On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

via OVERVIEW on Vimeo.

Burma VJ Director Anders Ostergaard is in Bodhgaya

burma vj snip

Anders Ostergaard, the director of the 2008 Danish documentary film Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country has been spotted in Bodhgaya these days. Burma VJ won a lot of awards and was even nominated for an Oscar. [from Wikipedia: It follows the September 2007 protests against the military regime in Burma. The “VJ” in the title stands for “video journalists.” Some of it was filmed on hand-held cameras. The footage was smuggled out of the country, physically or over the Internet. The DVD includes a message from Buddhist actor Richard Gere comparing the situation in Burma to that in Tibet.] While watching Burma VJ, I was also struck by the similarities between the oppression of Burma and the situation in Tibet today. I think it’s important that stories like this are told. Since this film was made, things have gotten a little bit better in Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi has been permitted  to travel and media restrictions have relaxed a little bit, but in truth, an extremely dark cloud of oppression still looms.

The film may be viewed in its entirety on Youtube:


Karmapa Inspects the Tormas

The Karmapa made a surprise visit to the Bhutanese Temple on November 28 to inspect the progress of the torma artists.

The following tormas are in various stages of completion:

Gyu Gon torma made by torma master, Lama Sangye
Ekajati torma made by Lama Sangye
Gakyil Gyens

Buddha descending from Tushita Heaven, torma by Karma Wangchuk
Milarepa Torma

A pretty flower gyen

Shalze Gyens
Karmapa leaving the torma-making site.

Connecting with other filmmakers in Bodhgaya

(from left to right) Christof Freitas, Anahita Moghaddam and Guy Reid

One always meets the most interesting and stimulating people around His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and this year is no exception. Guy Reid, Christof Freitas, and Steve Kennedy are the very talented filmmakers of Planetary Collective who were in Bodhgaya to interview the Karmapa for their new documentary film Continuum, due to be released in September 2013. Continuum will address the root cause of the environmental and social crises facing the planet today. A few days ago I got to view their 18-minute short called Overview, set to premiere at Harvard University in December, 2012. It was really fantastic, a stunning and thought-provoking piece of visual poetry. For more information check out their website: (www.planetarycollective.com).

Lama Sangye, Torma Master Working in Bodhgaya, November 2012

Lama Sangye is hard at work on a Mahakala torma.

I’m in Bodhgaya now and yesterday I went to check on the progress of the torma artists. The first person I saw was Lama Sangye and he is hard at work on two tormas, a Mahakala torma called Jugon and an Ekajati torma. He is a master sculptor who trained extensively in meditation (he completed a three-year-retreat at Pullahari in Nepal). In Bhutan, as a youth, Lama Sangye learned statue making from the two pre-eminent Bhutanese sculptors at that time. He is also highly skilled in mask-making. It is thrilling to watch Lama Sangye’s hands work their magic; plus the room where he works is quiet and radiates peace. I hope to follow his progress closely in the coming days and weeks.

Early stages of the Ekajati torma.

They started working on the Kagyu Monlam tormas around Nov. 16th. They’ve already made the shalzes and mixed the colorful wax butter.

A row of naked shalzes.
Bowls of colorful wax butter were already made when I got there.
Wax butter cones of color are standing by.

Torma Artists are Gathering in Bodhgaya to Create New Kagyu Monlam Tormas

Months have passed and the time has rolled around again for the torma artists to gather in Bodhgaya and create their magic. Last year’s tormas are still inside Tergar Monastery. It’s interesting to see how well these fragile artworks have survived the elements here in India, including a very hot season followed by pounding monsoon rains with the attendant humidity that creeps into every crack and crevice. Still these beautiful images made of butter and wax have for the most part remained intact.


Stupas to Minimize Harm from the Elements–from FPMT.org

Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Khandro-La

In order to minimize harm caused by possible earthquakes on the West Coast of the USA; two stupas are being built in California and Washington state, under the advice of Rangjung Neljorma Khandro Namsel Drolma (Khadro-la).

Read More: Stupas to Minimize Harm from the Elements.

This is a good article by Marianne Marstrand on tsa-tsas. Marianne was part of the team who made the tsa-tsas for the Tashi Gomang Stupa in Crestone under the guidance of the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.

KTD Mandala News

Marianne Marstrand will be at KTD July 20-22, 2012, for the first-ever Tsa-Tsa Retreat.  It will include teachings on tsa-tsas by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, a hands-on workshop led by Lama Karma Chopal, and a screening of “Eye of the Land,” a film about the creation of the Tashi Gomang Stupa. Marianne is part of the “stupa team” that made tsa-tsas for the famous Tashi Gomang Stupa in Crestone, Colorado. She is featured in the film and will answers questions afterwards.

We began making the tsa-tsas needed for the Tashi Gomang Stupa around 1991, about five years before its completion. The 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, who inspired and initiated the construction of the Tashi Gomang Stupa on HH Karmapa’s land, advised the stupa team*  to make at least 100,000 of the 2 ½-inch plaster tsa-tsas to be placed within the 42-foot stupa. A small group of us met two days…

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