Opening the Buddhas’ eyes in the London Centre

November 21st, 2010
Intense concentration is needed to paint the fine details of the Buddha's eyes

Intense concentration is needed to paint the fine details of the Buddha's eyes

When Lama Ole Nydahl visited London in September 2010 and blessed the newly-filled Buddha statues (see this blog entry) he recommended that we “open their eyes”. So earlier in November 2010, our London Buddhist Centre was transformed into a workshop, where a group of friends spent a long weekend working with these centre statues as well as a collection of smaller statues belonging to individuals. This delicate “eye-opening” process involves painting the heads and faces of the statues with gold and specially prepared paint, as well as adding precious stones in places such as the crowns and ornaments of certain forms. Leo Grzyb was invited from Slovakia to London to guide the workshop. Leo has spent several years studying traditional Kagyu Buddhist art under the close tutelage of Denzong Norbu, probably the greatest living master of the Karma Gardri style of thangka painting who received its transmission directly from the 16th Karmapa. We’d like to share some impressions from the workshop, click on the thumbnails below to enlarge.

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Interview with Dr. Jim Tucker on past life memories

November 19th, 2010

Earlier this week our blog entry about the documentary “The Boy Who Lived Before” and the work of Dr. Jim Tucker of the University of Virginia attracted a lot of interest. As a follow-up we’re posting this video of an interview with Dr. Tucker in which he explains the characteristics of studies being carried out into past life memories. This is very interesting from the point of view of Buddhism as many of these cases strongly support the possibility of reincarnation.

The Boy Who Lived Before

November 17th, 2010

This thought-provoking documentary first screened in 2005 was part of the television series “Extraordinary People” broadcast on Channel Five in the UK. The programme, entitled “The Boy Who Lived Before” featured the investigation of the case of Cameron Macaulay by Dr. Jim Tucker, medical director of the Child and Family Psychiatry Clinic, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia. It raises an interesting challenge to common Western scientific notions of consciousness.

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Long Life Wishes for Lama Ole Nydahl by Lopön Tsechu Rinpoche

November 15th, 2010
Lama Ole Nydahl

Lama Ole Nydahl

Long Life Wishes for Lama Ole Nydahl

Composed by Lopön Tsechu Rinpoche (1918-2003)

Om Svasti,

You, incomparable in expanding the Karma Kagyu teachings in all directions,

You, the follower of Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje who is the embodiment of all Buddhas of the three times,

Ole, may You live long!

Is it possible to reach enlightenment by practising the Four Foundational Practices?

November 12th, 2010

Torch of Certainty

The book “Torch of Certainty“, first published by Shambhala in 1977, has become a classic reference material in the English speaking world for all using the Four Foundational Practices (Tib. Ngöndro) of Tibetan Buddhism, especially as taught in the Karma Kagyu school. It is a translation of a text by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye (1813-1899), entitled “The Torch of True Meaning”, which is in turn based on the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje’s (1556–1603) treatise on the Great Seal (Skt. Mahamudra) entitled “The Ocean of True Meaning”. While the English translation, made in the early days of Tibetan Buddhism’s introduction to the West in the 1970’s now sounds somewhat dated, the book is excellent, and the introduction contains questions and answers about the Four Foundational Practices with three influential lamas who were alive and active in the West when the book was published; Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987), Deshung Rinpoche (1906-1987) and Kalu Rinpoche (1905-1989).

In the introducation to the book, Kalu Rinpoche – one of the first teachers of Hannah and Lama Ole Nydahl – summarises the Ngöndro as follows: “Generally speaking, the first practices (refuge and prostrations, Vajrasattva and mandala offering) clear away obscurations and gather the two accumulations. The guru yoga gives you great faith in your guru which leads to your receipt of his blessing and attainment of mahamudra”.

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History of the World in 100 Objects – Borobudur Buddha head

November 9th, 2010
Borobudur Buddha head in the British Museum

Borobudur Buddha head in the British Museum

A History of the World in 100 Objects” was a joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum, comprising a 100-part radio series written and presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor. In 15-minute presentations broadcast on weekdays on Radio 4, MacGregor used objects of ancient art, industry, technology and arms, all of which are in the British Museum’s collections, as an introduction to parts of human history. The series began in January 2010 and was broadcast over 20 weeks. Several of the objects had Buddhist significance, which we’d like to share here on the blog.

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Today is the anniversary of the 16th Karmapa’s parinirvana

November 5th, 2010
16th Karmapa in Rumtek 1978 (Photo: Peter Mannox)

16th Karmapa in Rumtek 1978 (Photo: Peter Mannox)

Today, 5 November, is the anniversary of the parinirvana of H.H. 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in 1981. We reproduce an excerpt from Reginald A. Ray’s book Secret of the Vajra World – The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet (Shambhala, 2001) which presents the 1981 interview with Dr. Mitchell Levy, the 16th Karmapa’s personal physician, who was together with Karmapa during the last remarkable moments of his life.

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Watching our minds – article in Kiwi press about meditation

November 3rd, 2010


This article in the New Zealand Press by a member of the New Zealand Diamond Way sangha gives an excellent description of Buddhist meditation. Enjoy!

Watching our minds

There are many concepts and ideas about meditation.

One can only do it sitting down in quiet surroundings. It is a state of mind with no thoughts, or a sense of peace combined with white light. Most of all, we think that it is something separate and special from our everyday activities.

Meditation means to effortlessly remain in that which is. Without expectation or fear, we experience each moment as fresh and full of potential. Read the rest of this entry »