Here are some answers to questions people have emailed to us or asked through our Facebook page:
Thank you very much for all the uploads and information about Tibet and Tibetan cultures. Your posts have been very useful for me. Now I can say the Long Life Prayer for His Holiness and also say the Refuge prayer. Counting prayer beads and chanting prayers is one of the common Dharma practices and I often do so. But I still am not very clear about the proper way of holding and counting beads, significance of the Bell and Dorjee that are tied onto the beads. It’ll be very helpful if you could show us the right way to count prayer beads. Thank you.
It’s great to hear from you and we are so happy that you find our posts useful :-) Here is a post on Malas: How to use Tibetan Prayer Beads, which gives you all the information.
I’m interested in learning to play tibetan singing bowls. I’ll be in dharamsala middle december 2012. ther’s some introductory course available ???
Thanks for writing. We don’t know the answer to your question ourselves, but asked one of our readers, Daya, who has lived in Dharamsala for a long time and she said this:
“I don’t know but there will be fliers for everything everyone is offering posted everywhere and I imagine a shop that sells them would know who teaches also. [Also, there is] a little music shop on Bhagsu Road not as far toward Bhagsu as the Green Hotel but on that side, the right, as you are going out toward Bhagsu. You step down into the store and though I don’t remember whether or not they had singing bowls i think someone there might know who would teach.” Hope this helps!
Sir i am a hindu boy but i am greatly attracted towards lord buddha’s teachings and his simplicity…i want to convert into buddhism and give my life to my father lord buddha…plz help me
Thank you for writing to us. Converting to Buddhism is a big step and you may want to do some study and research first. You could check out some of the online teachers at this link:
If you live in India, you might like to visit Dharamsala in H.P.. There are classes at the Tibetan Library there. You can find the information here:
Good day! I really enjoy your web site, and find myself very interested and drawn to Buddhism. Could you please help me in this way= what would be a good book to start with? Where do I find prayers? What should my altar look like? I am very happy to have found your site!
Hi and thanks for you nice thoughts. We always love hearing from readers! We are planning some posts about entry-level Tibetan Buddhism, but just to get you started:
For your altar, see these two posts on our site:
https://www.yowangdu.com/tibetan-buddhism/losar/losar-altar.html(this post tells you how to create a Losar shrine, but the first part is the same for any shrine. You will see where the purely “Losar” parts come in.
https://www.yowangdu.com/tibetan-buddhism/water-offering-bowls.html (this one is for water offerings on your shrine, if you decide to put them.)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is wonderful teacher, but for a newcomer, his videos might be better than books. You can get his YouTube videos here (as well as Facebook and Twitter):
The FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of Mayana Tradition) has a wonderful website with introductory Buddhism classes. Some of the teachings costs some money, but there is a lot also available for free here: http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php
For books, one author that is great for beginners is Pema Chodron (a western Buddhist nun), who has an amazing gift for teaching the dharma to westerners. Here is a link to her books on Amazon. The top one: When Things Fall Apart, would be a great place to start, though you can’t really go wrong with her: https://www.amazon.com/Pema-Chodron/e/B000AP9Y2A
We hope this helps you get started. We are definitely planning to write a series of posts on basic Tibetan buddhism in the next several months.
I have been living my life as a Buddhist after much thought and study for 6 years now. I consider myself a lay Buddhist and read “If one practices as a Buddhist and lives as a Buddhist, then one is a Buddhist”. I need a Sangha (I live in the United States) and, Tibetan Buddhism is very hard to find. What can I do until I find a reputable Temple? I live in Orlando FL, there’s not much tolerance for Buddhism in the southern states. A sky full of blessings.
We just did a quick search online and found this page: http://www.smiling-buddha.com/fldharma/
We don’t directly know any of these, and they are all different kinds of Buddhism, but let us know if any of these towns are near you and we could try to find out how reputable they are.
(Updated 8/22/12: Recently we also found this: http://www.tibetanlanguage.org/. Again, we can’t recommend this site because we don’t know enough about it, but it looks promising. If you check this out please send us feedback about it so we can let others know.)
Re: water offerings — Wangdu la, thank you. I learned a lot of this from watching people in Tibet, but I was told that the time of day of both filling and emptying the water offering bowls was of some significance. Is this true? if so, what is the significance and what are the times. Thu je nang.
You are so welcome AmaliaSings :-) In Tibet, people make the offerings first thing in the morning, and usually empty them around noon. In Dharamsala, other people empty them around 3p. There is no real rule that we know of. Hope this helps.
Re: water offerings — Do you have a special thought, chant or pray any specific mantra while placing the offerings with fresh water? Thanks in advance for your answer! Peace
There’s not really a special mantra for pouring the water. You can make any mantra that you like. After you make the water offering — when everything is full — often Tibetans dip a clean object that is traditionally like a dry grass (tsa kusha) in one of the bowls and sprinkle that water around the shrine with the stalk of dry grass, and say “OM AH HUNG” three times. So you might like to do that :-)
I’m trying to find the book in western culture called “Tibetan book of the dead” in it’s original tibetan language. I wish to translate it for myself without anyones interpretation and in addition I want to learn tibetan language.
What an interesting project! We are not sure how to get the Tibetan version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which is called Bardo Thodol in Tibetan. We think that you may be able to order it from the Tibetan publisher listed below in Dharamsala, India:
Central Tibetan Administration,
Phone no(s): 222673
E-mail Id: n/a
i am searching for happiness in tibetan scriptures… i dont know which websites have english translation of tibetan scriptures…. please let me know the websites that will give an english translation of tibetan scriptures,so that i can find true happines from tibetan
scriptures, poetry, teachings, quotes…
It is great to hear from you. Sorry, we don’t actually know specific sites that have English translations of Tibetan scripture, but we recommend that you check out the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) Online learning center. We haven’t explored this much ourselves except as a source for research on our posts sometimes but the FPMT is a great organization and it looks wonderful.
Many thanks for the newsletter, just a random question, when is the next date that is best to hang pray flags??(Written on 6/19/12.)
The next best date is July 3, 2012 which is Zamling Chisang, the 15th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar. That day we all burn incense and hang prayer flags on the mountains in Tibet but you can hang prayer flags pretty much anywhere you want to.
As an American looking to expand his knowledge of both Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism, is there a particular dialect of Tibetan that it would be useful to learn? For example, if I want to read the Tibetan Buddhist text, should I learn a dialect of Tibetan that is different from that used in everyday life in Tibet?
For studying Tibetan Buddhist texts, the dialect doesn’t matter as the written language is the same. The “standard” Central Tibetan dialect should be fine for teachings as many if not most Buddhist teachers can speak it, and it would be the most common among teachers.
Do you sell singing bowls?
We used to sell the bowls, but not any more. However, we have a good friend, Rinchen Gelek, who has a shop in Fairfax, CA, and he will sell bowls by mail. You can contact him here:
Address: 47 Broadway, Fairfax, CA 94930
Phone: (415) 256-9414
Fax: (415) 256-2516
You can let him know we referred you.
I am a doctoral student who is doing research on the various styles of mandala, Tibetan sand mandala, being one of them. What is the possibility of arranging a visit, interview, participate-observe a group of monks do the ritual of mandala making? Is there a possibility? In the present moment, do they receive visitors like me who are doing research such as the mandala? I wish to go to Tibet in August or early September?
Your research sounds fascinating :-) We don’t know exactly, but think that it will be very challenging to do this research in Tibet, and that you will have better luck in Dharamsala, India, or by contacting one of the touring groups of monks, which usually create sand mandalas.
Here is one group giving a tour in the US: http://www.gomang.info/TOURS/final%20tour%20schedule.htm
If you go to Tibet, you might be able to do research, but are likely to encounter problems with permissions. And we are not sure even how alive the sand mandala arts are in Tibet right now. (Sorry, we don’t have the web addresses for those.)
One place in Dharamsala that has a strong mandala tradition is Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala. You can also check with the Drepung, Sera and Ganden monasteries in southern India.
You may also be able to find a group touring in Phillipines.
Another link, with some contact emails: http://www.artnetwork.com/Mandala/contact.html
If you are ever interested, please consider writing a guest post for our YoWangdu blog with the results of your research :-)
Could you talk about the significance of the offering of water and what each bowl means or why the number seven.
You can learn some about the significance of offering water in our post on water offering bowls. We aren’t sure about the number 7 but will look into it. One thought is that Tibetans sometimes favor odd numbers for certain things, thinking that odd numbers are auspicious in some circumstances. Like if you give an offering or a gift of money, you might for example give $101 or $105 dollars instead of $100. The idea is that an even number is closed, or finished, so an odd number is open and inviting more, to be complete. Thanks!
I would like to get so help to write some Tibetan script. I need hi res editable SVG file of the major mantras, eg:
Om Mani Padme Hum
OM Tara Tuttare Tare Soha
Om Ami Dewa Hrih
We don’t know anyone personally who does this as a service, but you might try this website and contact the folks there to see if they know anyone who can help. You might also try the visible mantra site person and see if they do this kind of thing. the site is: http://www.visiblemantra.org/green-tara.html Good luck!
I have a singing bowl and am learning how to play it properly. Do you play it only in a clockwise direction or does it not matter? Also, will you have Tibetan meditation bells?
Tibetans almost always prefer to move clockwise when it is feasible to do so, from a spiritual practice point of view, and though singing bowls are not actually traditionally commonly used for Tibetan Buddhist practice among Tibetans, one would definitely play the bowls clockwise, perhaps more out of spiritual habit than anything else :-)
We don’t have any current plans to sell Tibetan bells, but we may at some point offer some recommendations for good ones on our site.
Chanting is something new for me and strange how it affects me. I’ve read the other posts from people who listen to the song and I also feel something soothing and start to cry. Why is this happening? What does om mani padme hum mean?
As an ancient and very popular mantra, om mani padme hum seems to have a deep effect on many people. We don’t really know why, but the best meaning for us are the ones described by the Buddhist masters in this post on om mani padme hung.
I have a request. I live in the Bay Area, and would love to be included on any distribution list involving teachings, events, etc. I think I usually get the TANC Tibetan Association of Northern California) stuff, but noticed that I didn’t receive an announcement about the State Oracle’s visit last year. I think that came out of an El Cerrito Dharma group. At any rate, you are probably familiar with the Jane Marion Memorial List email hub for our area. If you know of things that only the Tibetan community finds out about, could you please send them along to the Jane Marion list?
We think that the dharma center that had the Oracle’s visit last year is called Nechung. Their web site is here, and you can sign up for their email list:http://www.nechungbuddhistcenter.org/
Also, closer to you, there is the Gyuto Center in San Jose. They also have a newsletter that one can sign up to: http://www.gyutocenter.org/ We don’t know about the Jane Marion List — we will check it out sometime.
Do you know Lama Norlha Rinpoche at www.kagyu.com? Also, I am looking for stones with the Mani mantra on them. Do you know of a source?
Sorry, we don’t actually know Lama Norlha Rinpoche. In the past we have gotten Mani stones in Dharamsala. You can have them made there, or in Tibet. Outside of Tibet or Tibetan communities in India, probably the best bet is to check out any local Tibetan store you might have, or check online. Sorry, we don’t have any online store that we have purchased anything from to recommend.