that at the present the Tibetan Vinaya tradition does not have the full ordination for nuns but HHDL and other great teachers are investigating if there is any possibility to introduce a full ordination for nuns in the Tibetan tradition.
With that I would like to say a few words about the thinking that these days as it is the 21st century we need to modernise the Buddhist teaching.  There is no argument that it is the 21st century and that there is a need for modernisation in the Buddhist teachings and practices. However we must be careful that based on saying we need modernisation we do not weaken the entire authentic tradition of how to become monastic sangha; how to validly ordain men and women as Buddhist monks and nuns.  There is a risk here that in "modernising" we damage the continuity of very thing that is the mark of whether the true practice of Buddhist monastic ordination and teaching exists in the world.
Recently I was informed that in a website which related to ex NKT students, it was stated that as an FPMT Geshe I approve NKT ordination. I would like to clarify that I never made such a statement. Within FPMT, as in all other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, in the mula-saravastivada system, novices hold 36 vows. This is the system I uphold.
As a monk or nun, wearing the monastic robes in whichever tradition, Theravadan, Chinese or Tibetan, when you wear those robes you will feel that you wear those robes because you have received the ordination introduced by the Buddha and taught by the Buddha himself and that up to the 21st century the continuation is there, and that you have received this from such and such a master. Therefore you can be very proud and feel very fortunate  to receive this monastic ordination that comes from Buddha up to your present teacher. In this way you can proudly think that you are able to hold some of the Buddha's teachings, that you are able to contribute to the continuation of the genuine Buddha's teachings into this 21st century and beyond, and not something artificially made up by one or two persons for their own purposes.
I know this article is a bit long, but to me this is very important - that in the 21st century we maintain and transmit the pure vinaya tradition coming from Buddha.  Finally I want to say in general that all the sangha in the IMI should rejoice in what you have been doing and continue to do these kind of great activities. So on the 5th of August we will all do our prayers for peace together.

Monks and Nuns in the FPMT- extracted from the FPMT's website
>From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank very much all the Sangha who for so many years, not only living in, guarding, your vows, but able to benefit others - doing retreat continuously for many years or doing social service, doing hard work at the centre, doing service to sentient beings and teachings of the Buddha, which is service to our guru, His Holiness Dalai Lama.
-Lama Zopa Rinpoche, April 2007

The Sangha, the community of Buddhist monks and nuns, is the oldest monastic tradition going back to the time of the Buddha, nearly three thousand years ago. By becoming a monk or a nun, one abandons the ways and appearance of a lay person and adopts the appearance and ways of an ordained person by keeping a number of vows.

The first community of monks established by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche was at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in 1971 when 25 monks moved down from the Solukhumbu region of Nepal to the small hill overlooking Boudhanath to pioneer a program of study, meditation, and communal living;
this was the beginning of the largest community of FPMT monks today.  The core of the Himalayan Sangha remains at Kopan Monastery , the original monastery of the FPMT. Nearby is theLY Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery , home to the community of nuns associated with Kopan Monastery. Monks and nuns from the age of seven come from all over Nepal and the Himalayan countries such as Tibet, India, Bhutan, Sikkim, and even Mongolia to attend this Gelugpa monastery, one of the best in Kathmandu valley, to receive a classical monastic education.

From the early days of the FPMT organization, students have been inspired to dedicate their lives to the practice of the Buddhist path by taking the vows of monks or nuns. In the years since the founding of International Mahayana Institute (IMI) in 1974 at Kopan Monastery, several monastic communities have been established around the world, in Australia, France, India, Italy and Taiwan.  The monks and nuns of IMI continue to serve as teachers, retreat leaders, centre directors, spiritual program coordinators, editors and counsellors in FPMT centers worldwide. They tirelessly help bring the benefit of Buddhist teachings to all of us.

International Mahayana Institute
Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund Donation

For advice from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe,  Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other teachers on the topic of ordained sangha visit the IMI site at:

For more information on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's schedule and for advice visit his official website.



Mondays @ 7.30pm
(2 new sessions)
Buddhist Meditation

7 and 9 August

Ven. Rita Riniker-
Understanding our emotions
Does forgiving mean forgetting?

28 to 31 August

 Gareth Sparham- The Bodhisattva's Path

23 August
Inside - Out Yoga Workshop

25 August
Jumble Sale

5 August
Golden Light Sutra recitation for world peace

11/ 26 August

Lama Chopa Practice

Invitation to Join the Sutra of Golden Light recitation Tuesday 5th at 7pm

Light Jamyang will be joining the worldwide recitation of "The Sutra of Golden Light" in support of World Peace organised by the International Mahayana Institute.

So far they have already received pledges for almost 900 recitations. International Sangha Prayers for World Peace is part of International Sangha Day, August 5th.

Each day, we are overwhelmed with news of earthquakes and floods, war, environmental disaster, abuse and neglect. We see the pictures and hear the stories and feel helpless to bring about real change, but there is a way to help. Reciting "The Sutra of Golden Light" effects real change to benefit real beings.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche says:

Acts of terrorism will be averted. Acts of violence will stop. China will return to Buddhism and will relax its hold on Tibet. Natural catastrophes will be avoided. Crops will be successful. The environment will be clean. People will be safe. If there is war, it will end and there will be peace.

Please join us. 
Further information is available at
Director's column
Hi everyone,
 Another month rolls around, where is this mythical summer?
Sally Still talking about finances. Jamyang is having to cut costs and reduce expenses very seriously.  This brings me to the subject of concession rates for our activities.  Someone phoned me recently to make the comment that they felt Jamyang actually "promoted" our concession rate. Meaning that students were first being asked if they wanted to pay the concession rate, rather than the course fee itself. My caller pointed out that even McDonalds always asks customers if they want a "big burger" and never ask if they want a "small burger".   I'm sure you get the point!  That person also said they felt a bit disheartened to see so many concession rates written on the class sign up sheets next to their name.  
I too, have noticed this culture here, and as long as the Centre is financially solvent, this kind of culture is manageable.  Truth is, Jamyang is not financially solvent just now, and we need to change the culture to survive.
I hasten to say, this doesn't mean we will NOT be offering concession rates to people who really need them. It means that we will not have a concession rate printed on our information material, just the actual course/retreat fee itself. But with a note saying if anyone is unable to meet that fee, we are very happy to discuss their individual situation with them and come to a workable arrangement for both parties.
FPMT Centres, including Jamyang, do not charge for the teachings themselves - of course the Dharma must be freely given.   But what we ARE asking for, is help to support our teachers, staff, utilities, building maintenance, equipment etc.  Just to have this amazing building standing here in the middle of the city, functioning as a vibrant Dharma Centre, costs money!  Everyone who owns their own home can easily relate to that reality - Jamyang is no different.
Now for some good financial news!  The recent Fundraising Film night at Jamyang, was a very fun event and the evening sun decided to grace the Courtyard diners with her presence too! After expenses, the evening raised £1,936.00!  A huge thank you to all who purchased tickets, and to all the staff and volunteers who made the evening a success.  The Director/Producer of the documentary, Josh Dugdale, who offered a Q&A after the film, wrote me a sweet thank you note the next day, saying how much he had enjoyed the energy of Jamyang.
Take care, with love,


([email protected])
The manager's bit-
I would like to welcome the new work programme staff and thank them for the hard work that they have already put-in, they include Carey, Heather, Sophia , Flora and Maya.  I would like to also say a special thank you to Venerable Honu who has help to transform the Cellblock guest rooms into 5-star accommodation!  The new water heater and redecorated guest shower room have all received praise. Add to this the café, courtyard and good weather and you have yourself a fabulous heaven for those who need to find some peace in the city. And isn't the Courtyard looking wonderful!
Thank you to all the volunteers who give tirelessly to make Jamyang look and feel so welcoming.
Enjoy the summer,
([email protected])

The Jamyang Jumble Sale!
Bank Holiday Monday
25th August 08
Jamyang needs your Jumble!!

More than ever this year we need your jumble so please start delivering now!  The following are examples of items we can sell
We need good quality items.  If you wish to donate something special that could be auctioned please contact the main office on 0207 820 8787.

 Please note we cannot accept any electrical items. Last year we raised around £1000 let's see if we can double that.
Sangha: keeping the Buddha's teachings alive- by Alice Hunter

As a child, I was hauled along to the Catholic church each Sunday morning by my Mum. Listening to my favourite priest, Father John, he would often make a very good point. 'Just think of all the hours in a week,' he would say. 'Really, just giving up one of those to go to church is not asking much at all.' And I would contemplate his words from the uncomfortable, shiny bench I sat upon, really thinking hard about ALL the hours in a week and indeed, how spending just one of them at church really wasn't much.


It's a running theme, because in the same way, life today is so busy that getting to Jamyang once a week can seem like a big commitment. There are just so many other things to fit in. And in the middle of all this busyness, I seem to become increasingly commitment phobic. I can't remember when I last committed to anything that wasn't either comfortable or convenient. I'm not even sure how long I kept those New Year resolutions for - was it a month, a day, an hour? It's all such a lot of effort. Yet, from talking to members of the Sangha community - in preparation for Sangha day on August 5th - making the commitment to ordination, was one of the easiest steps on the path towards becoming a Buddhist monk or nun.

The word Sangha has many meanings depending on the context. I am referring here to Sangha as order or community of Bhikkhus (monks) and Bhikkhunis (nuns). When the Buddha left this life, he did not leave any written teachings and thus his disciples (the Venerable Sangha) tried to memorise them by daily recitation. This oral tradition carried on from generation to generation, much in the same way as in the Christian church, until the Sangha committed to write down all the teachings, thereby saving them from disappearing completely.

 Buddhism has spread quickly throughout the western world in the past twenty to thirty years, and the number of westerners who are turning to ordination, is gradually increasing. One such Sangha is Ven. Jinpa, who has been ordained for approximately three months. Jinpa tells me that he came to Buddhism via meditation, and the simple desire for a calmer mind. "After trying a few places, I found Jamyang was just around the corner from me," he says. "Then, soon after receiving teachings from Khensur Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche and Ven. Robina in the same month, I realised I wanted to become a monk. It seemed like the best way to follow the Buddhadharma, to be just doing that and living with others doing the same."

Jinpa agrees that the decision was actually an easy one, and that it was both the preparation and the ordination, which were rather more difficult: "I prepared for a couple of years, which was a very gradual transition,
and so by the time of ordination I was pretty much already living like a monk, thus avoiding any big shock. I was so fortunate to be working at Jamyang under the watchful eye of Geshe Tashi, and it really was the best training."
Jinpa Jinpa is currently living in a monastery in France. He begins his day at 6am, with Tsong Khapa Guru Puja at 7am and then breakfast at 7:45am. From 09:00 to 12:30pm there are teachings and discussion, followed by lunch. Then, in the afternoon, karma yoga, followed by more teachings and discussion. Evening Puja takes place from 7pm with an optional Tibetan class at 9pm.
With such a rigorous schedule, I am glad to learn that weekends are free - although Jinpa tells me that he normally uses this time to catch up on karma yoga and self-study. The basic programme stops after 3 months for retreats, and to perform work around the monastery, as well as visiting family and friends.
While life in a monastery is certainly rigorous, it is the ideal way for members of the Sangha to share their community, and practise and study together. In another sense, the unsung heroes are those who become ordained but must remain in their home city. This often necessitates, particularly in an expensive city such as London, working in a regular job whilst practising.
 One such Sangha member is Ven. Barbara Shannon, who has been ordained for over 20 years and first encountered Buddhism in the 1970's when she attended a course with Lama Thubten Yeshe.
According to Barbara, "I live outside of the centre as there is no space for nuns to live inside. Thus, I do lead a version of a lay person's life in a way, because I have to pay rent and bills and so I need to have a paying job, but I am lucky being a nurse, because I can earn enough money to live by helping others."
Ven. Barbara Barbara also gets up at 6am to perform her offering bowls, prayers and meditation. She works four days a week from 8am to 6pm as a health visitor, and on Mondays, works in the office at Jamyang. With what seems to be an endless supply of energy, Barbara also tutors two online groups of students for Geshe Tashi's Foundation of Buddhist Thought programme and even finds the time to teach at the centre.
Barbara tells me that she always wanted to become a nun, and even as a young girl, was thinking of joining the silent order of the Carmelites: "However, anyone who knows me," she says, "Would know that it is rather difficult for me to ever be quiet!"
One of our newest western Sangha is Ven. Eve Hardman, who has been ordained for just a little over a month. Eve realised that she wanted to become a nun about four years ago. Commonly, she describes it as an easy decision to make at the time, "Not least because I'm 64," she says, "and therefore have a lot of samsaric experience under my belt!"
Palmo For Eve, the biggest challenge she has faced thus far has been, "Remaining patient when others give me their view of what ordained people should do, seemingly expecting me to do whatever it is," she says. "However, except that I now wear robes, life has not changed dramatically since I ordained: I was working at Jamyang on a regular basis and still am; I was studying Buddhism formally and still am; if anything, the robes inspire questions, and therefore a certain pressure to keep on my toes!"
It is fair to say that each of the Venerable Sangha face very different challenges. For Barbara, it has been a sort of isolation, which comes from living alone in the vows and which can cause problems with family and work colleagues who don't fully understand the lifestyle and beliefs. "While living with other Sangha would be preferable, at this time, it does not appear to be a possibility," she says.
Jinpa's biggest challenge, on the other hand, has been "Learning to fit in within a Nalanda, with the study programme, and with being newly ordained at the same time. It took me a few months to relax and feel it was my home."
Whatever the individual difficulties might be, it would appear that all agree that there is not much to be missed about a lay person's life, and in Eve's case, it is too early for her to say that she misses anything. "Sometimes I miss trousers," jokes Jinpa, "Especially when I'm travelling and people are staring at me!"
His Holiness and Lama Zopa Rinpoche have both stressed recently the importance of becoming monks or nuns and keeping the vows purely so as to help preserve the Buddhist teachings. There is no doubt that the Dharma is preserved best in the minds of those keeping pure morality, and this is the job of the Sangha: to keep and develop the Buddhadharma purely in their minds and to give to others.
It is quite a responsibility, especially as there aren't many Sangha in the west!

Titles for beginners
Lama, means 'heavy with knowledge' and also 'high mother'. It is not a formal qualification and can be used by anyone, especially to refer to/address his/her teacher
Geshe, is the equivalent of a doctorate in 'divinity'. It is earned after some 16 years of formal study and is gained by examination, where the candidate, using all his knowledge, engages in debates with senior teachers. It is awarded at higher/lower levels/grades, like for example, a first or second-class degree
Venerable, is often used to prefix the name when addressing or referring to a monk/nun
Raffle Ticket Fund Raising Evening
Jamyang would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who participated in the raffle ticket draw on Thursday 10th July. As a result, the Centre raised £340 and this is fantastic for Jamyang. So a big big thank you! 
Brighton Jamyang
Brighton Jamyang's new programme will be starting in September. We will be studying 'Mind and Its Potential for Happiness and Suffering' based on the FPMT's 'Discovering Buddhism Module 1'. For more information please contact Ian 07758 150722 or email [email protected]
Jamyang Walk

The Last Jamyang Walk!On Sunday 24th August the Summer Jamyang Walk will be on the beautiful North Downs in Surrey.

This spectacular outing starts from the lovely market town of Guildford and follows a route through the countryside to a charming old village for a lunch stop, and then over hills and through beech woods to the final destination of Box Hill. Geshe Tashi came with us the last time we did this walk 12 years ago so it's about time we repeated this walk again.
Meet at Waterloo Station at 10am in front of the ticket office.
Bring a packed lunch, or enjoy a pub lunch.
Good shoes recommended as it is about a nine-mile walk.
For any more details call Robin on 0207 736 2771 or look on the notice board at Jamyang nearer the date of the walk.
Your thoughts
What do you want to see in Gentle Voice?  We would love to hear your ideas and comments about Gentle Voice, please contact Esther at: [email protected]
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Jamyang Buddhist Centre | The Old Courthouse | 43 Renfrew Road | London | SE11 4NA | United Kingdom