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Wisdom Arises in Memphis and a Book is Born
Khenpo Gawang teaching on Shambhala Online

Khenpo Gawang teaching on Shambhala Online

Earlier this December, we held a double celebration day at Pema Karpo Meditation Center. Khenpo Gawang finished his first eight-session Shambhala Online class and unveiled his first book, The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Taking the Wisdom chapter from The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva as the root text, the Khenpo taught the first part of a commentary by Jamgon Mipham called the Ketaka Jewel. A ketaka jewel has the ability to clarify muddy water. This commentary was written to clarify misunderstandings of the root text.

Khenpo shows his first book, The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha

Khenpo shows his first book, The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha

The Ketaka Jewel commentary is being translated by the Khenpo and Gerry Wiener, his main translator, who also translated for the online classes. They have been translating this and other texts by meeting regularly online using Skype. Khenpo described using the internet as “living in a magic time where one can stay at home and travel the world, speaking and working with people everywhere.”

The participants of the online class were invited to continue with us as the Khenpo turned the webcam around to show the local students and then led the Sunday morning chants. After “tashi deleks,” “thanks you’s” and “goodbyes” the first online class closed.

Khenpo Cuts the Celebration Cake

Khenpo Cuts the Celebration Cake

Then Khenpo announced the arrival of his first book, The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha, from the printers. After a short talk about the book, everyone moved into our meeting room.

There he found a tasty carrot cake decorated with huge frosting balloons and “Congratulations Khenpo, 1st Book” in red icing. He cut the cake amid much laughter and clapping, while making jokes about who would eat the balloons.

After cake, Khenpo returned to the shrine room where he signed books and talked with students for over an hour.

Khenpo Signing His New Book

Khenpo Signing His New Book

To begin this part of his dharma activities, Khenpo Gawang decided to donate all the money given on Sunday for the books to the Ngagyur Nyingma University of Namdroling Monastery. Khenpo humbly reminded us all that this was the source of his knowledge. He wished to make the offering as an auspicious beginning and a way of remembering and thanking His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and his teachers. This delighted the students who added extra donations to the large vase.

Students Get First Look at Sadhana of Shakyamuni

Students Get First Look at Sadhana of Shakyamuni

From the back cover, “In our time, the Buddha Shakyamuni is the root of all the blessings of the Buddhist path. This book is a concise and complete practice of Refuge, Bodhicitta, Visualization, Mantra Recitation and Merit Dedication. It is an open practice to be done by all who are interested. Included with the practice are a commentary, pictures, and a glossary. New and old practitioners alike will find this book helpful.”

As the Khenpo said in the introduction, “it does not require vows, permissions, or empowerments. One does not even need to be Buddhist to do this practice. All that is required is a sincere desire to lessen the suffering of oneself and others.” And later he said, “In this era of great busyness we don’t have a lot of time. This is a good daily life practice that can be done in 10-15 minutes.”

This new book, The Sadhana of Shakyamuni Buddha, can be ordered from the Jeweled Lotus Store at www.jeweledlotus.org. Email: [email protected]. The cost is $10 plus $3 for shipping. The book includes the translated Sadhana text by Jamgon Mipham, the commentary and practice guidelines by Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche, an extensive glossary and 11 black and white pictures: the Buddha, the 8 main bodhisattvas, and the 16 Sthaviras who are also known as Lohans or Arhats. They were the elder disciples of the Buddha who were entrusted to preserve the teachings until the coming of Maitreya, the next Buddha. Khenpo will be donating all book sales, until June 2010, for Pema Karpo Meditation Center’s new meditation hall.

Khenpo Gawang’s Teachings on Regret:

“Think about it this way. Don’t think about too much about what you did in the past. It’s not helpful. It’s not calming. It’s done, it’s gone. And of course you have a kind of habitual pattern of regretting and thinking about it. Sometimes it comes back and thinking about it again and again is not helpful.

“What is the best way? Try to forget. It’s a little bit hard, I know. Many people have problems with habitual patterns of remembering things that are in the past. It keeps coming back to them and there’s suffering.

“Just really, truly, what’s important is the present. Do good things that benefit yourself and others in the present moment. That’s important. The present moment becomes the past. Many present moments equal the future becoming the present and then the past.

“It is only the present moment that is our life and we need to keep remembering that. The future is not yet. The past is gone and it will never come back. What’s real is the present moment – that is our life. If you do good things in this life, in this present moment, then you do good things for your whole life.”

Pema Karpo Sangha in the Meeting Room

Pema Karpo Sangha in the Meeting Room

It has been my great good fortune to work closely with the Khenpo on this book. Over and over he kept returning to what I saw was his motivating reason for the book. Khenpo knew this Sadhana in Tibetan. He knew it had lineage blessings and came from Jamgon Mipham’s wisdom mind. He spoke often of this being a practice everyone could do. It could be a way of connecting Buddhist students with each other and to the Buddha of our time, Shakyamuni.

Khenpo has been in the West since 2004. At first he could not speak English and spent three years traveling and living closely with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He says, “I thought everything was OK with Western students. They smiled a lot, looked good, dressed well and seemed to have everything.” Slowly, as he learned English and began to understand more, he saw the deep mental suffering that coexists with the material wealth. This kind and well-trained Khenpo is beginning to offer ways to help ease our suffering.

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