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Meridian Trust Celebratory Issue; with the Dalai Lama at Glastonbury
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May 2016

A Spring Hello from our NEW Office!

Message from the Director

Dolma Beresford

Kaska, Meridian's Digital Archive Manager at editing station in our new office.
Spring greetings to all our friends and supporters. It seems I have chosen a perfect morning to write my introduction to our first newsletter of 2016 for it is indeed, a beautiful early spring morning here in South London. Yes, we have made the move from our home of 20 years in Central London down to the tranquility and harmony of Jamyang Buddhist Centre, Kennington.  

Whilst only a few miles, and still very much in the heart of London, it does feel a long way from the hustle and bustle of Islington life; an oasis of tranquility where we have been given the warmest of welcomes by our hosts.  

Jamyang is affiliated to the FPMT and, under the watchful tutelage of Geshe Tashi (resident teacher since 1994),has been very much part of the fabric of the Kennington community. You may already know about their rolling visitors' programme of retreats, teachings and workshops for we have been filming this inspirational content for the last 4 years, bringing Buddhist wisdom to those unable to attend these events in person: we understand that time and financial constraints mean that not all interested in following the path of peace and compassion are able to physically attend in person.  Read on below to learn more about the breadth of their work.

Our work, adding both contemporary and historical Dharma content to our website continues, as you will see from the article below.  Kaska Phuntsok, our Digital Archive Manager, is already up and running here in her newly configured studio and has, this month, edited and uploaded several new additions to our site.

Our programme, bringing wisdom and compassion to the world has also gained momentum, and we have been very humbled to receive direct funding of our 2016 programme from the Dalai Lama Trust, following a visit to India in Oct of last year.  As you will read, it feels in some ways like all has changed and yet, for us and our work, everything remains the same…...as we continue our work sharing peace and compassion with  the world.
Photos clockwise from top: Kaska and Dolma packing up our old office in angel, Islington. - The strength behind our move! -Yeshi Phuntsok, Rohan Kenworthy, van driver and Luke Beresford .The big clear out - sorting 20 years of 'stuff'…what to take with us?

Jamyang

.....their work and the Jamyang community

Photos clockwise from top: The Old Courthouse - Jamyang Buddhist Centre, Geshe Tashi, 'The Old Courtroom', Meditation Classes in the old Courtroom.

Most of you reading will probably know that Jamyang Buddhist Centre is a member of  the FPMT, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Under the direction of Lama Zopa Rinpoche the FPMT is a global community, which provides places of study, contemplation and retreat to learn and understand more about the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.

Jamyang’s longstanding resident teacher, Geshe Tashi is highly respected for his warm, empathic and intelligent teaching the world over and the Centre provides a full programme of visiting teachers - ensuring a wide range of thought provoking and inspiring Buddhist thought is made available within its walls.
 
In addition to a full teaching programme Jamyang offers many other activities from its beautiful facility, the Old Court House, near Kennington Tube.  The fabulous wholefood Cafe delivers much needed sustainance - with a beautiful courtyard garden area for summer relaxation and there is also  Study Centre (with a well stocked library) and retreat accommodation. A rolling programme of Meditation and  Community focused  projects include yoga, stress reduction and mindfulness.

As already mentioned, we are now in the fourth year of filming Jamyang’s Visitors' Programme, of teachings, workshops and retreats.  This year our programme schedule is filled until July and we must confess we are still tickled by the fact that we now just nip across the hallway to film, instead of having to trek across central London.  

Photos clockwise: "The Old Court House" - now Jamyang Buddhist Centre. Ven. Geshe Tashi, The court room- now the shrine room, Students meditating in the shrine room.

 

The Meridian Spring/Summer 2016 Filming Schedule 

Filming at Jamyang

confirmed so far.........

  • Amy Miller - What Goes Around, Comes Around (How Karma Works) 28th Jan
  • Josh Gluck -The Mental Mix;16 & 17 Jan, 27 & 28 Feb, 19 & 20 Mar.
  • Geshe Tashi (Jamyang’s resident teacher) - Essence of Eloquence; 23/24 January, 20/21 February, 4/5 June, 2/3 July.
  • Dr Jan Willis - Evening Talk Weekend (Fri 3 June 'Women in Buddhism' ,Sat 4 June 'Life Stories of the Ganden Oral Tradition' ,Sun 5 June 'The Importance of Bodhicitta)
  • Don Handrick: Buddha Nature 23 & 24 July
You can follow us on Facebook or receive an ‘alert’ through our regular newsletters: as these events happen we will be making them available online. 

Sharing Wisdom, Peace and Compassion with the world

more gems of wisdom for 2016.........

  • Ian Baker - The Geography of Paradise: Hidden-Lands in Himalayan Myth, History, and Buddhist Practice' (an illustrated talk). Thursday 11 February, 18:30 - 20:00 from the London Centre for the Dzogchen Community
  • Tenzin Palmo - Change your Mind, Change your Life (Lo Jong). 28-29 May, Colet House,The Study Society Building, London W10 9DA,
  • Chamtrul Rinpoche - Different Heart, One Heart. 1 June, 2016 The Buddhist Society, 58 Eccleston Square, SW1V 1PH London
  • Chamtrul Rinpoche - Compassion: the Heart of The Enlightened Mind. 3 June, 2016  7-9pm. London Buddhist Vihara, Dharmapala Building, The Avenue Chiswick, W4 1UD
  • Alan Wallace -The Way of Shamatha: Soothing the Body, Settling the Mind and IlluminatingAwareness’. Retreat from the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Scotland.23rd – 30th June 2016.
  • Dr Alan Wallace and Dr Bernard Carr - 'Space Time and Consciousness', Lecture and Dialogue, 2 July 2016, The Study Society, London

 

Book Launch

A rainy evening the day before Easter provided the backdrop to a rather poignant book launch.  It was exactly 2 years ago to the day that the Beresford family lost Judith Allen – partner to Brian Beresford; a passing that threatened to keep a gem of a book from reaching the publishing table.

More than thirty years ago an intrepid duo, Judith Allen (writer) and Brian Beresford (photographer filmmaker and seasoned traveller) set out on a journey of exploration. Joined by their learned teacher and guide, Dzogchen Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu they went travelling deep into the Kailash Mountain range, still steeped in the pre-Buddhist Bon tradition of the ancient fabled Shang Shung Kingdom…

Based on Brian’s meticulous recording and archivist work, this wonderful book recounts not only their journey through the Kailash Mountain range but also paints a vivid picture of the adventures and encounters they had along the way. From extensive interviewing of locals, fellow travellers and also with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu himself, they were able to build an actual geographical picture of this vast Kingdom, pinpointing its stronghold, which – thanks to relaxation of restrictions from Chinese officials- are at last being investigated more fully by archeologists.

After Brian’s death, almost 20 years ago, Judy took up the task of completing this fascinating book. In this endeavour she was helped by her good friend and author Julia Lawless.

All the family were in attendance for, to them, it was not only a book launch, it was also a lasting memorial to the life and work of two dedicated people, determined to unearth the great story of the lost Kingdom of Shang Shung and perhaps adding just a few of the missing pieces to the unique and fascinating history of the Tibetan people.

A riveting read and must have volume for all interested in the Himalayan story but also all who…just love a good adventure!

Buy it now in soft-back edition: £15.00

 

Nalanda - The Origins of Tibetan Buddhism

Nalanda: The Source of the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Our Founding Patron, H.H. the Dalai Lama has requested that we help to explain a point on the Buddhism and culture that is found in Tibet. We feel, rather than paraphrasing, it is probably better that we take his own words and pass them on.  Our work, supporting the preservation of Tibetan culture and wisdom shows that what is seen as uniquely Tibetan actually has its origins further back in history several centuries before it arriving in Tibet, from the pure lineage of the tradition of Nalanda Monastery in India, founded at the beginning of the common era.

The following is an extract from his writing on the subject, published in 2009 in 'Meditation on the Nature of Mind' (Available from Wisdom Books).

The master Nagarjuna hailed from this institution, as did many other important philosophers and logicians. Although Tibetans became interested in Buddhism and began to study it as early as the seventh century, Buddhism did not really take hold in Tibet until a century later. A sound basis for Buddhism, the systematic establishment of Buddhist study and practice, therefore begins only in the eighth century. Two important Indian masters came to Tibet at this time at the invitation of the Tibetan Emperor Trisong Detsen: Guru Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita.
Shantarakshita, who was very well known even in India, was mainly responsible for the exoteric teachings and giving monastic ordination. He was a great master, one of the great scholars of Nalanda Monastery. Shantarakshita was not only a scholar of Madhyamaka or Middle Way philosophy. His writings are still available to Tibetans in translation, and from these we can glean that he was a remarkable logician as well as a great Madhyamaka philosopher. So naturally, as one of the top scholars and one of the greatest practitioners of his day, a great monk of Nalanda, he can be considered the individual chiefly responsible for introducing the Buddhadharma to Tibet. Naturally, when the teacher is a philosopher or logician, he wants his students to follow this same trajectory. This makes sense; it is logical, is it not? Given that Buddhism was introduced into Tibet by one of the great scholars of Nalanda, it makes sense to say that the Tibetan tradition has basically followed the Nalanda tradition up to present day. This is very clear.
When I myself began my scholarly studies of the tradition at a young age, I began by memorizing the root texts of that Nalanda tradition. In my own case, during this early period of my life, when I was a child of six or seven years of age, I had no real interest in Buddhism or in acquiring knowledge. I am sometimes considered the reincarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, but I wonder whether this is so. You see, when I was young, when I started learning these texts by heart, I had no real interest in them. I was a very reluctant student. My only interest was in playing. For this reason my tutor had to keep a whip by his side! In those days my elder brother and I - we were both monks - studied together. My tutor kept two whips. One whip was an ordinary whip, and one whip was a special, yellow whip. The yellow whip was considered a "holy" whip: the whip to be used on the holy person of the Dalai Lama. But as you can imagine, just because the whip was holy doesn't mean the pain was holy. I think the pain was the same! In any case, during those early years I continued my study of these texts, but out of fear.
All of us who have been trained in the classical, Tibetan tradition have studied these same texts, texts that we learned by heart. All of these root texts were written by the masters of Nalanda:
Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Arya Asanga, Vasubandhu, and so forth. Of course, alongside the root texts, we also study commentaries. There are many Indian and Tibetan commentaries, and we also read these works. but the fundamental texts all come from Nalanda. And even when the Tibetan commentaries wish to prove some important point, they always quote the texts of one or another of the well-known Indian masters. So the influence of the Nalanda tradition on Tibet is very clear.
The other major figure responsible for introducing Buddhism into Tibet was, of course, Padmasambhava. He was chiefly responsible for introducing the tantric methods, the Vajrayana. The Tibetan canon has a section called the Tengyur that consists of some two hundred volumes. These are the texts written bv various Indian masters that were translated into Tibetan. Among these works, quite a number are tantric texts or commentaries written under the names of Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, and many other teachers associated with Nalanda. Therefore, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition - both the sutra and tantric traditions - comes from the lineage of Nalanda.
Tibetan Buddhism is a complete form of Buddhism. The vinaya,or "Discipline," is the first of the three scriptural collections known as the three baskets (Tripitaka). The Tibetan texts belonging to the Vinaya are primarily based on texts like those found in the Pali canon. The two remaining baskets of the teachings are the Sutra Basket, the "Collection of Discourses," and the Abhidharma, or "Higher Knowledge." Texts belonging to these two baskets are also found in Pali, but those that were translated into Tibetan were primarily Sanskrit texts. In any case, the broader point is that the Tibetan canon contains teachings from all of the major strands of Indian Buddhism. This is what makes it a complete form of Buddhism.

Extract from 'Meditation on the Nature of Mind'  page 15 onward by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.  Available from  Wisdom-Books.com

 
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Film of the Month: Ahimsa -India’s Contribution to the World – H.H. the Dalai Lama

Ahimsa -India’s Contribution to the World – H.H. the Dalai Lama
So what exactly is ‘Ahimsa’; where does the term come from, what does it mean and why does the Dalai Lama feel it is so important? The actual word is derived from Sanskrit, for ‘himsa’ means ‘to harm’ or cause injury and the prefix ‘a’ simply turns it into a negative – hence, Ahimsa means ‘not to cause harm’.  This word is central to the doctrine of 3 major Indian religions – Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. And the Dalai Lama believes, its essence has something that ethically we can all learn from and live by.
 
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