Culture

Prayers for positive karma

Drepung Loseling Buddhist monks to offer spiritual aid to prevent fires

By T.L. Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 5/25/18

According to the National Park Service, "There are three conditions that need to be present in order for a wildfire to burn: fuel, oxygen and a heat source." Taos has taken steps to …

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Culture

Prayers for positive karma

Drepung Loseling Buddhist monks to offer spiritual aid to prevent fires

Posted

According to the National Park Service, "There are three conditions that need to be present in order for a wildfire to burn: fuel, oxygen and a heat source."

Taos has taken steps to eliminate potential ignition sources by enacting a citywide ban on outdoor activities involving fire.

Taking this effort further, The Mystical Arts of Tibet Tour, featuring a contingent of Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery, are planning a return visit to "make prayers to generate loving-kindness, compassion in everyone's hearts and to purify all the negative karma," which they believe is "the ultimate cause of the fires."

This visit is timely, according to the event coordinator Harmon Houghton, because "Taos is a tinderbox" right now from drought conditions and high winds. He said the monks also did a forest fire prevention ceremony after seeing the devastation from the Santa Barbara, California forest fires and the suffering it brought about to the animals. "From insects to birds, to the four-legged and people that lost their homes and lives," he said. Houghton is a publisher of books about indigenous peoples and wisdom of the elders and has been organizing events with the Mystical Arts of Tibet since 1991.

The event is set to begin Friday (May 25), 7 p.m., with chanting and meditation at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House Yoga Center at 240 Morada Lane in Taos. Then, Saturday (May 26) at 11 a.m., there will be chants and prayers to prevent forest fires in Kit Carson Park, 211 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. In addition, a community picnic is planned with kite flying to release prayers at the Peace Tree planted on Earth Day two years ago by Zen Buddhist Rev. Yamato.

The tree is to the right of the entrance near the maintenance shack. Monks will be available to give blessings and prayers.

Houghton got engaged with the Tibetan community in the 1970s after his late wife, the renowned photographer and author Marcia Keegan, inspired him. She was an Associated Press reporter on assignment to report and photograph the Dalai Lama's historic first visit to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. After the hearing him speak, she became immersed in the cause.

He said the tours of the Drepung Loseling monks are an important way for Tibetans in North America to stay in touch with their culture and religion. "They are a legacy culture on the planet that goes back 1,000 (of) years." He said they have maintained cultural autonomy "without being affected by the industrial revolution."

Houghton also said there are misconceptions about what monks do. Their mission is to, inform, cultivate and be spiritual role models and goodwill ambassadors.

A previous spiritual blessing and healing ceremony by the monks was given last November on the west side of the Río Grande Gorge Bridge for people who ended their lives at the bridge. They also prayed for those who lost loved ones.

On their present tour, they plan to conduct chants and prayers to prevent forest fire at the Aspen View Lookout on the way to the Santa Fe Ski Area Sunday (May 27) and follow up with a celebratory offering eliminating obscurations and creating a healthy body, speech and mind at the Thubten Norbu Ling Buddhist Center, 1807 2nd Street No. 35 in Santa Fe.

Houghton said participants can expect "a communal experience of spiritual values being put into action to prevent forest fires in Taos and have a fun day at the park!"

The launch of the kites to release the prayers will happen at the conclusion of the ceremony. They will be multicolor plastic kites made available at no charge and by contribution. If people have their own kites, they are encouraged to bring them. Houghton added: "We may need kite-flying coaches."

People are asked "to come out for a day to activate prayers, aspirations and action to prevent forest fires. There will be many spiritual people in attendance gathering to lend their support including water protectors," he said.

He emphasized the event is a BYOP (Bring Your Own Picnic). "This is a public picnic and people should bring something for themselves and family, there will be food for the monks and people needing it."

The monks do not charge for their service, however, The Drepung Loseling Monastery derives a major part of its funding through the sales of their gift items. The Monks will have gift tables set up with books, scarves, jewelry, incense and decorative items for the home. In addition, the monks can be available for house blessings with prior notice. To make an appointment and for additional information. email info@tibetmedianetwork.com. or call Harmon Houghton (505) 690-6491.

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