Lama Kathy’s Dharma Blog: Learning Compassion “By Heart” – The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

Some years ago, a young dharma student asked the great master Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso, “Teacher, teach me about compassion.” And his wise answer was, “Read ‘The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva’ 1000 times out loud.”

This was a stunning response, but it’s the way Khenpo Tsultrim would train his students. Reciting a text over and over firmly plants its meaning into one’s very being; it soaks into us like water into a fertile field, uprooting negative thoughts, words and actions and replacing them with positive thoughts, words, and actions.

As we read, day after day, new verses leap out at us with each reading. Yesterday, the verse about Anger jumped out at me; today it might be the verse about harsh speech. After a time, the text itself begins to teach us, serving the purpose of a teacher who will help us see what we need to learn in any given day.

Regular recitation also helps us learn the text “by heart” – an interesting term, as it compares memorization with internalization and integration. When we know a text “by heart” it has become a part of us, ready at any moment to bring us comfort, love, and wisdom.

You may not take the “1000 Recitations Challenge” issued by Khenpo Tsultrim, but if you agree to read The 37 Practices just 21 times, you will see a difference in your mind and life. Letting the truth in its verses wash over you is a method for accumulating virtue in a simple and effective way.

May your recitation practice bear fruit for you, for the benefit of all sentient beings!

The Journey Home: Rebuilding The Columbus KTC

When we set about to rebuild the Columbus KTC after the fire earlier this year, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. Rebuilding from the ground up requires lots of skill and knowledge; who knew we would need to learn about architecture, zoning, construction and fundraising? Our KTC Board, led by Kim Miracle, has had to become a quick study on all of these.

Our next update for the Sangha will be Monday Nov. 7 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Lower Social Hall at Congregation Tifereth Israel. There will be a vegetarian meal and beverages, and the Board will bring everyone up to date on the activities of the last few weeks.

Most exciting will be updates about our fundraising work; a Capital Campaign team is being formed and we are identifying how we might raise the money needed for our new building. We’ll also have some revised building plans from our architect, reflecting changes requested by the City of Columbus during our meeting with officials over the summer.

Meanwhile, the Columbus KTC is still on the prayer list at our “home” monastery at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, NY, where I’ll be next week with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and all the lamas doing a special long-life puja that will hopefully transfer some powerful blessings to our sangha and community. Khenpo Rinpoche’s nephew Lodro Nyima Rinpoche from Thrangu Monastery in China has arrived at KTD accompanied by the monastery’s Vajra (Ritual) Master, Offerings Master and chief Umdze (chant leader), who will instruct us on this special long-life practice, which dates back to the 18th Century.

If you think of us during your busy days, please send up some mantras (such as the Chenrezig mantra OM MANI PEME HUNG, the Tara mantra OM TARE TU TARE TU RE SO HA or others) or recite the Tashi prayer and dedicate it to your hard-working board: Director Kim Miracle, Assistant Director Tanya Schroeder, Treasurer Steve Phallen, Secretary Justin Fitch, and Member-at-large Eric Weinberg. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers!