Tibetan monks bless house up for sale

By TRICIA STUART, New Britain Herald, Dec 19, 2004

PLAINVILLE, CT (USA) -- On Saturday evening, five Tibetan monks from the Krnataka, and the Ggen Jangtse Monasteries in South India visited Bob Hoffman?s house at 30 Maxine Road and chanted in a ceremony to bless the house and remove negative energy. Nine people, including the owner, witnessed the ceremony.

Hoffman didn?t feel that his house had negative energy before the blessing ceremony but his house is on the market, and he hopes to sell it soon, so he felt it couldn?t hurt.

Ugyen Dorjee is the temporary driver and translator for the monks until they can find someone who better understands Tibetan.

The monks speak the Lhasa dialect. "It is the Buddhist Tibetan dialect, the language and dialect of the Dalai Lama," Dorjee said.

During the blessing ceremony, the monks played jaling (horns), dilbu (bells), singye (cymbals), and a nga (drum).

"The reason they play instruments is to entertain the Buddha.When playing, it is like praying, the Mantra (a mystical formula of invocation or incantation), to give guidance," said Dorjee.

The polyphonic chanting (two simultaneous sounds) had three-dimensional intensity like Dolby surround sound. The monks chanted in alternating periods of lower basso, then higher tones.The sound became cacophonous when they played the instruments.When they stopped, the silence came as a sudden shock.

One monk rose, taking with him the bumpa (bowl) filled with water and aromatic herbs and a peacock feather.He used the feather to lightly spray the aromatic water throughout the house, to purify it.

"The meaning of the higher chanting is to show aggressiveness toward the negative energy in the house.[In] the higher tone, you release more air and use more energy. It is to overcome, to stretch out the veins, to pass the air through the body, and to free the breathing.The low tone is not very aggressive, but it is showing wisdom and compassion," Dorjee translated.

Buddhist philosophy embraces compassion for others.Dorjee explained that there are four sects of Buddhist monks in India.

"The Krnataka Monastery follows the Gelugpa sect, the same as the Dalai Lama," he said. "The sects are different schools of the same philosophy.Much like Christianity has different forms," Hoffman said.

The Eightfold Noble Path, which is at the core of Buddhism, is much like the Christian Golden Rule in its belief of not hurting self or others.Buddhists practice right view, right thought, right intention, right action, right speech, right livelihood, right mindfulness, and right concentration.The last two elements of the Eightfold Noble Path relate to the practice of meditation.

Buddhism began in the 400s B.C. with a man named Siddhartha Guatma, who became the Buddha.The Buddha realized life, illness and death involved suffering, and he taught the causes of suffering, its remedies, and the path to end suffering.This explanation may seem simplistic, but the study of Buddhism encompasses volumes of literature and years of study and practice.

The visiting monks, who are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, have been staying in Boston, and have blessed at least 10 houses in the Greater Hartford area.They are in the United States until the end of May.Next, the monks will go to New Hampshire, back to Boston, travel to the West Coast, and then return to Hartford in January.

"The reason why the monks are in the United States is cultural trade, to show how a ceremony is performed.We use the contribution for the monastery.At the same time, they give some information about how they practice Buddhism," said Dorjee.

"There are 1,500 monks in the two monasteries.Each year the numbers increase as they take in orphans and train them how to be monks.The monastery is the only place they can have a future," Dorjee translated.

Dorjee pointed to the venerable Thupten Phunchok.

"This monk?s parents died when he was very young.That is how he joined the monastery."

Most monks begin at the age of 6 to 7 years old.

"At age 20, they take the vow to be a monk and then they cannot have any sexual affair. They are taught, like in school.As they get older, they learn more and more and they also have grades like in school," said Dorjee.

Although Buddhism was the most popular philosophy in India hundreds of years ago, it is practiced by only 3 percent of the population there today.Hinduism, Zoroastrianism (a form of Christianity), Jainism, Sikhism, Indian Judaism, Indian Christianity, and Islam are other philosophies and religions that are now practiced in India.

The monks will perform the blessing ceremony and other ceremonies for donations.They can be reached by e-mail at donnagomme@yahoo.com or dolmaling@hotmail.com.