This Week at Kurukulla Center                            March 28, 2011 - April 3, 2011
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Dear Kurukulla Community,


Thank you for your interest in the activities of Kurukulla Center.


How to extract the most benefit from Buddhism formed theGeshe Ngawang Tenley theme of Geshe Tenley's talk this morning. Echoing the words of our text Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, Geshe-la cautioned against trying to practice Buddhism without the guidance of an experienced spiritual teacher. Although an abundance of Buddhist texts exist, reading their words and trying to implement their advice on your own can lead to a mind firmly set in ways that might be misguided. Without a trusted teacher to point out what is correct and what is not, it is said there will be few spiritual realizations. Due to the important role of the spiritual teacher, it is also important to check that the teacher embodies the qualities we are trying to develop. For this reason, we are advised not to rush into a student teacher relationship without some investigation of the teacher. A more detailed explanation of this crucial topic is available in the brand new FPMT booklet by Ven. Rene Feusi, which is also available on our Resources Page


Divider Geshe Tsulga Memorial Stupas

Thanks to swift and generous support from Geshe Tsulga-la's students we have successfully collected the funds needed for construction of the two memorial stupas that will house Geshe-la's relics. The stupas are being crafted according to traditional Tibetan Buddhist standards and will serve as reminders of Geshe-la's deeply developed wisdom and compassion. We are very happy that we are able to offer one to House 2A at Sera Je Monastery where monks from Geshe-la's home region in Tibet currently reside. The other will be placed in the meditation hall (gompa) at Kurukulla Center. Many thanks to all of our donors for making this possible!

Guru RinpocheIf you did not have the opportunity to contribute to the memorial stupas, we are undertaking another project in honor of Geshe Tsulga - the acquisition of a large Padmasambhava statue for the Kurukulla Center gompa. Shortly before Geshe-la's final trip to India, he requested that we add a large Padmasambhava statue to our gompa. He specifically communicated to us the importance of this statue.  Although we have a small one on our altar, around 12 inches in height, he urged us to acquire one several feet tall. (The large one currently in the gompa belongs to the Tibetan Association of Boston and will move to their new community center.) Accordingly, we are undertaking a fund-raising campaign for a three foot Padmasambhava statue. If you would like to donate toward this, you can leave a check or cash at Kurukulla Center. You can also donate online via PayPal. Be sure to indicate that your donation is for the Padmasambhava statue. 


Book Club on April 9

The first meeting of our Spring Book Club series - Women in Buddhism - is Saturday, April 9 at 1 pm with an optional brown bag lunch at 12:30 pm. Cave in the Snow is the April selection. More details are available on our Calendar.  


Work day on April 16

Spring is coming and we need your help. With the lengthening days and warmer weather, we need a hand in tending to our grounds, making small repairs and cleaning up neglected areas. Anyone that can spare a few hours on Saturday, April 16 is invited to join in our group effort. Stop by anytime between 8 am to 3 pm and stay as long as you can. Pizza will be served.  


Advice on Natural Disasters, Earthquakes, Radiation

Shortly after the strong earthquake and tsunami on March 11, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of the FPMT, advised us to recite the Ksitigarbha mantra and prayer and also to recite Buddha's name mantra, taking strong refuge and making strong prayers.

Rinpoche said this is beneficial for all who are being affected by the tsunami, even if you are not personally affected.


This week Rinpoche sent additional advice, including to protect against radiation, which can be found on Lama Zopa's Advice Page



Pre-register for Ven Antonio's Retreat

Please register in advance for Ven. Antonio Satta's mini-retreat by emailing us at It is not necessary to preregister for the Public Talk on Thursday, May 5. The correct dates for Ven. Antonio's events are:

Ven. Antonio SattaPublic Talk - Introduction to Vipassana
Thursday, May 5: 7 pm - 9 pm
Open to all!

Mini-retreat - How to Combine Vipassana & Mind Training
Friday, May 6: 7 pm - 9 pm
Saturday, May 7: 9 am - 6 pm ( please bring a vegetarian brown bag lunch)
Open to all, but attendance at both events is required.

All events are offered without charge, though donations are always welcome.  


More information, including an explanation about Vipassana meditation by Ven. Antonio as well as his retreat guidelines, are available at 

A reminder that volunteer help is needed. Please email Tsultrim Davis.


Also, Ven. Antonio will be visiting Milarepa Center, our sister center in Vermont, the weekend before he comes to Kurukulla Center. Please visit their website for more information.



Kalachakra Six Session Guru Yoga

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaches on the Kalachakra Six Session Guru Yoga the afternoon of July 17, the day following the last event with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington, DC, hosted by Guhyasamaja Center. This is an extraordinary opportunity to learn from the spiritual director of the FPMT on how to correctly do the Kalachakra practice. Except for sponsors, tickets are not available in advance and will be sold on a first come basis. For restrictions on attendance and other details, please see the Guhyasamaja Center's website.  


Geshe Ngawang Tenley's Trip to India, Ven. Robina Courtin  

at Kurukulla Center 


As we we mentioned last week, Geshe-la will be traveling to India in mid-November and will be there for approx. eight weeks. The very beginning of his visit will coincide with the one year anniversary of Geshe Tsulga-la's death, and there will be one or two days of pujas and other ceremonies at Sera Je monastery in recognition of this. Any Kurukulla Center members who are interested in joining Geshe-la are more than welcomed to. Geshe-la has also said that if any Kurukulla students want to plan or organize a small pilgrimage trip after the anniversary, he would be happy to go along with you. If this is something you are seriously interested in and would like to start planning please let us know, so we can direct other interested parties your way. He will be in India roughly November 15 - January 15 (the one year anniversary is November 21).


For six of the weeks that he is away we are excited to be hosting Ven. Robina Courtin as our visiting teacher. She will be leading regular classes while Geshe-la is away, and we are joyful to be able to bring her back to Kurukulla Center.



Volunteer Work at your Center 


After class today, as many of you may have heard, our Spiritual Program Coordinator, Tsultrim, shared that, following Lama Zopa Rinpoche's recommendation, he will be ordained as a monk and, most likely, moving to Sera Je monastery to engage in more intensive study. Choden Rinpoche has agreed to offer him ordination vows at Sera Je monastery this upcoming October, and he expects to leave Kurukulla Center in early September. What wonderful news, we rejoice!


What this does mean, though, is that, especially until we find a full-time replacement, we are going to be asking for a little bit more in terms of volunteer projects and work our members might be interested in engaging. At Kurukulla Center we never charge for any of the Dharma teachings that we offer, and we are only able to do this because of your support, not just fiscally but in your time and energy. By volunteering at the Center, not only are you serving the wishes of our spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche, but also directly working to share the Dharma with countless sentient beings, which is an incredible opportunity.  


Tsultrim is responsible for a number of small tasks around the Center, and as we add them up we see that we will need some engaged member support to cover them as he leaves. We will be able to share more information with you about what you can do in the weeks to come, but please start thinking about what you might be able to offer. In the immediate future we are looking for support on our Work Day on April 16, mentioned above, as well as during Ven. Antonio's visit in May and Ven. Robina's visit in December & January. Feel free to email Tsultrim if you are interested in helping out, and as I said, he will have more information and specifics regarding how you can help soon. 


Thank you again for your wonderful support.


Much love,

Debra Thornburg

  Debra Thornburg
Calendar of Events

Monday March 28    


Introduction to Buddhism with Ani YesheAni Yeshe-la

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Introduction to Buddhism, taught by Ani Yeshe, is an on-going series. Each class will introduce a new topic as a way to provide newcomers a broad overview of Buddhism. The course is designed for those who are new or newly acquainted with the Center, to come and hear basic Buddhist teachings, ideas and concepts. Bring all your questions. It is fine to attend any class without having attended prior classes. All welcome!



Tuesday March 29    

Morning Meditation with Ven. Tsunma-la (Sue Macy)Ani Tsunma-la

6:30 am - 7:00 am

Start your day on the right foot by calming your mind, setting your day's purpose to be a meaningful one and remembering to just breathe! Resident nun Tsunma-la leads basic meditations that help stabilize the mind by learning to focus on the breath. By using these simple techniques, you can bring a sense of tranquility to your day. If you plan to join Tsunma-la in the meditation hall (gompa) at Kurukulla Center, please arrive a few minutes early. We will start promptly at 6:30 am. If you cannot make it into the Center, you are also welcome to participate from your home by listening on-line to the live broadcast.


Lama Chopa (Guru Puja)Lama Chopa

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm 

The word puja means "to please" and has the connotation to please through offerings and practice. The Guru Puja lays the whole path to enlightenment on our mindstream, connects us more strongly to our teachers, allows us to accumulate skies of merit and purifies eons of negative karma. We chant the first 2/3rds of this puja in Tibetan and the last 1/3 we recite in English.

We always recommend bringing offerings of some sort, food, unscented tea lights, flowers, etc, as a way of earning merit. By making donations at, or sponsoring, a specific puja, you are strengthening and empowering the merit you receive in relationship to that puja, in this case the merit we receive by celebrating our gurus and the immeasurable benefit they have offered all sentient beings through their teachings. Generosity is the first of the six perfected qualities of a bodhisattva, planting the seeds to ensure that we will have all the material things necessary in future lives to continue our study of Dharma and working for the benefit of all beings, and this puja is a wonderful opportunity to practice generosity. This does not necessarily mean making more offerings, but rather making offerings that are of high value to you, that you find delightful and want to offer your gurus and all buddhas, quantity and quality being factors but not defining marks for an offering. Offerings are not an obligation but an opportunity, so we encourage you to make the most of it.

All are welcome. 


Note: There is no Yoga & Meditation with Wendy Cook and no Kurkulla South with Tsultrim Davis this week. Both will return next week. 



Wednesday March 30    


37 Practices of a Bodhisattva with Geshe Ngawang TenleyGeshe Tenley-la

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Geshe-la continues his explanation of The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva by Togme Sangpo (1245-1369.) Come and learn what a bodhisattva does. All are welcome. A copy of the text will be distributed in class and contemporary commentaries are available for purchase in our bookstore. If you cannot make it into the Center, you are also welcome to participate from your home by listening on-line to the live broadcast.



Thursday March 31  


Discovering Buddhism: All About Karma with Ven. Tsunma-la (Sue Macy)

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

This module, All About Karma, aims to introduce you to the Buddhist concept of karma, the law of cause and effect, and what it means to take personal responsibility. Using examples from everyday life we will analyze how actions determine their results and cause us to experience either happiness or suffering. We will explore purification practices and establish a daily meditation on karma.The course meets four consecutive Thursday evenings: March 17, 24 & 31 and April 7. It is recommended you attend all four sessions but it is not required. If you cannot make it into the Center, you are also welcome to participate from your home by listening on-line to the live broadcast.



Friday April 1   


Morning Meditation with Ven. Tsunma-la (Sue Macy)

6:30 am - 7:00 am

Resident nun Tsunma-la continues the Morning Meditation series on Fridays with a variation on the stabilizing meditations that have been offered earlier. The focus is now using our analytical mind to investigate core Buddhist concepts as a way to deepen our understanding of them. If you plan to join Tsunma-la in the meditation hall (gompa) at Kurukulla Center, please arrive a few minutes early. We will start promptly at 6:30 am. If you cannot make it into the Center, you are also welcome to participate from your home by listening on-line to the live broadcast.



Saturday April 2  


Sunday April 3  

Prostration to the 35 Confession Buddhas with a senior student
9:00 am - 9:30 am
This powerful purification practice contains the elements of "the four opponent powers" and includes prostration, recitation and visualization. This practice is highly recommended by our teachers. For development along the path it's very important to "weed our garden" or purify the negative seeds on our mindstream. This session is a great opportunity to learn through doing.

Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand Day 3 with Geshe Ngawang Tenley
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Pabongka Rinpoche's Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand is the seminal lam-rim text of the 20th century. It is a transcription of a 24 day lam rim teaching given in 1921. Offered as a "practical teaching," it is less scholarly than Je Tsongkhapa's Jang chub lam rim chen mo or The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment and as such it is the text from which most modern lamas teach lam rim. Today Geshe-la gives commentary on Day 3, on the greatness of the Dharma and how to study and teach Dharma. If you cannot make it into the Center, you are also welcome to participate from your home by listening on-line to the live broadcast.

     Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies

     68 Magoun Avenue
     Medford, MA 02155

May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes!