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Tribute to Gankar Tulku Rinpoche

By Marianne McDonald, Ph.D. MRIA  

I met Gankar Tulku Rinpoche a year ago in the springtime of 2004—my life changed— I now meditate every day and feel the gentle precepts of Buddhism enter my life and make it richer.

Rinpoche as a child chose the proper sacred items and knew things that only the original Lama Gangkar Tulku could have known—so our Rinpoche is Gankar Tulku in his reincarnated form. He shares his knowledge with others besides praying and meditating with us all. His instructions and ceremonies are life-transforming and life-enhancing.

I truly believe we do not understand the way space and time intersect, but as that old Irish woman said when she was asked if she believed in fairies, “Of course not, what do you think? I’m a modern educated woman,” she paused, “But it doesn’t make any difference you know—they’re still there.” and Buddhists skip through time and space and lifetimes: ethically, always ethically, with great compassion for all humanity.

The Rinpoche is someone who shares his peace and serenity with others. He simply enters a room and he transforms it with a warm quiet presence. He is very educated, very wise, and very generous. He radiates the joy of inner serenity. He gives to all people, as indeed he urges us all to share in alleviating the suffering of others. His message is also one of happiness, and joy at the sheer wonder of existence. He urges us to live the life that is the only life that brings true happiness, namely one with a conscience.

Some friends and I “took refuge” in Buddhism with the Rinpoche leading us in fall 2004, when I was 67, in the springtime of old age. Rinpoche recited vows that we repeated, vows that venerate the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha, he community who chant and work together. I think this community includes all mankind.

Rinpoche brings the message of peace and well-being to ”all sentient beings”. He, like the Bodhisattvas before him, has vowed to awaken mankind, end delusion, expound the dharma and follow the way of Buddha.

If every human being would do this, they would celebrate and honor the Buddha in everyone: everyone would work for universal understanding and harmony, and ultimately for the benefit of each other. Somehow in this dark world, Rinpoche has lit a candle and allowed us to see and appreciate the divine in all of us.
                                    Marianne McDonald, Ph.D. MRIA




Buddhist monks share traditions

Public invited to Tallmadge to watch ancient rituals

By Colette M. Jenkins
Beacon Journal staff writer

POSTED: 08:48 p.m. EST, Nov 10, 2008

TALLMADGE: The chanting, singing and bell-ringing inside Unity Chapel of Light this week are meant to inspire peace and compassion.

''We want to share some of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism and give people a chance to experience our culture and religion,'' said Geshe Gankar Tulka Rinpoche, through a translator. ''We are not promoting Buddhism, but hope that people from other traditions can learn from us and we can learn from them.''

Rinpoche, the spiritual leader of the Dzindu Monastery in India, and two other Tibetan Buddhist monks will be at the church at 503 Northwest Ave. through Saturday. Their visit is part of a U.S. tour to give the public an opportunity to learn about ancient Buddhist traditions through lectures, prayers and ritual ceremonies. They are also constructing a sand mandala in the church fellowship hall and offering blessings of homes and businesses.

The goal of the tour is to build awareness of Buddhism, to spread the word of love and understanding and to raise money for their monastery and its monks and nuns, who have been exiled from Tibet. The monastery is now based in Mundgod, India.

''I've never met more peaceful, compassionate and loving people who exhibit those qualities in their daily lives,'' said Gloria Ireland, president of the Ohio Metaphysical Society. ''My prayer is that people in our community will be able to connect with their spirit of love and compassion and respond to each other with that same kind of compassion and love.''

Ireland's philosophical group, which meets at Unity Chapel of Light, is co-sponsoring the monks' visit, which is their second visit to the Tallmadge church in four years. Rinpoche said this week's visit has been a time to reconnect with friends.

One of those friends, Bruce Sugarberg, said the monks' visit helps his church promote the message of unity and tolerance. He describes the monks as ''genuinely holy people.

''The Unity movement believes in diversity, We believe all religions are valid and that there are many paths to the same result,'' Sugarberg said. ''We can learn a lot about love, peace, tranquility and selflessness from the monks' teachings.''

The maroon- and gold-clad monks opened their visit on Friday with a presentation on energy healing. Over the weekend, they shared basic teachings of Buddhism and conducted a healing service and an opening ceremony for the mandala. During the ritual ceremony, the monks chanted prayers to bless the ground on which the sand mandala is being built and invited the angels to come and bless the area.

On Monday, the monks visited children in shelters and continued constructing the mandala, made of colorful sands. Its pattern is organized around a unifying center. The mandala represents the universe, or wholeness. The monks will spend many hours over the next several days creating the intricate symbol as a way to educate people about the culture of Tibet.

When it is finished on Saturday, the monks will gather in a ceremony, chanting in deep tones while they sweep their mandala into a jar to be emptied into a nearby body of water as a blessing. The emptying into the water symbolizes the circle of life. The dismantling of the mandala demonstrates the impermanence of life.

''The mandala is a road map for a practitioner to get the divine qualities of compassion and love,'' Rinpoche said through his translator, Tenzin Bhuchung, of Tallmadge. ''The colors represent the elements of earth, wind, fire, water and space. The colors also represent different types of blessings. The white is for purification, the yellow for increasing things like wisdom, and so on.''

The public is invited to view the construction of the mandala 2 to 8 p.m. today and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Rinpoche will teach about meditation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Saturday, a White Tara Empowerment lecture will be presented from 10 a.m. to noon, and a teaching about monastic life in India is 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.

The closing ceremony and dismantling of the mandala is 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. An offering for the monks is being accepted at the door for all events. For a complete list of events or to schedule a blessing or consultation with Rinpoche, call 330-459-3162 or visit http:// www.unitychapeloflight.org.

Rinpoche, who was ordained by the Dalai Lama, is the founder and director of Khacholing Center in Minnesota. ''We believe all religious traditions can learn from each other,'' Rinpoche said. ''Our tradition is broad but we hope people understand that the [goal] of Buddhism is to transform our minds from a negative state to a more wholesome, positive state.''

Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com.


Tibetan Buddhists in Greater Cleveland to teach and learn

by Janet Fillmore/Plain Dealer Religion Editor
Tuesday November 11, 2008, 5:21 PM


STRONGSVILLE -- The monks didn't miss a beat.

When an onlooker's cell phone went off during their blessing ceremony at the Angel House Center for Art and Creative Life Change on Monday, the Tibetan Buddhists kept chanting.

The monks were from the Dzindu Monastery in southern India. They are in town not only to share their wisdom through teaching but also to offer prayers for specific purposes, including house or business blessings.

At Angel House, the monks set a vase on a mat on the glass table in the living room. They filled it with saffron water that had been blessed and prayed over at the monastery. Next to the vase they placed a brass bell and small scepter-like tool (the vajra).

The monks' initial chants were to invoke the earthly and divine spirits, said interpreter Tenzin Bhuchung. Every so often Gankar Tulku Rinpoche rang the bell, symbolizing the interconnectedness of the world and the wisdom that comes from that. He waved the vajra, which represents compassion in action.

Rinpoche, 43, the head lama of the monastery, and the Venerable Lobasang Phuntsok, 37, chanted for about 15 minutes, after which they rose and took the vase outside to the barn. The chanting -- in Tibetan and Sanskrit -- began again. Rinpoche used the vase dropper to sprinkle water around the structure, which is to become a theater. They returned to the house and did the same inside it.

Rinpoche, Phuntsok and a third monk, the Venerable Dhondup Tsering, will be in Northeast Ohio through Saturday; their visit is sponsored by the Ohio Metaphysical Society and the Unity Chapel of Light in Tallmadge.

While in the area, Rinpoche will teach about meditation and other topics, and the monks will create a 5-foot-square sand mandala at the Unity church. The mandala (colored sand painting) is a formal geometric pattern that represents the floor plan of a sacred mansion and is created when the need for healing of the environment or living beings is felt.

The men also will perform several dozen blessings, said Bruce Sugarberg of the Unity church.

Four years ago, Rinpoche visited Angel House for a blessing. When executive director Carol Dombrose learned he would be back in the area, she asked that he return. The center is raising money to build an addition for its activities (from drumming to Reiki to self-awareness classes), so a blessing for "everything auspicious," as interpreter Bhuchung described the ceremony, was appealing.

While the monks are here to teach and to bless, they also are learning about the United States. Phuntsok, on his first visit, said through the interpreter that he found the country to be "so clean" and "so developed as far as the material condition" of schools, buildings, etc. The people, he said, were "very friendly, supportive and curious."

Rinpoche, who has learned a bit of English on previous trips, had one criticism of Northeast Ohio.

"It's cold," he said, tugging his maroon robe tighter.






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