We have a big announcement and a BIG ASK this #givingtuesday!
Over the last decade, you have helped The Pureland Project reach thousands of Tibetans across the plateau. The gratitude we accept from communities on behalf of our donors is immense. The significance of your impact cannot be overstated, you are changing lives for the better!
It is with deep joy that we announce a new initiative to support Garchen Rinpoche’s communities in Tibet: Garchen Institute Tibet. Last year Rinpoche entrusted the large shedra building in Gargon to The Pureland Project. It will become a legacy project and help sustain Rinpoche’s home community for years to come!
Rinpoche chose the name, the same as his space in Arizona—Garchen Institute— with the intent that this sister center acts to expand learning and knowledge of the dharma. His students and followers will have a space to visit and further their practice, deep in the heart of Tibet. It is our goal to strengthen, sustain, and share the meaningful traditions of mindfulness, healing, arts, adventure, eco-literacy, and language from this sacred space.
Over the next 9 months, we have ambitious fundraising goals. In addition to donations, we will use operations of our social enterprise, Pureland Travels, to continue to sustain the many schools, clinics, and communities we have supported for years.
We have a number of incentives along the way to acknowledge your generosity! We hope to connect with donors of all varieties in order to help us reach our goal. With your help, we can begin hosting local courses and international retreats next spring. Listed below are gifts following the eight precious symbols.
$36,320~a new roof for the entire building—a week of retreat in Tibet (optional time in Yeshe Tsogyal’s cave) with translated guidance by a retreat master of Gar community. (1 available)
Treasure Vase donor:
$28,000~interior and exterior painting of the building—1 spot on a 2020 Tibet tour of your choice including domestic travel, room, and board (international airfare not included). (1 available)
$6,000~outfits one computer lab to provide courses for the local communities—one week of room and board at Garchen Institute Tibet. (1 available)
Dharma Wheel donor:
$4,300~outfitting of a simple temple in the Institute—blessed Jigden Sumgon statue. (1 available)
Victory Banner donor:
$1,008~outfitting the library in the institute—your name printed in a stamp on all of the library books. (1 available)
Infinite Knot donors:
$450~outfitting one guest room in the institute—a night of retreat in Yeshe Tsogyal’s cave. (18 available)
Golden Fish donor:
$250~repair one door for the building—a local hand made and blessed juniper seed mala. (30 available)
$118~one new window for the building—a signed photo of Garchen Rinpoche. (31 available)
We have created a Facebook fundraiser, and starting at 8am EST (5AM PST) Facebook will begin matching all donations offered through the donate button (up to $20,000 per donation and $100,000 per organization) until they give away $7million. This fall we raised an extra $5,000 due to your giving on the GlobalGiving platform. I am now requesting that you chip in with anything you are able to offer to help sustain these communities in Tibet.
Lastly, before you go spending this #cybermonday and holiday season please take 3 minutes to register with amazon smile! They donate a percentage of each of your purchases to the Pureland Project if you chose us as your charity and shop through the smile.amazon.com website.
with deep gratitude,
meg Ferrigno, Ph.D.
ED, The Pureland Project
The seed for The Pureland Project was planted in 2005 when Meg Ferrigno moved to Tibet to serve Garchen Rinpoche’s school projects. In speaking with the fellow teachers and villagers they formed the ideas for the project. In 2011 The Pureland Project was granted 501c3 status and in 2012 Ahimsa House opened its doors in Philadelphia.
H.E. Garchen Rinpoche is a highly realized Tibetan Buddhist master from Nangchen, Tibet. After spending 20 in prison during the cultural revolution, he was brought to America to establish a center in Arizona. In 1998 upon his return to his homeland, Rinpoche built four schools at the request of the villagers. Rinpoche has dedicated his life for the benefit of all beings.Rinpoche encourages his students to donate to his Tibetan homeland through the pureland project.
Find out more about the Pureland Project here.
There is a strong (and unfounded) belittling of Pure Land teachings and practice in the Western understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. Perhaps this is due to the dominant position of academics and nihilists in ‘western’ Buddhist circles, although there has been connivance by some Tibetan teachers in this misrepresentation of the Dharma as elitist, complex, and ‘profound’ (in the misguided way that human minds think of obscurity as indicative of depth).
An overly-academic and somewhat tedious new publication by Georgios T. Halkias (Luminous Bliss, A Religious History of Pure Land Literature in Tibet) should —but probably will not— put that false image to rest. In it, Prof. Halkias offers a catalog of the enormous body of Tibetan Pure Land literature: sutra translations, commentaries, practices, dharanis, mantras, and prayers of aspiration for birth in Dewachen (Sukhavati), authored by leading lamas of all Tibetan Buddhist lineages (Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Jonang, and Geluk).
Pure Land teachings have always been central to Tibetan Buddhism, but owing to Western academic prejudice, they have been downplayed in favor of the obscure, the difficult, and the exotic.
The Jonang Master Kunchen Dolpopa labored long and hard to establish other emptiness (zhentong) —the view of ultimate reality as empty of all that is insubstantial and impermanent, but full of all permanent Buddha qualities— not out of some quaint philosophical curiosity, but to dispel the doubts of fellow Buddhists regarding the Pure Land. He saw the growing dominance of nihilism as a threat to the excellent Pure Land practice that is the last remaining viable way to enlightenment in this Dharma-Ending Age.
Kunchen Dolpopa taught in The Supplication: “The relative three worlds are just an exaggerated, confusing appearance, while the absolute three worlds and the Buddha Essence are an indestructible, unimagined, unconfusing appearance.”
The relative three worlds are the three realms of desire, form, and formlessness, while the absolute three worlds are none other than the three aspects of the Pure Land: the dharmakaya-kshetra of the fully enlightened mind of Amideva, in which dwell the Buddhas and Great Bodhisattvas; the sambhogakaya-kshetra of the unhindered power of Amideva, in which dwell the Bodhisattvas; and the nirmanakaya-kshetra of the compassion of Amideva, in which dwell aspiring ordinary beings, the non-retrogressing objects of the Buddha’s compassion. They are the three Pure Lands into which beings of various grades are reborn upon making the Definitive Aspiration for birth in the field of action (buddha kshetra) of Amideva.
Kunchen Dolpopa’s residence at Jomonang Monastery was called Dewachen (Land of Supreme Bliss), where he wrote extensive prayers for birth in the Pure Land and an extensive commentary on the Sukhavati Sutra. He gave us the solid understanding of other emptiness on the basis of which we can develop certainty (the ‘three minds’, faith, shinjin, anjin), and he also offered his personal example.
On the eve of his parinirvana, Kunchen Dolpopa told his disciples: “I am going to Dewachen.” While some of them thought he was merely retiring to his monastic quarters, his close disciples knew his true intention. As an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kunchen Dolpopa never leaves Dewachen. In one of his prayers, he exclaimed: “May all who hear my name be born in Dewachen!”
As instructed by Kunchen Dolpopa, we must study and understand “the Three Wheels of the Dharma in sequence”, so that when we encounter the Pure Land teachings, we do not reject or accept them superstitiously, but rather understand them and accept them in wisdom. First, we strive to generate renunciation of the illusion of material happiness; next, we cultivate the view of the emptiness of relative self and phenomena; and finally we can glimpse ultimate reality: true purity, true existence, true bliss, and true permanence.
Kunchen Dolpopa taught us to enter the Holy Path (the Bodhisattva Way) through the Gate of the Pure Land. That is his great gift and legacy. We rely exclusively on the parinamana (merit transfer) of Amideva, as expressed in His Vows, for our own birth in the Pure Land. Then, once our birth is assured, we recite the Holy Name (om amideva hrih), cultivate the four immeasurable thoughts, and practice the transcendent perfections (paramitas) for the benefit of others.
om amideva hrih