You are on page 1of 12


March 2008



Gentle Voice : March 2008

In This Issue
Congratulations to our friends at Vajradhara Gonpa who have completed the three year retreat. We are all inspired by your dedication and commitment and hope that you will be able to share your insights and blessings with everyone you meet. Congratulations to all those who made it possible, whether it was the teachers, administrators, cooks or sponsors. Making it possible for both ourselves and others to practice the Dharma is a great challenge and contingent on an enormous amount of work. One of the most interesting observations in the Dharma is the law of interdependent origination, or in Sanskrit, pratityasamutpada. Nothing exists except in dependence upon causes and conditions. The causes and conditions for such a retreat are numberless and impossible to summarise, but without our teacher inspiring practice, without the gonpa the place of retreat, without the inspiration to make it happen, it couldnt take place. At this early stage of the development of the Dharma in Australia we are all working hard to create the conditions for practice opportunities for both ourselves and future generations. Translation, study, retreat, generosity, and all kinds of support are bringing the Dharma to the West. Everybodys participation and contribution is a jewel in Indras net. Indras net is a metaphor used in the Avatamsaka Sutra, of a large net hung with jewels. Each jewel reflects all the other jewels in the net, to infinity. In addition, every jewel that is reflected in one jewel bears within itself the reflection of all other jewels. May all beings benefit. Sunyata Editor

Insight Meditation Interview with Gyana Vajra Rinpoche Reaching Out in Cambodia Photo Diary - Sanchi Book Review Births, Deaths, Marriages and Retreats Text Recoverer - E. Gene Smith Announcements 3 5 6 8 9 9 10 11

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche will teach the conclusion of the Madhyamakavatara - the Middle Way philosophy
This is one of the key philosophical expositions of emptiness and its study has been an essential part of Buddhist training in Tibet for many centuries. While not very long, the text contains complex and subtle arguments in a condensed form. This is the final program.


Thursday 10 April 7.00 p.m. free evening talk. Friday 11 to Sunday 13 April, from 9.30 a.m. Fee: $180 Address: A&I Hall, Bangalow, New South Wales. Located at the end of Station Street, off Byron Street - the main street in Bangalow. Bangalow is a 15 minute drive from Byron Bay. Telephone: 02 66 851 646 Enquiries: Accommodation assistance:

About Siddharthas Intent Founded in 1989 by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Siddhartha's Intent is an international Buddhist association of non-profit centres, most of which are nationally registered societies and charities, with the principal intention of preserving the Buddhist teachings, as well as increasing an awareness and understanding of the many aspects of the Buddhist teaching, beyond the limits of cultures and traditions. Web: Contact: 61 2 66 882 055 Email:

Gentle Voice : page 2

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Insight Meditation Vipassana

By Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
We'll begin straight away with meditation. Those who have information on meditation know what to do. For those who are beginners, sitting with your spine straight is good. Placing something under your bottom so it's higher than your legs is a good idea. You're allowed to breathe. You can blink your eyes only if it's necessary. You can swallow saliva when it's necessary. Other than that during this period until I say stop, whatever happens don't move. Don't scratch even if you're feeling itchy! Instead watch that feeling. If nothing extraordinary happens, just watch whatever thoughts come at that time. There's no need to think about the past, no need to plan for the future. If there are no thoughts, that's also fine. If your ankle hurts or you feel like coughing, don't. Don't clear your throat. If you forget to switch off your mobile and it rings, don't switch it off. Just watch that guilt. Basically, do nothing. All you have to do is just be aware. So we will begin. You may know that some leading international newspapers have reported that meditation is good for health. Scientists have now realised that meditation is good for stress, for relaxation and so on and so forth. If you're a Buddhist, and if you're a genuine one, we're not here for good health. We're not here for relaxation. Who cares whether you're tense or not, because when people talk about relaxation, that means they relax for a little bit and then they go wild again, doesn't it? That's why they're looking for relaxation so they can do more harm to themselves and others after a little bit of hibernation. If you're a genuine follower of Gautama Buddha, being relaxed or tension-free is not your goal. Or at least the definition of relaxation and tension should be different. What is tension? According to the Buddha, anything that is dualistic is tension. Gazing at the sunrise or the sunset could be tension. It's more likely to be tension than relaxation, according to the Buddha. What is relaxation? Freedom from this dualistic mind is relaxation. In that sense, yes, we're looking for the ultimate relaxation. We're really looking to get rid of the mother of all tension, which is dualism. You see, meditation is a technique. You may wonder, "How does this help us to discover Buddha nature?" It does it very well. In fact, I would say meditation such as what we just did is probably the safest, most economical, handy, user-friendly method. At present, every time a thought arises, we mate with it. There could be different kinds of mating very positive mating such as enjoying the sunset, making love, being philanthropic or hugging! Or it could be a very vicious raping kind of mating, like when anger comes, "Oh, not good." Then there's depression, guilt and anger towards yourself because you're angry. That's what I call raping. You're raping your thoughts. Whatever happens, you've forgotten the condom and you're like a rabbit. You can reach orgasm nine times every time. Each drop of those orgasms creates lots of babies. That's why you have endless rabbits going round in your head all the

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in Bir, October 2006.

time. So you can't see Buddha nature. The way we meditated just now, we just watched whatever happened. Even the watching is already a little bit of a mating, but it's okay for now. That's the only way you can progress. What does this do? You really are beginning to learn how to ignore thoughts. Actually, do you know what ignoring is? Let's say, if you're ignoring a person at a party, what does that mean? That means you know he is there, but you are not looking at him, doesn't it? That's what we call ignoring. If you don't see him, that's not counted as ignoring him, is it? That's simply that you didn't see him. During meditation you're watching the thoughts; you know they're there, but you're ignoring them. You're not entertaining positive thoughts, you're not discouraging negative thoughts. Just watching. So you're not mating. No mating, no breeding, no population of rabbits; you're less busy because you don't have to chase or breastfeed these babies. You are very free. That's why we meditate. I think it's kind of obvious that meditation is a good thing, but to do it consistently is difficult. Lack of discipline, lack of enthusiasm and lack of environment make it difficult. Mainly lack of discipline. Consistency is the key. If you do hours and hours of meditation and then don't do any for months, you're back to square one. If you can do five to ten minutes consistently every day, at least in about a year's time you will have some kind of joy and enthusiasm to do the meditation. That joy is difficult to develop, you know, because meditation is very boring. It's not entertaining at all. Not doing anything is tough. This is the art of not doing anything and it's really difficult, especially as we modern human beings like quick results. Actually, the results come very quickly. But meditative results are very subtle. We like tangible, vivid, obvious results. We like Panadols or pain-killers. This is the modern culture.
Continued next page Gentle Voice : page 3

Gentle Voice : March 2008

So especially in the beginning it's difficult to establish this joy because the effect of meditation is so subtle; even though it's already there, it's not visible. It's easy to just watch ordinary, more obvious thoughts. Let's say you're meditating and you hear a child screaming and it irritates you and you just watch that irritation. That's good. That's how it should be. But then there are so many other thoughts. They've come and they've gone and they've returned several times and you still don't realise it. Very, very subtle thoughts. And then by the time you realise it, fifteen out of twenty minutes is basically gone, day-dreaming, completely distracted but by very subtle thoughts, not like recognising the irritation when a child screams. And then what happens? You regret. Well, when you regret, again you're mating. Regret is another mating. "Oh, I shouldn't have. I'm supposed to meditate." You're just supposed to watch that regret also. Actually, this mating is much less harmful because it doesn't have much intimacy. There's a worse one, which is when you feel that you are actually not distracted this time. "Wow! I'm completely aware of everything. I'm not distracted." Now you're really mating! Very deep intimacy! It's so difficult to release that. You really want to dwell in that. Anyway, as I was saying, consistency is really important. Short, clear, but often. According to Longchenpa, "Short, many times." Long, but only once doesn't have much effect. And I would say consistently every day, not limiting yourself to only meditating in the morning or at night. Do it any time, wherever you can sit. Actually, after a while you can meditate even standing or dancing. But I guess for beginners it's better to at least lay the foundation and for that I think sitting is important. If you're meditating and you recognise ordinary thoughts, mindfulness is there. But sometimes strong emotions can be difficult. If you find out your boyfriend is cheating on you and you're trying to apply Vipassana, it's going to be tough because we have this habit of settling the score or seeking revenge. We have so much pride. Or if you have a family issue and you both know that separation is the only solution, but both of you are waiting to see who will say, "Let's separate." In the beginning it's difficult to concentrate because your mind just goes to that problem. But then, let's say, you're a more mature meditator and when this jealousy, possessiveness, pride or insecurity comes during meditation, you just watch. That's good. But as soon as the alarm clock goes off, then you're back to, "Let's see. Now where were we?" (Rinpoche punches one fist into the palm of his other hand.) Back to that! But if you can just watch, not engage or mate, slowly you become even more mature and the wall between meditation and post-meditation will gradually crumble. See, right now there's a big wall between meditation and post-meditation. That's fine. I think you almost need it, otherwise beginners can't begin. After a while this wall will start to crumble.
Gentle Voice : page 4

Then even during the post-meditation time when you're heated with jealousy, you will have this regret or guilt, this disappointment or frustration. "Why am I not concentrating?" On the one hand you know that you're not supposed to get entangled or mate with this issue, but you will just keep doing it right in front of your own nose. Now when that happens, it's time to receive a medal. You're doing well then. If you can count, let's say, ten times a day when you're frustrated, disappointed or guilty, that's good. Then at last you're becoming a bit of a meditator. When you're frustrated because you're distracted, what does that mean? Think! When you know you are distracted, automatically it means that you know what is being not distracted. You're close to the wisdom. So may you always feel frustrated! Vipassana basically means extraordinary understanding or penetrating insight, hence insight meditation. Basically, this is meditation on wisdom. See, wisdom and Buddha nature are basically one thing with different names. They're all the same thing. So now you know, when we talk about Buddha nature or wisdom, let's say, Vipassana kind of wisdom, we're not talking about anything supernatural, superhuman, divine or something that you have to cultivate. So what are we talking about? Wisdom is already there, right? Like a spring. But why are we not experiencing it? Because we're stirring all the time through mating. So how do we experience wisdom? By not doing anything, by not stirring, by letting it be. And then, when you're not mating or getting worked up with a thought, the wisdom of non-judgment is there. What is wisdom? Non-dualism, isn't it? And what does non-dual mean? In a very, very raw form, non-duality is basically nonjudgment. And here all you're doing is just watching, not getting entangled, not getting worked up, just watching, ignoring. You see the thoughts, but you ignore them. There's no judgment involved. It may be only for a very short moment, but during that moment of just watching and doing nothing, you're already experiencing non-duality. You're already experiencing wisdom. That's all we have to cultivate. That's all you have to do. What a wonderful path! There's really nothing to lose, everything to gain. Gain what? We are all control freaks, right? We all want to be in command. We all want to be the controller. How do you control? With this. If you are worked up, you're not under control, right? Here, gradually you become the controller. Perfect for people like us who are control freaks. You will all be in the driver's seat. Forget about enlightenment. Just be a good controller. This works!

See, wisdom and Buddha Nature are basically one thing with different names.

(Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche gave this teaching on 24 May 2006 for Byron Bay Buddhists. It is available as a DVD from Siddhartha's Intent Australia. For details please visit the website at: and click on Teachings. This extract was transcribed and edited by Lynne Macready.)

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Interview with Gyana Vajra Rinpoche

by Sunyata, Melbourne
Q. Are they going through a structured program that will lead to a Geshe or Khenmo degree? A. Yes, we are also planning a nuns college and pretty soon we should see some results. Q. Have you got any resident teachers? A. Yes, we have a Khenpo in the nunnery who is teaching philosophy at the moment. Q. What about your future plans? You are getting married in February? A. Yes, I am getting married. I was a monk before but I have decided to disrobe and I have given up my vows to my guru and with his blessing, and with all my gurus blessings, I am going to be getting married in February. I believe that not everybody in this world is destined to be a monk or a nun. I never felt really comfortable as a monk and I am very happy now that I have found somebody that I can spend the rest of my life with. I hope to be a good husband. Q. Congratulations. Thats fantastic. A. She is the love of my life. Q. Do you have any particular advice for those of us who are also not monks and nuns and who are not practising the Dharma full time? A. It does not matter how long the practice is that you do it is the quality of practice when you do it and how you put your practice into your daily life. Find the right teacher, find the right place where you feel comfortable and where you feel open, where you dont have hesitation towards your teacher. If you find that right teacher then I think you should follow his or her advice and then just practice without any hesitation. It doesnt mean that you have to give up your work or you have to do retreats for years and years. But you can do short sessions, 15 minutes, half an hour, one hour, according to your capacity.

Gyana Vajra Rinpoche in Melbourne, December 2007.

H.E. Gyana Vajra Rinpoche is the second son of H.H. Sakya Trizin. Q. What work are you doing at the monastery in India? A. I live in the monastery and do management work as the Vice President of the Sakya Society, of course the President is His Holiness (Sakya Trizin). We have about 300 monks and around 200 nuns. There are also about 100 monks in the Sakya Institute. I am building a school for the Sakya Centre students which will have all the modern facilities. It will be called Sakya Academy. Lamas will be trained in both Dharmic rituals and philosophy mainly rituals plus they will be taught all the basic school education like science and history. Q. So they will get a Western education as well as a traditional Buddhist education excellent. How are the nuns going? How is their education? A. I must say we are very impressed with how the nuns are going. We started with seven nuns a few years ago and now we have somewhere between 150 and 200 nuns. We just finished building dormitories for them. Previously we didnt have funds to build a temple and nuns stayed outside. Now we have just finished the main structure of the nunnery about 80 nuns can stay in the dormitory. We still think we might have a shortage of space because in the whole of India and Nepal we only have one Sakya nunnery. I am very happy with their progress in education.

An Aspiration to the Great Perfection

May we gain conviction in the view wherein samsara and nirvana are the same. May have a consummate skill in meditation, a natural flow unaltered, uncontrived. May we bring our action to perfection, a natural, unintended, spontaneity. May we find the dharmakaya, beyond all gaining and rejection.
Dudjom Rinpoche, Paris 1976 (Taken from Counsels From My Heart, Shechen Publications, New Delhi.)
Gentle Voice : page 5

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Reaching Out in Cambodia

Text by Sunyata, Photos by Glenn Fawcett
Young Cambodian women working in garment factories are the focus of a Lotus Outreach program concerned with improving sexual health. Lotus Outreach has developed a van, the Womens Sexual Health Mobile Outreach Clinic, that visits garment factories and invites women to meet and have a confidential discussion with a qualified gynaecologist. The van is equipped as a consulting space and can offer a basic medical service. Said Glenn Fawcett, the program co-ordinator, In Cambodia there is really no such thing as free medical treatment. Most people cant afford it so even if have they have terrible pain and problems such as pustules or discharges, they cant afford to see a doctor and they just put up with it. Lack of employment, low wages and poverty underlie many of Cambodias most persistent social problems, in particular prostitution and human trafficking. Said Glenn, Traffickers come to villages with promises of work for young girls as hairdressers, shop assistants or domestic servants, but these women are often trafficked to brothels. Then they are told they must pay back a huge sum of money to the traffickers. Once they are trafficked they feel soiled in their own mind, they wont tell their families what has happened, they will just bear it. These are very sweet and unsophisticated country girls who are easy to dupe.

Cambodian child stacking bricks.

Free condoms and other birth control treatment is provided, as well as advice. Those women diagnosed as suffering acute medical problems are referred to a hospital while husbands and partners are also treated. The clinic records data and prescribes treatment in accordance with the protocols developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). One of the main aims of the program is to raise awareness around sexual health, particularly in the age group of 18 to 25.

Glenn Fawcett with an ox cart and other aid workers from Cambodia, Burma and Sweden.

In response to this problem, Lotus Outreach is training 300 girls to work as peer educators in those communities and to spread the word of what is actually going on and take them out of harms way. Lotus Outreach also offers a life-skills training program where women and girls engaged in sex work learn numeracy, literacy and smallbusiness skills to prepare them for employment options. Out of 60 girls some two thirds have now secured jobs in various areas such as garment factories, hair dressing and running their own small business. One graduate, a former sex worker, is now employed by Oxfam as a non-formal education teacher, teaching others like her what she has learned.
Girls attend the Lotus Outreach Clinic.

Gentle Voice : page 6

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Low wages and poverty are largely the result of a lack of education. Children are required to pay their teachers for their classes as the government salary - $30 a month is too low for teachers to live on. As a result poor children get very little education and grow up without the ability to read or count. This makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation. While there are no official figures on human trafficking or prostitution in Cambodia, it is estimated by those working in the field that there are about 50,000 to 60,000 persons working as prostitutes, with one third under 16.

work and seeks to raise the awareness and sensitivity of key groups such as police and local authorities.

Getting to school in Cambodia can be very difficult.

Lotus Outreach works with A local partner, the Cambodian Womens Crisis Centre, to run a scholarship program for at-risk girls that funds their education. Various things are provided such as bicycles so they can attend school, and school books and stationery. If a childs family lives a long way from a school then a residential school is funded. Children are given a monthly stipend and in the worst cases, rice for their families to take the pressure off the need for a childs wage. At present 596 girls are receiving scholarships. In addition the program provides community advocacy

Girls who receive scholarships come from the very poorest families.

Poverty in Cambodia has many consequences. Up to a million mostly male workers are internal migrants, having moved from villages to cities in search of paid work. They are separated from their wives and form about 96% of users of prostitutes. Local massage shops that charge only $1.25 per massage cater to this clientele. Child workers also scavenge garbage dumps for recyclable materials. Said Glenn: They dont wear gloves or any protective clothing which is very dangerous for these kids as the rubbish contains highly infectious materials from operating theatres, condoms and syringes. This rubbish is swarming with flies and is putrid and stinks. Children also work stacking bricks. They get paid 50 cents a day and their only clothing is underpants. Its very heavy work. Lotus Outreach works to keep children like these in school while the older ones are given skills so they can earn from a decent job. There is a famous story of a man walking down a beach throwing washed up starfish back into the sea. The sand is crowded with starfish and he is told by someone that what he is doing isnt going to make any difference. The man throws another starfish back into the sea and says, Well, it made a difference to that one.

Bicycles help girls get to school.

Gentle Voice : page 7

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Photo Diary Sanchi

Text by Dr Peter Friedlander, Photos by Di Cousens
The logo for Siddharthas Intent is of the great gateways at the stupa of Sanchi. The gateways are also replicated at the new Chokyi Lodro College at Chauntra, Himachal Pradesh.
The Buddhist remains at Sanchi date from the 3rd Century BCE to the 11th century CE. Perhaps some of the earliest monuments on the site were a column erected by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka and a small brick stupa. The present main stupa seems to have been originally a much smaller brick stupa from the 3rd century BCE Ashokan period which was then enlarged several times. During the Satavahana dynasty in the 1st century BCE the great gateways were added along with the railings which are covered in relief sculptures illustrating stories from the Buddhist tradition, including Jataka Tales. The site continued to flourish in the 5th century CE during the reign of the Gupta dynasty when monolithic Buddha images were added at the four gateways and more temples were built. The presence of remains from as late as the 11th century CE shows that it continued to be an active Buddhist site up to the period when Buddhism declined in India.

The main stupa at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

The entrance gate at the Chokyi Lodro College, Chauntra.

A Purna kumbha, or pot of plenty medallion at Sanchi.

Budddha image from the Gupta period.

Gentle Voice : page 8

Brahmi inscription recording the name of a donor.

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Book Review
by David Templeman
Care and Handling of Thankas: A Guide for Caretakers by Victoria Blyth Hill, translated into Tibetan by Lama Sonam Phuntso. Published by the Khyentse Foundation
For free distribution in the Buddhist Himalaya and the Indian subcontinent

This book offers the reader a brief guide to the storage and safe-keeping of thankas. In this basic area it fulfils its aims admirably. The book is handsome and shows good production values. The work is primarily intended as an instructional guide for monks and monasteries within the Himalayan and Tibetan worlds and this accounts for the punctilious Tibetan translation. It addresses conservation issues such as damage arising from fire and roof leakage which are not usually the greatest source of damage to those in Western collections, but nevertheless problems we might occasionally face. The discussion is not limited to those with valuable thankas alone. The common sense rules in the book relate equally well to the handling and display of all water pigment based paintings, from the personal practice-item to the valuable treasure. There is also for example, timely advice especially for those of us in Australia, on the rotation of thankas from the same light source to avoid sunning of certain areas.

In Tibetan and the Himalayan conditions where thankas are regularly kept in and removed from storage conditions, usually in wooden boxes, sometimes leather covered and attractive to insects, the method depicted of rolling and protecting scrolls is of importance. However I would point out that the method outlined on page 8 of keeping the covering veil down when rolling is dangerous as the material used in most veils has tiny hooks in the fibre which act as levers to raise flakes of paint from the surface. I would suggest that the veils be removed upon purchase and pinned temporarily over the scroll when displayed. When the thanka is rolled for storage, a layer of acid-free paper may be substituted for the veil with no subsequent damage. Although the author is correct to state that When the surface of a thanka becomes darkened or stained with smoke or oil, it is almost impossible to clean it, this is far from the case in for example in Australia, where there are experts who are capable of employing the very latest conservatorial solvents and who do a fine job of restoring and cleaning even extremely damaged thankas. (For example, see the website of Sabine Cotte at This is a valuable and timely book and, despite its modest contents, is of use both among the Tibetan monastic communities and for Westerners with their own private collections.

Births, Deaths, Marriages & Retreats

His Holiness the Mindroling Trichen, ceremonial head of the Nyingma school, passed away in Dehra Dun, India, on 9 February 2008 at 7:00 p.m. In a statement the monastery office said he passed away: Without even the slightest discomfort, with a face even more radiant than before, and with a smiling countenance, Kyabje Rinpoche gazed lovingly at all those surrounding him. Then, with the aspect of resting, [he] displayed the final activity of transferring his enlightened intention to another realm, in order to turn the minds of those to be tamed towards the Dharma. Elaborate ceremonies were performed at his monastery immediately after his passing and HH Sakya Trizin presided over the 3rd day ritual on 12 February and led the Vajrayogini sadhana. HH Mindroling Trichen was born to the 10th Mindroling Trichen and Yum Dawa Drolma on 7 March 1931 in Lumo-ra in Kham (Eastern Tibet). At 18 he went into retreat and did solitary meditation in a cave. He was in retreat for a total of 14 years. He excelled in his studies and discovered the terma (hidden treasure) of the Compassionate One, Jigten Wangchuk Pema Garwang. He escaped from Tibet in 1959 and arrived in India where he was installed as the 11th Mindroling Trichen in 1962. In 1976 he and his family moved to Dehra Dun in order to oversee the building of the Mindroling monastery. Revered within the Tibetan community as an emanation of Padmasambhava, His Holiness the 11th Mindroling Trichen was revered throughout the Buddhist world as a great Mahasiddha and one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist masters of the past century.

Gentle Voice : page 9

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Text Recoverer
E. Gene Smith
Instead, Gene and his colleagues used the funds to make copies of rare and important Tibetan texts that had been smuggled out of Tibet by exiles of all five lineages of Tibetan Buddhism--texts that he had identified as valuable in his travels in Asia. These texts-wood-block prints and manuscripts--were faded and crumbling. The copies were sent back to North America, to the United States and Canada, and installed in the libraries of over 20 universities, including Harvard and the University of Washington. These and other texts were also made available to Tibetan monks. All told, the PL 480 program acquired around 8,000 volumes. When more Buddhist texts began appearing in China after the revolution, Gene used his contacts to buy those as well. Today he is known for having amassed the largest library of Tibetan books in the world. For the Tibetans who had smuggled the manuscripts out of Tibet, the fact that Gene paid Western prices for the texts that he bought for the Library of Congress made a big difference in their lives. For the Tibetan publishers, the revenue of the sales went a long way toward covering the price of publishing more texts. In this way, Gene's purchases were crucial for the publication of hundreds of works, thus making them available for Tibetan scholars, practitioners, and libraries at an affordable price. But it wasn't just the priceless Tibetan canon that Gene sent back to the United States for copying and preserving (in many cases, only one copy of a text had survived)--he also sent his notes. His commentaries put each manuscript in historical, religious, and cultural context for Western scholars struggling to understand the Dharma. For many years, Gene's house in New Delhi was a hub of scholarly activity. His walls were lined with thousands of Tibetan books. Hundreds of lamas, scholars, and practitioners visited him there and marvelled at his ability to find an obscure book, hidden amid stacks of texts, without hesitation. Gene retired from the Library of Congress in 1997, and in December of 1999 he and a group of friends founded the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the goal of digitizing every text in his collection, now over 12,000 volumes. In an interview in 2002, he said about TBRC, "What we're trying to do is make things as easy as possible for the scholars, the holders of the traditions, and the translators to gain access to the texts. Right now, Tibetan studies is basically a matter of serendipity." Since 2002, TBRC has moved into the offices of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, and is now working to expand its digital library of Tibetan texts, putting them on portable hard drives and exporting them to monasteries in India, Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. They're also building an encyclopaedic database that will provide a way to navigate TBRC's immense body of Tibetan literature. And the TBRC serves as a research centre for Tibetan studies. When Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche introduced Gene at an early Khyentse Foundation meeting, he emphatically stated that Gene is one of the most important Bodhisattvas of our time. "He is such a great man," said Rinpoche. "With Gene's digital library, no future disaster, whether natural, political or economic, will destroy these precious Buddhist texts again." At the Buddha Nature teachings in Vancouver in the summer of 2007, the audience gave Gene a spontaneous and lengthy standing ovation that filled the auditorium with thunderous appreciation for all of his work. Gene, as ever, smiled and humbly accepted the thanks.

The Khyentse Foundation is working in partnership with Professor E. Gene Smith of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Centre to scan and digitally publish his collection of 12,000 volumes of Tibetan literature.
When E. Gene Smith was asked how he managed to singlehandedly gather together a tremendous amount of the Tibetan literature that had been dispersed during and after the events of 1959, he replied simply, "Karma, I guess." It's not that Gene is at a loss for words--he often tells amazing tales--but Gene Smith is primarily focused on one subject only: preserving Tibetan spiritual literature in its entirety. In Gene's view, this literature can and must be preserved and made available, at no charge, to anyone, anywhere in the world. Karma may be the short answer to how Gene became the steward of this gargantuan effort, but the colourful details of his journey make for quite a story. In part because students of lesser-known languages could avoid being drafted into the U.S. Army, Gene began studying Tibetan at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1960. There he met his teacher, the Venerable Deshung Rinpoche, who at the time lived in Seattle with eight other lamas on a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Gene became interested in understanding Buddhism from a scholar's perspective, but his teacher steered him toward practice. In 1964, at the age of 28, he finished the course work for his Ph.D. On the advice Deshung Rinpoche, he travelled to India to see what he could do to help the Tibetans pick up the pieces of their shattered culture. In India, he studied with Geshe Lobsang Lungtok, Drukpa Thuksay Rinpoche, Khenpo Noryang, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. He travelled extensively in Asia, and in 1968 the U.S. Library of Congress hired him to work in its New Delhi office. The U.S. government had started a food aid effort, called the Public Law 480 Initiative, which encouraged developing countries to buy surplus U.S. wheat and other agricultural products with local currencies. The government took the money it made on the wheat and put it back into cultural and scientific programs to benefit those same countries. Talking about the haphazard nature of these allocations at a recent benefit in his honour at the Rubin Museum of Art, Gene remarked, "We could have used that money for anything--we could have bought lawnmowers if we wanted to."
Gentle Voice : page 10

Gentle Voice : March 2008

Extensive Drubchen At Vajradhara Gonpa The current three-year retreat at Vajradhara Gonpa will culminate during the week from 2 to 9 April 2008 with an extensive practice intensive or Drubchen based on the Heart Essence of Deathless Arya Tara (Chime Phagme Nyingthig), a treasure of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. This will be the first time such a Drubchen has been performed entirely in English. Everyone is invited to attend the opening ceremony on 9 April. Please register by email to This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the opening of the boundary at this very blessed retreat centre. H.H. Dalai Lama to visit Sydney H.H. Dalai Lama will teach on Kamalashilas text, the Stages of Meditation, from 11 to 15 June in Sydney. See: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo H.H. Drugchen enthroned the English nun and bhikshuni, Tenzin Palmo, as a Jetsunma in the Drugpa Kagyu tradition on 16 February 2008. She was given a large red hat and received numerous offerings. She said that she thought H.H. Drugchen was, Indeed very skilful and kind to inaugurate such a ceremony as a way to promote all women practitioners and show his admiration for females in the Dharma. See: The Drought Breaks at Vajradhara Gonpa After six years of drought Australia-wide the small country town of Kyogle hit the national and overseas news on 5th January with the second biggest flood in history. In the first two weeks of January 2008 north of Kyogle in the Border Ranges there was a rain of blessings at the Gonpa of 714.4 mm that surpassed the highest rainfall in the district for any full month in history. Although the Northern Rivers district of NSW has been spared the severe and heartbreaking drought conditions of other parts of Australia, dams and creeks were dry and the Gonpa spring just a trickle. The recent rain has brought its difficulties with washouts and landslides on the Gonpas access road, but it is so wonderful to see the dams full, the springs and waterfalls flowing abundantly and the countryside returned to its lush vibrant green hue. Kate, our courageous retreat administrator, set out alone the day before the flood peaked for the fortnightly shopping trip to the regional centre Lismore to bring the truckload of food supplies for the retreatants. It was already bucketing down and the mountain road was very slippery but Kate was determined that we wouldnt run out of food if there was a flood and on the return journey had to detour from the main route already under water, crossing flooded tracks, bridges and causeways. Although cut off from town for the next few days, we were high and dry with plenty of food at the Gonpa mountain retreat. Future Form of Gentle Voice In recent years Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has been demonstrating concern about ensuring the activities of the various aspects of the Khyentse Mandala are run in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. You would have noticed that the Khyentse Foundation news is now solely available electronically. Efforts are being made to make our centres in India and Australia run more efficiently in terms of their consumption of natural resources. As part of this thrust to lessen our footprint and lower our costs, this edition of the Gentle Voice will be the last one distributed in a paper format. Future editions will be available as a PDF down load from the SI website. When new editions are posted you will receive email notification. Please ensure that we have your current email address. The committee appreciates that many people will feel the loss of the GV arriving in their letterbox. We do however hope that we will have your support in our efforts to manage our precious resources. To ensure that any readers who are unable to access the internet are not disadvantaged, printed copies will be available on request from Lynne Macready: T 02 6685 4869. News from Southern Cross University The Centre for Peace and Social Justice together with the Office of Regional Engagement convened the Wisdom Series on 15 February 2008 at the SCU Room, Byron Bay Community Centre, Byron Bay, with Khyentse Jigme Rinpoche's public lecture on 'Mind Training' to a packed audience. The School of Law and Justice held a Buddhism and Law Seminar which featured Jakob Leschly and Tom Round on 'Buddhist Philosophy and Western Jurisprudence: A Dialogue' on 27 February 2008 at the Law Boardroom, Southern Cross University Lismore campus.
Gentle Voice : page 11

Practice Sessions for Students

Byron Bay 1/22 Fawcett Street Brunswick Heads NSW 2483 Contact: Paula Raymond-Yacoub 02 66 851 646 Regular Practice Sessions Wednesday evenings Shamatha meditation Monthly Tsa Sum Dril Drup tsog practice on Guru Rinpoche Day Monthly Longchen Nyingthik Ngndro practice, third Sunday of each month Sydney Contact: Chantal Gebbie or Tanya Gebbie Chantal 0412 763 037/ Tanya 0402 258 230 Regular Practice Sessions Fortnightly Wednesday evenings, Shamatha meditation and Madhyamakavatara Revision Guru Rinpoche Day, Tsa Sum Dril Drup tsog offering practice Dakini Day, Chime Phagma Nyingthik tsog offering practice 2nd Monthly half-day Longchen Nyingthik Ngndro practice

Blue Mountains 28 Fletcher Street, Wentworth Falls Contact: Hugo Croci 02 4757 2339 Regular Practice Sessions Monday evenings, Shamatha meditation & Madhyamakavatara study group Adelaide Contact: Tineke Adolphus 08 8362 7553 Auckland, New Zealand Contact: Buddha Aotearoa 09 424 3334

PLEASE NOTE: Because of its sacred content, please treat this newsletter with respect. Should you need to dispose of it, please burn it, rather than throwing it away.


March 2008

P O Box 155 Suffolk Park NSW 2481 Australia