Happy New Beginnings: Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog Returns!

Hello, Dharma family! It’s been a while since we talked – there was this Buddhist center that needed to rebuilt, and the KTC leadership board was working overtime on the […]

Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Has It Been Twenty-Five Years?

A couple of weeks ago, I passed a bit of a milestone – May 26 marked the 25th Anniversary of my graduation from Three-Year Retreat. May 1996 was the culmination of so much blessing in my life – having met Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche as a fresh college graduate in 1977, pursuing meditation practice and the Ngondro preliminaries, and then finally having the blessing of entering a long retreat to train in mantra and mahamudra practice. It was like a dream come true.

After graduation, Khenpo Rinpoche gave me my instructions: help Columbus KTC, and if I could, for one week per month, travel to help the other KTCs, I should do that.

Teaching the dharma wasn’t easy at first; Khenpo Rinpoche assured me I could do it, but I spent long hours writing full scripts for myself so I wouldn’t make mistakes or leave anything out. After a while it became easier, but every time I saw Khenpo Rinpoche there was a list of questions to ask – this person had one kind of problem; another person had another kind of problem; how could I express dharma properly in this situation or that situation. So many questions!  Khenpo Rinpoche began to laugh every time I pulled out my notepad and pen.

Traveling around the country, I was struck both by the reach Khenpo Rinpoche had; creating so many dharma centers in all parts of the country, and by the sincerity of all the students who kept them going. But of all the centers, Columbus KTC was truly unique, with the immense blessing of so many faithful students who gave generously of their time and energy to practice and share the Dharma with others. I felt so happy every time I engaged with my dharma friends in other parts of the US, Canada and Mexico, but was always happy to return to my spiritual “home.”

After the devastating fire in January 2016 destroyed our building, Director Kim Miracle and the entire KTC Columbus Board worked tirelessly to bring the center back to life. It’s been a joy to watch the building go up, and to know it is through the sheer love and gratitude of so many dharma friends that it will return to benefit beings in Central Ohio.
It’s been an amazing 25 years at KTC, and I’m thankful to all of you for your caring and support. Khenpo Rinpoche is in all of our hearts, and no matter what the future brings, we will be here for each other, to live the dharma as best we can to benefit beings.

May all beings be free from suffering, and may all beings benefit!

THIS SUNDAY, JUNE 20th! Dharma Q & A with Lama Kathy on Columbus KTC Facebook Live and YouTube Live. Want to submit a question for Lama Kathy? Use this handy form and let us know what you’d like to ask! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSclAX_28xwFaMBoc5tEK4f9TdOzDlu4bNZUkQUOf2jkcvpjEw/viewform

Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Good Vibrations!

It’s been a wonderful week for “the little dharma center that could” – Columbus KTC.

People from around the country are attending our dharma programs on Zoom; donations are coming in to help us complete Basic Construction, and on Tuesday, Sept. 8, construction started at our new “home” at 645 West Rich Street.

After delivering the first bulldozers to the property Tuesday morning, contractors working for Hanlin-Rainaldi Construction Co. drove the earthmovers over the ground we consecrated last year, and started moving their first loads of dirt for the KTC project.  

The next day KTC Director Kim Miracle and I visited the site just after noontime, and I filmed Kim at the same spot on the east side of South Grubb Street where, in January 31, 2016, she called Khenpo Karthar Rinpoché to tell him the temple was in the process of being destroyed by fire. 

Watching the bulldozers shake and scoop the earth behind her, she spoke movingly about how it felt to be speaking to her teacher as the building burned, receiving comfort and encouragement from him at an important time in her life.

Then we wandered to the west side of the site and spoke with Danny, the job superintendent for Hanlin-Rainaldi, who was clearly pleased to be working on the project at last. He was animated and delighted as he described the many steps – all done in a careful, painstaking order – to finishing site work for the project.

Then I had a chance to tie a small red protection knot blessed by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and many buddhist monuments (stupas) to the construction fence, wishing safety and protection for the site and the workers there.

Feeling the earthmovers’ rumble I thought of how the earth shook under the historical Buddha Shakyamuni when he asked the Earth to bear witness to his awakening. Feeling the resonance in my chest as I recited verses from the Tashi Prayer, I knew that the vibrations from those prayers – all the many prayers said for us in the last 4 1/2 years – would lead to goodness for us, both now and in the future.

When I got home, I looked at the Tibetan Calendar for Sept. 8 – the day when the first dirt was moved on the work site.

It will delight you all to know that the astrological element combination for the day was Fire/Fire. The key read: “This combination is the first of the favorable comginations. The energy of the day increases the benefit of activities that provide material support like shelter and provisions.” The world itself was vibrating to our frequency, or so it seemed.

So thanks to all of you for your faith and confidence in the project. Keep praying for us, and sending those Good Vibrations our way. We will do our best to add to them and send them on to benefit all sentient beings!

Donations Still Needed!

We are still $525,000 short of funds to complete Basic Construction, and will then have to raise money to build the shrine room furniture and put a spire on the roof, but we are so blessed to have come this far – and it’s due to all of you and your prayers and generosity. 

All you have given will last as long as this structure – and beyond, as it reverberates in the lives of every person who sees or visits it. Such is the power of liberation – even if unrealized in this lifetime, it remains as a beacon of hope and possibility for all weary travelers in this world. 

May all beings benefit

KTC Shrine

Columbus KTC Continues Dharma Talks and Programs During Public Health Hiatus

In light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling suspended its schedule of classes and meditations beginning March 15, 2020.

To help continue the Columbus KTC’s commitment to providing dharma instruction and practice for the public in the midst of the emergency, KTC teachers and chant leaders will be taking to the Internet to provide online classes, prayers and Dharma Talks for the foreseeable future.  A full schedule will be published as soon as it becomes available.

The first Dharma Talk during KTC’s public health hiatus was Lama Kathy’s “Prayers for a Pandemic.” Part 1 was webcast on Sunday March 15, and the second installment is scheduled to be webcast on Sunday, March 22.

The first installment covered simple practices to help reduce anxiety and promote inner stability. You can see it here.

The Breathing and Visualization Relaxation Exercise Lama Kathy described during the Part 1 of the class can be found here.

And the “Prayer that Saved Sakya from Sickness” can be found here.

A recording of Lama Karma Drodhul singing the Tibetan of “The Prayer that Saved Sakya from Sickness” can be found on SoundCloud.

Next week …
Next week, you can watch Lama Kathy’s “Prayers for a Pandemic Part 2” on her YouTube page.

And check back here next week for links for the downloads of prayers and other materials referenced in Part 2 of the class.

Stay safe, keep practicing, and keep dedicating that merit and virtue.

Together, we will see each other through.

May all beings benefit!

starting the rebuild

Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Updates on KTC Rebuilding Project – Getting Closer!

Young KTC sangha members help Khenpo Karma Tenkyong (second from left, foreground) and Lama Karma Wangdu (third from left, foreground) take the first spades of earth at our Land Blessing and Ground Breaking ceremony in April. Downtown Columbus skyline is in the background.

Rebuilding a dharma center suddenly destroyed by fire is a trial – by fire, as it were.

Learning how to tear down a damaged building, negotiate with insurers, find new meeting space and salvage what can be saved from a burned building are a crash course in coping with the First, Second and Third Noble Truths (suffering, its cause and solution) and their younger philosophical sibling, Impermanence.  Leaning into the loss of 40 years’ worth of history and seeing the complexities of clinging in all its forms urged us (individually and as a group) to let go into an unknown future guided by our teachers and our own inwardly glowing Buddha natures.

The next phase, of planning, designing, funding and actually rebuilding a new temple is a course in the Fourth Noble Truth – the path that leads us out of suffering.  Bit by bit, meeting by meeting, donor by donor, we amassed a group consensus on the structure and hired experts to help us design it and fundraise for it. Now we are poised at the threshold of the next step – starting the construction.

The beautiful and inspiring Land Blessing Ceremony on April 7, attended by more than 100 sangha friends and lamas from our “home” monastery in Woodstock, NY, was an important pivot point.  The site of tragedy and destruction, which had turned into sad and haunted vacant lot suddenly turned into a vibrant Buddhist practice space filled with chants and prayers for all sentient beings. Blessing the ground and then digging into it with ceremonial shovels, we could glimpse a sacred future.

Last week, the planning began in earnest as a group of us sat with Architect Pete Macrae and builder Bill Jones to review the first set of working drawings for the new KTC. We also welcomed into our team Jaime Oberschlake, an experienced architect who will serve as our owner representative – the eyes and ears of the KTC Board who will monitor the project for us through the construction phase and make sure the building meets KTC’s needs and will be a home for us for the next 100 years.

During the meeting several changes were identified (restroom design IS important, right?) and will be implemented in the drawings before the project is put out for bid. In addition, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, our beloved founder (and legendary shrine designer) also sent some comments and changes for the main shrine hall.

The next step is for Pete’s team to produce the final working drawings which should be done soon.  Pete will send these to the East Franklinton Review Board (which approved our external design on behalf of the City of Columbus) for their agreement and stamping. 

More meetings for the KTC Board and design and building team are in store. In fact, I recently told Board members Kim, Chuck, Steve, Michael and Eric that they will have completed the “virtue equivalent” of a long retreat through their dedicated attendance at all these meetings!

There will still be some tense moments as we tally up the financial effects of the changes on the final construction budget. Some things have been added, some removed, so we are sending out prayers that the budget will balance in our favor.

Also, because of all this careful planning, our construction start date may be delayed until later in the summer, but the entire team agrees that having the best and most accurate construction drawings at the start will save us time and money during the actual building phase, which is expected to take 10 months or so.

And, after interviewing four candidates this past month and choosing Jaime as our owner representative, we believe we will have an experienced person in our corner helping us understand the drawings and the construction process. While there is a cost associated with hiring Jaime, it is hoped he will “earn” his costs by saving us time and money in the long run.

We will keep everyone updated as the project progresses, as we will have another ceremony – to place treasure vases in the foundation – coming up in a while, and will ask your presence and prayers to help us.

Meanwhile, you can still contribute to us via PayPal.

And you can make a “contribution of prayer” us by reciting any prayer or mantra you wish and dedicating it to the rebuilding of KTC.  A good prayer to recite is the Tashi Prayer, or “Prayer of the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones” which is drawn from the sutras and recites the names of awakened beings as a way of accumulating auspicious circumstances:


May all beings benefit!

Lama Kathy Dharma Blog – Starting Next Chapter

Beginning the Next Chapter:  An Attitude of Gratitude

Dear Sangha Family and Friends:

Words cannot express the gratitude and love we are feeling at this moment for all of our Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling family.  The Land Blessing and Groundbreaking on Sunday April 7, 2019 is a day we will remember for a long time. More than 100 of our dharma family and friends gathered under a tent and out on our lawn, to invite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and wisdom beings from every quarter of space and ask them to dwell upon and bless our land for the benefit of beings.

Led by Khenpo Karma Tenkyong and Lama Karma Drodhul, a group of lamas and dharma family from our home monastery, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra of Woodstock, NY showed us how to bless our land with dharma music, chanting, and a sacred fire.  Assisted by Lama Zopa from Albany KTC and Lama Sonam from the dharma group on Long Island, NY, we created a shrine, chanted a purification for the land, made offerings to local deities and spirits and recited a protector chant.

Like a mythical city that only appears for one day, our site sprouted a shrine tent before 8 a.m. Sunday morning.  After having started a few days before the event with a “mini” land blessing and offering prayer of their own, the site preparation team led by KTC volunteer James Maze (a recent arrival at the center and principal of a landscaping company) used rolling equipment to level the tent site, installed a tent with a floor under a carpet of astroturf, brought us portable restrooms and cordoned off our parking lot to make it safer to park and cross Sandusky Alley.

Transport Captains Bill Miracle and Chuck Drake arrived with their truck and van at 8 a.m., unloading a treasure-trove of materials that could only be called “Instant shrine room.”

Sitting cushions gathered from several places, folding puja tables, a cafeteria-size table and a stair-stepped shrine borrowed from Don Fortner’s home quickly were installed and decorated by brocades and thangkas brought from the car trunks of Shrine Master Julane Goodrich and her team.

Julane and her team (of Roberta Riley, Chökyi Gyamtso, Marilyn Stephen, Bill Miracle and Sara Rampersaud) arrived at 8, along with Cathy Lhamo Jackson and the Offering Tormas – more than 40 small dough-and-butter sculptures made days in advance and meant to be offered to the land as a blessing. More than a dozen flower vases of all sizes came with Marilyn, who had selected flowers of the five primary colors – white, red, blue, yellow and green – to symbolize the five wisdoms and the five Buddha families.

Lama Karma and the chant team arrived soon after, and the site was abuzz with activity, as a shrine was assembled and dressed with brocade and offering bowls, and an area for chanters was created in the center of the “instant” shrine room.

James Wittenmyer donned a reflective vest and started guiding registered guests to parking places with assistance from Chantal Sapp and Helder De Andrade. Meanwhile, Chuck Drake (a Scoutmaster and KTC assistant director) called the Columbus Division of Fire to let them know we had an open burn permit and were about to light a little bonfire in a steel fire bowl at one edge of our property.  

A steady stream of guests arrived throughout the next hour, and were seated by Welcoming team lead Connie Jenkins, assisted by David Weaver – and by Sara, taking a break from shrine duties to assist.

Just a little after 9 a.m., Lama Karma Drodhul, acting as chant master, instructed Director Kim Miracle and me to cast the first fragrant juniper fronds into the fire, and our puja began.

The next hours were a whirl of sights, sounds and colors. Prayer books assembled over the previous week by a team of KTC “dharma elves” were opened, prayers were read, drums were played, Tibetan gyaling horns blew, and our land was home to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas once again.

On the east lawn, the fire consumed several pounds of offering substances: mixed flour, spices, tea, herbal medicines, the “three whites” (yogurt, milk and butter) and the “three sweets” (honey, sugar and molasses), bits of brocade and gem powder made sweet smoke that drifted through our neighborhood, carrying blessings. Every few minutes, a pair of KTC sangha members were dispatched from the shrine tent, carrying an offering of tea in a copper chalice and a plate of tormas and “sang offering” (smoke offering) substance.

Don Fortner provided sound with KTC’s brand-new battery-powered portable PA system. He worked with Joseph Francik and Anne McCain on capturing video from the day, and he and Tanya Schroeder snapped photographs of the event for posterity. Jaimee Patton came to help with cleanup, but ended up filling in just about anywhere she was needed.

Friends came from all over. Amy Wells, a meditation teacher at KTC in the 1990s has since relocated to North Carolina for an active life among the mountains and trees. But when she heard we were celebrating the place she met the dharma, she couldn’t stay away. Her smiles and hugs brought us joy.

Meanwhile, over at Congregation Tifereth Israel, 1354 E. Broad Street, KTC volunteer John Bova directed a team of helpers who welcomed members of the public to our “regular” weekly meditation and classes while the Land Blessing was going on.

Before the lunch break over at the KTC site, Lama Karma gave KTC friends a message of encouragement from founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who congratulated us on the work that had brought us to this stage in our development and expressed good wishes on the next phase of the work. After sharing these remarks, the Khenpo and Lamas led the group, now numbering about 60, toward the northeast corner of the property, where the groundbreaking was to take place.

Our architects Peter Macrae and Peter Lenz and builder Bill Jones were joined by Nannette Maciejunes, director of the Columbus Museum of Art and an honorary fundraising co-chair at the site of the groundbreaking on the northeast lawn, where three special shovels tied with white, red and blue Tibetan offering scarves symbolized the Buddha’s body, speech and mind, touched our land with future blessing.  Peter, Pete, Bill and Nannette, along with center leaders, and even the children in attendance, got to dig the first spades of earth on the new project. Erin Blue, our “special guest” concierge, assisted (along with Khenpo Tenkyong) in facilitating the groundbreaking event.

During the lunch break, Jaimee Patton helped with cleanup while others chatted and chowed down on sack lunches or the snacks provided by Michael Stone.

After a quick lunch at the Idea Foundry hosted by volunteers Kevin Dwinnell, Kirsten Carroll and Kim Miracle, the chanting group returned to the tent for a rousing chant to the Kagyu protector Mahakala, asking for his protection for our center and its sangha members.

Visiting Shrine Master Lama Sonam from Long Island, was assisted by local KTC folks as she prepared and made offerings to the protector Mahakala, followed by a smoke offering for spirits in the Bardo and a Chenrezig mantra chant.

Then, in a flash, it was over. The ground purified and blessed, it was time for our “illusory city of dharma” to be dissolved. The sun, which had been darting in and out of clouds all day, disappeared and rain clouds began to gather. Bill and Chuck parked their vehicles nearby, and the reverse stream of materials headed back to the trucks. Keith Mondal was on trash collection and tidying, and everyone pitched in to collect chairs and tables and load everything up again.

While disassembling the shrine, Marilyn pulled beautiful flowers from their vases and handed the blossoms to volunteers and departing guests. “Let’s leave these on the land as an offering and blessing,” she said, tossing carnations and roses. Small heaps of flowers dotted the landscape, beautifying every spot where they fell.

Rain, which had been a threat most of the day, did not fall until a couple of hours after the pujas ended at 3 p.m., about an hour after the tent crew arrived to take down the temporary shrine hall.

It is impossible to quantify the blessings of the day, but site preparer James Maze wrote us a short meditation on it by text message right before rain began to fall.

“I have visited the land at 231 S. Grubb Street several times over the last week. As I walk across this small piece of land today the energy feels different. Although I do not understand this energy, its feels good and bright. Something powerful happened here today … Good job and thank you.”

Thanks, and Still More Thanks …

A lot goes into a Land Blessing ceremony; substances and offering plates were ordered from other states, special tiny 5-color flags were made (by Sue Ellen Steinmetz) to offer on our Sang plates to collect positive energies from the universe; Lama Kathy worked with officials at the Columbus Division of Fire and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to get proper Open Burning permits for a fire puja (who knew fire pujas in the city limits were regulated – but they are); Treasurer Steve Phallen interviewed tent purveyors and helped work out our chair and shrine layout; and Bill Miracle helped assemble the steel fire bowl used for the fire puja.

There is no way to adequately thank everyone for their work, and any list will certainly leave out the many who lent a hand to put together our Land Blessing event. If you can think of folks who participated who you don’t see mentioned here, please let us know by writing to Lama Kathy at lamakathy@columbusktc.org.

Great news!!!

Folks who have been following the saga of the Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling will know we have been working to rebuild our center since it was destroyed in an arson fire in January 2016.

These last three weeks – from the first day of Tibetan New Year (Losar) on Tuesday Feb. 5 to the Buddhist Holiday of the Buddha’s Performance of Miracles (Chötrul Duchen) on Tuesday Feb. 19 have been momentous for Columbus KTC, and we want to share our good news with you!

HAPPY NEWS FLASH #1 – Our Losar Lunch and Pledge Party on “Losar Sunday” (Feb. 10) was a resounding success – we were able to announce that a donor has promised $500,000 toward our construction, which will allow us to break ground in Spring 2019!  HOORAY!

Buoyed by the great news, those attending the luncheon were able to dig deep and pledge a total of $47,000 toward the $159,000 remaining construction funding “gap.” DOUBLE HOORAY!

HAPPY NEWS FLASH #2 – Our architectural and legal team scurried to meet the Feb. 5 deadline to submit our final design development drawings to the East Franklinton Review Board, a neighborhood commission that must review and approve all applications for new buildings in the East Franklinton Neighborhood.

On the first Full Moon Day of the Tibetan New Year, Tuesday Feb. 19, our team, along with Director Kim Miracle and Lama Kathy Wesley, appeared before the EFRB – and received full and complete approval for the design of the new KTC.  TRIPLE HOORAY!

This means our new temple has been given the “green light” from neighborhood officials to rebuild.  

The project still needs to submit final construction drawings and go through a building permit review process, but an initial hurdle has been cleared.

So, please join us in saying prayers of rejoicing and dedication, and consider making, renewing (and increasing!) your KTC Rebuilding Fund pledge TODAY!

Every dollar you donate will help us complete our project without incurring debt.  Imagine having a new building without a mortgage – how exciting is that?

And to help increase the blessings of providing a new home for dharma in Columbus, we are offering beautiful DONOR GIFTS for those who donate during our “last push” campaign:

  • $1,000 pledges receive a handmade wooden mala blessed by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
  • $3,000 pledges receive a ceramic treasure vase blessed by a monastery in China
  • $5,000 pledges receive a gold treasure vase AND a Mala blessed by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
  • $10,000 pledges receive a treasure vase, mala, and qualify for room naming opportunities in the new center.

Pledges can be paid over a period of three years.  Click here and download a pledge form today, and expand the blessings of the Kagyu dharma in the City of Columbus!

Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Blossoming Above the Mud of the Modern World

As I’ve been talking with dharma friends in recent weeks, I’ve heard from a lot of folks who tell me they’re feeling overwhelmed by what one friend calls “the news flow from samsara.”

Perhaps you’ve seen it:  the coarseness of the back-and-forth name-calling and vitriolic arguing in political circles; the cruel culture of people who judge one another for their personal or political views and then throw clever insults at one another through letters, emails and social media posts.

In this climate, the art of debate, where people listen to one another and reason together, has given way to a name-and-blame game where people objectify one another and then feel empowered to punish one another with pointed words.

As you can see, perhaps I’m counting myself as one of the walking wounded – one of those folks who is feeling beat up by the casual cruelty of the modern world.  What makes me even sadder is that of late, I’ve seen even religious people engage in punishing behaviors toward one another, becoming the spiritual equivalent of vigilantes.

Now that might sound like a harsh term, and perhaps it is a bit extreme. But when I see or hear about people in the same family of faith calling each other names and sitting in judgment of one another, it makes me wish from the depths of my heart that we could find a better way.

People’s passion for their faith is understandable.  Many of us searched for a long time before we found a faith – in our case, the Buddhist faith – that spoke to our hearts and made us feel like we’d come “home.”  

The Buddha’s teachings that “we are what we think; all that we are arises with our thoughts; and with our thoughts we make the world” ring so true for us.  

The Four Noble Truths – about suffering and its causes, and how those causes can be unmade by letting go of the three poisons of anger, attachment and ignorance – give us a meaningful way to live our lives.  The Eightfold Noble Path of right view, intention, speech, action, word, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration gives us guidelines for our cultivation of virtue and ways to release ourselves and others from samsara’s web of suffering.

And today’s “Engaged Buddhism” movement provides even more exercise for our passion for the dharma.

For the followers of this movement, the Eightfold Noble Path can also be applied to the cause of social justice and civil rights, and even how we treat the Earth and its environment.  For its followers, Engaged Buddhism may well be the Earth’s best hope for survival in a world under threat of human-made inequality and disaster.

But there are risks to our discovery of this great goodness that is dharma. There is a risk that our passions might get the better of our dharma and push us into the extreme of wanting to “correct” anything that we feel falls short of perfection.  

And for some of us, this could be a tipping point, where our dharma becomes co-opted by samsara. By falling into the error of thinking ourselves superior to others – and therefore worthy of passing judgment upon them – our mistaken egotism can unwittingly take us over and turn us away from the path.

And this requires our discernment. In the endnotes of ‘The Ninth Karmapa’s Ocean of Definitive Meaning’ by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche offers this advice:

“Perhaps the most fundamental distinction that must be made at the beginning of the spiritual path is the distinction between secondary causes (Tib. kyen) and primary causes (Tib. gyu). Our mental afflictions arise from both primary causes and secondary causes, but we tend to only notice the secondary causes. These are the external events and appearances that set off our kleshas of anger or desire, jealousy or pride.

What we fail to notice is that those external provocations are themselves the products of primary causes, and those primary causes are our own actions in the past, and even in past lives. The secondary causes are legion and not entirely under our control, but the primary causes are our own creations, manifesting within our own minds, and ultimately our own responsibility.”

Of course, as people who hold the Buddhist principle of non-harming, we must call attention to abusive behavior by others.  But when we use abusive language to call attention to this behavior, are we not guilty of that very fault we are trying to correct?

So much injustice has been visited by human beings on one another when this sort of thinking proceeds unexamined and unrestrained.  First, we criticize; then we ostracize; then we marginalize; then we demonize. And then something unthinkable – inflicting harming others in the name of dharma – actually becomes possible.

What saves us from this error is the Buddha’s teaching on bodhicitta.  Whereas in the early teachings of the Buddha, a person’s behavior is most important, in the Buddha’s later teachings one’s intentions reign supreme.  

Bodhicitta teaches us to always look at our intentions.  Any intention that’s flavored by ego-fixation – such as wanting to show ourself as superior to others – should be viewed as suspect, and a possible downfall to the bodhisattva’s way of trying to hold and cherish the benefit of others as supreme.

Perhaps this is why in the sutras, when the Buddha is asked how to deliver criticism of others, he advises:

Someone who is about to admonish another must realize within himself five qualities before doing so [that he may be able to say], thus:

“In due season will I speak, not out of season. In truth I will speak, not
in falsehood. Gently will I speak, not harshly. To [the other person’s] profit will I speak,
not to [their] loss. With kindly intent will I speak, not in anger.”*

*”Vinaya Pitaka,” translated by F.S. Woodward

Last May in New York City, His Holiness 17th Karmapa, himself a champion of the environment and Engaged Buddhism, warned his students against treating each other badly.  Instead of casting blame on one another for our perceived faults and seeing one another as enemies, he said, we should Instead “team up” together against our *common* enemy, our habitual negative emotions and reactions.

So, in the end, if we want to deeply hold this great good thing we have discovered, this life-giving and life affirming dharma, our greater question should be: how will we share this great good dharma? How can we make it available to others not just through our words, but also through our inner motivations, thoughts and actions?  

Bodhicitta gives us a method and a guideline for this sharing.  Let’s all commit to having a deeper conversation among ourselves this year for what this sharing can look like in our own family of faith.

Looking forward to speaking with your more about this in the coming months.  As our new temple, our new home, begins to take shape, let’s talk deeply with one another about what kind of family we want to be when we move into it.  We’re walking together, and I’m looking forward to many constructive conversations along the road.

May all have peace and happiness, and may all beings come to Buddhahood!


Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Words from Our Founder

On a long road, a mile-marking sign can be a welcome friend. It reminds us that our destination is indeed ahead – and assures us that we eventually will arrive there.

So it was this past month, when our Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling Founder, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, found himself receiving a blessed sign from none other than His Holiness Karmapa himself. 

Although the occasion was a birthday observance for His Holiness Karmapa, the head of our Buddhist tradition chose instead to honor the 95-year-old Columbus KTC founder and abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery.

This remarkable event occurred in the ornate and beautiful shrine room of KTD Monastery in Woodstock, NY, on the final day of a Longevity chant retreat conducted by His Holiness, Khenpo Rinpoche and a host of others. 

On that final morning of the Longevity retreat, His Holiness entered the shrine room to the sound of majestic gyaling horns, which traditionally are played to signal the comings and goings of great masters.

Then, after ascending his throne, and after spending a short time there, His Holiness stood up and the Tibetan horns sounded again.

Into the shrine room came Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, in full monastic dress, in the company of his nephew and attendant, Lama Karma Drodhul. As His Holiness and the rest of the assembled monks and laypeople stood in honor, Rinpoche was seated in front of His Holiness, who then descended his throne to offer a long-life blessing to Rinpoche.

In the audience for this sacred event were Lama Tom Broadwater, Cathy Lhamo Jackson and Sue Ellen Steinmetz of Columbus KTC. They had taken time out of their daily lives to go and honor His Holiness Karmapa and Khenpo Rinpoche and attend the special pujas.

After descending from his throne, the Karmapa offered blessings to Rinpoche with sacred substances related to the life of the Buddha, praying that the blessings would give him a long and healthy life. Those in attendance say Khenpo Rinpoche was visibly moved by the generosity of His Holiness in bestowing the longevity blessing.

As the morning session ended, Lama Tom and Cathy and Sue Ellen were getting ready to leave for Ohio when Lama Karma Drodhul came running to collect them.

Khenpo Rinpoche wanted to see them, Lama Karma said. There was only a 30-minute break for lunch and then the afternoon pujas were going to start, so everyone had to hurry.

Up in Khenpo Rinpoche’s private room in the monastery, Rinpoche’s other attendant, Lama Karuna Tara, was preparing a quick lunch. While stir-fry sizzled in the pan, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche asked Cathy to get out her cellphone and record a short talk for the Columbus KTC.

Rinpoche had heard that the center had experienced a setback in its quest for a new home, and that the projected construction budget for the new building was more expensive than the money the center had on hand – a lot more expensive. He knew everyone was working hard to find cost savings for the project, and that some folks were feeling discouraged. 

Having heard this, Khenpo Rinpoche had offered for sale that week – with the help of San Francisco Dharma Friend Amy Wu his personal practice items, such as hand drums (damarus) along with his bells and other ritual implements. These were the last of the personal possessions he had to give, and he gave them to benefit the Columbus KTC. 

He also handed Lama Tom and Cathy and Sue Ellen a packet containing an offering that had just been given to him by His Holiness Karmapa. 

After recording his remarks – punctuated by him folding his hands in supplication to all KTC friends to help him in his quest – Rinpoche asked that his recording be played for “everyone in the Ohio Center,” which is what calls his beloved Columbus KTC. 

So Lama Tom and Cathy and Sue Ellen returned to Columbus with the precious recording from Khenpo Rinpoche, which was presented – skillet noise and all -for the KTC Board and Sangha this past Sunday (July 15) at Columbus KTC.

To help carry out Khenpo Rinpoche’s wish that “everyone in the Ohio center” hear his message, I’m devoting my blog this week to presenting his remarks here, through audio (see the link below) and a transcript prepared by Cathy Jackson. 

If you have 15 minutes to spare, the audio is endearing – you can hear the emotion in Khenpo Rinpoche’s voice, and his tenderness for the KTC, as well as his bodhisattva commitment, is evident in what he says and does.

But even if you aren’t in a position to listen to the recording, please read the transcript, which is also presented here.

May Rinpoche’s words bring all of us joy and comfort, and be a mile-marking sign to us that our destination is indeed ahead, and will eventually, with the help of every single one of us, be reached.

May all beings benefit from the light that is our great masters, and the dharma homes they help us create for the benefit of generations yet to come!

Post-script: The “Khenpo Rinpoche’s Treasures” fundraiser by Amy Wu brought in $53,000 for the KTC; the packet from His Holiness was another $10,000 for KTC. Added to the $25,000 donated during the Riverside Church event in New York City and $15,000 in surprise local donations, KTC received $103,000 in the last six weeks!

Listen to Khenpo Rinpoche’s Message

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Transcript Follows:

KHENPO KARTHAR RINPOCHE – Message for Columbus KTC community

June 24, 2018 * Translator: Lama Karma Drodhul

Audience: Lama Tom Broadwater, Sue Ellen Steinmetz, Cathy Jackson

“So first of all, he {Rinpoche] is happy to see three Ohio students able to come and join puja. And Rinpoche said that the Ohio {KTC] Center for him is extremely important. And he told this many, many times, that he wants to finish the Center before he leaves. Therefore he [is] constantly working for Ohio Center and collecting thangkas and the big drum, brocades and all kinds of shrine implements. And he is working very hard on that.

“And [he is] not only supporting for shrine part but financial {as well].  He asked personally Ani Drolkar to raise money and she raised quite [a lot] of money as well. And also Amy, the one who put the items [on sale at KTD] for Ohio KTC. And also personally he contributed whatever he could get offerings. And he’s not only supporting [the] shrine part, but also financially.

“And our purpose [is] to build the Ohio Center much better than before. It’s not like a temporary camp. It’s not temporary or something. 

“Therefore Rinpoche [is] requesting all the students of Ohio [to] have courage or inspiration to build the center as soon as you could.

“American people they are quite educated and capable of doing so many things. Not only [in regard to] other things, but just generally, [if] people don’t really support each other, even the country of America can go down. Likewise it is related to the Center as well. Everybody has to be supportive.

“In Tibet we all know that everything was destroyed and everything went down. However, you can see the people [came] together and built. And [now] everything is developed and everything is flourishing. It is because of people coming together.

“Therefore this message actually is not just for the three of you [Lama Tom, Cathy, and Sue Ellen] but for the Ohio Center, everybody to listen, especially the Board. So he said, ‘Please everybody be supportive, listen to each other, and think about the Center.’

“[If] you have five fingers, it’s not just the thumb alone can help, but you have to have the rest of [the] four fingers. So [it’s] not only [to] have Board or someone [else] do it, but everyone has to come together. 

“So Rinpoche gave most of his items to Amy and [she is] doing auction, and seems like she is doing quite good and he is quite happy about that. He is not just using his normal items but he is just giving his own damaru, his own bell, his own empowerment implements on behalf of KTC. 

“He doesn’t have much left because he put most of his items in Stupas and other places. 

“One thing is that everyone must keep [in mind], is … what His Holiness did today – giving special Long Life Empowerment to Rinpoche. He said you all as his students [must] have gratitude to His Holiness Karmapa. 

“[His Holiness] is not doing this [empowerment] just for Khenpo Rinpoche, but it is something to benefit students and for everybody.

“[His Holiness] personally gave this money to Khenpo Rinpoche [indicating packet]. It is opened but not counted yet. So three of you together, whoever, you can count [the bundle of money] and give it to the Ohio Center. 

“And if we are able to build the Center, Rinpoche plans to come to the opening ceremony. Not only Rinpoche, but he believes His Holiness will come as well. Rinpoche himself requested His Holiness and [His Holiness] said ‘Yes,’ but there is no place to come now. We have to build Center as soon as possible.

“[Rinpoche] is requesting to please build the center as soon as possible. Everybody [be] supportive. He is requesting with [his] hands joined together. [Rinpoche joined his palms together vigorously, in supplication.]

“The architecture or the drawing that we have [for the new KTC] is something Rinpoche wants to build. [We], have to build something solid and something for long time benefit. Therefore everybody listen and [build it] according to the plan, which is the architecture or drawing that they have.

 “Don’t think about putting something up and it last a few years. It’s not like that.  If you think about what Nagarjuna [did when he] built some temples in India, and [they are] still working. 

“So you have to build something, not only think about your generation, but future generations, centuries, centuries. 

“[Rinpoche] saw that some centers build by Hindu temples wanted to be contemporary. The teacher died and all students [fought] each another, all went away and disappeared. It was a fragile temple. So building [your] building, Rinpoche said, you have to think about the whole country and everybody, not just only temporary, not just a few people. That show[s] you have good motivation.

 “So if people [are] just so fragile [that if they] have to go through some difficulties, like have to think about, have to face the burden, or have to face the financial [burden], [if] you are afraid of that, that truly shows you are not courageous for helping other beings. 

“Rinpoche said maybe you can check him as an example. When he left Tibet he barely had shoes or like a cup to drink but he never lost courage to help other beings. And so he worked hard. So, why are we able to have His Holiness come here? And [have] such [a] beautiful ceremony, and everything? He’s not saying that he built everything himself, but he never lost his courage. He never gave up. That is how it happened.

“So he won’t talk too much. Just remember, most of you are students of Khenpo Rinpoche who are traveling that path, and [who] never give up. Just think about that again and again.  

“So once you are ready to go … Amy is helping; and [Rinpoche] will try his best to help, but just don’t rely only on him, because financially he does not have much; he always just give, give, give. But at the same time, he will be very supportive.”


Transcribed by Cathy Lhamo Jackson; light editing by Cathy Jackson and Lama Kathy Wesley

Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Prayer Flags in the Wind

Prayer flags flying in the wind is a timeless symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. Strings of multicolored flags printed with sacred mantras – white, red, blue, green, and yellow – dance on the wind like a rainbow-colored wave, bringing blessing to all who are downwind of its prayers.

Prayer flags have been a symbol of Columbus KTC’s participation in the Community Festival – Comfest – for the last 10 or 15 years. We’re really not sure when KTC put together its first booth at Comfest, but ever since then, we’ve been “the prayer flag people,” offering prayer flags and incense sticks to passers-by who want to hear a little about meditation and the Buddhist path.

“We mainly talked about Buddhism and answered questions for people,” said Stacey Berry, KTC’s assistant director, who helped shepherd booth during Comfest last weekend. “We met a lot of people who are already meditating, but said they were looking to sit with a group.”

Comfest, an annual celebration of music and community organizations, is the main outreach activity KTC participates in each year.

It’s a great volunteer activity, and Stacey says our booth volunteers – many of them new folks themselves – enjoy meeting people and talking about the KTC.

The hours our volunteers spend at the festival come to fruition in the following months, as those passers-by carry through on their aspiration and come through our doors.

So if you see new people at KTC in the next few months, think of those aspirations and be the continuation of our Comfest hospitality, uplifting and encouraging them to connect at KTC.

In other words, you can be a “prayer flag” too ☺

Thanks to Our Comfest Chenrezig Chanters!

Many great, good THANKS go out to this year’s Chenrezig Chanters, who took to the Live Arts Stage at Comfest on Saturday morning to chant the short Chenrezig sadhana and the Miribai Lee Harrington “Kirtan” version of the OM MANI PEME HUNG chant.

Guitarist Ron Hess and chanters Michael, Rufus, Em, Chantal, Aiden, Olivia, Marilyn and Julane did a marvelous job of chanting and blessing the Comfest grounds with the compassion mantra. May all beings benefit!