SPIRITUALITY | Tibetan Buddhist Centre Enters Fifth Year in Williams Lake

The Stupa for World Peace and Environmental Harmony at Spokin Lake.

The Stupa for World Peace and Environmental Harmony at Spokin Lake. Photo: Dianne Nort

Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre, the Cariboo’s only Buddhist Centre, located at 212 S 3rd Avenue, is entering its fifth year of service to the community of Williams Lake. It is a recognized and well-utilized organization, adding to the rich spiritual diversity in our area with a broad range of offerings including but not limited to advanced Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy classes, introductory Buddhist classes, guided meditation on Monday evenings, and Sunday morning group meditation and discussion. Visiting teachers give workshops two or three times a year to round out and deepen our understanding of all that we have learned.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said Buddhism is a Science of the Mind. The motto of our Buddhist Centre, “Purifying the Mind, Creating a Good Heart,” is timeless and yet relevant to modern day-to-day life. Sentient beings have always been plagued with the universal issues of conflict, anger, violence, and pain. Buddhist teachings help us understand and identify the cause of our suffering and how to alleviate that suffering. We are given tools enabling us to live with more contentment and happiness, and to relate to one another with compassion and loving kindness.

Applying the tools of contemplation, reflection, and meditation to the teachings over time, we learn to change the way our minds work. We become more mindful and alert, better able to concentrate and make decisions. These tools help us develop a peaceful, clear, calm mind and better enable us to use the Buddha’s teachings to create a more meaningful life. They cultivate peace within ourselves, our immediate circle, and the world.

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Weekend seminar with visiting teacher Geshe Thubten Sherab. Photos: Dianne Noort

Gendun Drubpa has been extremely fortunate to have had two resident Buddhist nuns live in and offer service to our community. Venerable Patricia (Ani-la), who was with us for four years, was integral in organizing and directing the building of our Stupa (reliquary) at Spokin Lake as well as providing the inspiration in establishing our downtown Centre.

Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, a highly regarded teacher throughout the Buddhist world, and our resident teacher for three years, taught us weekly over the course of her time with us. She was very involved in the community at large, offering meditation classes at Elder College, being a founding member of the Women’s Spirituality Circle, and leading many deep and thought provoking discussions on Buddhist tools for daily life at our centre.

Each of these amazing women brought unique gifts: their vision, immense energy, and especially their passion and skill in imparting the Dharma and being an ambassador for Buddhism. They reached out, making strong connections and endearing themselves to many in the area.

Venerable Tenzin has recently relocated to Vajrapani Centre in California and we are actively searching for a new teacher to bring his or her enthusiasm for the Dharma to our centre.

Since Venerable Tenzin’s departure we find ourselves in a time of transition while we wait for a new teacher; however, we continue to offer a full range of courses, facilitated by the senior students.

On Sunday mornings from January 10 to February 14, 10 – 11:30 a.m. we are offering a guided discussion group following Desmond Tutu’s book, The Book of Forgiving, learning about the tools of forgiveness. Buddhism in a Nutshell, an introductory Buddhist philosophy course, will run Sunday mornings from February 21 to April 3, from 10 a.m. – noon.

Monday evening drop-in meditation sessions are again being offered (after our winter break) from 7 to 7:45 p.m. These sessions are guided and accessible to all with basic instructions given. We may offer a six-week course of basic meditation instruction if there is sufficient interest.

Starting with the new year, we will be offering monthly pujas and everyone is welcome to attend.

A puja is a ceremony in which meditational prayers are offered to the Buddhas and holy beings such as Medicine Buddha or Tara, to request their blessings or help. Pujas are performed for general success in all activities, for the sick and dying, and for the deceased. A puja may be performed by request.

On February 8 we will be offering a Lama Chopa puja with Tsog, (this practice consists of making offerings to and requesting inspiration from our Spiritual Masters) on the occasion of the Tibetan New Year and the anniversary of the death of our founder Lama Thubten Yeshe. This ceremony will be followed by Tibetan Tug-pa (soup) and khapse (dumplings). Everyone is welcome. Check our website for details and exact times.

The Centre has an extensive library of materials relevant to anyone interested in the Buddhist path. The public is welcome to come visit our space and explore the books, watch a video teaching, or enjoy a movie with a Buddhist theme. Membership allows students to borrow books, videos, or movies to enjoy at home.

Please check out our website for more information about Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre and follow the links provided to learn more about Lama Yeshe and the parent organization, The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. You can check on course offerings, find out when the next weekend seminar will be, and find valuable resource material for your exploration of Tibetan Buddhism at Gendundrubpa.org. If you’d like to check out the centre or have questions, please call (778) 412-7780.

Mark your calendar for our second annual fundraising Indian dinner on April 30 at the Elks Hall in Williams Lake. More details will be posted on our website. Come and support the Buddhist Centre and enjoy delicious authentic Indian food, auction, music, dancing, and a fun night out!

 

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