IMI Monks and Nuns


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December 2009

In this Issue

Wisdom From Our Teachers

The 2nd Dalai Lama composed this inspiring request to Lama Tsong more


Sangha luncheon on Jan 9 in Bodhgaya, India; Pre-ordination course at Tushita, Dharamsala, India;  Cabin available at Land of Calm Abiding, USA; Second Vinaya Course to be offered at Instituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy and Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche's more

FPMTA National Meeting Update - Aging Sangha Care

John Waite, Director Hayagriva Buddhist Centre in Australia gives an update on the latest FPMTA discussions on sangha more

IMI Moments in Time

2009 - After much effort IMI is now legally recognized as a 501(c) 3 religious non-profit in the more

Robes Offered to Sangha

We are pleased to announce that Venerable Tenzin Pemba, on behalf of Cham-Tse-Ling Centre (the FPMT center in Hong Kong) and the student community, has very kindly offered to sponsor a full set of new robes for each IMI Sangha member. We need to hear from you by Jan 15th with your sizing more

Sangha in Action

An inspiring story of what one nun can more

Letter from the Director

Ven. Lhundub Chodron's first month in more

FPMT teaching lineage transmission from Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Why sangha should attend lineage more.

Impermanence - Ven.Lozang Dhundrup

Ven. Lozang Dhundrup (Pete Smith) died in Australia, November 13. Lama Zopa Rinpoche recommends IMI community members recite the King of Prayers and Namgyalma Mantra daily, as well as perform Vajrasattva Tsog every seven days on his more

IMI exists for you

Consider a gift to IMI as the year more

Wisdom from Our Teachers

A Vision of Lama Tsong Khapa

Homage to the holy gurus, embodiments of the
Knowledge and compassion of all Buddhas.

O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Whose mind is inseparable from that of all the Buddhas,
Whose body manifests in countless forms,
And whose speech releases a constant rain of teachings,
Enter the heart of this faint-hearted monk;
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.
Kind master, look on me with compassion;
Treasury of kindness, I place my hopes in you.

Not knowing that you are the very source
Of all spiritual progress for me here and hereafter,
In the past I searched elsewhere, but in vain.
I could not put my trust in your teachings;
But now I see the foolishness of my doubts.
Looking back, I realize this was a sign
That my mind was far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

When the mind is distracted by strong attraction
To the things of this short and ephemeral life.
Then although outwardly one may be skilled
At going through the motions of a spiritual practice
The mind makes no real link to truth;
A glance inside is rather disappointing.
This non-awareness of impermanence is a sign
That the mind is far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

With attachment to wealth and respect we become
Constantly absorbed in mindless activities
And thus let our precious human life slip away.
This external posturing is just a pretense,
Our clever talk an instrument of deceit;
We are so smart that we fool ourselves,
And our spiritual training becomes mere imitation.
This is a sign of a mind far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

While fully aware of the laws of karma
And the unbearable suffering of the lower realms,
We make no effort to gain control over our lives
And instead allow ourselves to lay back in ease.
We are like sheep standing in the slaughterhouse,
Watching our friends die all around us
Yes not waking up to the reality of the situation
Until our own turn for the axe has come.
You who think you are so cunning and clever,
Are you not as though possessed by a demon?
Not being aware of this, our predicament, is a sign
That the mind is far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

Even the gods in the highest heavens,
Endowed with every pleasure and wealth
Must one day leave everything behind
And go alone through the gates of death.
O greedy one, not thinking of death, you spend
All your time entertaining relatives and friends
And in pursuit of wealth, possessions and power,
Regardless of whether you need them or not.
Never content, our attachment to worldly success
Becomes a chain biding us to frustration.
This is a sign of a mind far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

For those of us who have spend our life unwisely
And did not cultivate spiritual maturity within,
When the lord of death finally comes to devour us
The howling winds of our negative karma
Will arise with strength and forcefully pull us
Over the cliff falling to terrible realms;
The negative karma that we carry on our back,
Gathered in rebirths since time without beginning,
Is as heavy as the enormous King of Mountains;
Thus we cannot have a sesame seed of confidence that lower rebirth will not be our fate.
We may cling to our wealth and possessions,
And call out to a hundred loved ones and friends;
But we will have to go on empty-handed and alone
Into the tunnel of the great hereafter.
Not living every moment in this awareness
Is a sign of a mind far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

Every living being wandering in the three worlds
Has been a kind mother to me in some past life;
Yet the suffering that constantly oppresses them
Hardly seems to concern me at all.
This is a sign of a mind far from the path.
O Lama Tsongkhapa, guru of incomparable kindness,
Inspire thoughts of truth in this irreligious beggar.

Holy spiritual master, whatever fate befalls
This irreligious, mad beggar monk,
I place all my hopes in you.
Do not drop me from your compassion;
Infuse my spirit with powers mundane and supreme.

Peerless spiritual guide, your only task now
Is to lead living beings to enlightenment;
And I have no doubt that eventually you will guide me too to that highest of state.
But until I arrive there watch over me closely,
For should I fall into places of misery
I am not sure I have the strength to prevail.
So sow me your radiant countenance now
And point this irreligious mad beggar monk the way
Leading to Tushita, the Pure Land of Joy.
Release a shower of vast and profound Dharma;
Cut the root of ego-grasping from within me;
Inspire me to achieve your enlightenment state.

It is through your kindness O master,
That I am moved to sing these verses;
Emotions surge within me when I think of you
And I cannot help but call out in song;
I an irreligious hermit from Upper Tsang,
The mad beggar monk Gendun Gyatso.

Through your compassionate work, O holy Master,
May knowledge of all realities be achieved;
And may a thousand sunbeams of enlightened activity
Shine forth now to inspire wisdom's light.
From Second Dalai Lama, His Life and Teachings, edited and translated by Glenn Mullin, used by permission from Glenn Mullin. Image of 2nd Dalai Lama courtesy of Namgyal Monastery


Sangha luncheon on Jan 9 in Bodhgaya, India

IMI is pleased to offer a special luncheon to be held on Jan 9 at Root Institute in Bodhgaya. India  It will be held just after the Long Life Puja for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Contact us at by Jan 1st to reserve a place.

Pre-ordination course at Tushita, Dharamsala 

A pre-ordination course for those who have already been accepted for ordination with His Holiness  the Dalai Lama.  The course will be held Feb 3 - Mar 1, 2010.  For more information and to register Click here.

Cabin available at Land of Calm Abiding, USA

There is a retreat cabin currently available at Land of Calm Abiding in California, USA.  Cabin 3 is available for up to 4 years. Contact Center Director Brian Halterman at for more information.

Instituto Lama Tzong Khapa to offer Second Vinaya Course

Instituto Lama Tzong Khapa will continue the Vinaya course that began in the summer of 2007. During this second event Geshe Tenphel plans to finish covering the remaining vows. IMI will help support the course by sponsoring food for the sangha and ILTK will provide free accommodation in dormitory set-up.

The course will be mainly open to sangha who were present for the first part. If someone wants to attend this section without having attended the first part, it will be required to read the transcripts or listen to the audio of the first part before attending the course in 2010.

ILTK will send an email to those who participated in the first teaching with course information as it becomes available however in case someone has changed addresses since then, we are mentioning it here to reach everyone. More information will be available in the next newsletter.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche schedule first quarter 2010:

Guhyasamaja Initiation and Lama Chopa Commentary

Potowa Center, Indonesia
Jan 25 - 28 Guhyasamaja initiation
Jan 30 - Feb 7 Lama Chopa Commentary
For more info and to register: Click here
Yamantaka Initiation and Lama Tsong Khapa Guru Yoga Commentary
Amitabha Buddhist Center, Singapore
Feb 14 Lunar new year blessing
Feb 15-17 Yamantaka Solitary Hero Initiation
Feb 19, 21-23 Commentary on Lama Tsong Khapa Guru Yoga
For more info and to register: Click here
Most Secret Hayagriva Retreat

Mar 3 - 31 Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala India
For more info and to register: Click here

FPMTA National Meeting Update - Aging Sangha Care

Ven. Chodron contacted John Waite, the Director of Hayagriva Buddhist Centre in Perth to give an update on the latest FPMTA discussions on sangha care. He writes:

The last IMI e-news left people thinking we were more advanced in our plans than I had intended to convey. I have been checking with people about their views and thought the process had moved forward much quicker than it turned out. Since then we have had some interesting views put forward; some of which would certainly be deemed controversial. Quite a few sangha have a view that they will simply practice on their own as they age; they will then just deal with death on their own as best they can at the time. This is a possible ideal but statistics indicate that this often is not possible because of the way the aging process affects individuals differently.

The original idea that I discussed with Ven Monlam, Yeshe Khadro and others at Institute Vajrayogini was that the trust we set up would be an umbrella group under which the Australian IMI sangha could organize. Since then I have learned that Chenrezig Institute has set up a fund to look after the educational needs of Chenrezig teachers and students, including the many Sangha studying there. This is a really good development for FPMT in Australia as this fund has achieved government recognition that will set a precedent for future trusts being set up.

There seem to be three groups within the Australian sangha: those living at Chenrezig, those at Thubten Shedrup Ling and those at other centers or on their own. Because of this I still see the need for a national organization to represent all parties and involve lay people within the board and supporting structures that develop. It is certainly time that all lay people helped to support the sangha rather than just the centre hosting them such as has been the case at CI. I believe this is what Rinpoche is trying to stimulate by his discussions; it give all of us a opportunity to grow within the roles we have chosen and make sure that as much support as possible is available to sangha, particularly as they age.

Currently we are making sure that we have consulted with everyone that might want to be involved. We are working on a model for the trust; hopefully we will put the constitution to the next FPMTA National Meeting in April. Then we can register the organization with the government and elect a board. Next we can set some priorities for progression and start asking centers to support fund raising events.

IMI Moments in Time

2009 As we go to press, the IMI has just been recognized as a 501(c)3 religious non-profit in the United States; we are now officially a church or religious order for tax purposes. This means that donors from the U.S. can support IMI and be eligible to receive an income tax deduction to the full extent of U.S. law. So now, when you give to support IMI, your gift goes much further and those of you from the U.S. can get back a tax deduction!

Robes Offered to Sangha

We are pleased to announce that Venerable Tenzin Pemba, on behalf of Cham-Tse-Ling Centre (the FPMT center in Hong Kong) and the student community, has very kindly offered to sponsor a full set of new robes for each IMI Sangha member. We need to hear from you by Jan 15th with all your information (see below).

The robes will be made at Kopan monastery in Nepal, and sent to you. If you would like to receive new robes please send us your measurements as outlined below, making sure to put the measurements into meters or centimeters.

Provide the following information to us by Jan 15th:

1. Shantab

2. Donka 3. Postal Address: Please confirm where you would like the robes sent to - including full postal address with your preferred name, street, city, state, zip or post code, and country.

We rejoice in the virtue created by this most generous gift and pray that all be auspicious for the dharma to flourish at Cham-Tse-Ling Centre in Hong Kong for the benefit of all sentient beings!

Sangha in Action

Ven. Lhundub Chodron tells this inspiring story from Dharmasala:

At the time of his treaty with the European settlers in 1854, Chief Seattle of the Squamesh tribe along the North Pacific Coast of America is reported to have said that when the last animals will have perished "humans would die of loneliness."

I want to relate a very inspiring story about one of our sisters, Ven Dechen from Malaysia, who has been studying at the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Program in Dharamsala for the past year. Last month I arrived at the school to find fifteen sheep and goats that Ani Dechen had rescued from being slaughtered. It seems she was walking by the slaughter house in Dharamsala when a new shipment of sheep and goats arrived from the Punjab. For the next several hours she was haunted by the image of the frightened animals being pushed and pulled off the truck and herded to their deaths. She called the butcher and found out she could purchase the animals for 4000 rupees each. Coming up with 60,000 in a day's time was not easy, and even more difficult was finding a place for them to live once they were released. After a day of phone calls she secured the money and found a Tibetan family in Shimla with sheep of their own who agreed to take on the care of the fifteen rescued animals.

Over the next few days, while waiting for the shepherds from Shimla to arrive, the sheep and goats lived with us at the school and the once overgrown yard soon took on a finely trimmed look. We all agreed that they were so cute - except perhaps when they were chewing on the phone lines! The whole neighborhood came out to see and be with them. People came with tsampa for them to eat and blessing cords for their necks.  They recited sutras and mantras to them, and led them to circumambulate the stupa next door. The animals went from being timid to feeling very much at ease with humans again.

Finally the truck from Shimla arrived after days of difficult travel. Many of us came out to see our newly made friends off on the next leg of their journey. I kept thinking about the image in the Golden Light Sutra where the merchant's son, Jalavahana, gathered 10,000 fish disciples by saving their lives and giving them dharma. The sutra said "wherever Jalavahana the merchant's son went, those ten thousand fish followed after him". As they were being loaded up in the truck there was Ani Dechen watching over her wards, making sure they were OK. And I thought: 'those sheep and goats will be following after you Cho-la, for many lifetimes to come!'

Saving fifteen sheep and goats might be a small accomplishment compared to saving the planet, but if we take care of each sentient being, one by one, the bigger vision will follow. Thank you, Venerable, for taking action.

Letter from the Director

Dear Friends,

As I get underway in the new job as IMI director I am increasingly aware of Ven. Losang Monlam's outstanding contribution to the IMI in building a structure that supports and networks our international community. I hope to strengthen this foundation in the upcoming year by continuing IMI sangha meetings organized around retreats and teachings, providing Lama Yeshe Sangha funding for study, retreat and service to those in need as well as by offering monastic training programs and financial support for retreats with Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche.

In order to accomplish these goals IMI will be focusing on creative ways to generate the funds needed to support these programs while at the same time keeping a close eye on expenses. The team here at IMI, Ven. Lobsang Chokyi, Jane Chesher and myself are all very excited about the possibilities and are honored to serve the monastic community in this way. You will be hearing more from us in the coming months.

With palms joined,

FPMT teaching lineage transmission

Lobsang Chokyi reports:

When I attended the LOP retreat this past September, Merry Colony, Director of FPMT Education Services, spoke to us about the purpose behind that retreat and the upcoming serial teaching retreats in Indonesia and Singapore. I felt that this is vital for the sangha to know and asked Merry to try to restate those words for the FPMT sangha via this newsletter. She writes:

"For the last 12 years FPMT has been working at establishing standard programs to ensure high-quality education of our students long into the future. We have been quite successful at doing that and now have 7 standard programs available for centers to offer. All of these programs incorporate (to some degree) of all of the components of an integrated education: study practice service and behavior. But what we are missing is our very root, our heart, our most essential experiential Lam-rim lineage packaged into a program: a program that is based on the teachings of our founder and spiritual director.

The Light of the Path annual teaching event in Asheville, N.C. will now become the basis for this new program and as such we are considering this a key lineage transmission event. Why?

  1. Teaching LOP over a period of years came 100% from Rinpoche's side. This in itself is significant, coupled with the significance of this particular text.
  2. Rinpoche is encouraging attendance and He said many times during the LOP teachings 2009, "this is how we do it in the FPMT". Rinpoche is taking these occasions to train us, particularly the future teachers of the organization, in how He wants things done!
  3. Aside from what used to happen many years ago at Kopan, the LOP retreat is an extremely unique opportunity to learn how to meditate on the path. As Rinpoche and Lama have both always emphasized in their teachings: Lam-rim is the root of all the teachings and of all our realizations, and therefore we all need to know how to properly meditate on these topics
  4. The instruction Rinpoche is giving is the pith of our lineage. For those who were present at the last LOP retreat you will know that there were many instances when Rinpoche made this statement: "This is how we do it in the FPMT."  Rinpoche even shook His holy finger on a number of occasions, asking the audience, "Did you get it?"  So it seems clear from Rinpoche's side, that He wants students (particularly teachers) to know the advices well and to lead the practices according to the advices so that all FPMT students can learn the most extensive and merit making way of engaging in practice.
  5. It is also considered a lineage event because only teachers who have attended one or more of the LOP retreat will be approved to facilitate this new program in the centers. So it's not enough just to be a disciple, or to have been to a course with Rinpoche here and there, teachers will need to have attended THIS course with all its special attributes to be considered lineage holders capable of passing the instructions on to the next generation."

It is for these reasons that FPMT is considering the Light of the Path series essential for anyone who teaches or intends to teach within the FPMT, and for those of us who consider Lama Zopa Rinpoche our teacher. He is offering these teachings as personal instruction and a direct transmission of His and Lama's lineage, so they are incredibly precious. If it is at all possible, please plan to attend one of these retreats each year for the next four years. The seeds for the insights and realizations we must attain can come from this transmission

The next LOP retreat is currently scheduled for September 12 - 26, 2010. Please click here for transcripts and recordings from the last LOP retreat at FPMT's new Online Learning Center.

Impermanence-Ven. Lozang Dhondrup

Ven. Dhondrup was a serving member of the FPMT community, and we would like to offer prayer blessings for him. Lama Zopa Rinpoche recommends IMI community members recite the King of Prayers and Namgyalma Mantra daily, as well as perform Vajrasattva Tsog every seven days. Reference to these prayers can be found on the FPMT and Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive websites.

Ven. Lozang Dhondrup (Pete Smith) peacefully took his final breath at approximately 9:30pm on Friday November 13 and a Guru puja was held for him at Chenrezig Institute one week later.

He was born in Brisbane in July 1965, grew up there, and went to Queensland to study Graphic Design. He worked for several years in Sydney in the design business and loved the work. He also had very strong humanitarian ideals, and was always looking for a way to make a difference in people's lives. He had a burning desire to find his place in life and found this when he came to Chenrezig Institute.

Pete Smith became Ven. Lozang Dhondrup when he took Rabjung ordination from Geshe Tashi Tsering (in 2006 at Chenrezig Institute. Two years later, he also took Getsul vows with Geshe-la.

Dhondrup told many stories of meeting the Dharma and his teachers. One was about his first meeting of Geshe Tashi Tsering when he was a volunteer at Chenrezig Institute before he became a monk. He was working in Lama Yeshe's Big Love Café and said for weeks he had heard about "Geshe-la, Geshe-la" all the time without really knowing who this "Geshe-la" was. Then one afternoon as he was sitting in the Café, he heard this great joyful laugh coming down the hill and then bouncing down the steps was Geshe Tashi Tsering. Dhondrup said he was totally in awe of Geshe-la at this meeting.

Dhondrup also told the story of meeting his root guru about when Lama Zopa Rinpoche visited CI in 2006. When Rinpoche arrived Dhondrup was in the welcoming line and Rinpoche came by put his hands on Dhondrup's head. While keeping his hands there, Rinpoche thanked him for all the work he had done and Dhondrup said that it felt like his head was buzzing for days after this.

After he was ordained, Dhondrup attended the Basic Program at CI as much as he could but as CI also needed a Kitchen Manager, he took on that role for about a year. He worked really hard, baked the best brownies ever and, despite his ill health, kept the Café and kitchen going beautifully.

Dhondrup clearly saw the need for a monks' community to be established at CI. From his own experience he saw that it was necessary to create a place for monks to come and live at CI to study. This was no small undertaking and took many of the business skills he had happily left behind in Sydney to create the plans and raise the necessary funds. After he got the OK to establish the community, he wasted no time starting the renovation of an old house on the CI property. He literally put his body on the line for this project, giving it everything he had. But it was his strong vision that made the plan an eventual success. A year after he started renovations and after many causes and conditions manifested, there is now a small monks' community at CI. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has named it Lozang Dragpa Monastery.

Due to Dhondrup's kindness, enthusiasm, and sheer determination, our small group of five monks has the opportunity to study the Buddha Dharma at the high level that the Basic Program offers. Without Dhondrup's efforts there would be no monks' community here. He got the ball rolling and now it's our job to keep it going. His vision was never to be able to stay at CI himself, he was always doing it for others. The enormous efforts he took in his life at CI are a lesson in joyful effort while his death is a lesson in impermanence. May Dhondrup always meet with infinitively kind teachers who can lead him to peerless enlightenment so he may continue to be able to bring benefit to countless beings everywhere.

From information submitted by Jill Walsh and Ven.Lozang Jhampa, courtesy of Chenrezig Institute, edited by Lobsang Chökyi

IMI exists for you

International Mayahana Institute has no other purpose but to provide information,

support and training for the monks and nuns of the FPMT. We try to help those who want to live the monastic life according to the teachings of the Buddha find a way to do that. We try to make it possible for the teachings of our lineage masters to take root in the minds of those who have given this life to actualize them. We do this by helping to give the basic requisites of housing, food, robes and education, and by fostering a worldwide sense of community. Please consider a gift to IMI as this year ends. You can donate online, mail us a check (in U.S.D) to the address below, or contact us at with any questions. We are here to serve you.