Letter from Lama Samten about the CEBB Villages
On the 15th day of the lunar month, while the Sun gradually sets in the horizon, the Moon luminously rises. A perfect moment to accumulate merits of wisdom and lucidity while practicing the Prajnaparamita, The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, reciting the mantra and contemplating appearances.
In the end of our lives, while the luminosity of our eyes dispels, the incessantly present natural glow of the Dharmakaya rises in the sky of our minds and it is now recognizable as such.
A perfect moment to repeatedly focus on the teachings of Guru Rinpoche about recognizing Dharmata through the six seals and removing the obstacles that arise from fixations to karma and habits.
This is a picture of the sangha at Alto Paraiso, in the meditation room of the CEBB AP Village.
The retreat in the city started on Friday night (September, 25, 2015) and ended on Sunday at noon. In the evening we started the practices of preinauguration of the first temple of CEBB Alto Paraíso (150 m²). Although the room is not finished, lacking windows and its central dome, it is already fairly comfortable. While the Sun set and the full Moon appeared enormous, shining, we practiced Prajnaparamita. During the eclipse, we resumed the practice of the Blessings Rain and accumulation of the Guru mantra.
Many merits to the sangha of all the regions, who have been dreaming of the establishment of the CEBB Alto Paraíso Village, intended for deepening practice, studies, harmonious living, contemplation, preservation of nature and the proper education of children and youths.
It is actually a wonderful, scented, balanced, silent place, adorned by the sky, the Sun, water, cerrado plants, and the mountains around.
We feel welcomed and thankful and are happy to receive the children everyday at the Escola Vila Verde (Green Village School). Besides the School, the Sangha also maintains the project Investigating Our Nature. Through it, with the support of the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park through the Caminho do Meio Institute, youths have the opportunity to integrate the experiences of the exuberant external nature and their internal nature.
Buddhism in its various manifestations is really living a magical period, in our country and in the West. When we move one step in the direction of the Buddhas, they move toward us, like loving mothers and fathers, one hundred steps in our direction, showering abundant blessing, in the gross, internal, and secret levels. This is the secret. Since its emergence, it was always through deepening lucidity, removing negativities and internal obstacles and through benefitting all of the beings that the Sangha was able to advance in its loving and compassionate manifestation even amid great challenges such as wars, persecutions, destruction and political, cultural, and environmental confrontations.
In Brazil, this period is also very blessed for the practices at every CEBB. In the end of October, 2015, we will have the inauguration of the Temple at the CEBB Mendilá Village, the beautiful Medicine Buddha temple (320 m²) at the CEBB Village in Canelinha, SC. The focus will be teaching retreats, accumulation of practices and removal of obstacles based on the Six Perfections as introduced in the Diamond Sutra. The local Sangha is especially focused on deepening their practice, widening their studies, going on retreats, and welcoming people that need physical care. There are several therapists in the group.
At the Recôncavo Baiano, the Sangha is in full activity, building the spacious Temple of CEBB Bahia Village, in Santo Amaro. In the village, the practice of retreats, studies, and courses is already established. The Sangha has the high motivation of deepening their attainments and lucidity, widening their ability to benefit all beings in all directions and protect the local nature, as well as the wealth of the surrounding culture which manifests notable influence of the Indigenous, African, and Portuguese inheritance present. It is a beautiful, well-established, very well organized place, flat-leveled and easily accessible. Many merits to the Sangha, who have been dreaming so highly and so lovingly and have produced such notable results!
The Sangha of Curitiba are radiant. We now have full possession of the area of the Sukhavati CEBB Village, with 85 ha, where there are regular practices, retreats, teachings and courses taking place. At this moment, great movements are happening. We are considering alternatives to the physical implementation of many parts of the village project. It is most likely that in 2016 we will already be opening the first temple, dorms, kitchen, dining hall and space to welcome the lama and visiting tutors. In 2015 we collectively blessed the area were the main temple will be built and we installed the posts with the prayer flags. The area is especially gifted with water sources and abundant native vegetation. It is located at a place with great environmental awareness.
See more pictures of the blessing ceremony and the opening of the CEBB Sukhavati.
In Pernambuco there is also great effervescence. The Sangha moves around for practices and studies in several different locations and they participate directly in the activities of CEBB Darmata Village, in Timbaúba, PE. There we have spaces for long, medium and short retriets. We also have a temple (150 m²) which is always full in the open events. It is a special space to welcome the lama, and it used as a space for individual retreats as well.
The area of CEBB Dharmata emerged as a place intended to generate ample benefits. It is supported by the Sangha of the whole country and it has inspired, welcomed and supported practitioners from many different cities of Northeastern, Northern, and Amazon regions, as well as Southern, Southeastern and Central regions of the country.
Even many Brazilian practitioners that live in other countries periodically return to Dharmata for retreats, internships, and teachings.
Based on this activities, CEBBs have been created in Fortaleza, Natal, João Pessoa and Maceió, as well as many GEBBs in other cities.
There are invitations for tutor activities in countless new cities and also abroad, where Brazilian practitioners have established residence.
We also had the blessing of the visit of great masters at CEBB Dharmata. Among them, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, who gave us Prajnaparamita transmission and many other empowerments.
Besides the activities at CEBB, the Sangha acts through Ação Darmata (Dharmata Action), a social NGO that has engaged in many different and very successful projects. One of them was the recovery of popular healing knowledge of herbs at the Zona da Mata region in Timbaúba (PE), with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Currently, through Ação Darmata, we are helping on a project for educating youths about audiovisual media and peace culture at Cabo de Santo Agostinho, in the Recife Metro Region. This project is supported by Petrobrás.
The Caminho do Meio CEBB Village, in Viamão (RS), emerged in 1997 as a ripening of the activities of the Sangha of CEBB Porto Alegre, which established itself in 1986.
It was the first CEBB Village to emerge and it still is the largest in number of people. There are currently 90 adults and more than 30 children living there.
It is where the Caminho do Meio School is, acting under the guidance of the Instituto Caminho do Meio. It attends to 55 children, from 1 year of age. We are now on our seventh year, always extending to one new class each year. The school was built with the support of the Sangha and friends from all over the country, who also partially support its regular activities.
The Instituto Caminho do Meio also maintains CEDIN, Centro de Desenvolvimento Infantil (Center for Children’s Development), with 35 children from 1 year of age. Most of them live in the Castelinho Community (500 families), a neighboring community of CEBB Caminho do Meio wich originated from an occupation.
The CEBB Caminho do Meio Village has slowly evolved from an initial area of 4 ha to 12 ha. Currently there are daily practices in the morning and at night, as well as several regular study options, teaching retreats, and retreats for deepening of practices, both collective and individual. There are special events each year, such as the retreat from December 1st to 8th, the Winter and Summer retreats, the annual teachings of Professor Alan Wallace, and the cultural and inter-religious activities of the 108 Hours of Peace, which happens from December, 27th to 1st of January each year since 2000. We have a kitchen and dining hall working daily and a fair ability to welcome visitor during the active periods.
We are getting organized to launch a national education program for facilitators that includes semi-open and closed retreat periods. Recently we extended our area and we are developing a retreat center at CEBB Jetavana, at the Josafá Road, close the Canyons in Rio Grande do Sul. This is a 180 ha area of old Atlantic Forest, with plenty araucaria and diverse flora and fauna that include rare and endangered species such as deer and pumas. Our goal is to keep the area untouched, completely conserved. Our presence will be in the form of retreats, library, documentation, study groups, practices for silent contemplation of nature, and education of tutors and facilitators.
We have also expanded our actions through the recent developmento of CEBB Bacopari, at the Bacopari Lake, Mostardas, Rio Grande do Sul. It is a plain area of 4 ha in a low population, pampa shore region, with abundant fresh water. There, one can walk for days and meditate in the wild nature in isolation.
We have friendly neighbors who directly help us. At the moment, we organizing and improving the main house, building a green roof, a water reservoir, etc. In January, we also expect to be ready to welcome children from the community and the school, as well as their families, in specific nature programs. Soon enough we will also have resident tutors, daily practices, studies and retreats in the area, which seems very appropriate to welcome people in short and medium retreats of up to six months. We are considering the ecology of the region and we hope to be able to establish agro-ecological and forest-protecting projects. We want to use our movement as an expansion of the activities of youths and children from the communities and schools.
The general movement of the Villages considers the concept of Pure Lands, where the best qualities of people of all ages can be harmoniously developed through organic visions of education, architecture, generation and use of energy, sustainability and balanced presence in the natural environment, biological treatment of effluents, balanced diets and health, relationship and community life. While generating merits through this practice, we will have the appropriate ground to deepen our actions in studying the Buddhadharma, seeking to overcome our limitations and the full development of or buddha potential.
We use the method of mandhalas to organize our actions and the energy coming from the hearts connected to the autonomous and incessant glow of the Buddhas and their inestimable and unlimited blessings.
CEBB Caminho do Meio is the only one among our Villages that received the blessings of the presence, teachings and empowerments of His Eminence Chagdud Rinpoche, who passed away in Três Coroas, RS, in 2002.
CEBB Porto Alegre was happy to organize Chagdud Rinpoche’s first visit to Porto Alegre, in 1993. In that occasion, His Eminence granted empowerments and teachings and founded Chagdud Gonpa, which operated in the same headquarters as CEBB, Porto Alegre. CEBB participated directly of all movements which resulted in Chagdud Rinpoche establishing himself in Rio Grande do Sul.
There is always a way for you to come close to this movement and these attainments. Pray for the Sangha as a whole. Aspire that all being enjoy good health and have the energy to continue engaging in their meritory actions. Put your lucidity, joy and energy in movement to benefit all the people of this generation and the coming generations. Place your loving eyes in youths, children, in people of all ages and cultures. Manifest your heart for the balance of nature and for protecting all beings with all their expressions and appearances that enrich life as a whole with their presence. The duration of our biological lives is uncertain, the best time is when we live widely, with our lucid eyes and mind even amidst appearances that emerge and die off aimlessly.
See, and the energy of the buddhas will emerge in you as incessant and radiant blessings. To benefit all beings is to help them release themselves from the mental culture of samsara and take hold of their buddha potential, of their natural lucidity and autonomous energy. Joy!! Think of the children, help them stabilize their lucidity, focus, energy, relationships and emotions by supporting our schools. Think of the families, the youths and adults, and also the older folks. We all need the compassionate benefits of the Sangha, the Villages, the teachings, practices and studies. Help all of us through your own practice and by supporting the diverse expressions of these collective movements.
Lama Padma Samten
Writen on December 2015
Translation by Mariana Valente Sá
Proof-Reading by Thays Prado
Here the letter in Portuguese.