Lama Zopa Rinpoche had agreed to give the Medicine Buddha oral transmission via Zoom but at the last minute asked Khadro-la to take his place.
Khadro-la arrived in Sri Lanka a few days later. We frantically searched for a translator and were fortunate to have Fabrizzio step in from Italy (via Zoom).
Khadro-la arrived at a private residence in Colombo where 30 fortunate people had hurriedly gathered. We were able to recite the refuge prayers and offer a mandala in Sinhalese.
One of the attendees, Dr Liyanage said later “I never expected to hear such wisdom. I did not know what to expect. This surpassed all my expectations”.
Christmas is a holiday in majority Buddhist Sri Lanka. Malintha organised a 3 day Chenrezig retreat in Colombo carrying the weight of organising and leading the retreat. We were offered premises for which we are only paying power bills. 15 people joined in and we provided them with a specially printed book of prayers. Lekdron joined via Zoom at the start and end of the sessions. The Chenrezig sadhana and all practices and prayers were translated to Sinhalese. Many Om Mani Padme Hum mantras were recited. Feedback was wonderful.
Translation stage of Ancient Mahayana text (on how to build temples and statues and stupas) has been completed
A very old hybrid Sanskrit text was rediscovered in the Sri Lanka archives. It’s called Vastuvidya Sastra. It is a rare text believed to be orally transmitted by Manjushri to a practitioner in Sri Lanka. It was about to be returned to obscurity (untranslated) in the archives until Professor Walter Marasinghe stepped in to translate it. His original translation took him 15 years. At his request in 2022 Ven Lekdron started sponsoring a new translation of the text. Professor Marasinghe, who is now over 90 years old, is leading a team of experts in this new edition. Lekdron has undertaken to get it published.
Tara Lanka made a commitment to Lama Zopa that we would perform 100 Medicine Buddha pujas and we successfully completed that project in April 2022.
The 100th Medicine Buddha puja event was held in the holy city of Anuradhapura. Fuel shortages etc were beaten by Malintha; she organised a bus to bring attendees. Malintha and her husband sponsored most of the expenses, provided meals to attendees, provided the location, and technology. Tara Lanka sponsored offerings. The Head Monk from Abhayagiriya gave his blessings. Another monk led Pali prayers. About 120 people attended. Piyasiri Kulathunga conducted the Medicine Buddha puja. Prof Sunil Wijesiriwardana gave a talk on Bodhisattva attitude, and Dr Bertram Liyanage spoke about the 18 Nalanda Masters and the introduction of Mahayana ideas and their developments within historical Sri Lanka.
Extensive Medicine Buddha Pujas Continue
Rinpoche said to do Extensive Medicine Buddha pujas to bless the country. Yet again Malintha took on the task and seven long pujas were conducted in 2022. They were each sponsored by people experiencing various difficulties. With each puja, sponsors and those attending have gained enormous benefits and have increased confidence in the practice. Medicine Buddha practice traces back through ancient Sri Lankan culture and its indigenous medical system. Now, Extensive Medicine Buddha pujas are regularly held on auspicious days and a Sinhalese translation is on its way.
Translations into Sinhalese for Local Use
Medicine Buddha, Thangton Gyalpo and other prayers. Translating different prayers is ongoing. From Bendigo, Lekdron continues to organise translators and printers to keep this project flowing. Medicine Buddha puja text was reprinted with additional information thanks to Tushita FPMT centre for sharing teachings. Vajra Cutter and Heart Sutra were reprinted and distributed to hundreds of interested local monks and lay practitioners who continue the practices. Heartfelt gratitude to the generous translator, Prof W. M Gunathilaka, who has dedicated his retirement to translating precious texts completely free of any monetary benefit. His only wish is that his work be published.
|These titles are in the pipeline but are yet to be printed|
|And many more|
FPMT Merit Box Grant Awarded
But Project On Hold
Although Tara Lanka was successful in receiving a grant to print Pearl Garland, there is a severe paper shortage in Sri Lanka and we are unable to proceed at the moment.
Wrapping up Our Work at the Girls Shelter
Why we are moving
The Girls at WDC shelter have been close to our hearts. We’ve been involved with the girls’ shelter for 6 years. It was one of the first projects that Lekdron took on when she arrived back in Sri Lanka and one of the most emotionally challenging.
Friends have visited from overseas to give training and friendship and support to the girls and they have sponsored counsellors and trauma professionals. Tikiri has spent many hours teaching and helping girls deal with the neglect and abuse they have endured. Our aim was to give the girls an independent life after they turn 18 and have to leave the shelter.
With the generous support of Dr Thyagi and Maree Fowler, Lekdron and Tikiri have fought hard to get a handful of girls into a private school where they have done really well.
We leave with a very proud record and some excellent results for some of the girls we report on here, below. Thank you to all those wonderful people who gave their time and support, some of which is ongoing without new Tara Lanka projects there in the future.
Dr Thyagi (from USA) Sponsored Lunch for Haragama Girls
3 Girls passed their O Levels
We worked so hard for this great outcome. Gayathri, Harini and Fazna passed their O Level exams and here they are with Tikiri and their tutor. We are so proud that they beat the odds and we pray it’s the start of wonderful lives for them.
Gayathri in her new course
Gayatri was accepted into a residential dental training course.
Empower Children Project
Supported by Silke Winter
From Germany, Silke Winter is sponsoring children in two villages; one near Anuradhapura and the other near Kandy. Those children’s welfare is being monitored by Malintha and Tikiri.
Empower Children project —Anuradhapura
The first village is 20 km from Anuradhapura town and was chosen by Malintha as her area of responsibility. The disadvantaged children are selected by the principal and teachers of the schools. We give an allowance for school materials, for extra tuition and bus fares. The village temple in each area is extremely supportive.
In addition to running the Empower project, Malintha teaches English language classes for students in the area free of charge. She is a qualified English teacher and she is the local Tara Lanka project executor. She ends each class with a brief meditation session.
Empower Children project — Kandy
In 2022, we started the Kandy arm of our Empower Children Project at Sagama Village.
Tikiri, who worked with Tara Lanka at Haragama girls’ shelter, chose Sagama, a rural village 15 km from Kandy and accessible for her to manage. It has few facilities. Water and electricity are scarce. With the assistance of the Sagama Village temple, we are providing scholarships for a few chosen students. We give them school items such as shoes, socks, and exercise books.
At Christmas, they had a day out enjoying lunch and a boat ride.
Golden Light Sutra is being regularly recited in a temple in Kandy
Gambirisgaswewa is the village in Anuradhapura where Tara Lanka is concentrating some of its major projects —distributing food, providing milk cows and recitation of the Golden Light Sutra and Vajra Cutter sutra.
Golden Light Sutra comes to Gambirisgaswewa village
On 7th of December, we conducted our first recitation of the Golden Light Sutra (in Sinhala) in this village. It was held in the temple with a few children from the school and the village monk, who is also a teacher there. He was mesmerised by the sutra and pointed out the similarities with some of the Pali sutras. He was moved by the shunyata chapter and since then recites the sutra in his free time.
Helping Starving Villagers Project
Raising Awareness of Farming Technology
Small scale farmers in the area do not get the full yield from their work simply because they lack farming knowledge. So in December we organised an awareness session with an agricultural officer for them.
Our Plan for a Community Garden and a Well
Proved to be Too Expensive
The village lacks a reliable water source for any cultivation. Tara Lanka had to abandon redeveloping a disused well because the electricity costs were unaffordable for the villagers and fuel for the pump was prohibitive.
Cows Have Been Bought and Allocated
At the end of the year, we bought three cows through the Government Agricultural Department. “Om”, “Ah”, and “Hung” have been handed to the selected households where they seem to be thriving. Malintha and Duminda are keeping a close eye on them to monitor their care and to see that responsibility is being maintained.
Tara Lanka sponsored a workshop near Kegalle, Lekdron’s old home town. Her friend, Chantal Day, visited from France, and taught local women to make their own sanitary pads; 75% inflation has made pads prohibitively expensive. They desperately want to generate an income. Although this was their first time attending any kind of workshop, the women have shown initiative in sourcing materials and making samples. They are now working to improve the quality of the product so they can take them to market.
Many thanks to Bhagya (top left) who translated Chantal’s French and co-facilitated the workshop. (Workshop participants, below)
Heartfelt gratitude for your ongoing support
This newsletter, covering some of what Tara Lanka did in 2022, is only made possible because of the generosity of you who read this and the extraordinary commitment of Tikiri and Malintha and her family in Sri Lanka.
My huge thankyou goes to all the friends and well wishers of Tara Lanka. Special gratitude to Maree Fowler and the POM team, Doc Wight, Dr Thyagi, Silke Winter, Jason Isma and the Zopa Noble Park team, and to Oi Loon Lee and the many others who have given me financial and moral support in a year full of extraordinary challenges.
Thank you for being there.