Dalai Lama gives gift to center

By Kevin Doran | IDS News, Oct. 28, 2009

Bloomington, Indiana (USA) -- Last week, a local Buddhist monastery received a unique gift. The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center received a package from “The Private Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Dharmasala India,” which contained more than 250 sacred texts of the Buddhist canon.

The texts, or pechas, donated are called the kangyur and tengyur, which talk about different teachings about the Buddha. The teachings are called the Three Jewels – three things Buddhists can take refuge in: the Buddha himself; the Dharma, the Buddha’s teachings; and the Sangha, the community of Buddhists.

“The Buddhist canon is massive,” said Heather Blair, assistant professor of East Asian Buddhism. “To have a copy is a really big deal.”

Blair talked about how a copy of canon, while expensive, also carries symbolic importance.

“The texts represent legitimacy and authority for the temple. This is a very significant gesture,” Blair said.

TMBCC coordinator Lisa Morrison agreed with Blair.

“It’s a very special gift because no other monastery in the West has these,” Morrison said. “There are layers and layers of information and teachings.”

The pechas are open to the public, but monks must assist onlookers because they are very important.

“These pechas are sacred teachings of the Buddha,” Morrison said. “Some of them were developed by different Dalai Lamas over the years.”

The Dalai Lama promised to donate sacred texts during a visit to Bloomington in 2007.
“He said he was going to donate two very important books with teachings and commentaries,” said the current abbot, the Venerable Arjia Rinpoche. “We are honored to have them in the temple.”

Rinpoche is pleased to have the texts and welcomes others to visit the temple. He said the temple is a nonsecretarian temple and that they welcome everyone.

“In our temple we have an interfaith alter where other religions are honored,” Rinpoche said. “We are always open for prayers and talks.”

Rinpoche plans to host the Dalai Lama when he comes to Bloomington in May to give talks and teachings at the center.

“We always invite him to give talks,” Rinpoche said. “Because he has become more popular, his schedule is busy and we have to work around it.”