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Offering and Meditation on Dakini Day

The Thousand Stars Foundation invites friends of the Foundation to participate in the offering to Guru Rinpoche at the Foundation House on Ladprao Road, February 1 (Dakini Day), 7-9 pm. After the offering and meditation on Guru Rinpoche, we will recite a praise to the 21 Taras and the aspiration for excellent conduct.

Please bring cookies, buiscuits, candies or fruits for the offering.

Reflection

It has been a week since Lhasray Rinpoche returned to China. I thought of special friendships developed between Rinpoche and his new students as well as between me and friends of the Foundation. I thought of the many places we visited during Rinpoche’s stay including Areerat’s special land and and a gigantic Buddha stone carving factory in Chiang Rai. I thought of many activities we did at Khadiravana, countless preparations Prachum and Yontan did before the Stupa ceremony and “namjai” special support from students and friends. There were difficult moments when we were tired and pressured by the work. But there were also special moments of joy, peace and compassion when we recited the Guru Sitthi mantra while visualing that the mantra goes everywhere in the universe.

One morning at a hotel lobby in Chiang Mai, Rinpoche suddenly taught me a Dzogchen lesson. He urged me to look at Dharma practice from everything a practitioner does. Dharma practice doesn’t occur only when a practioner sits cross-legged, with palms folded, but it is inseparable from his or her action, behavior and personality. Dzogchen perspective holds that Samsara is no different from Nirvana. Nirvana is here and now. There is neither purity nor impurity. Everything is only the state of our mind.

Rinpoche’s visit not only helps me see things more clearly but it enhances my understanding of faith and relationship between teacher and student. It also gave me a hard lesson of seeing the “ugly” side of myself when the “self” that I hold on to got challenged in situations that provoke anger, jealousy, insult, and disappointment.

Talk on Mt. Kailash

The 1000 Stars Lecture Series will feature Dr. Andy Lowe who will speak to us about his recent trip to the Kailash Mountain in western Tibet. Mount Kailash, known in Tibetan as “Kang Rinpoche,” or the Precious Snow Mountain, is one of the most spiritually potent places in the world, and is the source of three of Asia’s greatest rivers–the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Andy will also talk with us about how to prepare for a trip to the mountain and how to manage the effects of trekking in high altitude.

The talk will take place on next Sunday, 3 February 2008 from 13:30 to 15:30 hours at the 1000 Stars House, 695, Soi 11, Ladprao Road, near Carrefour Ladprao.

For further information please go to

http://1000starsweb.googlepages.com/

Pictures from the North

Kris and Miao in front of the Buddha shrine, Wat Umong. Miao is holding fish food in her hands.

Rinpoche prays with Yontan and Kris in front of the Wat Umong Jediya. May our work be realized!

Chimed Rigzin meditates on the Wat Umong Jediya.

Beautiful sun rays at Khun Areerat’s land in Chiang Rai. We share her great spirit to devote this plot of land for Dharma activities.

Areerat on the happy day when the land was blessed.

Lhasray Rinpoche blesses the land.

Blessed flower and rice

Miao, Kris, Teng, Jick, Chimed Rigzin, Emaho and Rigzin Wangmo


Rinpoche and the group at Doi Suthep

Update on Rinpoche’s Visit

Lhasray Rinpoche, Tulku and Rigzin Wangmo returned to Chengdu this morning. We took them to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai on January 17-19. On the 20th some students came to say ‘good-bye’ to Rinpoche. Among them are Khun Sanan, a retired staff from the Forestry Department and his family and friends. They presented him with two Bodhi plants – one to be grown at Khadiravana and another for Rinpoche to take to Chengdu. Khun Supot and Khun Areerat presented Rinpoche with a beautiful image of Buddha in the Samboghakaya form. Dr. Fon asked many questions about how to prepare the mind of dying patients. These, together with the meaningful gifts inspired Rinpoche to give a short Dharma teaching on bardo. I hope to summarize the teaching soon. The teaching was followed by an important meeting with the Tara Great Stupa working group.

We will look forward to Rinpoche’s next visit to Thailand when the foundation and the temple of the Great Stupa has been completed. He said he would pray for the opportunities to teach us on bardo intensively and to lead us on the Dzogchen path.

Pictures of Rinpoche’s activities and the visit to the north will be posted soon!

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed selflessly to Rinpoche’s visit. Special thanks are due to Khun Jick for Rinpoche’s air tickets, the cost related to ceremonial tents and for taking care of Rinpoche and his family both in Bangkok and in Chaing Mai and Chiang Rai; Dr. Bundit and his friends who have become the Thousand Stars Group in Surin for the wonderful meals and household work during our Guru Rinpoche retreat; Khun Prachum for taking care of Rinpoche’s stay at Khadiravana; Miao, Nuch; Khun Areerat, Khun Ek, Khun Jun, Khun Lek, Khun Klaang and Khun Teng. We are also very grateful to Dr. Andy and Khun Charoen. Last but not least, I thank my mother who contributed tirelessly to the logistics and well being of those who came to the foundation stone laying ceremony and those who stayed in the retreat.

Memories from Guru Rinpoche Empowerment and Rinpoche’s Personal Retreat

With his great compassion, Rinpoche recited the Guru Rinpoche prayers and mantra with us on the 11th. The next day he performed Guru Rinpoche Empowerment. The text he uses is Lamai Gongtu “Embodiment of teachers,” which belongs to the Nyingma tradition. It’s a terma discovered by a Bonpo tertron. As mentioned earlier in this blog, Rinpoche has received several transmissions and empowerments from both Bonpo and Nyingma masters.

After the empowerment, Rinpoche spent a night with all of us before entering a personal retreat at the mantra stupa for 2 nights. We felt grateful to his kindness towards us. His blessing is like a shower of nectar.

Memories from the Tara Stupa’s Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony

Two Thai admirers of Tibetan culture: Thangka painter and movie maker

Two students who became Tara disciples

Two tantric practitioners of the Kundrol Dragpa lineage: Rigzin Wangmo and Chimed Rigzin (Sang-ngag Lingpa Tulku)

Chimed Rigzin

Mongyal Lhasray Rinpoche conducted the ceremony.

Lungta ceremony – May the wind blow wind-horse paper everywhere!

Khadiravana on the important day

Rinpoche explained the meaning of the stupa and the ritual.

Ajarn Sulak Sivaraksa and Krisadawan circumambulating the stupa mandala.

Special Guru Rinpoche altar at the ceremony

Our Mantra Stupa in the Global Spiral

There is a story of our Tara retreat center and the Thousand Stars Foundation in the January 2008 issue of the Metanexus Institute’s Global Spiral Magazine: http://www.metanexus.org

Mantra Stupa—Hua Hin, Thailand

Homage to you whose face is radiant like a thousand stars.

—Prayer to the Twenty-One Taras
The images above are taken of the interior and exterior of a mantra stupa at the Tara Khadiravana Buddhist Retreat Center in Hua-Hin, Thailand. This site is operated and maintained by theThousand Stars Foundation—a nonprofit group that fosters ties between the Theravadan Buddhism of Thailand and the Vajrayāna and Bön Buddhism of Tibet.

Khadiravana is a Sanskrit word meaning “Khadira (Acacia catechu) forest”. This pastoral setting in the Prachuab Khiri Khan Province is consecrated to Tara, the female Buddha of compassion, and is believed to be her abode on earth. The mantra stupa is composed of colorful prayer flags imprinted with prayers to Tara and the various Buddhas and Boddhisattvas, which the Tibetans believe are carried to every corner of the world when the wind blows.

The Thousand Stars Foundation, headquartered in Nonthaburi, Thailand, serves to preserve and protect the religion, language and culture of the Tibetan people and to promote dialogue between the various forms of Buddhism. In addition to maintaining the Retreat Center, the Foundation offers courses in the Tibetan language, publishes books and hosts conferences on Tibet and Buddhism, supports a primary school and nunnery in Tibet, and hosts a Buddhism and science dialogue group that is part of the Metanexus Global Network.

To learn more, visit http://www.thousand-stars.org

Off for Khadiravana

Perhaps I will need to leave for Khadiravana from tomorrow afternoon to prepare for the ceremony and the retreat. I’m not sure whether I’ll have a chance to write this blog until I come back on the 16th.

Rinpoche has talked about five natural elements and their symbolism as well as how to view them from Dzogchen perspective. I’ll write about this and Khadiravana experience later on.

The Stupa Doesn’t Belong to Anyone Alone

His Eminence Kundrol Mongyal Lhasray Rinpoche, his son Chimed Rigzin (Sang-ngag Lingpa tulku) and his daughter Chimed Wangmo have arrived in Thailand since the 6th. Soraj, Yontan and I went to receive them at the airport. The moment I saw them, it was a great joy. They wear long hair and dress with the outfit of ordained tantric practitioners. This is another category of Tibetan practitioners that many people don’t know about. I felt grateful to Rinpoche for taking the trouble to come to Thailand again despite his busy schedule and his age. Having all three of them here, I couldn’t help feeling that the Kundrol Dragpa lineage has truly come to Thailand.

This evening the Tara Stupa working group came to visit Rinpoche and have dinner with him at our foundation house in Nonthaburi. I took them to see Rinpoche at our shrine room. We spent special time together talking about the stupa – why it is necessary to build it and how we should go about it. Later on Yontan remarked that what Rinpoche told us was not only profound teaching but remarkable words that could move even the heart of a scientist.

Rinpoche said there are two main reasons why we want to build a stupa. The first is that we want to eliminate defilements (kleshas). In general, we talk about three defilements in Buddhism which are the root cause of suffering: attachment, hatred and ignorance. In Tibetan Buddhism in addition to these three, there are two other defilements, namely jealousy and pride. Building a stupa is a way to tame them. The second reason is that we want to receive blessings from Buddhas, no matter whether they are the Buddhas of Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya or Nirmanakaya, or whether they are the Buddhas of five families. Understanding the three bodies or the five families of Buddhas, we gain a way towards enlightenment.

Rinpoche stresses that we should build the stupa with proper attitude like this, with motivation to help sentient beings and for the sake of Buddha’s teaching. Although the stupa was originated by me, it doesn’t belong to me. Although Rinpoche supervises the project, it doesn’t belong to him. He can’t put it in his pocket and take it back to Tibet. All sentient beings are the stupa’s owner. It will benefit not only Thailand but everywhere in the world. Rinpoche requests us to help each other in whatever ways we can so that the work can be materialized as soon as possible but with great efficiency. He said we should not cast any doubt but make a firm decision to work for the sake of sentient beings, and pray for the work to benefit countless beings. Rinpoche himself, after having built the stupa, may not have time to come back to Thailand again. But he will pray for anyone who gets a chance to see, hear about or come into contact with the stupa, to be inspired by it, to experience inner peace, and understand the significance of the five Buddha families. He will pray for them to be born in the Buddhas’ realms where there are no defilements, the cause of rebirths in samsara.

Rinpoche reminds us that life is impermanent and death doesn’t make a difference between old or young. We should do the work as quickly as we can but with special care. Once the blueprints are completed, the main work would be to look for a construction company. The construction supervisor must be a responsible and devoted person, let alone being well-expereinced and skillful. Having come to Thailand the second time, he saw how Thai people are capable of building temples and stupas (jediyas) as well as making Buddha images. He believes that the work here will be much better than in China and the stupa will be built with precision according to traditional customs.

In general there are more than 100 types of a stupa. These types can be grouped into eight kinds. We see these various kinds of the stupa in Tibet. All of them must have sacred objects filled in. These sacred objects are like the heart and soul of the stupa. Although jediyas in Thailand and stupas in Tibet are quite different from each other in term of shape, the motivation in building them must be the same. After being filled and consecrated, the benefit of the stupa is immeasurable.

Then Rinpoche talks about the ceremony we’ll conduct on the 10th, one of the most important days of Khadiravana’s history. In Tibet this kind of ceremony is a huge one with grand celebration, cham (masked dance), use of elaborate musical instrument and chanting by a group of ordained bhikshus. This is a way to express our gratitude to local gods for allowing us to borrow the land for the Dharma work. But he didn’t want to put a lot of financial burden on us. So as an old man having gone through all these defilements and accumulated a lot of experiences himself, he would represent the sangha in performing the ceremony. When it’s time to do the consecration, there will be a grand ceremony.

Finally, he requests us to realize how important it is to be born as a human being. This body is like gold. If we treat it as stone, it’s such a great waste. Having this human birth, we can accumulate merits, work for the sake of others and become enlightened.