Friday, April 28, 2006
Looking ahead to another busy day, I decided to go ahead and post a little now. These photos are from last week (yup, just getting my barings again). This one is from the workshop given by Duane, a sangha member who does this work professionally. He travels the world as a grief counselor and educator, and stumbled on the study of not only how pets aide in our grieving process, but how we can effectively assist them through theirs! He encountered this in the course of working with people, and having to help them deal with their pets. He is now actively working on the concept of animal hospice, extending his work from humans to non!
Sunday, after the teachings, Pema, who has unquestionable reptile karma (he is always fostering unwanted snakes, lizards and now...turtles), was walking down the driveway of the temple when he almost stepped on this little guy! This has to be the absolute tiniest box turtle I have ever seen! None of us even knew they started out life so small! Having seen the documentaries showing turtle hatches on the beach (you know, the ones where the gulls are lined up on the beach waiting for them) where only a fraction of the zillions born make it even to the water, Pema decided to foster this little dude until he's big enough to fend off the racoons, crows and other opportunists who might view him as little more than a disappointing snack at this point in his life. He was taken around the Stupa before heading home with our local reptile rescue dude!
So, you never know what you'll find out here at KPC! Whether you're looking for a quiet place to walk or meditate, or a mini-natural adventure, we've got 65 acres of parkland and an always-open temple to support you!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Yeah, it's been a while. Last week Khenpo Norgye was offering teachings, and yours truly was caretaking the prayer chart. As a result, I had little time to play with my camera. However, I did get this photo last week after one of my midnight prayer shifts! I didn't have the brain cells to remember my lesson about the moon and night photos...needed another exposure for it, but...here's evidence that the Prayer Room at the temple is open 24 hours a day!
I'll be back to the temple tomorrow for Cinema Nirvana, a new thing they've started where movies are shown and then chatted about...The Godfather is actually the one we'll see!
In case you're wondering if the Stupas are still in our minds, don't fret. We'll be out working on the Enlightenment Stupa on Saturday. Our lovely brocade has fallen down partially. Not sure what we'll do to fix it, but we have big plans for the gau. Gretchen, the multi-talented team member who crafted the brocade last year has offered to do a new one this year!
So heck, you can visit our Prayer Room any time, any day, every day, when ever you need a place to find some peace. You can visit our Stupas any time, basking in their endless blessings. Or, if all this Buddhist stuff is a little too exotic for you, you can come check out some old flicks with us! However you end up out here, whether in person or just touching base online, always remember, everything you see is offered to you, and all beings, as a source of comfort in this chaotic world. Know that whoever you are, where ever you are, anytime of the day or night, this very prayer room is occupied by at least one person praying for you.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
This weekend we were all busy attending teachings by Khenpo Norgye. Originally from Bhutan, Khenpo speaks fluent English, as well as Tibetan...and I don't know what other languages. For us western students, that's really cool! He'll be here at KPC all week, with teachings every day starting Thursday...so if you're curious what Buddhism is about feel free to join us! Don't worry, no commitment papers to sign, you can attend just for the sake of curiosity.
Thus, the Stupa crew was on break this weekend, but we're still cooking up plans! Lisa reports she eyeballed some "free fill dirt"! Those of us thinking about building walls get pretty excited about these things! For myself, I'm looking at another week of caretaking the prayer chart...
Here's a look at what you'll find if you head out to the temple sometime....someone in our prayer room keeping the vigil going. Caretaking means we're like super volunteers, we serve as back up. Whatever isn't covered by volunteers who sign up, we make sure it is covered. This system has been in place since before the temple itself existed! I'll see if I can't locate some old photos someone once gave me of the early years...I'll share those later this week!
Here's a look at the chart yesterday. Charlie is signing on to help us out while I'm working the next few days! Tuesday, by the way, is our 21st anniversary! 21 Years of continuous prayer! There is someone there, at the temple, praying for you 24 hours a day, every day, every minute. Thus, the doors are always open, so you can visit any time!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
This is a shot of Miygur Dorje Stupa taken last week, after we completed the platform for the repainting of the relief. As not everyone is a fine artist (including yours truly) we have also been developing some other plans. You see that area of bare concrete between the Stupa and the ground?
This image is a composite created by our Stupa crew dude Ashby, to illustrate our plan for building a retaining wall around the Stupa. We've heard from several sources that when Migyur Dorje was built, there was an issue with translation (the Lama leading the project was Tibetan, those building it were like us, a bunch of western students who knew nothing about this kind of thing). The result was that the Stupa was built "riding in the air", meaning the bottom step of the Stupa does not touch the ground. Unfortunately, that is backwards. : ) Such is the life of a Stupa lover. Thus, we've been told it is important to get the earth up to the "earth hugging layer" which is that bottom step.
We've been pondering this for some time, and if you'll recall, back in January even consulted professional landscape designers. As usual, such services far exceed our modest means, so we researched the options she suggested from a DIY perspective. We've found the source for the materials, and have devised a plan! Whew! One big step done. The concept has been presented to our board and to our Lama (most important) and has received a green light! So...now I can at last share with you what we've been brewing all this time!
Thus, we're slowly sprucing the Stupas up! It is our hope you will come on out to Poolesville to see them for yourself! They are considered by Buddhists to be the very mind of Enlightenment in form, appearing in this way to be accessible to ordinary beings like us. Of course, you don't have to believe that. Stupas bring benefit to all they encounter, regardless of your faith. Migyur Dorje, our present subject, was built with the special intention that it would bring healing to those suffering from both physical and mental illness. That doesn't mean you need to wait until you're sick though! The weather is getting nicer, flowers are blooming, it's a great time to enjoy our Peace Park!
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Today a few of us went to Alexandria, Virginia, to receive an empowerment from Drakmar Tulku, the Lama that taught in Maryland on Friday. The center in Alexandria is associated with our Palyul Lineage as well, and they hosted Rinpoche this weekend.
We'll be turning our minds to Stupa work soon though, as plans for the wall around Migyur Dorje have been finalized! Now all we need to do is generate some funds so we can begin the process...of course, if you've been following this blog for any time, you know we tend to move forward however we can...we are discussing the option of starting to dig the ditch even if we can't buy the block yet! We'll see.
Of course, you are always welcome to come see the Stupas any time! They bring immeasurable benefit to all who encounter them, no special knowledge or understanding required...so please do come experience this amazing blessing for yourself!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Yesterday afternoon I got off work early (hence, I'm on my way today to work a few hours to complete my part of the exchange) in order to attend a teaching by Drakmar Tulku, a reincarnate Lama from Tibet and heart son of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, the head of our lineage of Palyul. It was a stormy afternoon with thunder and lightening, and strangely gentle showers. Here Ani Samten walks up the driveway in the rain as we all wait for the Tulku to arrive...
Thus, we spent the evening receiving a teaching from this precious master, Drakmar Tulku, one of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche's heart sons! The temple is open to all, regardless of your beliefs or background. Come and explore this amazing opportunity! There is no commitment required, what we have to offer here is offerred freely. The Stupas and temple are open 24 hours a day, and the prayers are ongoing 24 hours a day, all for the benefit of every being in the world. So come on out and explore!
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
While I worked at the hospital the past few days, Norbu has been keeping a visitor, Tyler, occupied by getting him involved with the many odd jobs we're addressing while we wait for warmer weather. They finished grinding the paint off Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje Stupa, and power washed the Enlightenment Stupa. And today, we all headed out to get the platform for Migyur Dorje built!
Here you can see both Tyler and myself up on the platform, on the outer edge (the one we all agree made us the most nervous) pounding away! This is much more intense work than they'll be doing once we're done building it! So we're all now confident that it will serve it's purpose well. By the time we were finished, all three of us were up there milling around...
All that so we can paint this! That is Migyur Dorje, the Buddhist saint after whom the Stupa is named, and whose very relic resides inside the Stupa! He is the revealer of the cycle of teachings that form the foundation of our lineage of Tibetan Buddhism...and we have him right here in Poolesville, Maryland! How amazing is that?
So there you go! It's up and ready for action! Once the weather warms we'll be able to start preparing the relief for a brand new coat of paint! We'll be looking for volunteers to help out...lots of detail on that relief...but don't fret...most of it is like a "paint by numbers" kind of deal...We moved on from here to work on some slate sidewalks (making one), but I was too busy working to grab the camera. There's lots on the list though...Norbu is in his element once again...moving things along!
After lunch we took a trip to Lowe's to research costs for upcoming work. Part of being involved with the Stupas is creative use of materials. We've been wanting to prepare the inside of the gau of the Enlightenment Stupa so it will be more like that over in the Stupa Park. This will require sealing the interior chamber with something to prevent moisture from entering it (we've tried desiccant unsuccessfully). The Long Life Stupa has a coating inside that feels like a thick sheet of rubber. We couldn't find that...but we did find this! As the weather has remained cooler than we'd hoped, we're continuing to address odd jobs we hadn't gotten around to last season. We're gearing up! So keep checking in! Soon there will be many opportunities to jump in and work on Stupas if you wish! Otherwise, we'll keep them in good repair for you!
Remember, the Stupas and temple are here for people of every faith, even those with no faith. So come on out and see them for yourself!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Yesterday we spent the afternoon hauling the remains of the trailer out to the dump. Saturdays have been good days for this, as we can solicit other trucks (Pete's red pick up is next to the Stupa truck here) to help make the job go much quicker. We'd hoped it would be the last day for this yesterday...