Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Protection for the Mind...

I realize not all who view this will be Buddhist practitioners, but for those who are, or those who are curious, I wanted to share a quote from Rigpa's Glimpse of the Day (see their site here to sign up for daily quotes yourself if you wish!).

We here at KPC are engaged in prayer 24 hours a day as a temple, and many of us practice daily prayers as well. The prayers we recite often include mantra. Below is one of the most potent quotes I've found on what that accomplishes:

"February 20

A meditation technique used a great deal in Tibetan Buddhism is uniting the mind with the sound of a mantra. The definition of mantra is “that which protects the mind.” That which protects the mind from negativity, or which protects you from your own mind, is mantra.

When you are nervous, disoriented, or emotionally fragile, inspired chanting or reciting of a mantra can change the state of your mind completely, by transforming its energy and atmosphere. How is this possible? Mantra is the essence of sound, the embodiment of the truth in the form of sound. Each syllable is impregnated with spiritual power, condenses a deep spiritual truth, and vibrates with the blessing of the speech of the buddhas. It is also said that the mind rides on the subtle energy of the breath, the prana, which moves through and purifies the subtle channels of the body. So when you chant a mantra, you are charging your breath and energy with the energy of the mantra, and so working directly on your mind and your subtle body."

Rigpa is a Nyingma based group founded by Sogyal Rinpoche, and I believe this quote is from him (we practice a different Nyingma Lineage here---Palyul---so not 100% familiar with Rigpa but love their daily quotes).

The ice storms and snow lead to the cancellation of our weekend event, but also to difficult travel around town here. We turned our attention to preparing for the visit of Muksang Tulku in less than two weeks!!! Your friendly Stupa gals are on the roster as chopons, so we're going through some video we shot of our training to gleen the necessary information to practice. Here's a quick clip of Ani Yeshi attempting to do an elegant mudra with two spoons...soon we'll post Pema Rangdol doing the same mudra so you can see why she got so distressed:

Though this may look silly, trust we are taking this responsibility seriously! If you want to join us for the practice it is due to be performed with Rinpoche's present on March 5th in Poolesville, Maryland!

Until then, despite the treacherous conditions on the roads (should clear today actually) please do come out and visit the temple! No need to be Buddhist or even care about Buddhism, this is a place open 24 hours a day every day for anyone seeking some peace in this chaotic world...come get a breath of fresh air!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Prayer Room

It's been a busy week for your crew here! We've gone inside and taken up learning to chopon, which is the ritual aspect of practice in our lineage. We invited a monk who has been staying in New York, but who was raised and trained in India, to come down and show us westerners the basics.

Here's a shot of the mandala we set up:

We also wanted to share some video with you too! The first is a quick tour of our prayer room at KPC, which is open 24 hours a day. This is Ani Yeshi finishing her prayer shift...

It's been a slow day here, snow and ice getting us all bundled in our blankets at home. I did stop by the temple on the way to work this morning though, so here is a video circumambulation around the Enlightenment stupa in the snow...

This video is our preparation for the Rigzin Dupai practice with Lama Pema Rangdol who visited us from New York City. Thank you Lama Pema!

May all beings benefit from these efforts.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

February 8th....Review...

We've got a lot coming up here in Poolesville, with visits from two different Tulkus scheduled for this month!

So the Stupa Team has been busy getting ready. You'll see some images from our upcoming chopon training (more on that when it arises) but for now, I figured I'd share with you some scans from a book on Statues and Stupas from Bhutan. The book was given to us by Khenpo Norgye when he gave us the class on filling statues a few years ago.

The following images will show how similar filling statues is to filling Stupas....

Each level of the statue or Stupa has prayers and offerings placed in it. You can see as well they share a central channel. In fact, you can find Statues in some parts of the world that are as large or even larger than our Stupas!

Just wanted to give you a glimpse as to what makes these works of art much more than that, what transforms them into sacred objects.

You don't need to know all this to benefit from them though, they offer their blessings regardless of recipient understanding! Fortunate for us inexperienced folk! So please do come out to the temple and enjoy them, whether out of curiosity or to experience their peace and compassion. It is available to you 24 hours a day (doors open!), every day!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

February 4th...Plans...

Well....we've been experiencing a departure from Stupa work for the time being, but decided to keep sharing the experiences with you!

We've got a series of events coming up, the first of which involves some training in the ritual aspects of our practices. Yours truly is the one tasked with coordinating...alas...swimming in uncharted waters again! The Stupas help prepare us!

While I study train schedules and fire off emails (not the most exciting activity eh?) I figured I'd share a glimpse of our gift store, the Mani Jewel with you. This was shot by Ashley, our 12 year old (soon to be 13) video assistant!

Here it is:

So even if you aren't into Stupas, or temples, you could come check out the gift store! Lots of unique and intriguing items there to browse....

We'll keep you posted as the events progress...and now with our new video skills...heck, you might get an even better view!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Stupa Repair Resource List


Enlightenment Stupa:

    • Silin AZ Mineral Coating: available through Cathedral Stone: http://www.cathedralstone.com/Product.aspx?id=34
This product is a potassium silicate coating. It requires no prime coat. Prep includes repairing any cracks or damage, and a thorough cleaning of the surface which can be accomplished using a power washer. Cathedral Stone is located in Hanover, Maryland and is driving distance from the temple (about 90 minutes one way). Estimated need for complete repainting of the Stupa is 10 gallons. The coating is available in 5 gallon pails. We have been able to fax orders through with credit card info (there is a Stupa fund credit card if necessary, MUST ensure funds are available and get permission to use this card--contact the treasurer for more info).

Gold Stupas:
    • Modern Masters Pharaohs Gold: This is a 100% gold metallic acrylic paint. It is available in small quantities (quarts) from vendors of Benjamin Moore paints, Strosnieders Hardware, and possibly other vendors. For gallons we have used Monarch Paints in Chevy Chase: http://www.monarchpaintdc.com
Monarch has been offering us both tax exemption and contractor pricing (about 30% off what other vendors charged us) so when purchasing be sure to present our tax exempt card and let them know we are from KPC in Poolesville, the Buddhist Temple. We have used both yellow and white prime coats under this paint (is is semi-opaque, requiring several coats for full coverage). The white prime coat seems to produce the best result. For Migyur Dorje Stupa 3 gallons would be required for a full repainting. The Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje Stupa and small Stupas could all be done with one gallon.
    • NOTE: The Stupa Park was painting with a special order metallic gold acrylic which we will not be re-ordering due to both expense and difficulty in application. Future repainting of the Stupa Park should be done with the Modern Masters, and will require sanding (to assist in the adhering if new coats---not down to concrete necessarily) and priming before applying the new paint. Estimated paint per coat in the Stupa Park is 3 gallons (ballpark). This includes the main Stupa and the eight smaller ones. That means a full repainting could require 8 - 10 gallons of the gold (again, estimation based on coverage over prime coat).

Repair Materials:

    • M90 Repair Mortar: available through Cathedral Stone at: http://www.cathedralstone.com/Product.aspx?id=17
This is used for large repairs (greater than 1/4" span) and generally for areas of damage requiring filling in of holes, gaps or damaged corners. This can be shaped, molded and has proven durable so far (after two years).
    • We have used a thin set mortar from Cathedral Stone as well for small cracks, but it is very expensive and less successful. It works if used as directed, but requires that repaired areas be kept moist for 3 days, which often does not happen, it is less tolerant of improper application than the M90. The M120 is their thin set mortar. We have determined we will try readily available thin sets for small cracks in the future, to evaluate benefits vs. cost of the M120. The rational of the expense of the M120 is that it is a non-epoxy based material, which with breath as the concrete does, and which should bond to the concrete without damage. The epoxy based repair materials are more damaging to the concrete around the repair (think of how really sticky tape damages a wall when you try to remove it). Our experience is too limited to truly evaluate the level of damage caused by epoxy based repair materials, but so far it does not appear to be a problem. The issue with thin set repair in general is they tend to fail. The deeper the repair the more surface area it bonds with, the less likely it is to pop out with expansion and contraction from changing environmental conditions. Thin repairs have failed for us, requiring re-repair.

Bonding Agents:

    • PC-11: this is a waterproof version of PC-7, both epoxy type bonding agents. The PC-11 has the advantage that it can be applied in wet conditions, or in situations where rain is expected. It is available online in cans (for large projects this is much more economical, it does not spoil). For emergency situations (like when a spire breaks loose or tigle comes off) it can be obtained at Pooles Hardware in Poolesville. It can NOT be found at Home Depot or Lowe's for some reason, FYI--so save yourself a trip.