Saturday, July 28, 2007

Guru Yoga

Hi All,

If you're here you've been pretty patient! We've been on retreat and it's taking time to get the blog up to date...however, I do have something to share tonight!

Here is a video clip of our Spiritual Director here at KPC, talking about the music she's offered to those who are dying (human and non!).

If you want to hear what she's talking about you can click here!

Will post some photos of our retreat (not many, we were really busy there!) and get you all up to speed on the Stupas soon, but for now, please enjoy the blessings offered in this prayer!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Precious Gift

Quick post tonight...we just put a coat of burgundy paint on the lotus petals around the bumpa! We were able to finish the white this of the players to be posted tomorrow. Tonight, however, I wanted to share something very special with all of you.

In the Buddhist tradition the time of death is considered exceptionally potent, a time where our confusion can be transcended and we can accomplish some level of recognition of our true nature.

For most of us, we haven't encountered the teachings or had the opportunity to practice them in order to utilize this opportunity, and instead often find the time of death to be a frightening one.

It is taught the the Buddha Amitabha made fervent prayers before he attained awakening that when he became a Buddha any being who heard his name or saw his face would be reborn in his pure realm where they would dwell with all the supports for awakening until they too became Buddhas.

Prayers to Amitabha are found in most if not all schools of Buddhism as a result. In our own tradition, Vajrayana, the practice of Phowa exists as a way to prepare for one's death.

Our teacher here in Maryland recently recorded a traditional prayer to Amitabha which she wishes to distribute freely to all beings anywhere completely for free. It can be played for any being who is dying, from insects, to animals to people. It can be listened to by beings prior to the time of death, making that connection with Amitabha Buddha. It brings benefit regardless of one's understanding (the words are Tibetan) and it does not change one's faith (you don't become Buddhist because you heard it, so anyone can benefit from it without worrying they might compromise their own faith). Thus, this prayer has many of the same attributes as a Stupa! It benefits regardless of your species, understanding or faith, it is an expression of unconditional generosity, a prayer for your future happiness whoever or whatever you may be.

To download it for free you can follow the link:

Prayer to Amitabha

You can share it with whoever you wish, play it for your pets, play it wherever beings are dying. We've started to play it as we work on the Stupas so any insects inadvertently killed by our activities can be reborn in the realm of Great Bliss.

Know that this is not an "add", no profits are made from this music, it is a gift for all beings who share the fate of one day having to die.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 9th, 2007---Slowly, slowly....

So we've changed gears for a while. Some generous donors sponsored the paint for the Enlightenment Stupa and our coordinating committee asked that we make that a for now the throne is awaiting our return while we spruce up our most visible Stupa!

Yesterday we were able to make some headway with the helping hands of some of our sangha members! Here Ani Ariana works on one of the more difficult stretches...the large flat face of the easy way to paint that!

Ani Palmo worked down below...

Micheal Brunk, a faithful Stupa Painter, stopped by to throw on a few brush strokes on his way to working on the temple gift store....

Anne Middleton, head of Lama Services here at KPC (big job!) also stopped by to take advantage of this meritorious opportunity!

Yeshe Thomasch spent quite some time painting yesterday!

While folks worked on the throne of the Stupa Ani Yeshi and I worked at the spire (on the top). Not a job we could coax anyone else into! We were able to complete it today though! So one set of ladders is down at least!

Here's a look at the system we use to get that spire painted...looks worse than it feels though...and we did use rope and harness up there.

We couldn't finish the painting today because of the threat of rain. The potassium silicate paint we're using (which does not require scraping or sanding prior to new applications!) does require 48 hours to cure. Unlike regular latex paints it doesn't cover the concrete, it bonds to it. So we'll be back out next Saturday weather permitting!

Of course, we'll always have an extra brush if you want to participate! Even one stroke produces great karmic benefits! Even if that doesn't tempt you, we hope you'll come and enjoy the fruits of our labor and take a stroll around a Stupa! Their blessings are boundless, and it doesn't matter if you know what they are or not, or if you even care...the Stupas offer their blessings without conditions or restraint!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Virtual Circumambulation

Yesterday was Saga Dawa, the anniversary of the Buddha's Enlightenment according to the Tibetan Calendar. We're still busily working on the throne but wanted to share this with you...

May all beings benefit from these amazing blessings!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

May 15th...Juggling!

It's a busy time...His Holiness Penor Rinpoche will be arriving in mid-June and we're struggling with awkward working conditions (our backyard when weather permits---our dining room when it's raining!). Not to mention our lack of experience! We are movnig forward however, and wanted to share a few snapshots so you could see the progress...

As you an see it's starting to look like a throne! We're going to be chipping away at it this week and hope to complete the main seat this weekend. Then we'll be carting it over to another sangha member's home so it can be painted! Thus, despite a lack of proper workspace, we're managing to carry on!

You don't have to be a handy type to help, nor do you have to help with these projects in order to enjoy the amazing blessings of the Stupas and temple here in Maryland. All of this is maintained and accessible 24 hours a day for anyone wishing for some peace!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

May 5th...Perseverance...

You may be wondering where we've been! Well, it's been a tough job getting started on the throne. First, we had no place to work...but we do have a small townhouse, so we decided to work in our backyard. Then, we needed tools, again, none to be had, so we consulted with our sangha carpenter types (cabinet makers too) and determined we needed a table saw. Which, mind you, we have no experience with! Assembling such a thing is a challenge all by itself! The directions were truly of minimal benefit, even misleading in places. All we did know is that getting the blade installed correctly not only impacted the quality of our result (we're still worried about that) but our we struggled through the directions which seemed to have little relationship to the unit we were assembling...but eventually we got it together...

After two full days (we're talking about our precious weekend days!) assembling the tools to even get started, we finally began cutting some wood last weekend. We're still working on cutting, but at least we're actually working on the throne now!

The table saw was truly essential, but it couldn't do it all. So we needed something to do interior cuts, and had to purchase that too. Here we are drilling a hole through which we can thread the blade of the jigsaw to finish cutting out the slot...

This part was easier than we thought it might be. Just a long way coming!

We're still working on the throne base...we've had to re-measure, buy more wood (inaccurate calculations in how it fits together) and then re-cut some pieces, but we're hoping the next chance we get we'll be able to start fitting the base together! Keep us in your prayers, this has been one of our biggest challenges yet!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 21st...Throne

Well, it's been a long road and we're just getting started. Your faithful Stupa Anis are not carpenters by any means, but without any handy dudes to help we're heading out today to start cutting some lumbar! Ted, who was involved in building the first throne has provided us with this drawing to give us a guide, and we disassembled the current throne to see how it was built....

This is a view of the base, from the bottom. This is where a lot of the strength seems to come from. We've measured out some boards...we'll see how it goes!

Here are some images that show how the boards fit together...

We took this shot so we wouldn't forget there's going to be a lip on the bottom and top pieces, which will then hold the "box" which will be in between.

If there are any handy folks out there wanting to help with the construction let us know! Otherwise, we'll keep you posted as we muddle our way forward!

Friday, April 06, 2007

April 6th...Preparing the soil...

With spring now upon us (photo above taken of a tree at the Stupa Park last Saturday) we realized we're running out of time to address the mounds at the Stupa Park. We decided to devote the day to getting it ready for planting this week. We were only able to get four of the eight mounds ready...but here's a glimpse of how we went about it!

The mounds had been completed last year with fill dirt, which has no nutritional value for plants. To plant new flowers or ground cover out there would only result in their failure. Tossing around ideas on a tight budget, we came up with a solution...

We spent the morning at Rabden's alpaca farm collecting alpaca pellets. We were told it is "the cleanest poop you'll ever see" and it was pretty benign. We were fortunate that Rabden had such a rich supply, and was willing to share it with us...

Here we are shoveling the fertilizer into the Stupa truck...

These are the guys that produce the pellets that we're collecting!

Once we got the truck loaded up, the fun wasn't over....we headed to the Stupa Park pull out the old ivy and weeds. That was tough work, but then we got to spread the pellets!

Beth gets a little silly for the camera....

We ended the day by mixing the manure in with the fill dirt to create a slightly more hospitable environment for the future plants. Our muscles let us all know it's been a while since we were out working like this. But, we have four of the eight mounds ready for planting. So go ahead and grab some phlox and head out to make an offering at the Stupa Park that will continue to make offerings to the Stupas for years to come! If you can't make it out, just let us know and we'll plant one for you!

All that you see on these pages is done in the hopes we can inspire you to come visit this amazing place. The temple is open 24 hours a day, it and the many gardens and wooded walks are all here for anyone who is looking for some peace and beauty in this hectic world.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Teens Volunteering and Drumming

The teen program is looking to make a difference in the they volunteered at the Manna Food Center in Rockville, MD.

The group arrives and is ready to get started!

Ashley grabs the camera and snaps a photo of the photographer, Ani Sonam...

The staff at Manna explain our mission for the next few hours...we were to sort the donated foods into an organized area of shelves and bins. Later the items will be picked up and distributed to those in need.

Kyra and her Dad arrive and join in on the fun.

Sean also jumps in and helps out.

Here is a shot of Kiran sorting the larger items.

Michelle and Ashley working together.

Amar fills a crate in order to move the cans to a different location.

Immediately after our time at Manna, we moved on to the drum circle at the temple. As you can see, Jacob was front and center!

It didn't take long for everyone to find an instrument and join in.

Even little Sophie joined in with her mom Amber's help.

Val investigates to see what Atira is up to.

I would like to end this post with an invitation to join us at the temple for lots of fun and activity. No matter what your interests are, there is a place for you in our community. The prayer room is open 24 hours a day for prayer and meditation. The temple is here for you!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March on the Pentagon

Today, we participated in the March on the Pentagon. Although it was a cold day, there was a big turnout.

Not everyone was there to oppose the you can see, this crowd supports the war on terror.

Here are some shots of the march to share the experience with you.

Many demonstrators exhibited their patriotism while expressing their distress at the senseless death and suffering of the war. The overall theme of the march was to bring our troops home.

We are working on the video that we shot during the march...stay tuned for the clips to be posted. Monday is a busy day for us...the teens are volunteering at the Manna Food Center and immediately afterward we are having a drumming circle at 7:30 pm at the temple. You are welcome to attend with or without a drum. We would love to see you there!