Newsletter of the Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies

Number 11, August 1997


This fall at Kurukulla Center brings much to look forward to.

Venerable Robina Courtin returns to Kurukulla Center in August to inspire us in our practice with a course entitled, "The Path to Bliss." Using the teachings on the lam rim, or step-by-step method for becoming a buddha, Robina will explain these essential points over four evenings in her usual robust style.

We are quite pleased to announce that Geshe Tsulga will be giving an extended series of teachings on the classic text by Shantideva, A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life. This extremely important text, the cornerstone for practice in all four Tibetan lineages, will provide the basis for Geshe Tsulga's Sunday teachings throughout the Fall.

Returning this Fall as Geshe Tsulga's translator will be Pasang Tenzin, who holds an Acharya degree from the Tibetan Institute of Higher Studies in India. We wish current translators John and Sara well during their upcoming year of research in Switzerland.

On Tuesday evenings in September, Geshe-la will be teaching a class in his apartment on the Guru Puja, a beautiful ritual composed by the first Panchen Lama and often performed at Kurukulla Center.

There will be a special emphasis on practice in October, as Geshe Tsulga devotes his Wednesday classes at Friends Meetinghouse to particular meditation practices. The first half of each class will include an explanation, while the second half will be devoted to performing the practice as a group. October 1 and 8 will focus on Medicine Buddha. Green Tara will form the basis for the classes on October 15, 22, and 29.

In addition to these classes, Geshe Tsulga will be leading a Medicine Buddha retreat at Milarepa Center over Columbus Day weekend. This is an ideal opportunity to get to know your fellow Center members better and to enjoy the New England foliage while creating the causes for one's future happiness.

Finally, in November and December, Geshe Tsulga will be teaching on the Gelug version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a concise text entitled the Bardo Thongdrol. Contained within it are pith instructions for navigating the state between rebirths.

We hope you will be able to join us for our exciting fall season!


After a long dry spell, Kurukulla Center once again will have the good fortune to host our Spiritual Director, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, this coming Spring.

As Spiritual Director to more than eighty centers worldwide through the network of the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition), Rinpoche travels near continuously, always looking for the place where his guidance will be most beneficial.

While in Boston, Rinpoche will bestow initiations of Thousand- Arm Chenrezig and the Twenty-One Taras, as well as teachings on thought transformation.


As many of you know, we had to make a special appeal in June for donations, as our bank account became disturbingly low. Within three weeks of making appeals at Geshe-la's teachings, we had raised the funds necessary to cover our summer costs for Geshe-la (rent, food, health insurance, stipend) and the Center (rent and publicity). Our deepest thanks to all of you who responded so positively. It was heartening to see how many members and friends realize the value of Geshe-la's teachings and the Center's existence.

From past experience, it seems that Kurukulla Center's finances run on a year cycle, with an influx of funds in the fall and a slack period every summer. Our crack team of financial consultants believes this reflects the fact that much of Cambridge and Boston runs on the same cycle, because of the universities' schedules and the general exodus from the city during the summer.

Nevertheless, our expenses of approximately $1500-1800 per month continue year round, while our membership donations currently run in the $1000-1200 range. So please keep up to date on your membership donations--we hate to call to remind you, perhaps even more than you hate to be called. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining. Suggested donations are $40 per month, but any contribution that reflects your income is certainly welcome.

Kurukulla Center is an all-volunteer organization, existing solely to make Buddhist teachings in the Tibetan tradition available to the Boston area. We have a great opportunity to help ourselves and others through supporting Geshe-la's teachings as well as other visiting teachers. This fall will see a very full schedule of teachings, both by Geshe-la and Westerners. In the spring, we anticipate a visit by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Kurukulla Center Spiritual Director.

Of course, running a busy schedule means extra expenses. Your personal practice is the best way to keep the Buddhist tradition flourishing, but we hope you view your monthly donations as a way of saying thanks.

At Geshe-la's urging, our goal for the near future is to find a permanent space for our center, a house which could become the physical center of our activities. If you are interested in helping us search for a suitable space and/or would like to make a donation earmarked towards a mortgage, please contact Suzanne Persyn. Thank you!


A Sustaining Membership entails a donation of $100 per month ($1,000 per year). As a Sustaining Member, you receive all the benefits of a Regular Membership, plus you attend all events at Kurukulla Center free of charge.

For $40 per month (or $400 per year) you can become a Regular Member. Students, and those on limited incomes, can join for $25 per month ($250 per year). As a Regular Member/Student Member you receive all the benefits of a Friend of Kurukulla Center, plus you can attend teachings by Geshe Tsulga, and regular classes, free of charge.

With a donation of $100 per year, you can become a Friend of Kurukulla Center. At this basic level of support, you can attend all Center events at a 20% discount; you will receive an FPMT membership card, offering 20% discount at other FPMT Centers; you will receive Mandala, the magazine of the FPMT, for one year; and you will receive the Kurukulla Center newsletter, Lotus Arrow, and all fliers announcing teachings. If you cannot afford these membership rates, but would like to make a regular contribution to Kurukulla Center, please contact Suzanne at (617) 628-1953. All donations are gratefully appreciated. If you cannot afford a donation, please come to the teachings anyway as a guest of the Center.


Summer 1997 at Kurukulla Center brought many opportunities for students to enhance their positive qualities and reduce their karmic obstructions.

In June, Ven. Robina Courtin burst upon the scene with her usual cut-to-the-chase style, prodding and pushing students to "check up" and really look at their thoughts and actions. Giving commentary on the traditional explanation of mental phenomena called lo rig, Ven. Robina aimed to help listeners bring more precision to their meditation by advising them on what to expect from--and what to do with--the emotions and habitual thinking that inevitably come up.

Kurukulla Center's ranks were swelled by a caravan of practitioners from the Asian Classics Institute in New York during Geshe Michael Roach's weekend seminar in July. The pristine calm of Cambridge Zen Center's Dharma room was filled with lively debates about where the mind comes from and where it goes at the time of death, as Geshe Michael led us through the proofs given by Master Dharmakirti in the 7th century for past and future lives.

Geshe Tsulga provided much-appreciated clarification of karma and thought transformation during his summer talks, energizing students in their practice and understanding. Geshe-la's teachings served as a potent reminder that we all have the potential for Buddhahood within us--and that our jobs are to create the conditions for this potential to arise. As we have come to expect, Geshe-la's teachings mixed illuminating explanations with compassionate humor.

Many students also traveled to Milarepa Center in Vermont to at tend Geshe-la's standing room only Medicine Buddha practice weekend. Though the summer nights fell below 50 degrees (and few of us from Boston thought to bring socks), the careful guidance of Geshe-la and the commitment of our fellow practitioners inspired a mindful weekend of practice.

Several Kurukulla Center members met the young Zong Rinpoche on his recent visit to Boston. Although few of us were fortunate enough to meet Zong Rinpoche in his previous incarnation, his acute perceptiveness and intense energy during this visit to Boston were remarkable enough to bring one former director to exclaim, "Well, he's definitely the incarnation of somebody!" Also appreciated was the kindness and devotion of Rinpoche's attendant, Tenzin Wangchuck.


We are pleased to announce that Dr. Nick Ribush will be offering a weekly class, "Clearing the Mind: Purification as the Basis of Spiritual Attainment," Wednesdays in September. Recommended reading: The Tantric Path of Purification, by Lama Thubten Yeshe (Wisdom Publications). Classes will be held at the Friends Meeting House, Cambridge, MA.

Dr. Ribush is an Australian physician who has been a student of Lamas Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche since 1972. He was a monk for twelve years, is former director of Kurukulla Center and Wisdom Publications, and is now director of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.


We would like to extend our thanks to Jennifer Campinelli and David Strom for organizing the Geshe Michael Roach teachings at Kurukulla Center in July, and to everyone else who helped in planning and setup.

Special thanks to everyone who helped with Zong Rinpoche's visit to Boston: Steve Rosenberg for overseeing the visit, Axel and Christine Lebois for hosting Zong Rinpoche in their home, and everyone who helped take care of Zong Rinpoche during his visit.

Thank you, everyone who offered donations to help purchase an air conditioner for Geshe Tsulga.

As always, our greatest thanks go to Geshe-la for his illuminating spring and summer teachings. Thank you, Sara McClintock and John Dunne, for your excellent translations.

We would like to thank Peter Baker, Director of Milarepa Center, Kurukulla's sister center in Barnet, VT, for his efforts during the summer retreats and Geshe Tsulga's annual children's camp.

Thanks to Suzanne Persyn, Kurukulla Center Director, for her hard work organizing and securing space for Kurukulla Center events, and for attending to the countless details that keep the Center active.

Thanks especially to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Kurukulla Center Spiritual Director, and to the help we receive from other FPMT centers worldwide.

Thanks to all our members and friends whose contributions of time, energy, and donations support Geshe Tsulga and the teachings at Kurukulla Center. Let's remember to rejoice in each other's merit.


Kurukulla Center needs a fax machine (new or used). Please contact us if you might like to donate one.

Volunteer opportunities at Kurukulla Center:

  • Hosting visiting teachers in your home
  • Organizing special events
  • Setting up the altar and room for teachings
  • Driving Geshe Tsulga to and from teachings
  • Helping with our mailings

If you would like to volunteer a few hours a month at Kurukulla Center please contact (617) 628-1953.

We still are looking for a free space for the teachings, and eventually a permanent place for the Center and Geshe-la. If you would like to help with this project, please contact Suzanne. Even a few hours of making calls can bring us closer to finding a home for the Center.

The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) is an international organization of more than eighty Buddhist meditation and teaching centers and similar activities around the world under the spiritual directorship of Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, a highly accomplished yogi and scholar born in Nepal in 1946 and trained in monasteries in Tibet and India. With his main teacher, Lama Thubten Yeshe, who passed away in 1984, he founded the FPMT in 1975. The Foundation's main office is in California, where the FPMT publishes a bimonthly newsmagazine, Mandala. Kurukulla members receive Mandala automatically. The FPMT can be contacted by writing to PO Box 1778, Soquel, CA 95073.