Everyday sacred

By ANN SHAFTEL, The Chronicle Herald, Feb 24, 2007

Halifax Shambhala Centre treats all things as inherently sacred

Halifax, Nova Scotia (CA) -- THE HALIFAX Shambhala Centre on Tower Road is known for its colourful shrine rooms filled with sacred art.

<< Someone sits in prayer at the Halifax Shambhala Centre. The Shambhala Buddhist tradition doesn’t make a division between sacred and secular. (Eric Wynne / Staff)

Centre director Andrea Doukas discussed the symbolism and care of Shambhala Buddhist sacred art as we walked through the rooms and offices.

She said that in the Shambhala Buddhist approach, everything is inherently sacred. Art objects used in ceremonies are symbolic of that sacredness.

"These objects represent the sacredness in everything. If we understood that, we would be treating our entire world as sacred."

Ms. Doukas said the bright orange colour of the main Buddhist shrine room represents wakefulness. The symbol on the front of the shrine is called a Knot of Eternity, which represents continuous meditative awareness.

Shambhala Centre shrines display beautiful Tibetan Buddhist paintings, statues, bowls of saffron water and other offerings, as well as Japanese archery bows and a calligraphy brush.

Most of the sacred art forms at the centre originated in the Himalayan region and are fragile and, therefore, challenging to care for.

There are sacred paintings called Thangkas: painted or appliqued picture panels sewn into a frame of rich brocade cloth. These require an expert trained in their care to preserve them. The paintings are sensitive to natural and artificial light, which can damage the pigments and the traditional silk brocades around the paintings.

There are sacred objects (paintings and statues) in the offices and hallways as well. Books in traditional Tibetan form and script, and Buddhist texts in English, are considered sacred and are stored respectfully and safely.

Ms. Doukas said the oldest and most valuable sacred art are relics that were carried from Tibet by the Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of the Shambhala Centre. Some are more than 1,000 years old. Their value lies not only in their age and history, but also in the continuity of the Buddha’s wisdom that they embody. These relics are kept respectfully in a climate-controlled safe.

The centre also holds a collection of personal and spiritual items that belonged to Trungpa Rinpoche. In the Tibetan tradition, anything that has touched the teacher’s body is considered sacred. He also brought with him treasured ceremonial robes of his lineage from Tibet.

The shrines are maintained by shrine keepers who come in once a week. A few sacred objects are rarely removed from the shrine, but others lead a temporary existence. Offerings of food and saffron water are removed from the shrine at night and placed outside for the animals.

Certain sacred art treasures, if retired from use at the centre, might be stored respectfully or given to someone in the community for use on their own Shambhala Buddhist shrine. Many church members have shrines in their homes.

"In the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, we don’t make such a division between sacred and secular. We do hold events that aren’t religious practice in our shrine rooms, and we don’t consider that, because they are secular, that they are not also sacred," Ms. Doukas said.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv