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Nov 22
Sakyong and Family, Shambhala News Service
Sakyong Offers Health and Healing Puja

ladrang-family2013The Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche is offering a three-day puja, or practice intensive, 5 – 7 December in Boulder, Colorado, to increase health and dispel obstacles to well-being in the Shambhala community. The Shambhala community is invited to practice simultaneously with the Kongma Sakyong, both locally in Boulder and around the world, 5 – 7 December, with other members or in our own homes. The Sakyong asks that we do our usual daily practice with the added intention of purifying obstacles. He also recommends doing the protector chants at the end of our practice session.

To help sponsor this puja for someone who is ill, click here.

Practice details

This empowerment is a special healing blessing that was specifically requested by the Sakyong’s mother, Lady Kunchok Palden, for her own health and the health of the Shambhala community. It is usually given to practitioners to overcome or protect against specific obstacles and illnesses that might interfere with one’s practice on the path.

The Sakyong, Lama Pema Gyaltsen, and Lama Gyurme Dorje will begin the retreat with two days of Medicine Buddha practice. Medicine Buddha is one of the main deity practices associated with healing in the Tibetan tradition. Traditionally, one can request a teacher to do a Medicine Buddha practice for the benefit of a relative or friend in order to assist them in times of physical or mental illness. The Medicine Buddha section of the puja will happen on December 5th and 6th. On the final day of the puja, December 7th, the Sakyong will bestow a Hayagriva-Vajrapani-Garuda empowerment at Marpa House, in Boulder.

Those who wish to include themselves, a specific friend, or a relative in the Sakyong’s personal practice during the puja may become a sponsor for the event. Participants will be included in the Medicine Buddha practice — their name, the illness they are facing, and photograph will be read aloud and presented to the Sakyong. They will receive the blessing and gathered merit of the retreat.

Sponsors and participants are invited to Marpa House on 7 December for the Abhisheka and concluding practices with the Kongma Sakyong. To become a sponsor for someone who is ill, we suggest a donation of $108 to the Sakyong Ladrang, but smaller amounts are welcome.

On the donation form, in the Comments aspirations and dedications field, please specify the following information:

– Health and Healing Puja
– Name of participant
– Type of sickness/obstacles
– Please send a thumbnail photo of the participant to: h[email protected]

Those who wish to participate as high-level donors may contact the Sakyong Ladrang for further details regarding more intensive integration into the three-day puja.

For questions or concerns about participation, please contact the Sakyong Ladrang at: [email protected]

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17 responses to “ Sakyong Offers Health and Healing Puja ”
  1. The $108 donation to the prayers for people is not unrealistic if one genuinely considers the whole picture.

    There are individuals involved who are paid a salary; there is probably a building where this is taking place and the building requires lights, heating and air conditioning or fans, taxes to be paid on the property and numerous other costs involved to arrive, open its doors, and function. Do people come in cars? Is there a parking lot? What are the costs of maintaining the concrete/blacktop of this lot? How big does it need to be? What other accommodations have to be made? Is it accessible to all people? What are the costs of accessibility? From the bigger picture to the micro view, what are the costs for one person to own a home? A car? To be part of a county or city via property taxes and assessments?

    Making a donation of $108 is not unreasonable considering the overall financial picture. Nothing is free. If one doesn’t agree with the suggested minimum donation, then don’t participate in the event. Do something to acknowledge the people in need by oneself, like prayer or focused energy to that person or people.

    Judging such things is just that — “judging”. There is no free lunch. People do not work for free. No one can afford to work for free. I have to trust that the people in the organization are doing the right thing with the resources they have at this time. If I don’t trust it, I don’t participate. This is part of choice. Economics is about people and their choices. If you don’t like the donation situation, then don’t do it. Evidently, the people in charge are still navigating through how to develop a sustainable organization. Give them encouragement.

  2. Thank you for leaving this discussion up. I think it is healthy to think critically about these things, express doubt, and come to ones own conclusions. It is more confidence inspiring when the community can openly address issues like these. Thanks.

  3. Hi all,

    Thanks so much for your comments! And I apologize for not responding sooner.

    Having helped in the writing of the copy for this webpage, I should have been paying much closer attention to the initial wording. I totally agree that the word MINIMUM just makes one feel bad, in many different ways (as you all have pointed out!). I have changed the sentence to:

    “To become a sponsor, we suggest a donation of $108 to the Sakyong Ladrang, but smaller amounts are welcome.”

    I’m not sure if this will be helpful at this stage, but I did want to make a change, having finally seen this discussion. I have also added a link to Walker Blaine’s explanation of the practices being accomplished, and I hope to add a link to some reading about offering very soon.

    In terms of the relevance of the number 108, giving things in blind faith, the functionality of the Sakyong Ladrang, or if you can give other things besides money, I will have to defer to Acharya Spiegal’s first comments regarding the view of offering.

    Thanks for all your feedback. Again, my apologies for how this was presented and my tardiness in attempting to adjust it.

    best wishes,

    Mark Whaley

  4. Hey! Cheer up peeps! This abhiseka is wonderful and there are lots of ways to join in karmically and benefit self and others. Most important is just to have the wish to be connected and for everyone’s health. And if you’re a wealthy enough first-worlder, jump in with a shower of gold too!

  5. For $108 one should certainly be granted a certificate of authenticity and some guarantee that the person or persons being sponsored due to their illness, physical or mental, will experience some form of relief. Otherwise, the contribution of $108, more or less, will only be offered in blind faith. If offered in blind faith then one is a victim of one’s belief system. It’s a tricky slope filled with brocades and turquoise jewels, and multiple abodes. But then again if you are going to go ahead and accept the challenge you might as well pay it towards some Shambhalian ideal as opposed to a small flacon of Chanel No. 5. The word minimum does get in the way here and because of it the results will undoubtedly be minimal as well. So let’s all do it it on-the-spot here and send out our healing (vibes) to those who are ill and if the Sakyong wants to join in…

  6. Hi Eric. I greatly appreciate your responses on this thread. I’m encouraged that you understand the nature of the concerns that have been expressed. Thank you. And Ellen, I agree with you about support of the Sakyong. Your choice of the word polluted was interesting to me for a different reason. It seemed to me that something quite pure, that is, the non-materialistic and non-commercial nature of Buddhism was being polluted in a way. The whole setup for processing donations just seemed wrong, distasteful, too commercial, not in the spirit of Buddhism. Of course the mechanism must be in place. That’s obvious. I understand that. But if we’re true to our principles, it needn’t have set “recommended minimums” (why is that even necessary?) and would have been more welcoming to those who are challenged financially (as opposed to silence). Anyway, that’s where I was coming from. And at the same time, I’ve been told that the Sakyong Ladrang will NOT be making any changes in the communication relating to the event responsive to the concerns expressed. Pollution always starts out in small ways.

  7. Ellen Berger
    Nov 27, 2013

    I agree that support of the Sakyong and his family should be part of Shambhala International donations.
    Without him and the continuation of the lineage, all these other things could become polluted.

  8. Acharya Eric Spiegel
    Nov 26, 2013

    Hi everyone,

    I totally appreciate the discussion. I didn’t think anyone was being too harsh, which sometimes happens in the blogosphere, even in Shambhala.

    One of the things I have been dedicating my mind and energy to is the contemplation of wealth, money and economy/economics vis a vis “enlightened society”. It’s a vast and complicated topic but many people are thinking about it. My hope is to find a way to bring individuals having individual thoughts together to mix and explore.

    So, stay tuned.

  9. Eric,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I realize now that someone else might read what I wrote as a charge of corruption, which it was not meant to be. I am entirely sympathetic to what you wrote about the real-world demands of being a lama and I appreciate the Sakyong’s view as you have conveyed it.

    I am mostly concerned that in a time of such profound and widespread financial inequity in the larger world, any organization is likely to reproduce that condition internally unless it mindfully works so as not to. While another forum is probably more appropriate for further discussion, it does seem worth acknowledging that perhaps the vast majority of practitioners in this mandala are not at all wealthy yet infinitely rich in other ways. Are there ways to institutionalize the treatment of all forms of value as equal, or at least genuinely and formally recognize a diversity of types of value and wealth?

  10. Eric. Pardon me. I hadn’t yet seen your post when I posted my response. And perhaps the discussion should take place in a different forum. Please understand that what I said was neither a “condemnation” nor a suggestion that anyone was corrupt. Rather, I’m expressing two thoughts. Firstly, an opinion that this particular appeal is not at all consistent with the non-materialist all-inclusive approach of Buddhism in general. Secondly, that the financial flows and arrangements are anything but transparent. That was the thought behind my last response. Of course, I recognize that there are financial needs for an organization (any and every organization!) to thrive and carry out its mission. That is clearly understood. But the execution of financial policy should not include elements that are contrary to basic principles (as I believe this is) and need not be convoluted and overly complex (e.g., that these donations serve a different purpose and flow to a different recipient than SI, which is also in the midst of a financial appeal to the membership).

  11. Ellen, I can answer that question for you. The answer is NO. Even though the announcement of the ceremony and the request for donations are communicated through Shambhala, the “Sakyong Ladrang”, as well as publishing revenues are distinct revenue streams that do NOT go to Shambhala International. They are separate business activities.

    According to the Sakyong Ladrang website, the Sakyong Ladrang “protects the sacred holdings of the lineage of Sakyongs. These include written works, intellectual property, real estate and ritual objects.
    The Sakyong Ladrang also generates wealth to support the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo’s activities and to create a healthy financial base for future lineage holders. This includes cost of retreats, teaching, ceremonies and philanthropy.”

    That “wealth” and “healthy financial base” does not benefit Shambhala International. As it says, it supports, among other things, real estate. A distinct activity. Why it needs to be distinct from SI, like publishing, is a mystery to me and probably a surprise to many members. Seems wrong.

  12. Acharya Eric Spiegel
    Nov 26, 2013

    Hi everyone;
    I do agree that $108 should not be the “semi-required minimum”. That said, I am pretty certain that the Sakyong neither wrote the article nor created the website, so his close students are acting in the way they see as most appropriate, and there is little doubt that this particular situation needs refinement. Which is not necessarily the same as condemnation.

    I too give generously to the mandala as much as I can, and I think that the way to be included in the offering is to just make a very small offering so that your aspirations are included in a formal way in this practice — going back to my earlier posting, I think all of our aspirations for well being are automatically included in a general sense — and make the formal thought gesture of not worrying that you did not do it correctly or it was too much or too little. At some point, that is really thought and not trusting either your genuine intention or the guru’s. (Again, these are my thoughts, not some corporate justification. This is what I would do in that situation.)

    In response to Mat’s thoughts: I think the Sakyong is a very “un-traditional” blend of old and new. His role has no paradigm in our modern world — he is trying to be the example of the three courts, meaning he and his family live as example of what it means,and what it looks like, to hold the central throne of wisdom, while at the same time he is a) having to provide a livelihood and future for his family and b) to plant a view and a path that integrates ancient wisdom into modern culture, and to do this not exactly for us in our time but in a way that will be meaningful generations from now.

    Along the way he is experimenting. I know that he personally feels a very powerful connection to the ancient ways, although at the same time he does not seem to feel that making those the center of our world is the best way to accomplish his larger vision. So there is always a balance between trying to keep something alive and it not quite fitting in.

    Several years ago, at the time of the creation of the Ladrang, he talked very personally about his family. When his father died, as brilliant as he was, there was literally not a penny for the family — that includes the Sakyong and Lady Diana and their children. As extraordinary as the Vidyadhara / Druk Sakyong was, that level of ground was not covered at the time of his death, leaving his family in a very tenuous and uncertain position. As he has made a commitment to his family, This Sakyong has that time in mind as well as not just his children but their children, and the future of the Shambhala Lineage in modern times.

    I do not feel at all apologetic about this. As a student of both of these great teachers I feel that WE, the students, have a hand in also creating the future and making sure that we support our teachers as well as our mandala, as well as those in need. In this case we are, and he is, making an effort of support that goes beyond the seen and beyond our own modern understanding, invoking the blessings of lineage and drala, and absorbing some of the karma that causes sickness, depression and degeneration. I don’t think people need to “believe” in this, but we could trust that the intention is pure and that there is an older wisdom — true, it is easily corruptible — but an older wisdom that is being invoked.

    It would be nice to have this conversation in a different forum. It affects many things. The Shambhala mandala, also looking for a way to be sustainable, is about to change the way it funds itself (we fund our self). I am sure it will be tricky and take time to both understand and iron out the issues. Eventually, if the teacher and the teachings can’t find a way to pay staff and administrators a living wage, and to build on the the present for the future, and to bridge ancient and modern, the structure will decline and whatever benefit could be will memory. So this is a real challenge. I think discussion around money issues is vitally important, but we also need to keep an open mind and heart and not expect that the Center of the mandala is corrupt. In this case, we need to find a good way to express these aspirations and intentions so that the message of benefit is what comes through.

    Have a joyful day,
    Acharya Eric Spiegel

  13. I feel very uncomfortable with these types of practices. From one side they are represented as coming from a longstanding tradition, yet, from another, they have been transported into our contemporary financial paradigm such that it appears that cash is the only meaningful offering that “creates the karmic openness for the blessings to be able to descend.”

    What about one’s artwork, or homegrown produce, or chicken eggs, et al? As I understand in, say the Boddhisattva vow, the offering is made based on what has real value to the offerer. Surely we don’t want to reproduce a world in which cash is valued above all else? US currency has existed for less than 400 years. Using it as the currency for an exchange like this one is hardly “traditional.” Is there not some way to incorporate alternative currency paradigms into these offerings, too? Or is the bottom line about raising money for the Ladrang? It appears that way, to me.

  14. Ellen Berger
    Nov 25, 2013

    I must say I agree that prayer for the ill shouldn’t be given out according to money. I was greatly helped with illness by the Sakyong and some of his ministers, and I would hate to think that that kind of help can only go to people who can afford 108.00. Also, I know this is a sore subject, but I just gave a large contribution to Shambhala International–can I arrange for $108.00 of that to go to someone who is ill to receive special mention?

  15. Eric. I understand that the service itself is traditional. And I also understand that it’s traditional for participants to make donations. But is it really “traditional” that a “suggested MINIMUM donation” is communicated to potential participants? And that minimum is $108 because “108 is a VERY traditional auspicious number”. And the website to make the donations provides easy options for the $108 donation and other higher levels, but no suggested donations for lower amounts. Is that a tradition too? I acknowledge that it IS possible to make a smaller donation, but that clearly is not the intention the way the website is set up nor are smaller donations encouraged. Clearly, the use of the word “minimum” makes that point clear.

    If it’s “tradition” to link sacred prayer services with the collection of explicit “minimum” donations which are probably beyond the means of many members, perhaps it’s time for such a tradition to be discarded. I think generosity can be encouraged in a more tasteful and tactful manner.

  16. Acharya Eric Spiegel
    Nov 25, 2013

    I think that from a traditional point of view (and this is a very traditional practice offering by a high lama) the Sakyong is making this offering generally for the benefit of beings, and especially beings in specific need. I am quite positive that the offering amount was a suggestion of a way to express generosity, not a demand of any sort. 108 is a VERY traditional auspicious number. More important is to have the sense of generosity that is part of the exchange of receiving something (in this case, blessings of the guru or lama or king) The gesture of making offerings creates the karmic openness for the blessings to be able to descend. The Sakyong is always practicing for the benefit of all beings — that is the definition of being an accomplished mahayana practitioner. In this case he is making a specific offering on behalf of those in specific kinds of need, and the offering in return is both completely voluntary and completely traditional. It is only disturbing because in the modern world we are not used to the gesture of making offerings… we have lost touch with that sense of elemental connection; the exchange that moves in both directions like the tides and the waxing and waning moon. I think it would be completely fine for someone to bake a pie and offer it to others, and send in the form without money, but making some offering to the officiant would establish the direct karmic connection going both ways. May all beings be happy. Acharya Eric Spiegel

  17. It’s very disturbing. It’s a practice not unlike the sale of “indulgences” by the Catholic Church back in the middle ages (which Martin Luther opposed and contributed, among other things, to the Reformation). A pitch attributed to one of the leading indulgence salesmen was “As soon as money in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory’s fire springs.” Yes, VERY disturbing.

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