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On the 2nd of November 2011, we were blessed by the arrival of our Spiritual Director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche (and not to forget Ven’s Roger, Holly, Sangpo and Khedrup!).
Since Rinpoche’s stroke in April, attempts have been made to encourage him to cut down on public teachings and events. To this end, the main purpose of Rinpoche’s stay was to spend more time on rehabilitation, but as most students of Rinpoche’s will know, wherever Rinpoche sees greater benefit in teaching, he will!
And so in the 2 months of his stay, Rinpoche led Lama Chopa Puja’s (both here and at the amazing Hindu temple in Kangra), Incense Puja’s, hosted many special guests (including Khandro-la, Dagri Rinpoche, Pari Rinpoche, Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche and Jhado Rinpoche) and conferred a Green Tara initiation. Rinpoche even found time to take Khandro-la and Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche on a guided tour of Tushita – offices, dining hall and kitchen included!
These activities culminated in the Long Life Puja held in honour of Lama Zopa, here on the 16th of December (pictured left). You can see many photos of these events on our facebook profile photo albums, and expanded features on Rinpoche’s stay in our Spring/Summer 2012 Newsletter and Ven Roger Kunsang’s “Life on the Road with Rinpoche” blog on the Mandala Magazine site.
Rinpoche left Tushita on the 25th of December 2011 to travel to Bodhgaya where he participated in the Kalachakra Initiation conferred by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We fervently hope that Rinpoche will come to stay with us again very soon.
Lama Yeshe’s Stupa has done well to withstand more than 25 years of all weathers. However, the 2010 Monsoon was particularly heavy and really took its toll on the Stupa. In Autumn 2010, Venerable Robina Courtin, together with a friend who was attending the Green Tara retreat at Tushita, felt moved to initiate a fundraising project to help us restore, repair and make the Stupa more precious/beautiful than ever. The monsoon damage was heart-wrenching. The metal design features were so dilapidated and were all but falling off. The paintwork looked so weathered. The stupa looked in a truly sorry state.
In June 2011, Stage 1 of the restoration commenced. One of Tushita’s resident monks, Ven Jampa, a trained thangka painter, bravely undertook the project and has put many careful hours into the restoration and repainting. At first, he was helped by a team of volunteer students to prepare the stupa (pictured left) and in the later stages by a local painter who helped restore the lower sections and the statue boxes; whilst Ven Jampa completed all the finer, more intricate painting work in truly beautiful fashion. We are eagerly awaiting the roof top metal design work to be installed at the end of December 2011 to fully complete the new statue boxes.
We send billions and billions of thanks to all those who have contributed to this great transformation of such a precious holy relic. It is truly amazing all that has been made possible and all that is still manifesting now. Thanks to the extraordinary fundraising efforts we have already been able to raise almost the full target figure for the project. As of December 2011, we were just 26,460 Indian Rupees short of our goal. If you are interested in making a contribution, please contact director AT tushita.info
On the 26th of October 2011, we had an unexpected visitor pop in to say hello – Jetsun Pema, for 42 years the President of the Tibetan Children’s Villages (TCV), and the sister of His Holiness the Dalai Lama!
We were all thrilled that Jetsun Pema-la took the time to stop by, and our Director, Linda, used the opportunity to show her the new throne that we recently had made for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in the hope that he will come to inaugurate the new Gompa very soon. Jetsun Pema and Linda are pictured left.
As well as being delighted as ever to spend some time with Jetsun Pema, we all hope and pray that her visit marks the start of more family visits in the near future!
Our beloved doggy Jangsem Kalu (more widely known as Kalu before he was renamed Jangsem – “Enlightened Mind” – by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 2009) very peacefully departed this life on the morning of Sunday the 9th of October 2011.
He was 13 years old and had been sick for about 2 months, having many seizures. During this time he had around-the-clock care; he stayed with us in the administration office during the day and in a volunteer’s room at night – to his great delight! For a while his legs were completely paralyzed, but he made a miraculous recovery, walking again to the chai shop and doing kora around the gompa until his last day.
Jangsem Kalu was brought to Tushita when he was a puppy by Venerable David Marks, who found him stray in a local village, and he became an essential element of the Tushita experience for thousands of Dharma students over the years. His gentle, somewhat timid nature meant that he was never the best monkey-guard, but he had an other important job here; keeping the staff and volunteers grounded at stressful times – he definitely deserved his name!
Given that he was born a stray Indian dog, he had an incredibly blessed life, filled with love and friends and snacks. He met and was blessed by many high-level practitioners (pictured right with Lama Zopa Rinpoche), and was constantly surrounded by prayers, pujas, mantras. He was cremated next to Lama Yeshe’s stupa.
He is very much missed by all of us here at Tushita (especially his friend Nying-je), the local villagers, and by many loving friends around the world. Any prayers on his behalf are very much appreciated.
We are very happy to publish the first Tushita Newsletter!
Our Director, Linda, writes: “A Tushita newsletter has been in our vision, out there on the horizon for a few years now… In my eyes, the launch of the newsletter symbolises this season at Tushita. Since we opened doors in February, it has been a year of abundance and dedicated effort.”
In this first issue you’ll find: “Everything you wanted to know about Dharma but were afraid to ask…” Q&A with Venerable Robina Courtin on relationships, heirarchy in Buddhism, and finding courage to break through negativity. “Meet Our Sangha” An interview with Old Lama Gyupa. A report on our exciting, long-awaited Retreat Hut Project and “Kalachakra 2012” Andy Wistreich on the importance of the Kalachakra practice, and news of related courses in early 2012. We hope you enjoy!
Students on our August 5 – 11 2011 course had the incredible opportunity to study with the world’s first (and so far only) female Geshe!
Venerable Kelsang Wangmo received a Rime Geshe diploma (equivalent to several Ph.D’s in Buddhist Philosophy) from the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in April 2011. Until this time, the Geshe title was only given to Monks (men), but His Holiness the Dalai Lama authorized the IBD to award Rime Geshe degrees in 2009 and Geshe Kelsang Wangmo became the first woman to ever receive the title. Before this, she had been studying Buddhist Philosophy and Debate for 16 years here in Dharamsala. You can see photos of the Graduation Ceremony here.
In addition to her obvious scholastic skills, Geshe-la is also a wonderful teacher and we are so very happy that she was able to accept our many, many requests (plea’s!) to teach a course here at Tushita. Geshe-la is extremely busy with her own continuing studies and teaching curriculum (details of which you can see here), but we very much hope that she will join us again in the near future.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo gave four outstanding talks over 2 days here at Tushita on July 28 & 29, 2011. Jetsunma gave teachings, but also spent almost the same amount of time leading meditations based on Shamatha (Calm Abiding) and the Four Immeasurables of Loving Kindness, Compassion, Empathetic Joy and Equanimity.
Around 200 people attended and we were very touched by the generosity they expressed to both Tushita & Dongyu Gatsal Ling, the Nunnery that Jetsunma founded, close to the town of Palampur, about 3 hours drive from here.
Jetsunma’s teachings at Tushita have become an annual event, and we pray they will continue for many years to come. We have made the audio recordings of these sessions available for download on our website here and photos can be seen here.
Until June 2011, our largest recorded Introduction to Buddhism course happened in May 2010, when Glen Svensson taught a course attended by 85 students. Spring is our peak season, and as we moved into Summer (actually directly into Monsoon!) this year, the May 2010 course remained the biggest ever. There are usually so few people in this area at this time of year that we didn’t even hold residential courses in Monsoon until 2009!
Imagine our amazement then as we entered the traditionally low tourist season, and yet broke our largest ever record, with 92 students participating on Glen’s June 4 – 13 course. This is almost twice the number of people who took part on a course at the same time last year!
As we moved further into Monsoon, our surprise turned to astonishment as on the next course, June 30 – July 9, we broke the record again, with 94 students going through the check-in procedure in the kind of downpour so very typical of this season. This course is pictured with teacher Glen Svensson & meditation leader Richard Meijers in an unsual rain-free moment, above. The next Monsoon course, with 82 students, also had very high attendance, and the upcoming special 7-day course with Geshe Kelsang Wangmo & Geshe Lhakdor at the time of going to press had a similarly large number of students registered.
100 really is the maximum number of residential students we can both accommodate, and manage without significantly reducing standards. We really are at a loss to explain this surge in student numbers in such unseasonable weather, other than the fact that with our new website, social networking activity, and resultant impact of cyber word-of-mouth, more people than ever are hearing about Tushita, and the incredibly positive experiences that former students have had here. Why Monsoon in particular? Who knows, there certainly are a lot of people around with strong rain karma!
Students on our June 4 – 13 2011 Introduction to Buddhism course were especially fortunate!
As well as having the esteemed Glen Svensson as a teacher throughout the course, Geshe Pema Dorjee was also so kind as to accept our invitation to teach a session. Geshe-la is usually very busy with his own projects (details of which can be seen here: http://www.bodong.org/) so we, and the 92 students on this course, were especially lucky to have had this time with him.
The warmth and good humour he teaches with are plain to see in the photos you can see here.
Tushita’s co-founder and Spiritual Director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, had a small stroke on the 23rd of April 2011 while leading a retreat in Bendigo, Australia. Rinpoche’s main attendant, Venerable Roger Kunsang, sent us the following initial message.
“Medical staff have confirmed that Rinpoche has had a stroke and temporally lost some of the movement of his right side and his speech is impaired. The hospital have requested that Rinpoche stay for a few days to observe and monitor him to ensure there are no further complications. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been informed of Rinpoche’s situation and high Lamas close to Rinpoche are doing pujas as well as Kopan Monastery. Apart from Rinpoche’s right side and speech being affected, Rinpoche seems in good humor and is doing his prayers in the hospital (altar is set up with prayer wheel, thanka and texts).”
On the 25th of April, Ven Roger added this update: “Yesterday’s CAT scan showed no bleeding or clot in the brain. There will be another scan to confirm that. Possibly Rinpoche will be able to leave the hospital tomorrow if doctors say ok. Rinpoche’s right arm and leg have lost some use, speech is slurred making it difficult to understand him, but this part got a little better today. Doctors say Rinpoche will need intensive therapy for His right side and speech … Hopefully to regain all or most use back. This can take several months but difficult to say.”
You can see updates about Rinpoche’s health here:
This is the advice for practices that can be done, as advised by Khandro-la and Choden Rinpoche:
1. Medicine Buddha puja … with extensive offerings.
2. 4 Mandala offering to Tara … as many as possible.
3. Most Secret Hayagriva mantra as much as possible
In accordance with this advice, Tushita will be holding various Pujas and practice sessions which anyone is welcome to attend. White Tara recitations (1pm) and evening Medicine Buddha Pujas (7pm) will continue daily throughout this week.
You can see pictures from the Medicine Buddha Puja held in order to make prayers for the speedy recovery and long life of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, on Sunday April 25th 2011 here. Those attending were Tushita staff & volunteers, students on the current Intermediate Level course and members of the local expat community. We were really amazed at the response from those down in town – about 30 people responded to the call and climbed up the hill at night for this Puja to show their love and support for Lama Zopa, including Nuns from Thosamling Institute, an non-FPMT Nunnery on the Plains. So in total, almost 50 people were in attendance.
The Puja was led by Ondy Willson, a student of Lama Zopa’s for over 30 years, and despite the difficult circumstances that initiated the Puja, under her direction it was very moving – even joyful!
In addition to this Puja, we also held a lunchtime White Tara recitation open to all students and visitors, the 60 members of the current Introduction to Buddhism course were informed of the situation and many joined a session of Green Tara Mantra recitation, and the Tibetan Monks resident here held their own Green Tara practices at the same time as the Medicine Buddha Puja.
As you can see from the 2010 Report, during the last year Tushita has continued to thrive, with more courses and students than ever before. One key reason for that is the quality of teaching that we are able to provide.
And between April 2010 and April 2011, there was a key reason for that… Venerable Robina Courtin!
Ven Robina spent the last year as Resident Teacher at Tushita, leading Introduction to Buddhism and Intermediate Level courses, Tantric Retreats and general public talks to hundreds of curious and enthusiastic students.
Her gift for teaching, for expressing authentic Buddhist teachings in a voice that contemporary people relate to and resonate with, has made Tushita an especially vibrant, meaningful place to be this year. She’ll be missed greatly by students, staff and volunteers here; Venerable Robina always keeps us alert and on our toes!
After ending her Tushita Resident Teacher tenure she will continue to teach at centres all over the world, and you can see her teaching schedule here.
Dagri Rinpoche is an old friend of Tushita’s and as well as being a regular guest when Lama Zopa Rinpoche is in town, he has also conferred many Initiations here in the recent past. However, despite his popularity as a teacher, his busy schedule and humility have meant that he has never actually given teachings here before. Imagine then our delight and gratitude when he accepted our most recent request, and gave a series of teachings over 3 days.
On the 16th, 17th and 18th of March 2011, Dagri Rinpoche taught on the text “The Three Principal Aspects of the Path” by Je Tsongkhapa. Rinpoche taught in Tibetan, and was translated into English by Venerable Phuntsok. You can see the translation of the text that was during the teaching here and more photos from the events here.
Tibetan New Year (Losar) 2011. Losar is a family-oriented holiday, and the Tushita family celebrated with a capse party to mark the start of The Year of the Iron Rabbit. Capse is a Tibetan sweet treat of fried bread sticks which our kitchen staff enjoy making tons of every year. Every member of the community got their own New Year Capse plate on the 5th of March (picture 1).
Losar is then by followed by a 15-day period which is considered to be very auspicious for practice, so the members of our Pre-Ordination Course recited the Sutra of Golden Light every day during this time until the final festive day, The Day of Miracles.
On the 3rd day after Losar, we followed tradition and had an eventful morning putting up fresh Prayer Flags all over the property; Venerable Jampa was the star of the day, fearlessly climbing tree after tree (picture 2), much to the delight of the monkeys who were waiting to play on their new swings and ropes.
The morning ended with a Puja with Venerable Robina Courtin and the monks from Gyumed Tantric College, culminating with the annual Tsampa-flour throw! (picture 3).
Happy New Year!
Our ‘Old’ website had been serving us well since 2007, but technology moves fast these days and we had already began to feel the pinch of its technical limitations, particularly as the site is often maintained by transitory volunteers who may have very basic computer skills – or less!
And so we appealed for a Website Guru to help us make a site that was even easier to use and navigate, and 12 months later 2 appeared. It took a couple of months of laborious copying, pasting and reformatting and lots of other technical high jinx hampered by temperamental internet connection and an impermanent electricity supply, but we ended up with the rather lovely site you see before you now, with one of our beautiful new Tara Statues as the star! (pictured left)
The advantages of this site are many, but the main plus is that most information is now centralised through the calendar. This makes the schedule easier to read and keeps all the related information tidy and up-to-date. It also gives us a lot of scope to upload documents and audio files, but for the moment we’ll have to wait until our internet connection catches up with us!
We built it and they came!
Another interesting development with the new site is that through Google Analytics, we are now able to get a sense of who looks at our website – and SO many people! We made the new site live in mid-November 2010; in the first 5 months, we had over 18,000 hits, from 2,200 cities in 130 different countries (illustrated right)… Astounding. Making the site so much more accessible and user-friendly has obvious implications for the centre, and as you can see from the 2010 Report, Tushita continues to thrive.
- Guided Meditation on February 20, 2017 9:30 am
- Movie Day on February 20, 2017 2:00 pm
- Losar on February 27, 2017
- Sutra of Golden Light Reading on February 27, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on March 2, 2017
- Guru Puja on March 7, 2017 6:30 pm
- Chotrul Duchen on March 12, 2017
- Medicine Buddha Puja on March 12, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on March 20, 2017
- Introduction to Buddhism on April 6, 2017
Tushita is a centre for the study and practice of Buddhism from the Tibetan Mahayana tradition. We're located in Northern India, in the forested hills above the town of McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala - the seat in exile of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Tushita aims to provide a friendly and conducive environment for people of all nationalities and backgrounds to learn about and put into practice the teachings of the Buddha. With this in mind we offer regular drop-in events and courses on introductory Buddhist philosophy and meditation, as well as intermediate level courses and group retreats for more experienced students.
February to November
Monday - Saturday
9:30 - 11:30am
a break for lunch and then...
12:30 - 4:00pm