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Table of Contents

Where We Live
Where We Came From
What We Believe
Our Music
Our Art
Surviving an Alpine Environment

Where we Live


The area known as Tibet is located between Indian and Nepal in the south and China in the north.

Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft). It is sometimes referred to as the roof of the world.



Where We Came From

In the beginning was voidness, a vast emptiness without cause, without end. From this great voidness there arose gentle stirrings of wind, which after countless eons grew thicker and heavier, forming the mighty double thunderbolt sceptre of Dorje Gyatram.

Dorje Gyatram created the clouds, which in turn created the rain. The rain fell for many years until the primeval ocean was formed. Then, all was calm, quiet, and peaceful; the ocean became clear as a mirror.

Slowly the winds began to breathe once more, gently moving over the waters of the ocean, churning them continually until a light foam appeared on the surface. Just as cream is churned into butter, so were the waters of Gyatso churned into earth by the rhythmic motion of the winds.
The earth rose like a mountain, and around its peaks murmured the wind, ever moving, tireless, forming cloud from which fell more rain, only this time heavier and full of salt, giving birth to the great oceans of the universe.

The center of the universe is Rirap Lhunpo (Sumeru) the great four-sided mountain made of precious stones and full of beautiful things. There are rivers and streams on Rirap Lhunpo and many kinds of trees, fruits, and plants, for Rirap Lhunpo is special - it is the abode of the gods and demi-gods.
Around Rirap Lhunpo is a great lake, and encircling the lake a ring of golden mountains. Beyond the ring of golden mountains is another lake, it too encircled by mountains of gold, and so on, seven lakes, seven rings of golden mountains, and outside the last ring of mountains is the lake Chi Gyatso.
It is in Chi Gyatso that the four worlds are found, each like an island, with its own particular shape and distinct inhabitants. The world of the East is Lu Phak and is shaped like the half moon. People of Lu Phak live for five hundred years and they are peaceful; there is no fighting in Lu Phak. The people have bodies like giants and faces shaped like the half moon. They are not as fortunate as us, however, for they have no religion to follow.

The western world is called Balang Cho and is like the sun in shape. As in Lu Phak the people are large and live for five hundred years, but they have faces shaped like the sun and they keep many kinds of cattle.

The land of the North is square in shape and is called Dra Mi Nyen. People of Dra Mi Nyen have square faces and they live for a thousand years or more. In Dra Mi Nyen food and riches are abundant. Everything a man needs in his thousand-year lifetime comes to him without effort or suffering - he lives in luxury, wanting for nothing. But during the last seven days of life pain and mental torture attack the beings of Dra Mi Nyen, for then they receive a sign that they are about to die. A voice comes and whispers to them - a terrible voice - saying how they will die and what monstrous suffering they will endure in the hells after death. In the last seven days of life all their riches and possessions decay and they endure more sufferings than we experience in a lifetime. Dra Mi Nyen is known as "The Land of the Fearful Voice."
Our own world in the South is called Dzambu Ling. At first our world was inhabited by gods from Rirap Lhunpo. There was no pain or sickness, nor did the gods ever want for food. They lived in contentment, spending their days in deep meditaion. There was no need for light on Dzambu Ling then, for the gods emitted a pure light from their own bodies.

One day one of the gods noticed that on the surface of the earth there was a cream-like substance, and tasting it he found it to be delightful to the palate and encouraged other gods to taste it. All the gods so enjoyed eating the creamy food that they would eat nothing else, and the more they ate the more their powers diminished. No longer were they able to sit in deep meditation; the light that once shown so brightly from their bodies began to fade, and finally was lost altogether. The world was clothed in darkness, and the mighty gods of Rirap Lhunpo became human beings.
Then, out of the darkness of night there appeared in the heavens the sun, and when the sun faded the moon and stars lit up the sky and illumined the world. The sun, moon, and stars appeared because of the past good deeds of the gods, and are a constant reminder to us that our world was once a peaceful, beautiful place, free from grasping, suffering, and pain.

When the people of Dzambu Ling had exhausted the supply of creamy food, they began to eat the fruit of the nyugu plant. Each person had his own plant, which produced a corn-like fruit, and each day, as one fruit was eaten, another would appear, one a day, which was enough to satisfy the hunger of of the beings of Dzambu Ling.

One morning a man awoke to find that instead of producing only a single fruit his plant had grown two. Feeling greedy, he ate the two fruits, but the next day his plant was empty. Needing to satisfy his hunger, the man stole someone elses plant, and so it went on and on, each person needing to steal from another in order to eat. With theft came greed, and each person, afraid of being left without, began to grow more and more nyugu plants, having to work harder and harder to ensure that he would have enough to eat.

Strange things began to happen on Dzambu Ling. What used to be the peaceful abode of the gods from Rirap Lhunpo was now full of men who knew theft and greed. One day, a man felt that his genitals were causing him discomfort and tore them from his body, becoming a woman. This woman had contact with men and soon had children, who in turn had more children, and in a short time Dzambu Ling was filled with people, all of whom had to find food and places to live.
The people of Dzambu Ling did not live in peace together. There was much fighting and stealing; indeed, the people of our world began to experience real suffering arising from the unsatisfactory state in which they found themselves. The people knew that in order to survive they would have to become organized. They all gathered together and decided to elect a leader of the people, whom they called Mang Kur, meaning "many people made him king." Mang Kur taught the people how to live in relative harmony, each with his own land on which to build a home and grow food.

This is how our world came to be, how from gods we became human beings, subject to disease, old age, and death. When we look into the night sky, or bask in the warm brilliance of the sun, we should remember that, but for the good deeds of the gods from the precious mountain of Rirap Lhunpo, we would be living in total darkness, and but for the greed and desire of one person our world would not know the suffering it experiences today.

As long as any living being
draws breath,
Wherever he shall be,
There, in compassion
Will the Buddha appear,
- Ngon tok gyen

What We Believe

Buddhism began in northeastern India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. The religion is 2,500 years old and is followed by 350 million Buddhists worldwide. Buddhism is the main religion in many Asian countries. It is a religion about suffering and the need to get rid of it. A key concept of Buddhism is Nirvana, the most enlightened, and blissful state that one can achieve. A state without suffering.

Buddhist worship is called puja. People chant to show their love for the Buddha. They make offerings of flowers, candles, incense and pure water at a shrine. People thank Buddha for his teachings.

Buddhist believe that there is a cycle of birth, life and death and rebirth. This goes on and on. They believe that unless someone gains Enlightenment, when they die they will be reborn. If a person can gain Enlightenment, they can break out of this cycle.
Breaking out of the cycle is called Nirvana (sometimes called Nibbana). It is the end of everything that is not perfect. It is perfect peace, free of suffering.

Buddhists believe that the Buddha saw the truth about what the world is like. They believe that nothing in the world is perfect, and that the Buddha found the answer to why it is like this. They do not believe that the Buddha was a god. He was a human being just like them. They believe that he was important because he gained Enlightenment, and he chose to teach other people how to reach it too.

The Three Jewels
There are three Buddhist central beliefs. These are known as the three jewels as they are felt to be so precious.
  1. Belief in Buddha
  2. Dharma - The teaching of Buddha
  3. The Sangha - the Buddhist community made up of ordinary people as well as the monks and nuns. The purpose is to help others and by doing so to cease to become selfish and to move on the way towards enlightenment.
One important belief involves reincarnation: the concept that one must go through many cycles of birth, living, and death. After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana - a state of liberation and freedom from suffering.

From here.

If you have some time at home, watch this video on the lost treasures of Tibet.

Our Music for Buddhist Ceremonies

Much of traditional Tibetan music is related to Buddhism. Here are a few samples:

This music is played on Tibetan singing bowls. A wooden stick is whirled around along the lip of a metal bowl, creating a singing sound.


Our Art: Tibetan Sand Mandala

external image Mand-BK.jpg
From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means "mandala of colored powders." Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks.
From here.

Practitioners use the Mandala to visualize in meditation the steps along the Path to Enlightenment. In the Kalachakra Mandala, 722 deities, or manifestations of the supreme deity Kalachakra, are portrayed within a circle of some 2 metres in diameter in the form of miniature human, animal and flora forms, abstract pictographs and Sanskrit syllables. The sand is made from white stones ground and mixed with opaque water colors.
From here.

Surviving in an Alpine Environment

Yaks are the most useful animals in Tibet. Without them the famous Trans Himalayan trade between Nepal and Tibet would have been impossible. They can carry up to 220 lb (100 kg) each, and walk over the dangerous trails and snow-covered high Himalayan passes. In addition to being beasts of burden, they plough fields, provide meat, milk, butter, wool for clothing, and dung for fuel. Their bones are used to make various kinds of artifacts. The hair of the yak is used to make ropes, sacks, blankets, and tents. Nothing is wasted, even the horns are used to adorn doorways and rooftops.From here.