Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Lama Doboom Tulku Visits SRSG

by Joanne Sullivan (Divya)

The venerable Lama Doboom Tulku, Founder and Managing Trustee of the World Buddhist Culture Trust, on September 4th, presented Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG) with a bhandara, a special feast, and a concert “in cherished gratitude for the communion with the beloved Swami Veda Bharati.”

The Rinpoche is very interested in music and its profound spiritual effects. He believes that there is something in music that transcends and unites. The sign posting the event said “chanting of mantras and verses is important in many spiritual traditions. They are believed to have a special power on people in relieving anxiety, tension, depression and diseases. And when chanted en masse it is thought that the power multiplies….and has a soothing effect on people and helps in generating compassion and wisdom. Faith plays an important part in achieving benefits from mantra chanting.”

Lama Doboom Tulku said that, back in 2014, he had selected a few Buddhist mantras with the guidance of Swami Veda Bharati in pronouncing the Sanskrit words correctly. It was after an evening meditation together with Swami Veda and the Rinpoche in the Meditation Hall that we all stayed back while some SRSG residents chanted these together with Ashish Kukreti and Shivananda, both of Rishikesh, who arranged the chanting in the Indian musical style.

Friday’s concert began with a few words from the Rinpoche. He said:

This evening I invoke the blessings of the Buddha and all enlightened beings, particularly of my very close kalyana mitra, close spiritual friend, Swami Veda Bharati. Swami Veda is my closest kalyana mitra because we share the intention not to follow a narrow path. [It is] a path that leads us to full enlightenment and there can be many levels of enlightenment.

I feel even more satisfied to see the blessings of Swami Veda Bharati in the presence of Swami Ritavan Bharati. We are all together, staying together following the path together. I see Swami Veda’s quality in you, Swami Ritavan, which is a rare quality, of a compassionate attitude and humility.

Then a slideshow followed of photos of the 2007 sangha event at SRSG when Lama Doboom Tulku came here with many Buddhist monks to give prana pratishta (to bring alive with mantras) to the large white Buddha in the foyer of the main building. Lama Doboom Tulku stood at Swami Veda’s side at that auspicious 2007 event.

Following the slideshow, we chanted along with the DVD with the help of the English transliteration of the mantras projected onto a big screen.

An Interview with Lama Doboom Tulku Rinpoche

Afterwards. Chungkey, Rinpoche’s assistant, distributed free DVDs with the visuals and audio of the Sanskrit words we chanted so that we could easily chant these mantras later with friends. The next day the venerable Rinpoche kindly granted me an interview to clarify a few things.

Q: Can you tell us a little about these mantras?

A: The contents of this DVD are Buddhist verses and mantras containing two verses from Bodhicaryāvatāra,  a text written by India’s Acharya Shantideva  of the 8th Century  and two sets of four Buddhist mantras.

Q: Why are those particular mantras significant?

A: The first set of four Buddhist mantras consists of name-mantras of Avalokiteshvara, Manjughosha, Vajrapani and Aryatara. They are the sacred beings who represent enlightened qualities like compassion, wisdom, energy and action respectively. The second set of four Buddhist mantras is the mantra of Prajñāpāramitā, mantra of Buddha Shakyamuni, mantra of Uṣhṇiṣhavimala and mantra of Pratitasamudpada. They represent universal truth.

Q: In what way is a sacred word or a mantra a form of communication and communion?

Are they a language beyond language and a part of the continuum of natural language?

A: Mantras bring energy waves which affect oneself, others and the environment. They become more effective if they are done with sincere motivation, with the intension of benefiting others and with the idea of the ultimate nature. When they are repeated mentally or verbally they become even more effective with more repetitions. For example some people may do a mantra a million times and they become even more effective.

Rinpoche also said that chanting them with others also increases their effects. He went on to say:

It is known now through some scientific analysis that if you say certain words repeatedly it brings a certain effect on an object. [as shown in a study where the subjects spoke kindly or unkindly to plants ]

He spoke of studies done with flowers. Scientists experimented on two flowering plants, repeatedly telling the first one, words like “you are beautiful” and to the other plant words like “you are ugly”.  Both the plants were given equal care and nourishment. However, the first plant remained fresh while the second slowly shriveled up.

Q:  Could you say something more about the Maitreya Prayer and the Maitreya Festival?

A: Maitreya is regarded as the future Buddha. The real meaning of this concept of future Buddha, in my opinion, it means that the Maitreya is loving kindness. Only by such love, compassion and tolerance can humanity be saved from the ultimate disaster. Hence, Maitreya is the savior of human kind. The Maitreya prayer is one among many texts in the Buddhist canonical scriptures. It is very popular amongst Buddhists, particularly in the Tibetan Style of Buddhism. Maitreya Festival is observed in Tibet and also in Mongolia. This festival is to make connection with the Maitreya who is eventually to come down to earth to save the humanity.

The first Tibetan Buddhist center in America, the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center  in New Jersey, founded in 1958 by a Mongolian [Geshe Wangyal, trained in Tibet and Kalmykia  who once spoke at a Himalayan Congress hosted by H.H. Swami Rama in Chicago in the 1970’s], now managed by Joshua and Diana Cutler, celebrates this festival every year.  I was invited this past summer to the centre to give an oral commentary on Maitreya Prayer.

Then, after this I went to San Francisco where my Chinese friend, Terese Tse Bartholomew, who is a scholar of Buddhist iconography, now retired from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco [which was initially part of the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and has now relocated to a larger venue in the city of San Francisco] presented me with a statue of Maitreya Buddha of about 6 inches and it is in the Tibetan style. It is twisted and bent from the waist towards the left. Normally the Tibetan Maitreya is sitting straight but this one is twisted. It is clear that the statue had been put to destruction during the Cultural Revolution [as with other Tibetan sacred images that were banned]. I then remembered the statue I saw of the Chinese style of Maitreya at SRSG which is twisted. My friend said that this [statue] is at least 15 centuries old and if I liked I could go to a goldsmith and have it straightened to its original form.

I prefer not to do this because first, it shows the history of the object and, not only that, it also represents the particular form of Maitreya that is in the Chinese style.

We have learned so much from Lama Doboom Tulku. We have been blessed by his humble presence and also that of Chungkey, his cheerful and friendly assistant, in the SRSG dining hall at lunchtimes, at the September 4th concert, and at SRSG’s celebration of Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna on September 5th.

Nothing is Free

After having distributed the chanting DVD without charge, Lama Doboom said, smiling at us, but nothing is free. Now you have to chant and share these with others.

But it wasn’t until early the next morning that I realized what Lama Doboom had already told us the evening of the concert.

Two voices echoed in my mind. The first was that of Lama Doboom when he said that some mantras are even repeated a million times and have deep and far-reaching effects.

The second voice was that of Swami Veda Bharati and how he told us many times that a mantra is more than the sum of its parts and far beyond the mere dictionary meanings of a mantra’s various words. The mantra, he had said, could be found in deep absorption in the totality of the mantra, in the vibration of the entire mantra as one piece, not its parts. I remembered also that Swami Veda had once spoken of a very great wealth, a wealth beyond that of this physical world---the wealth of one who has silently recited a mantra many, many, many times.

As with the great beings of all great traditions –both in mantras and in living forms—they give infinitely, no-strings-attached. Long after the blessings are given, the giving only grows and multiplies as we water the plant with loving remembrance. What a gift of peace we may know after many thousands, billions, trillions of such mantra recitations!

While they are with us, their gentle, deep smiles and glances fill the room and carry us home. Long after they go, we can feel their blessings and how they grow exponentially. Whether silently, said or sung—alone or together—such gifts go not only to you but also to all of life around you and beyond.

More about Lama Doboom Tulku

In 1998 Lama Doboom Tulku began work on the World Festival of Sacred Music that travelled worldwide. The main event of this festival took place in Bangalore in 2000 where 650 artists from all over the world including 108 Buddhist monks and nuns from various Tibetan lineages assembled in the presence of H.H. the Dalai Lama at the inaugural concert in Bangalore , one of 13 cities worldwide where the Festival took place, the last being in Berlin.

He was born in the Kham region of Tibet in 1941 and recognized as the incarnation of the previous Doboom Tulku. At the age of 12, he joined Drepung Monastery in Tibet. He came to India in 1959, and studied in a monastic college in West Bengal. Then, under the auspices of Sanskrit University, Varanasi, he studied Buddhist philosophy and received a Geshe Archarya degree in 1972. He worked in various academic and cultural institutions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for almost 40 years. In 1999 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Buddhist Studies by the Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University of Bangkok. He is the author of The Buddhist Path to Enlightenment, Gyalwai Chotsul, Words Well Spoken: Maxims of Ocean and Moon and Words Well Spoken: Maxims of Earth and Stone. While here, he was writing a commentary on the Maitreya Prayer.

He mentioned Shantideva and also Tsongkapa who wrote about the importance of the Middle Way, compassion, the Bodhisattva vow and bodhicitta, among other things. When asked why Tsongkapa was important, Rinpoche said that Tsongkapa talked about the path to enlightenment, that his philosophy is based on Maitreya (Compassion) and the Middle Way. “Walk in the middle,” he said. “Don’t go to the two extremes or you may fall down. Similarly, eat what the body needs, not too much or too little. The same with sleep—not too much, not too little.” 

Here at SRSG, we have basked in the holy presence of this gentle, humble lama and look forward to his next visit.



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