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Lightning on Druk Amitabha Mountain

Lightning striking past a hilltop Buddhist stupa in the outskirts of Kathmandu on Tuesday. The stupa is located in a Buddhist nunnery whose inhabitants practice Kung Fu every morning.

Category: Print Media

World's largest gathering of Drukpa Lineage masters

1 February, 2010, Kuensel Newspapers (Bhutan) - Every year, thousands of yogis, masters, scholars and practitioners of the Drukpa religion from all over the world gather at Kathmandu, Nepal for their annual Drukpa Council (ADC) to share ideas and strengthen relationships within the lineage and exchange the richness of its spiritual legacy.

It is the world's largest assembly of masters of the Drukpa lineage.

The Ninth Khamtrul Rinpoche, His Eminence Jigme Pema Nyinjadh, the chairman of the Council spared some time to speak to Kuensel's Tenzin Namgyel about the second ADC scheduled for April 8-16 in Kathmandu.

Can you briefly explain what the second council meeting is going to be about?

The theme of the second ADC is "Respect and Appreciate with Love and Understanding".

The emphasis, this time, is on appreciating and respecting individuals irrespective of their diverse backgrounds and cultures. It will go beyond our own Sangha (Buddhist community) members in terms of creating awareness and interest, not only through spiritual activities, but also through our various charitable and humanitarian activities.

Part of this will include the 'Live to Love Charitable' music concert that will be held for a night, where popular musicians of the 60s and 70s such as Donovan will perform. The proceedings from the concert will go towards development of education and health, preservation of culture and environment in the Himalayas and victims of natural disasters.

The highlight of the second ADC will be the importance of female spiritual practitioners of the Drukpa Lineage. About 800 nuns will perform the Drubpa (ritual).

How many masters and scholars will join the gathering this year and how many are from Bhutan?

The first ADC, conducted in Druk Amitabha mountain, Nepal in 2009, saw more than 10,000 participants including Drukpa masters from Bhutan, Nepal, Ladakh, Tibet, South Asia, Europe and the from the West. But this year we are anticipating more masters and scholars with more people being aware of the ADC's importance.

Bhutan is the only kingdom in the 21st Century where Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism is well established and flourishing. I hope that there will be more Bhutanese participants this time, as this will be an opportunity for international participants to learn about Bhutan's unique spiritual and cultural heritage.

We have received confirmation from a few Bhutanese Rinpoches and Lopons (teachers) and we're expecting more, especially those representing the Dratshang (monk body).

Why is it that a majority of the volunteers in protocol during the first ADC were from Bhutan?

Bhutan is rich in terms of its spiritual, cultural and traditional heritage, which is evident from how they practice their religion and how well they behave and maintain their core values.

Young Bhutanese volunteers' ability to manage etiquette and protocol required is very natural as compared with volunteers from Europe and other Asian countries. They are familiar with the traditional etiquettes required in Vajrayana Buddhist practitioners, which is very important when in attendance of rinpoches.

Moreover, most Bhutanese are able to speak at least three languages, English, Hindi and Nepali that most Rinpoches are familiar with. They are comfortable with Nepal's landscape and familiar with its culture. The first ADC participants commended the Bhutanese volunteers for smart, humble and a gracious group.

Who would benefit from the ADC and how?

The ADC unites Drukpa masters who preserved and promoted the 800-year-old Drukpa legacy for the benefit of all sentient beings. Our ultimate endeavor is to encourage individuals through such annual councils through other means, to help develop genuine inner happiness.

Environmental disasters, wars and crimes are a direct manifestation of ego and deep ignorance. The truth of interdependence is that everything happening in the world are a direct or indirect result of our actions.

It is extremely important in this degenerating age, for not only the masters, but individuals to unite in our continual search for encouragement on the path of inner peace and happiness, on the footsteps of the Buddha.

Tell us something about the precious Rangjung Kharsapani (self-risen relic), an exhibit during the ADC, which emerged from Tsangpa Gyare's backbone, who founded the Drukpa lineage? Bodhisattvas are born to help free sentient beings from khorwa (samsara) using various means to enlighten them. When Bodhisattvas die, they pray that their remains (in form of relics) enlighten all living beings through their senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing, thereby, liberating them.

Sight of the relics rouses faith and devotion, integral for opening the mind toward liberation. It is almost the same as seeing the Buddha or Guru Padmasambhava himself in person, enabling the wishes and prayers of the individual to be fulfilled.

Category: Print Media

Founder's relic on first display

Tashi Namgyel at Annual Drukpa Council, (Kuensel National Newspapers, 13 April, 2010) - Hundreds of Bhutanese on pilgrimage to Nepal received blessings from the self-arisen image of the 11-faced Avalokiteshvara (Chenreyzig) that was displayed to the public at Druk Amitabha goenpa, Kathmandu, on Sunday.

The relic, originated from the 21 vertebra of Drogon Tsangpa Gyare, the first Gyalwang Drukpa and the founder of the Drupka Kagyu lineage, was on display for the first time after centuries of discovering it.

Avalokiteshvara is the compassionate embodiment of all the buddhas residing in ten bhumis (10 stages). Avalokiteshvara pledged to free all sentient beings, manifesting himself in the form of teachers, kings, ministers, ordinary human beings and many others.

In 1161, Tsangpa Gyarey, the dharma king, protector of all sentient beings, was born as a human manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. As a sign of true reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, he left many miraculous relics in his ashes. His 21 vertebrae, left behind in the ashes, naturally turned into 21 self-arisen Chenreyzig statues.

Of the 21 statues, the one in the form of Chenreyzig Kharsapani was inherited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (the incarnation of Tsangpa Gyarey), who later brought it to Bhutan in 1616, when it was kept as one of the main relics in Punakha dzong.

Drogon Tsangpa Gyare passed away in 1211.

His Holiness, the 12th Gylalwang Drukpa explained that the sacred relic that was kept at Namdruk monastery in Tibet was stolen and reached the hands of an elderly couple. "The couple didn't want to keep the relic, because they thought after they die it could land in the wrong hands, and it was presented to Gyalwa Gotsahgpa, the disciple of Tsangpa Gyare," he said. The relic was then returned to the Ralung monastery in Tibet.

In 1939, Thinley Shingta, the seventh Gyalwang Drukpa, brought the relic to Sangagcholing monastery in Darjeeling, India. Since then it has remained with the Drukpa masters. The precious relic was brought from Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India, by Kyabje Sey rinpoche, a Drupka master, to display during the annual Drukpa council (ADC).

The 9th Khamtrul rinpoche said bodhisattvas are born to help free sentient being from khorwa (samsara), using various means to enlighten them. When bodhisattvas die, they pray that their remains (in form of relics) enlighten all living beings through their senses of light, touch, smell, taste and hearing, thereby, liberating them. "Sight of relics rouses faith and devotion, integral for opening the mind towards liberation," said the rinpoche. "Seeing relic is as same as seeing the first Gyalwang Drukpa himself or Avalokiteshvara in person, enabling the wishes and prayers of individual to be fulfilled."

Last year, at the first ADC, the Dechok Khotlodompa (Cakrasamvara), tutelary deity, a tooth relic of Marpa, the great translator, image of Jetsun Milarepa and a handmade stone image of Dudsol ma, the dharma king protector, attributed to Goenpa Larrup (Nagarjuna), were displayed.

Category: Print Media

Gyeltshen Tulku - In the footsteps of the masters

Continuing the spiritual traditions of an august lineage - by Tenzin Namgyal, Kuensel, 11 January, 2010.

In his effort to spread the noble teachings of the Buddha, a rinpoche in the east has followed in spirit the dharma with his meritorious endeavour.

Without any financial assistance, lam Kuenzang Tenpai Gyeltshen, popularly known as Gyeltshen trulku, has established nine retreat centres and six gomdeys(lay monk's institutes).

He built them by saving whatever he managed to eke out from begging in villages in the five eastern dzongkhags.

Although the government provides a monthly stipend to five of his retreat centres and some gomdeys, Gyeltshen trulku continues to beg for his practitioners excluded from the scheme.

The rinpoche said that the journey has been long and arduous.

"When we started, we lived in a small hut, ate kharang (ground maize) and drank maize porridge," said the rinpoche. "It was a difficult start for me to be involved from planning to designing, carpentry work to keeping accounts and, of course, teaching."

So far, 200 practitioners, comprising monks, lay monks and nuns, have successfully completed three- and six-year meditation courses. A few completed their ninth year.

Gyeltshen trulku teaches the six yogas of Naropa (Naro Choe Druk), an advanced set of tantric Tibetan Buddhist meditations, compiled by the Indian Buddhist yogi, Naropa, between 1016 and 1100 CE. It was later conveyed to his student Marpa, the great translator in Drukpa lineage.

The rinpoche said that the six yogas - the yoga of inner heat, illusory body, clear light, dream state, intermediate state and the yoga of the transference of consciousness to a pure Buddhahood - were intended to help accelerate the attainment of enlightenment.

"My motive is to guide and train those, who are interested, and they should commit to it for at least six years," the rinpoche said. The six yogas of Naropa take six years to complete and nine years to master.

Gyeltshen Trulku received the teachings from his root guru, Lama Sonam Zangpo, the grandfather of their eminences Dzongsar Jamyang Khentse and Dungzin Garab trulku.

"A root teacher has the capacity to introduce one's nature of mind to Buddhahood, because of which it's very important to identify a root guru," rinpoche said.

Born in 1953 to a humble family at Bimkhar Tokortse village in Trashiyangtse, Gyeltsen trulku, whose parents expired when he was five, spent his childhood herding cows and baby-sitting for neighbours.

Lama Sonam Zangpo, who recognised Gyeltshen trulku from the vision he saw of him while meditating at Phunying goenpa in Lhuentse, offered him the seat of his predecessor.

At 12, Lama Sonam Zangpo sent him to Druk Sanga Chholing monastery in Darjeeling, India, to study Buddhist philosophy, grammar, poetry, arts, science and other Buddhist texts.

After studying for 10 years in Darjeeling, he returned to Bhutan and received a complete set of Drukpa (Naro Choe Druk) and Nyingma (Tsa Lung Thiglye) teachings from his root guru and went into meditation for six years. No sooner had he completed his retreat then Lama Sonam Zangpo appointed him as the first tutor at the Phajoding retreat centre in Thimphu.

After Lama Sonam Zangpo expired in 1984, Gyeltshen trulku began teachings in the east, as his master believed he should, and on the request of the public there.

Rinpoche teaches Drukpa and Nyingma in Bhutan, Tibet, Ladakh and Darjeeling. So far, more than 25 people in Ladakh and a few Tibetans have come and received his teachings.

On people's continual discrimination between the Kagyu and Nyingma sects of Buddhism, the rinpoche said it was done without understanding the inter-connection between the two. The rinpoche warned that, while killing was forgivable, discriminating against religions was not.

His Holiness the Je Khenpo conferred on him a khadar and a white scarf, with orange lining on the two edges, last month in recognition of his thirty-year service in propagating Buddha-dharma to monks, lay-monks and nuns. The scarf was the first of its kind to be presented to a Bhutanese lama in Bhutan.

Lama Sonam Zangpo and Gyeltshen trulku are among 12 Bhutanese disciples of the great 20th century Tibetan Yogi, Drubwang Shakya Shri (1853-1919), a widely celebrated spiritual luminary, who exemplified both the Drukpa and Nyingma traditions.

Category: Print Media

Nuns at ADC

The Himalayan (front page) - A Buddhist Nun tonsures head of a fellow nun before participating in an address by a spiritual leader during the Annual Drukpa Council programme in Kathmandu.

Category: Print Media

Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche brought holy relic to Vietnam

Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, one of the most precious masters of the Drukpa Lineage, attended the ceremony Monday and handed over a sacred Buddhist relic to be installed into the statue, in the northern province of Hai Duong.

Vietnam carving world's largest jade Buddha

Source: Thanh Nien, Agencies. Jan 24, 2010.

Vietnam will soon be home to the world's largest jade Buddha as sculptors began chiseling a 35-ton block of jadeite jade in the northern province of Hai Duong this week.

President Nguyen Minh Triet (2nd, R) watches the block of jadeite jade that will be carved into the world's biggest jade BuddhaThe Hanoi-based Than Chau Ngoc Viet Gems and Jewelry Company began sculpting the precious stone on Monday during a ceremony at its factory in Hai Duong's Cam Giang District. The company had bought the jade at a gemstone fair in Myanmar for VND60 billion (US$3.25 million).

The complete jade Buddha statue is expected to weigh 16 tons, measuring three meters high, two meters wide and one meter deep. The measurements do not include a 9-ton throne, 2.1 square meters and 60 centimeters high.

About 50 local and foreign sculptors have been hired to carve the statue of Great Buddha Sakyamuni, slated for completion in 2010.

Dao Trong Cuong, director of Than Chau Ngoc Viet, said the company would register the statue with the Guinness Book of World Records.

Dorzong Rinpoche, of the Indian Buddhist Sangha, attended the ceremony Monday and handed over a sacred Buddhist relic to be installed into the statue.

President Nguyen Minh Triet, who removed the seal from the jade block along with the patriarch of the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha, Thich Pho Tue, hailed Than Chau Ngoc Viet for its efforts.

"The completed statue will not only be a unique and precious masterpiece for Buddhism but also for mankind. It will be here for generations of our descendants," he said.

The Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, which is currently considered the world's largest Buddha carved from gemstone quality jade, is 2.5 meters high and weighs 3.9 tons. It sits on an alabaster throne 1.4 meters high. Completed in December 2008 in Thailand, the statue has toured Asia, including Vietnam, and is currently traveling Australia before being installed at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Bendigo.

Category: Print Media

Nuns perform weeklong drubchen

Kuensel Newspapers, Tenzin Namgyal at 2nd Annual Drukpa Council, 9 April, 2010 - Seventy nuns from Bhutan, along with another 730 others, performed Avalokiteshvara drubchen (great recitation of Chenrizeg) at Druk Amitabha mountain in Kathmandu, Nepal, during the 2nd annual Drukpa council (ADC).

The seven-day drubchen, which ended yesterday with nueldrub langwa (blessing after practice). Over 5,000 people from around the world, including Bhutan, attended the ceremony.

The drubchen is usually performed at major events, such as inaugurations, teachings, oral transmissions, recitation ceremonies and special gatherings like ADC to accomplish merit. The chairman of ADC, his eminence Khamtrul rinpoche said, "Buddhists believe in the law of karma, meaning law of cause and effect. There is a saying that, rather than putting a mountain like effort, it's better to have a spark of merit that will ensure whatever you want to achieve in life."

Rinpoche said ADC had been very important and a great mission to serve the entire Drukpa lineage "When we want to accomplish a great task, we also need to accomplish great merit, that is why drubchens are always presided over on occasions like ADC," said Khamtrul rinpoche.

Explaining the benefits of drubchens, Khamtrul rinpoche explained that, with correct visualisation, concentration and fully understanding the meaning, it can help attain enlightenment. "When the drubchen is completed properly, it's the same as completing a three-year retreat."

Monks of Bhutan conducted the dechog khorlo dompa (Chakrasamwara) drubchen during the first ADC last year.

His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drupka, spiritual head of Drukpa lineage, felt that the drubchen this year should be performed by nuns, said Khamtrul rinpoche. It was to encourage the nuns and showcase their ability and give equal opportunities to women.

"As far as Buddha's teaching is concerned, especially within the Drukpa lineage, there is not gender discrimination. Enlightenment is nothing to do with physical forces. Understanding enlightenment is most important and that could be done by females as well," he said.

Female participation in major events such as drubchens would in fact encourage them and further motivate other nuns, who were not present at the ceremony, said Khamtruel rinpoche. "The other nuns, who could not make to the drubchen, would be motivated when they hear that nuns performed the drubchen this year. This will confirm the stand of dharma on the gender issue."

Category: Print Media

Happiness Ambassador: "May the love rise into the sky"

by Nina Holley, Hamburger Abendblatt (Hamburg Evening Newpapers), 6th January 2010. Hamburg, Germany. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Drukpa Order, His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, brought a khata, a white scarf, as a gift to Mayor Ole von Beust (CDU), something that will bring auspiciousness. The mayor in return presented to His Holiness an illustrated book about Hamburg. Click here to download news in PDF format or view news at source.

Read more: Happiness Ambassador: "May the love rise into the sky"

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His Holiness the Je Khenpo lauds Drukpa Council

by Tenzin Namgyal (Kuensel National Newspapers, Bhutan) 2 April, 2010 - The annual Drukpa council (ADC), which commenced on April 8, is a source of inspiration to Buddhism and many people around the globe, according to His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

His Holiness, on behalf of the zhung dratsang (central monastic body), was conveying their appreciation to His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche who is presiding over the meeting. His Holiness Gyalwang Drupchen Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Drogon Tsangpa Gyare (founder of the Drukpa lineage) and recognised and revered as the spiritual head of the Drukpa lineage.

In his message, His Holiness said, "Today, in this degenerated age, Buddhism in general and the glorious Drukpa tradition in particular are facing numerous challenges. In such a critical time, your skilful and visionary initiative of instituting the Drukpa Council is a great achievement in itself."

The council, according to His Holiness, has not only provided a strong base for confidence and a sense of direction to the followers of the glorious Drukpa tradition, but also provided a source of inspiration to Buddhism.

Gyaltshen trulku rinpoche, the representative of HH the Je Khenpo to ADC, read out the message. While addressing the gathering on April 8, Gyaltshen trulku said, "The entire spiritual community takes pride in expressing their deepest appreciation for this unparalleled initiative that Your Holiness has taken up.

Around 300 Bhutanese monks and nuns are taking part in the world largest gathering of Drukpa masters, scholars, yogis and practitioners in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.

The theme of the second annual council is "Respect and appreciate with love and understanding." The chairman of the council, the ninth Khamtrul rinpoche, Jigme Pema Nyinjadh, said the council is a forum that brings various people from different backgrounds and makes them understand the cultures and values through respect and understanding, to bring harmony and peace in the lineage without losing culture and values.

"We need to appreciate and respect different cultures because of their unique richness," he said. Khamtrul rinpoche said he felt the impact of the first ADC in many ways, as many Bhutanese, after attending the council, came to know about the Drukpa lineage outside Bhutan. "Similarly many people from Ladakh and Garsh in India also visited Bhutan to learn about the Drukpa lineage," said the Rinpoche.

The spiritual benefits of the council, according to Khamtrul rinpoche, will be the wisdom gained from listening to the teachings of different masters. "Understanding wisdom means understanding Buddha's teachings and ultimately understanding enlightenment. Understanding enlightenment comes from teachings and teaching comes from great masters," he said.

Category: Print Media

Inner strength necessary, says His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa

This is an excellent coverage that has appeared in Corporate Dossier, a special New Year edition called "CD Conversation" with articles authored by nine super-achievers from a range of professions. Corporate Dossier, a weekly supplement of The Economic Times, is the most read financial daily in India. Click here to download article in PDF format.

Read more: Inner strength necessary, says His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa