In 1998 in Bodh Gaya His Holiness the Dalai Lama voiced a need for Buddhists to be more involved in the social and political realm. He said:
"Buddhists have not acted vigorously enough
address social and political problems."
Yet we share the main purpose of life, wanting to be happy:
"I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy.
From the moment of birth, every human being wants
happiness and does not want suffering."
Gen-la Venerable Tenzin took His Holiness' advice seriously; that we as Buddhists should interconnect with the community and help in any way possible. She saw the advice as correct instructions from Her Teacher, and it became a cause for the creation of Her book "Buddhism: Ancient Medicine for Healing Modern Minds."
We were able to undertake His Holiness' direct advice by engaging in the following principles:
1. Engage with others with loving-kindness (metta), since we are all equal
2. Respect others’ views /beliefs
3. Follow the Five Precepts and our Ordination Vows are based on the Ten Non-virtues and the Ten Virtues
The Five Precepts:
Not killing, Not stealing, No sexual misconduct, Not lying, No intoxicants.
The Ten Non-virtues and Ten Virtues:
Killing / Protecting life
Stealing / Protecting other's property
Sexual misconduct / Protecting others' partners
Lying / Telling the truth
Harsh speech / Kind and gentle speech
Divisive speech / Bringing others together with speech
Gossip / Saying only meaningful things
Covetous mind / Giving others what they need
Ill will / Helping others attain happiness
Wrong view / Taking on only those beliefs that are good and true
4. Maintain the Buddha's Bodhisattva teachings, with an altruistic focus on the Mahayana Intention.
“...the doctrine of selflessness provides the underpinnings we need, in that it posits the mutual interdependency of all members of society and the shared nature of all types of suffering: spiritual, physical, emotional and economic.” (Sungtaek Cho, “Selflessness: Towards a Buddhist Vision of Social Justice”)
5. Have confidence in our abilities
Using our counselling, welfare, mental health training, as well as the physical trainings of yoga and tai chi in order to benefit a network of participants.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, “If you want happiness, cherish others.”
6. Provide a space of refuge and serenity and to be able to give the precious teachings of the Buddha - the medicine, and to give workshops, which are the application of the medicine.
For anyone who may be interested, please visit this page for a list of the Bodhisattva's Vows.
Tharpa Choeling Abbey officially began in 2005. Over several years a small group of monastic sangha had gathered together to take teachings with Venerable Thubten Tenzin and She felt they needed a place to study, reflect, and practice the life of Bodhisattvas.
Tharpa Choeling Abbey was so named by the Very Venerable Geshe Thubten Dawa, and the sangha have been together for Fifteen years, studying, practicing and working on various projects under the direction of our Abbess and kind teacher Venerable Tenzin. We refer to Venerable Tenzin as Gen-la (kind teacher in Tibetan), as instructed by Geshe Sonam Thargye from Drolkar House in Geelong.
Gen-la Venerable Tenzin is the author of four self-published books:
Eastern Medicine for Healing Western Minds (out of print)
Buddhism: Ancient Medicine for Healing Modern Minds (out of print)
Human Values (currently available)
Suggestions for Evolution (currently available)
Front row from left: Ven. Yeshe, Venerable Gen-la Thubten Tenzin, Ven. Choden.
Top row from left: Ven. Pema, Ven. Jhampa and Lily -2015
© Wellington Buddhist Centre 2017
"If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realisations, such as love, compassion and wisdom, then obviously it's worthwhile".
Lama Thubten Yeshe