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Monastery will remember tsunami victims, Buddhism

By Brandy Hawley, Ithaca Times, February 2, 2005

Ithaca, New York (USA) -- The Namgyal Monastery of Ithaca will be having a fund-raiser and prayer ceremony on Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. to benefit victims of the tsunami that swept South Asia earlier this year. The Monastery, located at 412 N. Aurora St. in Ithaca since 1992, is hoping to bring the tsunami tragedy back into the forefront of the news and raise money to give to the American Red Cross.

There will be a short teaching by one of the five monks living at the monastery about the rebirthing process and Karma, the law of cause and effect (what goes around, comes around), followed by an hour of ritual prayer ceremonies.

The fundamentals of Buddhism are the belief in the laws of Karma, that there is no supreme being and events occur because humans cause them. The universe is directly related to individual actions and the actions of all living beings.

The Buddhists believe that everyone has had many lives. Prayers are traditionally held every seven days after the day of death until the 49th day to help the process of being reborn. The rebirth must take place by the 49th day. Tibetan Buddhists accumulate good Karma by hope or actions and wish to transfer good deeds to the people who need it most.

Feb. 9 begins the Tibetan New Year, which lasts for four days. The Buddhists hope that Tibetans and western Buddhists will see this as an opportunity to gain more merit in karmic terms. They are expecting to have about 80 people on Feb. 9 for a morning of prayer.

Since Buddhism is such a minority religion here, the Monastery hopes to get people more interested in the way Buddhists see through their eyes and bring a shared understanding of basic world views and the way Buddhists deal with tragedy.

The Namgyal Monastery is an institute of Buddhist studies where programs are open to anyone who wishes to learn more about the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The Monastery offers a condensed three year curriculum for westerners to gain a good foundation and basic knowledge of Buddhism. The monks that live there have had at least 13 years of intensive studies and instructions on the creation of sand mandalas, ritual performance, chanting, music, and dance.

Ted Arnold, a member of the board of directors, hopes to bring more knowledge to the public. He once read that the "Dalai Lama, when exiled, came into contact with Christianity and was astounded by the level of service for their community and felt it was important for Buddhist to do more.

He had wanted to bring Buddhism more into the community service arena." Arnold hopes the prayer ceremonies will not only raise money to help victims of the devastating tsunami, but also provide the opportunity for the public to have a better understanding of Tibetan Buddhists traditions and for western Buddhists to become more involved in their communities.

Log onto www.namgyal.org for more information on the fund-raiser ceremonies or the Namgyal Monastery of Ithaca.


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