Best wishes for the festival celebrating the Buddha's descent from Tushita: a message from Lama Shenpen and the Awakened Heart Sangha
Today is the festival of the Buddha’s descent from Tushita. We will be making offerings in front of the stupa and reciting the Samantabhadracharyapranidhana, the pranidhana to be able to carry out the deeds of the great Bodhisattva Samantabhadra and to realise what he realised for the benefit of all beings. It is the very last section of the Avatamsaka sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra), the last section of which is the Ghandavyuha which describes the journey of the young man Sudhana to meet his 53 teachers (both male and female). I was teaching about this sutra in Berlin just over two weeks ago. There is a package of materials available from AHS about it. I hope you all become familiar with it over the course of your training and have the opportunity to recite it many times.
We will be reciting it in our new pavilion that was blessed yesterday by Rigdzin Shikpo who made the pranidhana that it would be a place where many genuine practitioners came to practice and be blessed by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in this sacred place facing the stupa. The punya was especially dedicated to Metok Pema (Rosemary Dew), Tara’s mother. Rigdzin Shikpo was delighted with the whole event and especially with the tea we offered him because it was a special kind of tea that opened up like a flower in water and Rigdzin Shikpo associated it with the lotus from which Guru Rinpoche is said to have emerged. It was a beautiful day and we all felt it was an auspicious moment. A further step in the development of the stupa site. The next step is to install the prayer wheel. Now it is a matter of people coming here to circumambulate the stupa and perhaps do prostrations in the pavilion or to meditate there, reciting prayers and the Refuge and Bodhisattva vows. The last words Metok Pema said as she died a few years ago were ‘I take Refuge in the Buddha, I take Refuge in the Dharma, I take Refuge in the Sangha’. What a wonderful way to die. It seems particularly appropriate that the pavilion was blessed by Rigdzin Shikpo so close to the festival of the Buddha’s descent from the Tushita heaven where the Buddha had been teaching the Dharma to his mother.
Many people comment about the stupa that it brings them peace and happiness just to think of it and to come to see it. There is something about the magic power of connections associated with it - as if one can almost tangibly feel its power bringing conditions together for the spreading of peace and joy in the world and leading people towards Awakening.
As you know our stupa is of the type called an Enlightenment stupa but there are other types of stupas and the Enlightenment stupa is one of a series of eight in a tradition associated with Nagarjuna. One of the eight is the stupa commemorating the descent of the Buddha from Tushita. For Tibetan Buddhists this day is a very special day and Buddhists will be offering incense and candles to stupas all over the world including the great stupa and Bodnath in Nepal and in Khenpo Rinpoche’s stupa at Tekchok Ling and Lama Phuntsok’s stupa at Lekshey Ling and the great stupa at Bodhgaya.
The festival is always close in time to our own Halloween, a time when we think of the bridge between this world and the spirit world as 'thin' as it were. It is thought of as a time when it is easy to slip from this world to other worlds or realms. So it is good to use this time to make sure we do not let ourselves be taken over by negative forces, but open out and strengthen our connections with the world of Awakening.
We can do this by lighting candles and incense, offering flowers or whatever we find beautiful on our shrines or at special places in our neighbourhood. Traditionally All Hallows Eve was a time for making offerings on behalf of loved ones who have died. We could link into this tradition by making offerings physically or mentally as we go about our lives or offer our meditation practice or any good deeds that we do and dedicate the punya (the goodness of doing that) for those who have died and for the Awakening of all beings and the end of all suffering.
I would like to thank all of you who keep your connection with me and the Dharma via Buddhism Connect. I feel it is a privilege to serve you in whatever way I can and I am grateful if my answers to your questions are helpful to you and help you keep on course on the path to Awakening.
I will be going into strict retreat on December 1st to February 1st but I hope there will be a backlog of Buddhism Connect questions and answers to keep you going for that time. I will come out to celebrate Christmas though because for me it is such a special moment for celebration. Although the festival has become associated with so much that is meaningless, at its core it is an ancient celebration of the return of the light to the world. Not everyone has forgotten that and I certainly haven’t.
With love in the Dharma,
After 2 weeks hard work, Lama Shenpen has a new meditaiton hut that replaces the old green french caravan that used to sit outside her annexe.
The new hut is a 4 x 3m log cabin, fully insulated floors, walls and ceiling - with double glazed windows and doors.
Lama Shenpen kindly donated the money for this to the Shrimala Trust herself and we hope it will be a wonderful place of comfortable meditation for her in the years to come.
Go to Lama Shenpen's facebook page to see some pictures
The central heating system is fully underway, with Tony, Chris and now Colin hard at work installing the new pipes, while Simon digs and fills trenches outside.
See the gallery for some pics.
6th Feb 2012:
After months of meetings and quotes and thinking, finally the work starts on the central heating system.
See the gallery for the photo of Tony (master Plumber) and Chris from Carbon Zero with one of the new radiators that were delivered this morning.
The whole project is expected to take 4 weeks.
After a long wait - the scaffolders have erected the platforms and the PV panels and solar thermals are in place.
We had a wonderful weekend in Birmingham with Lama Shenpen and Ridgzin Shikpo. The teachings on the Sangha mandala, 5 Buddha Families, 27 stages of dissolution and Mandala Principle created a real buzz.
We will try to put recordings and video up as soon as possible.
Visit again for updates
Tara ordered our Solar thermal panels today, we hope to have them installed next week.
The first stage of our upgrade to a more eco-friendly site, which will also include a Biomass boiler for our heating system and possibly lime based insulating material.
More to come.