Gaden Shartse Tour Programs (2018)

Dialectical Debate
Liberation, in the highest sense, is attained through the fusion of the intellect and intuition. The path to freedom requires wisdom, which can only be achieved through the deep questioning of one’s beliefs by both oneself and others. Tibetan Monastic Colleges employ the system of dialectical debate as part of the routine of study for the monks. It is used to dispel doubt and to acquire deep understanding of the subjects being studied. The student is encouraged to question everything related to the topic being discussed (as was also done by Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece). This is invaluable for sharpening one’s wit and testing one’s wisdom.


EMPOWERMENTS
Four-Armed Chenrezig (Buddha of Compassion)
(Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $20 pp)
The Buddha of Compassion is known as Chenrezig (Tibetan) or Avalokitshevara
(Sanskrit), meaning ‘liberator from the unfortunate lower rebirths.’ Chenrezig pledged in front of all the Buddhas not to attain Buddhahood until all sentient beings were free from the sufferings of samsara. Receiving the empowerment of this Buddha, therefore, provides one with protection from an unfortunate lower rebirth. Chenrezig has many aspects and embodies the Universal Compassion of all the Buddhas of the three times and ten directions. The purpose of the empowerment is to establish a close relationship with Chenrezig and to benefit from his almighty power of compassion. In this era of violence and mental instability, the blessing of Chenrezig is highly sought after, as it helps one to become more peaceful and compassionate, even with the
state of current events. The empowerment will also initiate one into the mantra of Avalokitshevara: OM MANI PADME HUM, which contains the essence of all 84,000 volumes of Buddha’s teaching.

Menla (Medicine Buddha)
(Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $20 pp)
Menla is the embodiment of the power of healing of all the Buddhas. While most of us are used to taking some form of medication on a daily basis, whether that be in the form of prescription drugs, vitamins, or herbal concoctions, rarely do we find that we feel any better. As has been confirmed by both Western and Eastern scientific research, strength of the mind and will has a major role in the process of healing. For millennia our ancestors have been aware of the effect of spiritual practice upon healing, and have used it as a necessary supplement to medication. The Medicine Buddha empowerment is meant to establish a special connection between the participant and the deity. Once this relationship has been developed and strengthened through the empowerment, the participant will become more open to receiving the benefits of the healing powers of all the Buddhas.

Manjushri (Buddha of Wisdom)
(Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $20 pp)
Manjushri is the embodiment of the wisdom of all the Buddhas. Wisdom is crucial for enlightenment, in that it is both the antidote of ignorance, and at the same time is itself the true meaning of selflessness/ emptiness. Performing the practice of the deity Manjushri accelerates the attainment of the knowledge that eliminates suffering. By “sipping the nectar” of the profound teachings delivered by Lord Manjushrl, one has access to the heart of liberating wisdom. This empowerment will include the transmission of the mantra
OM AH RA PA TSA NADHI.

White , Green Tara, and 21 Tara (Buddha of Long Life)
(Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $20 pp)
White Tara is the goddess of Long Life. She is one of the main deities used by both Tibetan Yogis/ Yoginis and lay practitioners in the practice of requesting a long and healthy life. Known particularly for her swiftness in fulfilling the long-life wishes of the practitioner, WhiteTara is looked to for happiness and inspiration through the mantra OM TARE TUTARE TORE SOHA. The White Tara empowerment is meant to establish a close relationship between the recipient and the deity.

Vajrasattva (Buddha of Purification)
(Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $20 pp)
Vajrasattva is the Buddhist deity of Purification. The practice of the Vajrasattva deity purifies all negative actions committed by our body, through our speech, and in our minds. All that has been contaminated through our own negativities will be cleansed, and we will be able to begin afresh. The Vajrasattva practice is also capable of uprooting and purifying the negative imprints that we have carried over from our previous lives. This empowerment will include the transmission of the 100 Syllable Mantra.


HEALING RITUALS
(Purifications and Healings: Length: 25 minutes / Suggested Donation: $75)

Vajravidarin Healing Ritual
The Tantric ritual of Vajravidarin will be the primary focus of private and group healings. Vajravidarin is a ritual of purification and has three stages: purification and removing of negativities; removing subtle negative imprints; and offering protection. The vajra master will take the form of this Buddha of Purification and use his power to cleanse participants. Vajravidarin purifies sickness, mental disturbances, infectious diseases, disputes, enmities, defllements, misfortunes, bad omens, victimization by others, premature death, negative influences of the stars, harm from rulers and thieves, influence of demons, the agents of death, obstacles,
misguidance, and factors against congenial life.

Procedure:
Purification: The Lama instructs participants through visualizations and ritual and then pours radiant nectar and rays of light into their mind and body.

Removing subtle negative imprints: The Lama instructs participants through
visualization and ritual and then takes the negative subtle imprints and transforms them into Inexhaustible Bliss. He will then summon the negative forces and will use the Bliss to appease them. Finally, he disperses the negative forces and instructs them not to return.

Protection: The Lama creates a diamond-like impenetrable layer of light around and within the participant.

OTHER HEALING RITUALS/PERSONAL BLESSINGS
(House blessings or business blessings – Length: 1 hour (approx) / Suggested Donation: $350)
(Rituals for home, business and the environment (Must be discussed with monks) – Length: 1-4 hours as needed / Suggested Donation: $350-$500)

Conditions often ripen in our homes or businesses and communities which call for powerful rituals to eliminate their effects. The monks can do rituals to transform negative conditions into positive conditions such as eliminating negative forces, increase positive forces, long life, healing, protection, blessing of ldren, transformation of forces in the environment, self initiation into deities mandala and wealth. These need to be discussed personally with the monks so they can decide the appropriate rituals.

  • Chay Drol
  • Smoke Puja
  • Special Prayers for the Deceased (Jangwa)
  • Tara Puja 4 Mandala Offering
  • Guru Puja (strengthen connection with Spiritual Master).

SAND MANDALAS
(Length: 1-9 days/ Suggested Donation: $1,500/day)
Mandala means literally “that which extracts the essence.” There are many
different types of mandalas used by Tibetan Buddhists. They can be created in
either two or three dimensions. The ones on the monks’ tour will be two-dimensional sand mandalas. These are without doubt the most creative, labor-intensive, and concentration-intensive of all mandalas created. The ones provided on the tour will require between 75 and 125 hours of effort, completed by several monks at a time.

Each sand mandala represents the architectural layout of the entire palace of a specific deity. The Menla mandala, for example, represents the dwelling of the Medicine Buddha, who embodies the perfection of the physical and mental health of all beings. There are mufti-layered symbolic images throughout the “palace,” where iconography, placement, and color all have significance. Additionally, to the learned Tibetan Buddhist monk, the mandala represents his vision of the entire universe.

The mandala is normally used during the initiation of a monk into a high form of meditation. This sacred initiation is referred to as an empowerment ceremony. After the initiation, it requires years or possibly an entire lifetime of intense study and meditation under an experienced Lama to expose the depth and intricacy of the universe.

In the past, sand mandalas were made with the powdered results of the grinding of precious stones, such as turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, powdered gold and silver, and many other cherished and priceless materials. Today, this is only done on very special and/or auspicious occasions. More commonly, the
colors are made of powdered and dyed stone, sand, dust, flowers, and charcoal. The colors are chosen to match the color of one of the Buddhas of the five Buddha families.

The sand is applied very precisely by the gentle tapping of a sand-filled metal cone that has had its tip removed. The Master must be the first to initiate the mandala, and does so by being the first to pour the sand. The outline of the mandala is defined by the holding of a string that is dipped in chalk and then ‘snapped’ in the appropriate place.

Upon completion of the mandala, the monks will purposely destroy the magnificent work of art. The Buddha’s last words were “All things are impermanent, work out your salvation with diligence.” In upholding the principle that life is transient, the monks sweep up the mandala and place the sand in a river, lake, or ocean as an offering to purify the surrounding environment.

All sand mandala takes 4-6 days to complete. Under certain circumstances a shorter version may be offered.

Sand Mandalas Offered:

  • Buddha of Medicine (Menla)
  • Buddha of Wisdom (Manjushri)
  • Buddha of Compassion (Green Tara Female)
  • Buddha of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara Male)
  • Buddha of Long Life (White Tara Female)
  • Buddha of Purification (Vajrasattva)
  • Solitary Yamantaka (Wrathful)
  • Fire Puja Mandala 4 types: (Peace, Expansion, Magnifying or Wrathful)
  • 8 Auspicious Symbols
  • Wheel of Life (sand painting)

LECTURE TOPICS
Each lecture is given by a Lama and a monk and can last between 1.5 to 2 hours, including a question and answer session. One of the monks (or a tour organizer) will introduce the Lama and his interpreter, give the details of the Monastery, and offer a brief description of the beliefs of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. It is asked that a couple of chairs and some water or tea be provided for the monks. Please see the attached price list or speak to the national organizer regarding the suggested donation for the lecture.

Topics include:

  • Death, Bardo, and Rebirth (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    A lecture on the Three Stages of Life
  • Lam Rim (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    Review of the Graduated Path with a focus on Renunciation, Bodhicitta (altruistic motivation), and Emptiness.
  • 6 Perfections (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    Ethics, Patience, Effort (Joyful Perseverance), Concentration, Wisdom, Generosity
  • 3 Principle Aspects of the Path (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    Renunciation, Alturistic Intention, Emptiness
  • The Four Noble Truths (The Teaching of Buddha) (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    Suffering, the Causes of Suffering, the End of Suffering, and the Path to Freedom
  • Meditations on Patience and Compassion (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
  • Tantra Vehicle(Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    the esoteric path of Mahayana Buddhism that accelerates the evolutionary path to Buddhahood
  • World Peace and the Unity of all Religions (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
  • Other subjects (Refuge, Guru Devotion, etc.) (Length: 1 3/4 hours / Suggested Donation: $10-$15 pp)
    available by request

Lectures can be organized for high school or college classes. Public lectures can also be scheduled in auditoriums, bookstores, churches, health food stores, and alternative and healing businesses.


SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Grades K-12

  • Chant and Discussion with the Monks
  • One deep chant with cymbals, bells and drums .
  • Question and Answer Session
  • Length: One Hour

University of Colleges
5 Day Visit Includes:

  • Creation of the Sand Mandala
  • Performance of Ritual Chanting
  • Two Public Lectures
  • Discussions, Questions and Answers from Classes or Departments

BUTTER SCULPTURE AND WORKSHOP DEMONSTRATION
(Length: 1 hour / Suggested Donation: $250)
(Length: 1.5 hours / Suggested Donation: $350)

The monks will work with children and adults to create traditional sculptures made from butter, as has been done in Tibet for over 800 years.

Due to both its plentitude and highly elastic qualities, Tibetans have found butter to be very conducive to sculpture. The butter has
been shaped into Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, flowers, animals, and auspicious symbols. These sculptures are then used to decorate ritual offering cakes made from barley flour. In Tibet, especially during Monlam (the Great Prayer Festival), butter sculpture contests were held among the major monasteries,
and were often over 12 feet high! This workshop will begin with a demonstration by the monks and will be followed by the opportunity for each participant to make his/her own butter sculpture.


TIBETAN CALLIGRAPHY WORKSHOP DEMONSTRATION
The monks will work with children and adults to demonstrate beautiful Tibetan calligraphy butter, as has been done in Tibet for over 800 years.