From Osel to the FPMT Family
First of all I would like to say hello to everybody working so hard every day for the benefit of sentient beings through the organization of FPMT. I understand that many of you have extra jobs in order to maintain your family and basic needs in life. Also many of you work as volunteers part time, apart from all the other work you have to cope with. It is very hard, and inspiring. I truly admire every one and each of you for all the effort, dedication and consistency that keeps the organization going.
Around a month ago, I attended an FPMT board meeting in California. This is the fourth Board meeting I have attended in the last three or four years. Each time of participation, I gain a deeper insight and understanding of the incredible scope of activity that FPMT is undertaking around the world every day.
In the last few days I have had the privilege to attend the highly professional and inspiring FDCW (Foundation for the Development of Compassion and Wisdom) meeting in Kuala Lumpur. FDCW’s mission is to help children, youth and adults of all cultures and traditions to develop their innate capacity to be kind and wise, and contribute to peace in the world.
As I learn more about FPMT from these perspectives, my respect, and profound appreciation for Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the whole community grows exponentially.
What has taken place since Lama Yeshe's passing in 1984 in my view is completely miraculous and inspiring.
I have nothing but the greatest admiration and gratitude for everyone that has taken part in this wonderful and positive development.
It will take me some time to really grasp everything that Rinpoche accomplishes with the tireless support of Venerable Roger who works to handle all the tasks 24/7/365 days a year every year supported by Venerable Holly, and the amazing International Office staff.
Most people cannot possibly realize the myriad activities IOF undertakes in support of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. IOF develops multi language education programs, practices, and prayers, translates sutras, trains translators, finds Geshes and western teachers, and develops policies and guidelines based on 40 years of experience. IOF helps Rinpoche guide international projects, like the Amdo Eye Hospital in Tibet, the building of statues and stupas. IOF manages Sera Je Food Fund, supports young tulkus, and the expenses of 650 monks for the annual Gelug Exams. IOF manages the Lama Tsongkhapa Teacher Fund assisting 110 main teachers, and providing allowances for Abbots and ex Abbots. IOF publishes Mandala magazine and newsletter updates on FPMT global activities.
The list goes on and on and the above is just a small taste of the way IOF closely follows Rinpoche and supports Rinpoche’s every wish as much as possible.
My admiration for, and thanks to them have no bounds.
Similarly I thank most deeply and sincerely all the directors, the board and committee members, the volunteers, and everyone who helps past, present, and future, in all the centers and projects - activities as diverse as teaching and organizing teachings, leading retreats, providing hospice care, preparing educational materials, archiving, providing
monastic education, secular universal education, publishing, translation, media and communications, and the solid governance, finance, and administration that such a global scale demands.
I have already been able to visit many centers and recently was able to participate in the European Regional FPMT meeting. My intention is to keep on doing so. I hope to spend as much time as possible with Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Venerable Roger, as well as deepening my traditional philosophical studies, and learning more about media communications and finance.
Whilst the positive aspect of what has been achieved in 30 years is overwhelming, there are some areas that I find concerning. I have mentioned before the importance of recognizing, appreciating, and showing respect and concern for everyone who has made today’s success possible. Again I would like to stress that in my view every center and project should clearly display the names of everyone who has carried the load in some way whether it be as a director, manager, cook, gardener, or some other position, a donor, or volunteer. These people are the real Foundation and truly the “F” in FPMT.
While our goal is to benefit as many living beings as possible, and while the scope of that is so vast, we must not allow that to blind us to our immediate responsibility of showing appreciation, kindness, and concern for each other and each other’s welfare within our own community. Unfortunately sometimes our rapid growth has caused a number of situations where we haven't measured up in this respect.
It is my intention to make sure that in the next phase of FPMTs growth we focus on looking after each other. Some of our teachers and students who pioneered the early days of our development are now in their 60s and 70s. While one of our priorities is education for the youth of our world today, as our organization matures, we also have to take care of those who have contributed so much and who are now reaching the stage where they require care and consideration.
For a long time I have also been concerned that so far the organization has relied almost exclusively on donations. The generosity that has been responsible for where we are today is mind blowing and beyond words. Without it FPMT would not be what it is today. However I feel strongly that for the long-term ever expanding development that must take place, we have to think strategically about also generating additional sources of income through business and other commercial activity. This can also provide jobs and employment opportunities so people can earn a living and still have time for practice and study.
I believe it is possible to develop a business model on a positive and moral basis that ensures that business to benefit all parties - owners, management, staff, customers, and the wider community.
I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to do this and I am trying in my way to explore a number of possibilities along these lines. Like creating Eco lodges where there is available very healthy vegetarian food, Eco friendly and organic grown vegetables, yoga and non-religious courses and meditation, for people outside our community, as a window of introduction to Buddhism. It is essential to have a healthy body in order to fully practice dharma. So we would make that opportunity available, and in exchange have a solid income to support the centers. It is now becoming very fashionable today, to eat healthy organic foods, spend time in nature, and exploring inside oneself through yoga and meditation.
When we are involved day-to-day work with all the difficulties and challenges we face, it is hard to step back and see the big picture and take pride in what we have achieved together. Attending Board meetings and the European Regional meeting has given me the luxury of beginning to see what an incredible job Lama Zopa Rinpoche has done. This in turn is based on the perfect inspiration His Holiness the Dalai Lama provides everybody, which helps us to learn about the true nature in each and every one of us.
The lineage from which we draw our understanding and inspiration is unsurpassable. The real scope of Mahayana in the widest sense is so vast and really can bring such benefit that the potential is almost incomprehensible. That gives us an equally huge responsibility to execute this task to the absolute best of our ability.
Within our FPMT community there is a vast pool of talent and skills that is equal to this task. We have to find better ways to draw more on the expertise that is available, to focus it where it can do the greatest good.
We have to approach this task practically continuously, untiringly and yet from time to time we must pause to measure the way in which we act to ensure that we don't leave anyone behind.
I really look forward to meeting everyone as my travels allow, and I am really looking forward to the next Board meeting and another chance to learn and hopefully in a small way input into the plans for the next 30 years of our development.
Sorry if this became long - my main point is to thank everybody so much from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you so very much everyone!!
Take care, and keep up the good work!!