Friday, 13 June 2014

Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche 1952-2014

Photography by Peter Mannox for  'Karma Kagyu Publishing House'*
Rumtek, Sikkim, early 70's.

Official Announcement Regarding the Passing of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche from the Gyalwang Karmapa

Statement by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje on the Passing of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, Mipham Chokyi Lodro.
Until the 10th Shamarpa, the omniscient Shamarpas have been great masters respected throughout Tibet, especially within the Karma Kamtsang Lineage where he was known as the Victorious Lord of Dance and the lineage’s strength and embodiment of wisdom, compassion and power. Despite a ban on the Shamarpas’ enthronement since 1792 for almost a century and seventy years, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, in view of historical significance and for the benefit of Buddhadharma and all beings, sought consent from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and enthroned his nephew as the Shamarpa, taking him under his wing for the guidance of his body, speech and mind.
However, as the folk saying goes, one may be fortunate to have a cow but not enough to get its milk. Similarly, after the Parinirvana of the16th Gyalwang Karmapa, due to wavering of commitment amongst his followers, a great schism occurred within the lineage. It was an unprecedented disharmony that is unimaginable even in a dream. Shamar Rinpoche’s activities have also been in various forms, both favourable and unfavourable and likewise, there are many past circumstances similar to endless ripples across water. These unfortunate situations are, I think, simply due to us not being aware of the omnipresence of our root guru and not being able to generate farsightedness for the benefit of Buddhadharma and all sentient beings.
I have had an unmistakable faith and respect towards Rinpoche from the time I was young. Therefore, with the hope of benefiting the Buddhadharma in general and the lineage in particular, and with the expectation that I may be able to offer some service towards his Dharma activities, I had the good fortune of meeting Rinpoche once. Yet, as my aspirations have not been fulfilled, his sudden passing away is a matter of great sadness.
As soon as I came to know of this hard to believe news, I instructed Rumtek Monastery, the main seat of our lineage and other monasteries to make offerings and perform pujas as grand as possible for 49 days, as Rinpoche has taken rest from the degenerate age of strife into the expanse of peace for a while.
With great hope and strong aspirations that Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation will embody the life stories of his predecessors, and the good fortune of harmony within the lineage will arise soon.
Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje

12 June 2014

Shamarpa as a young regent looking like Buddha.
 Photograph belonging to Tashi Mannox.

* The 'Karma Kagyu Publishing House' is no longer in operation, this at the time was comprised of the three main seats of the Karma Kagyu in the West during the 70's and 80's :
D.K.L. Montignac, Dordogn, France.
K.T.D. Woodstock, New York State, U.S.A.
K.D.D.L. (Samye Ling) Dumfriesshire, Scotland, UK.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Painted Mantra

As part of the "Bodies in Balance" Tibetan Medicine exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC, Tashi Mannox gives a lecture and calligraphy interactive "The Painted Mantra". Participants are invited to join Tashi in creating the sacred proportion and significance of the, seed syllable of Medicine Buddha that is essential to the visualisation practice around which the mantra of healing is arranged. 

The lecture begins with an explanation of Dharma art and its practical role historically and for a person on the spiritual path. The lecture concludes with creating a contemporary rendition of the Tibetan medical tree of diagnosis, whereby participants will be invited to ink their thumbs or fingers to print as leaves on the calligraphy tree. 

Edie Irwin of Rokpa International finishes the talk with a few words about Rokpa's charitable work regarding current Tibetan medicine practices in Tibet. 

"The Painted Mantra" from 7 - 9pm, Wednesday 2nd April 2014, for bookings please follow the link here.

Following Tashi's talk at the Rubin, on the 4th-5th and 6th April, he will lead an intensive workshop in Tibetan calligraphy held at the Shang Shung Institute Library in Conway, Massachusetts.

Healing Mantra Garland

Creating the Medicine Buddha mantra in ancient Lantsa Sanskrit

According the the visualisation of the Medicine Buddha sādhanā, the dhāraṇī mantra of Medicine Buddha turns clockwise around the seed syllable hum, as illustrated above in blue. 
The line of small text at the base of the above art piece translates as "The hum in the heart of the self and the front visualisations is surrounded by the mantra garland"  

It is impossible of course, to illustrate the turning of the mantra in such a way as a calligraphy on a flat piece of paper, so to illustrate this, the mantra is depicted starting at the bottom of a circle of text that reads to follow anticlockwise. If the circle would be movable, fixing the gaze to read the mantra at one fixed point, the circle of text would turn clockwise.

In creating this art-piece, Tashi needed to take particular care to organise the length of the mantra to fit the full circle, much calculation and measurements in preparation was needed. Each character of the mantra and the seed syllable at the centre was traced and positioned before inking in. 

Using a window makes a very effective 'light-box' when tracing the reverse of the image before applying to the artwork.  

In filling with black ink.

This art piece was especially created for the Rubin Museum of Art as part of their "Bodies in Balance" exhibition of Tibetan medical art. Tashi gives a lecture/calligraphy interactive at the Rubin on the 2nd April 2014, for more details please follow the link here.

Calligraphies in Conversation

Calligraphies in Conversation is an international exhibition at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) highlighting traditional Middle Eastern and Islamic calligraphic art in dialogue with other calligraphy traditions specially Far East calligraphy.

“Calligraphies in Conversation” runs from March to May 2014 and focuses on the connections between Islamic and Eastern calligraphic traditions. ICCNC is incredibly excited to pilot this new project in conjunction with Ziya Art Center and partners from nearby Oakland Chinatown such as Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

An exhibition of curated and newly-made calligraphy from both traditions will be on display. The Curatorial and Jury Panel consists of ICCNC and Ziya Art Center experts as well as local artists have received over 115 submissions from invited calligraphers and through an open call for artists. Most of submissions were from the US, mainly Bay Area, California; but there were several international submissions from different countries including Tashi Mannox of the United Kingdom, Shu Yi Liu of China, Mohammad Navid Bazargan of Iran, Uehira Baikei of Japan, and Josh Berer of Turkey. After a competitive jury process close to 50 artworks have been accepted from 20 artists for the exhibit illustrating a diverse array of Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish calligraphy artworks.

As an additional goal, the exhibitions, by encompassing traditional artworks of different cultures, aim to foster dialogue between diverse cultures and faiths through a traditional art form. Such viewing combinations are rare in California, and will provide the public with the unique opportunity to recognize shared features: The traditions all highlight the power of written word via inscribing it artistically with pen and ink, and emphasize a direct relationship between spirituality and calligraphy. Being a good calligrapher, in the traditional sense, goes hand in hand with developing strong spirit and character.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Tibetan calligraphy course in America

The Dzogchen community in North East America are very pleased to announce that Tashi Mannox, the esteemed master of Tibetan calligraphy, will be in residence at Tsegyalgar East on 4-6th April 2014 at the invitation of Shang Shung Institute USA and Khandroling Paper Cooperative to teach an introduction to Tibetan Calligraphy.

WHEN: April 4.5.6, 2014 (Daily schedule TBA)
WHERE : Shang Shung LIbrary, 18 Schoolhouse Rd. Conway, Massachusetts, USA.  
COST: $225  (includes most materials)  

To register and pay online, visit the link here: 

According to Tashi, his calligraphy course will be intensive, to teach the correct proportions and how to form the Uchen letters of the Tibetan alphabet, which alone can take two days. 

He writes:
I am very interactive with the students and depending on how many people attending (20 persons to a class is manageable) I like to go around the class to give each individual some personal attention in holding the pen and forming the letters, often writing on their paper to demonstrate each letter. So this will be a course for beginners as well as those who are already practiced in Tibetan.

The course starts with a short historic explanation of the Tibetan written language and its spiritual and sacred significance, which I tend to refer to throughout the course. I normally finish the course with teaching the correct way to write the Mani mantra and other key syllables essential for visualisation practices. People love this and go home with their own created art. 

So the course is teaching a solid foundation in correct proportion and beautifully formed letters, as starting with a firm foundation is essential to creating beautiful calligraphy with the integrity of the tradition it belongs.

To view a film about Tashi, click here or visit his exquisite website.

Tashi will also be giving a presentation at the Rubin Museum in NYC on April 2, 2014 at 7:30 PM as part of the upcoming exhibition on Tibetan Medicine.

Tashi has given many successful workshops in Europe. We are very honored to have him visit us here in the USA. Please pass the word around. 

Participants from out of town may register to stay in the Tsegyagar East Dormitory onsite. Contact the to make a reservation. 

If you require a more upscale accommodation Lauri and Bret are offering rooms in their B & B located in Shelburne Falls about 20 minutes away from Conway.You can call 413-824-0502 for further information.Or you can visit the Tsegyalgar East accommodation page

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The passing of great masters....

Deep gratitude

Three great masters pose for a photo in an Oxford back garden (probably at their residence St Margaret's road) sometime between 1965-67, perhaps dressed for an occasion. Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche on the left still a monk, yet, perhaps in jest, wearing the dress of a Chinese official of old times. At center is Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in best monks robes, beside him on the right is Sherab Palden Beru handsomely clad in a traditional Tibetan Chuba of burnt orange damask silk.

Recently scanned from a slide, this photo has remained unpublished for nearly 50 years. With the tragic passing of Kyabje Akong Rinpoche on the 16th October 2013 and on 29th November 2012, the passing of Sherab Palden Beru, along with the earlier passing of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1987. 
Such a historic photographic documentation is all the more poignant, knowing the great lives of these three masters that have influenced and benefited countless beings. Their great legacy lives on in their work, by their example and with their reincarnations.

Swift return prayer of Choje Akong Tulku was composed by
the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje.

Through the blessing power of an ocean of the Three Jewels and the Three Roots, and the Blessing of the interdependence of pure faith and pure Samaya of Lama and follower. 
May the shining daylight of this magnificent guide and protector of the teachings and of beings rise as a new incarnation to shine once again, thus bringing benefit to those to be trained. 

It is due to the wisdom and artistry of these Bodhi masters that played an invaluable role for Tashi from boyhood. Akong Rinpoche became a spiritual father throughout, teaching values of excellence in creativity, be it sewing fine brocades to writing Tibetan manuscripts, but most importantly, by example in great patience and lovingkindness. 
Tashi is also indebted to one of the greatest master of Tibetan Art of this time Sherab Palden Beru, who Tashi worked closely as an apprentice during the timely building of the Samye Ling Temple in Scotland. 

Akong Rinpoche and Tashi as a monk and attendant
during one of many tours around Europe during the 90's.

Akong Rinpoche viewing art prints of Tashi that were presented to him in
April 2013, Tashi's last meeting with Akong Rinpoche.

Sherab Palden explaining temple decoration to Tashi as a young monk.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Set in stone.

Stone Mantras

The idiom "set in stone" is generally a metaphor for something 'firmly established', be it a set of rules or a schedule difficult to change. Yet for an artist it may have a more literal meaning as to have their creations carved in stone. This is evident with the highly skilled stonemasons of the bygone middle-age Europe, who erected lofty Cathedrals of stone that seem to defy the law of gravity. 
While on the other side of two continents high up on the Tibetan plateau; sacred mantras were carved in stone as a different form of devotional practice. 
Yet despite social change and religious degeneration, the robust nature of stone has stood the test of time, proving itself as a medium to be one of the best in longevity.  

Earlier this year of 2013, Tashi was contacted by a Frenchman Yann Devorsine, also a fellow Tibetan Buddhist and a stonemason. 
Yann had spent some years living the Kingdom of Bhutan, where he had been given the opportunity to practice his skill carving mantras and prayers in the local landscape. A suitable place for such rock carvings, as the tradition of carving mantras on stone has been a historical practice reaching across the broad length of the Himalayas as far as Mustang and North into Tibet and Mongolia.

Yann asked Tashi for the use of one of his calligraphy designs on a particular boulder in Bhutan, which opened up a partnership in carving devotional mantras and prayers on stone in Europe. 

Tashi's Mani mantra mandala on a boulder is Bhutan.

More recently Yann carved Tashi's calligraphy for a friend in Algarve, Portugal. The natural landscape  of the landowner provided handsome boulders in which several different mantras and seed syllables could be deeply incised or to stand proud, both catching the light to dramatic effects in contrast; revealing the beauty of these sacred characters firmly set in stone for many generations to come. 

The wild hills of Algarve
"om mani padme hum hri"
The hum syllable
Beyond hum the syllable dhi

The seed syllable dhi of Manjushri 
The syllable om
Yann Devorsine