Kathok Centre Programs, Buildings, Grew in 2016

Written by: Penny McGuire

Sangha members making tormas, traditional Tibetan offerings of flour and butter, before a Vajrasattva retreat.

Sangha members making tormas, traditional Tibetan offerings of flour and butter, before a Vajrasattva retreat.
Photos by: Ed Brooks, Konchok Dorje, Penny McGuire

For Kathok Centre , a traditional Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist center on Canada’s Vancouver Island, 2016 was a year of firsts.

We held our first traditional Vajrasattva retreat with Venerable Lingtrul Rinpoche, expanded our temple facilities, and launched a community outreach program we’re calling Compassion in Action Services.

A monthly abundance offering, called a tsok in Tibetan tradition.

A monthly abundance offering, called a tsok in Tibetan tradition.

In addition we completed a beautiful guest suite, so people can stay for a night or two and enjoy the temple and grounds for quiet practice and contemplation. If you’re in the area of Qualicum Beach, and want a quiet retreat for yourself or with your partner, please let us know!

A high point of the year was adding a traditional Nyingma mandala to the ceiling above the 15-foot-high Guru Rinpoche statue. This took much effort as the ceiling is high above the floor.

Guru Rinpoche, also called Padmasambhava, was an 8th century master from India considered the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingma school is the oldest of the four Tibetan schools, and also considers Guru Rinpoche its founder.

One of the most distinctive features of the center is this glass-sided structure, housing a 15-foot statue of Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism.

One of the most distinctive features of the center is this glass-sided structure, housing a 15-foot statue of Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism.

In 2012 the temple completed installing its statue of Guru Rinpoche, as recorded in this story.

Thanks to generous donors we now have completed the entire car park area, including creating cement pathways to around both temples. Other donors contributed to the temples’ upkeep.

With support from donors we installed more prayer flags, sending prayers into the world as every breeze blows.

Other donors funded a water blessing statue and a beautiful fountain, making the grounds more lovely every day.

Another donor funded adding a large tent with flooring to Kathok Centre. We utilized this new space to offer outdoor yoga classes, followed by meditation, on Sundays during the summer.

Participants raved about being able to do their yoga practice on spiritual ground, and outdoors. Thank you to the yoga teachers who made this possible!

Sangha members circumambulate the Padmasambhava statue.

Sangha members circumambulate the Padmasambhava statue.

On Oct. 1 we offered our second annual Happy Festival. Many visitors enjoyed trying a yoga class and 15-minute meditations throughout the day, as well as massage, wonderful vendors and local artisans, the temple café, the local high school’s marimba live band, and kids’ dharma activities like making malas.

The intention behind the annual event is to create a day where everyone can enjoy all the things that create happiness and the causes of happiness. This includes physical enjoyments, as well as mental, emotional and spiritual enjoyments!

Our first annual Vajrasattva retreat, July 1 through 3, was very important for our community.

Vajrasattva practice offers us the opportunity to purify negative karma and create merit for ourselves, so that we may become enlightened and then be able to truly help all other beings do the same.

Visitors join with sangha members during the annual Happy Festival.

Visitors join with sangha members during the annual Happy Festival.

Much preparation goes into such a traditional practice. Volunteers worked for three days before the event to prepare tormas, ritual offering objects traditionally made of flour and butter.

A trained chant master called an umze, and a translator, travelled from Oregon to make the practice accessible for everyone.

Our Kathok Centre spiritual director Venerable Lingtrul Rinpoche was very pleased with how everything went, and has promised to hold a five-day practice in 2017.

This year we also planted the community gardens, growing flowers to offer to the temple altars; and vegetables including tomatoes, potatoes, rhubarb, peas, spinach, carrots and kale, for sangha members. People could reserve their own plot to cultivate, or could work on the temple plots to grow produce for everyone.

Our new Compassion In Action program offers a chance for Kathok members, and nearby residents, to give back and take their compassion off the cushion and into the community.

A painting of the Kathok Centre main temple building.

A painting of the Kathok Centre main temple building.

Volunteers go to the homes of needy people in the area, mostly the elderly, and help them in their homes, or take them shopping or to appointments. The work includes help with pet care, and checking in on peoples’ homes and mail while they are away or in hospital.

Volunteers often describe how much joy it brings to be able to actually do something to help a neighbor. Often after a client who has been the receiver regains health or returns home, they then offer to help others and become the giver. It’s a beautiful circle!

As always, Kathok Centre offers traditional monthly practices according to the Tibetan lunar calendar.

These include Green Tara on full moon days, and shower of blessings feast offerings of abundance practice on Guru Rinpoche days. On the new moon days we honor Shakyamuni Buddha and Medicine Buddha, on the appropriate days.

We also offer open meditation twice monthly. Every few months we offer silent retreat days and weekends with seated meditation and walking meditation. If you are on Vancouver Island, B.C., come for a visit!