Walking Where the Buddha Taught,
A Journey to Enlightenment

The Importance of Sacred Pilgrimage

Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International (LBDFI) has promoted pilgrimage since its inception in 2006. The importance of pilgrimage is mentioned in theMahaparanibbana Sutta by the Blessed One, who recommended visiting the four places central to his ministry, to strengthen faith and devotion and to offer opportunities to meditate on the teachings and ethical precepts of the Buddhadharma. This remains as true today as it was in ancient times. Furthermore, the Buddha recommended the building of Stupas in important places, such as crossroads and major cities, again to promote interest in the teachings and to offer opportunities to gather merit.

This edition of our newsletter focuses on pilgrimage, both as an extension of LBDFI’s work in India, and as an opportunity for all of us to get involved. Over the years we have organized pilgrimages on many occasions, and invite you all to a new event this year. Furthermore, we would like to share with you excerpts from writings of Venerable Tarthang Tulku, founder of LBDFI, which describe pilgrimage and its importance.

We have also included a brief update on all the other projects that are in progress during 2017, including our initiatives to train a new generation of Indian monks, and offer support to the existing Indian Sangha within the land of the Aryadesa, the Motherland of India.

A Sacred Journey in the Footsteps of the Buddha – Begins This Year

This year LBDFI will be offering extraordinary pilgrimages to all of the Sacred Places of the Buddha. Unique Tipitaka chanting programs will be held at each site and the program will culminate with the 13th International Tipitaka Chanting ceremony in Bodh Gaya, the 1st Mahayana chanting ceremony in Rajgir and the optional 1st chanting which will take place at the historical state of Orissa at the ancient sites of Udagiri and Ratnagiri.

By joining together on this sacred pilgrimage, we have a chance to walk directly in the footsteps of the Blessed One where great sutras were recited according to each vehicle, strengthening our resolve as Buddhist family to reconnect to our lineage. We hope that these ceremonies and Dharma talks will inspire others to come forward and see the merit in offering our collective service to strengthening the Buddhadharma in our Motherland as well as in our heartland of the United States of America where so many Buddhist temples are located.

We have two pilgrimage programs available:

  • Option A includes participation at all sacred sites for Tipitaka Chanting Programs. A meditation course in Bodh Gaya will also be offered.
  • Option B includes the International Tipitaka Chanting Program in Bodh Gaya, the 1st Mahayana Chanting and the Orissa program.

If you are interested in joining this sacred journey, please reach out to us by August 31, 2017! This is a rare and precious opportunity to be seated at the sites where the Blessed One walked and taught and to hear the sounds of the Dharma resounding in the lands of the Aryadesh.

Check out a short film which captures moments of our 2016 Pilgrimage.
To learn more about this year’s pilgrimage program, click here.For more information or to register
please email us at 
lbdfioffice@gmail.com (Attn: Cindy)

Excerpt from the Mahaparinibbana Sutta
and Commentary from Tarthang Rinpoche’s Holy Places of the Buddha

There are four places, Ananda, that a devout person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. What are these four places?

“’Here the Tathagata was born!’ This, Ananda is a place that a devout person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

“’Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment!’ This, Ananda is a place that a devout person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

“’Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dharma!’ This, Ananda is a place that a devout person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

“’Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of nirvana in which no element of clinging remains!’ This, Ananda is a place that a devout person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

“’These, Ananda, are the four places that a devout person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence. And truly, there will come to these places, Ananda, devoted monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen reflecting: ‘Here the Tathagata was born! Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment! Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dharma! Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of nirvana in which no element of clinging remains.’

“And whoever, Ananda, should die on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in faith, at the breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness.”

Mahaparinibbana-sutta

With these words, spoken in a grove near Kusinagara shortly before his final breath, the Buddha emphasized the value of pilgrimage and directed his disciples to visit four significant sites. These four sites, which commemorate the essential events in the life of an enlightened being, are: Lumbini, birthplace of Siddhartha, Prince of the Sakya clan; Bodh Gaya, where six years after he departed from home, Siddhartha dispelled all remnants of illusory existence and demonstrated the attainment of complete, perfect enlightenment in the shade of the Bodhi Tree; Sarnath, site of the Buddha’s first teaching and the first manifestation of the Sangha, the community that exemplifies the blessings of practicing the path to enlightenment; and Kusinagara, where the Buddha entered Parinirvana, completely passing way from all forms of worldly existence.

The Buddha himself proclaimed the importance of practice at these locations. Foreseeing that in these dark times of the Kaliyuga the Dharma would fall into decline, he counseled his followers to respect the holy places of the past and to journey there to pay homage to the Buddha and Sangha. He advised that they sit in meditation, visualizing the Buddha, letting the Three Jewels enter their hearts, and praying with devotion that the teachings be preserved.

In these uncertain times, it is important that we follow this counsel, honoring the ancient places of pilgrimage, repairing the monuments erected there, and revitalizing them as centers for dharma transmission. When we gather at sacred sites to invoke and honor the Triple Gem through prayer, meditation, and offerings, we clear the way for compassion and enlightened understanding to manifest in the world.

Initiation of the Dharma Training Wheel in India

In collaboration with theInternational Tipitaka Chanting Council and the Khyentse Foundation, we will be selecting 48 monks from all Theravada countries to join us on a Dharmayatra to recite the Tipitaka at each of the holy sites of the Buddha. Local Sangha along with their devotees from each area will be invited to a two or three day chanting program in each location, followed by a Dharmayatra to an important site in that region. All participants will then be invited to Bodhgaya to attend a dharma training conference that will be held on December 1st, and will be followed by a Prātimokṣarecitation for Indian monks.

Registration for Ceremonies is Now Open!

The registration forms for this year’s entire 2017 International Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony Program are now available for all of you who are interested in joining us. This year we will be going to all eight sacred sites of the Blessed One with the precious Mahasangha to recite specific sutras associated with that particular site. All are welcome to join us in this Dharma movement in the Motherland of India, bringing back the sacred teachings to each sacred site of where the Blessed One walked and taught.

Registration for all ceremonies can be found here.

Tipitaka Chanting Books Available as eBooks

All of the Tipitaka Chanting Books are now available as eBooks and can be download for free on your iPad or cell phone. You can browse and download the Tipitaka Chanting eBooks here.

The Pilgrim’s Path
from Tarthang Rinpoche’s
Holy Places of the Buddha

Inspired by admiration and devotion, the path of pilgrimage attunes the aspirant to the body, speech and mind of the Buddha, enabling them to participate in the Buddha’s enactment of birth, enlightenment, teaching, and the complete passing from sorrow, all raised to the point of perfection through the acts of the Buddha.

For those who appreciate that the Buddha’s actions illuminate the quest for knowledge and fulfillment, pilgrimage is a physical and symbolic returning to the center, a way of realizing the central meaning of the Buddha’s life and teachings. In undertaking such a journey, pilgrims transform their understanding by reflecting deeply on the view, decisions and resolve that open wide the path to realization.

Pilgrimage enacted with devotion turns the mind toward knowledge and parts the barriers erected by self-doubt and fear; admiration for those who showed the way to attainment awakens vision, generating love for all beings and an earnest wish to contribute to their happiness. Within this wider vision, pilgrimage takes on the quality of prayer; fusing a deep inner communion with the outer form of devotion, pilgrimage becomes a celebration of human potentiality. In walking in the footsteps of the Buddha, the pilgrim experiences, however briefly, the thrust toward enlightenment that gives rise to an endless procession of Buddhas. With heart established in faith, the pilgrim returns from this journey to a world transformed into a stage for accomplishment.

A Refreshing Cardamom Lassi Recipe for Summer

Ingredients
1/2 cup of plain, whole milk yogurt
1 cup of water
1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom
A bit of honey for sweetening

Directions
Blend or whisk yogurt, water and cardamom together. Add more or less water depending on how thick you prefer the lassi. Add a bit of honey to sweeten. A splash of rosewater is also lovely and delicious.

News and Announcements: Tipitaka Chanting Programs in the United States

We are happy to announce that the 2nd International Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony on the East Coast will be held on Washington, DC on June 8th – 10th, 2017.

We also have great news to share with all our Berkeley Bay Area friends and friends on the West Coast. The 4th International Tipitaka Chanting Program will be held on September 22nd – 24th, 2017. All are welcome to join us as we continue to recite the precious Tipitaka together in downtown Berkeley at Mangalam Center.

Our first Dharma talk during the Berkeley Tipitaka will be in the evening on September 22nd, 2017. Ajahn Pasanno, the most senior Western disciple of Ven. Ajahn Chah in the United States, and most senior in the world after Ajahn Sumedho and Ajahn Khemadhammo, will talk about the following topic:  Living a Noble Life, Heart Advice from the Ajahn Chah Lineage. Be sure to save the date for this auspicious dharma talk on your calendar.

We are looking for volunteers to help with organization, set up, decoration, cooking, registration and driving during the September 22nd – 24th Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony in Berkeley, CA. It is the dedication of our volunteers that makes the ceremony a success! If you would like to join our team of volunteers in this meritorious event, please contact lbdfioffice@gmail.com

Ways You Can Help: For Every Dollar, We Will Match Your Donation

Our Impact and Your Matching Grant
As we move forward in this historical mission, we are calling on like-minded individuals to share it with us. Matching grants are available for all of our projects, and we hope to expand our activities through your support. We firmly believe that by nurturing the roots of the great wisdom culture of the Buddhadharma, its branches, like those of the Bodhi Tree itself, will spread offering refuge and benefit to all sentient beings. We have also worked on the historical UNESCO site of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara and will continue to make effort towards the beautification and clean up of this area. Our strong network and excellent relationships with local government allows us to get projects done.

International Tipitaka Chanting Program; The Dharma Training Wheel
As mentioned above we will be holding ceremonies in eight imoprtant Buddhist pilgrimage sites this year. Please join us in creating the virtuous conditions for the dharma to arise in the Motherland of India!

Arya Sangha Training Program
LBDFI has now initiated a nine-year training program for Indian monks. Candidate monks will be sponsored to spend three years in training centers in Thailand (Vinaya training), Sri Lanka (Sutta Training) and Myanmar (Abhidamma and Meditation training). Each year five monks will be enrolled into this program and will be sponsored to fly to the respective countries, spending nine months in training and three months returning to India to their home viharas. It is hoped that over the course of twenty-five years 100 monks can be trained in the Arya Sangha training program, and after will return to India and open training centers and viharas of their own.

Reviving the Sacred Jethian Valley
LBDFI has recently purchased land in the valley, directly beside the entrance to the Asura cave, used by the Blessed One in the years directly following the enlightenment. We hope to use this land to create a home for the Arya Sangha Training Program, and thus be able to offer a place for meditation and training for our Indian bhikkhus. Now that we have the land, we are looking for special friends in Dharma to lay the foundation of a future home.

Completing the Tapovan Gardens at the Mahabodhi Mahavihara
LBDFI is working to complete the landscaping of a major portion of the World Heritage Temple grounds, and is working with award winning landscape designers to create a meditation garden that overlooks the main Temple itself. This is an ongoing program for all those who love beauty.

Creating a Documentary Film, Evam Me Suttam
We are working to fund a film that will document the ancient sites associated with the Blessed One along with the significance of the Mahasangha, with attention to the oral tradition of the Theravada. Production to begin Spring 2017-2018.
We are a completely volunteer based organization.
If you would like to help in any way,
please feel free to contact us at lbdfiorg@gmail.com

WWW.LBDFI.ORG