A lot of new people who first visit Kechara or just heard about Kechara get quite confused about how many departments there areÖor where they can contribute and volunteer! hehe There are 13 departments in Kechara OrganizationÖall of them are extensions of my interests and I have seen them open and grow over the past few years.
A few of my students have written a very good summary of what each departments do, why they exist and have added a few relevant photos.. Have fun reading them!!
Part 1: 6 Departments
Kechara Animal Sanctuary Department
Since young, Rinpoche has always been fond of animals, and he never could bear to see any animal suffer. To create the causes for an animal sanctuary to manifest, Rinpoche has inspired the development of Kechara Animal Sanctuary where Rinpoche himself and students engage in various activities aimed at alleviating the suffering of animals.
These include animal liberation days, where fish for sale at the market, destined for our dinner plates, are bought by Rinpocheís students and taken to large lakes or ponds, like the one in Kepong Metropolitan Park, to be set free. The students also follow-up by checking how the liberated animals are doing and feeding them.
An adopt-an-animal campaign has evolved to encourage care for animals among Rinpocheís students, with many success stories to date. Rescues like that of Patches was initiated by Rinpoche on this blog. Rinpoche has even initiated animal rescue missions across the world. Rinpoche first heard the story of Sweet Sue, an abandoned dog who was about to be put down, through Twitter, and he began a massive worldwide appeal to all blog, Twitter and Facebook followers to find help for this dog across the United States. The global effort was a success and Sweet Sue found a home.
To create the causes, a smaller scale animal sanctuary has been set up at Tsem Ladrang, consisting of an aviary, a tortoise pen, several aquariums and two very adorable Schnauzers,Mumu and Oser. Throughout the organisation, Rinpoche has also gifted departments with aquariums to inculcate care for animals among the members of each department.
These kinds of activities are very important and central for developing a heart of care and compassion. As we work with animals, we see how much these beings suffer although they are not able to express any of their pain or speak one word to us. Through KAS, Rinpoche encourages us to learn how to care for every sentient being, including those who cannot give us anything back or even say thank you.
Rinpoche also strongly encourages vegetarianism as a very practical and immediate commitment to not hurt animals. By sharing many distressing videos, news and articles with his students about the reality behind slaughterhouses and animal-related industries, Rinpoche encourages his students to contemplate the incredible suffering that animals have to experience and to take that first step to stop it. This wish to foster more awareness in our attitudes towards animals has also inspired the growth of our vegetarian restaurant, Kechara Oasis.
In order for the animal sanctuary to manifest, we are now seeking a 20 to 30-acre piece of land no further than 40 minutes drive away from Kuala Lumpur. Here, we will provide a beautiful, spacious place for abandoned, abused animals to live out their lives happily. It is Rinpocheís hope that weíll be able to give a second chance in life not just to dogs and cats, but also to birds, fish, cows, horses etc. We will also need volunteers or staff who are experienced and knowledgeable in animal care to join us in making the Kechara Animal Sanctuary a safe haven for animals.
KMP Senior Editor and member of the KAS working committee, Jamie Khoo explains, ìWe wish for KAS to be a place where animals can roam free, and able to live their lives out as they wish, never having to worry about food, shelter, warmth and love!
ìNot much attention is paid to animal welfare although it is so necessary. So we hope that when we set up this sanctuary, it wonít just stop at helping animals; we hope that itíll also raise greater awareness of the importance of caring for animals so that overall, there will be less abuse, abandonment and ill-treatment everywhere.î
KAS1: Animal liberation and feeding sessions is now a monthly activity in Kechara, where kids are encouraged to learn about animal welfare.
KAS2: These were some puppies rescued by members of Kechara. They have since found some safe homes and families to love them!
KAS3: Saving Sue! A global rescue mission to give Sue from America a new home.
KAS4: Patches suffered terrible injuries after being the victim of a hit-and-run accident. After surgery, much healing and lots of love from his new family in Naropa House, he is now on the road to a great recovery.
KAS5: The beautiful Tsem Ladrang aviary provides a wonderful new life for birds which were previously living in terribly cramped cages and poor conditions
KAS6: Kandro and Menlha, the loving tortoises that also live in Tsem Ladrang.
KAS7: One of KASí biggest success stories, Gonkar, used to live in awful conditions in a pet shop, where he was deliberately starved and maltreated. Heís since gone to a good home and is doing very well!
Kechara Discovery Department
H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche has loved the Buddha since he was a child living in New Jersey, USA. He would draw little paper Buddha pendants and photocopy rare Buddha pictures that he found in books to give away to people. Though no one had ever taught it to him, he had always believed that an image of a Buddha would bless and protect people.
This passion lives on in Rinpoche until today and was the main reason that Kechara Discovery was conceptualised in 2008: to make Buddha images accessible and plentiful for people everywhere, especially for their spiritual practice.
One of the main functions of Kechara Discoverywithin the organisation is to source for new Buddha statues and create a range of Buddha pendants based on Rinpocheís designs. LiaisonPaul Yap was selected to head this department and his hard work is well paying off now: the things he has achieved are just spectacular! Since its inception, Kechara Discovery has managed to source for many of the statues and create variousexquisite ranges of pendants that Kechara Paradise carries now.
KDís largest and most recent project has been in creating the central Buddha statues for Kechara Houseís new gompa. This is no small feat, we can assure you! Paul has to travel abroad every other week to personally oversee the construction of these statues and advise the manufacturers on correct iconography and details. But with plenty of creative energy and a great eye for detail, there couldnít be any more perfect a person for the job!
The central images in Tsem Ladrang ñ the heartbeat of the Kechara organization ñ were also created by Kechara Discovery. For example, the statue of Rinpocheís previous life which sits in the grand hall and Rinpocheís personal Vajrayogini statue in his room were all the result of KDís incredible hard work. What fantastic and huge merit they must be creating!
While Rinpoche was growing up in America, and later when he was living in the monastery in India, such delightful statues and pendants would have only been a dream. Although he would very much have liked to give away pendants and statues, funds were very limited. Now, with the creation of so many beautiful statues in varying sizes, portable tsa tsas and pendants, Rinpoche is much closer to fulfilling a wish to make Buddha images available to everyone, no matter what their budget or style preferences may be. Ultimately, these images are to inspire people in their practice and form a central focus for their daily prayers and contemplations.
As well as introducing people to many Buddha images, Rinpoche has also taken many students and friends on pilgrimages to numerous spiritual power places in Bodhgaya, Gaden Monastery in South India, Nepal and even within our sacred Kechara organisation in Kuala Lumpur. Rinpoche takes his students to these places so that they can be blessed by the energy of enlightened Beings to further their spiritual practice, attainments and work, and to plant innumerable spiritual seeds within their minds. Click here for more information on the benefits of going on pilgrimage. Rinpoche has also blogged about these various sites, such as the MahabodhiTemple in Bodhgaya, Naropa’s cave in Kathmanu, Nepal and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet.
Rinpocheís dream to help many people to connect to these sacred places is also being realised by KD. Now, a second part of their portfolio is to make arrangements for such pilgrimages. All the logistics and tour details, as well as explanations, specific prayers and meditations to be performed at these specific locations are all handled by KD so you can be assured of a most spectacular trip. Many of the locations of these sacred power places are rare and off the beaten track, but KD make sure we can get to them, offering us a much more exclusive and insightful spiritual experience.
Moving forward, this young and dynamic team of five now have bigger plans to bring their pendants and Buddha statues to the world. The small but vibrant department is also working on a showroom that will showcase many of their unique masterpieces. This showroom will introduce the art of Buddha statues to the masses, so that they can also be appreciated and welcomed into the homes of non-Buddhists.
Paul the head of department says, ìI plan to expand Kechara Discovery into a showroom to highlight various concepts of home dÈcor and to make the concept having a Buddha statue a very attractive and viable proposition. On top of that,Kechara Discovery will have a lot of work in the future sourcing and producing the large statues for Kechara World Peace Center. We have a lot of work ahead and itís all going to be very exciting!î
KD1: A cosy corner of KDís current office, where many vast and exciting ideas manifest into reality!
KD2: A showcase of KDís huge range of Buddha images, to suit every personís practice.
KD3: KD gets their inspiration for beautiful statues from traditional cultures like Nepal, but have since created many of their own exquisite images.
KD4: At the Self-Arising Tara Chapel in Kathmandu, Nepal, one of the many places that KD travels to on pilgrimages.
KD5: Take a trip back in history and visit the temples of old, like Kumbum Monastery, Lama Tsongkhapaís birthplace. Kechara Discovery shows you how!
Kechara Care Department
One of Rinpocheís passions has always been to take care of friends and students in order to bring them closer to the Dharma. However, as Kechara House and its various departments grow, it soon became difficult for Rinpoche to maintain the amount of people that was coming in. Hence,Kechara Care was formed to take care of these new people, give them guidance and help them as they start their spiritual journey.
Liaison Chuah Su Ming, who is immensely kind, attentive and always looking for ways to benefit others, is the head of this department. Kechara Careís work is huge and spans many departments as Su Ming and her fellow Kechara Care staff are involved in every Kechara event or activity to talk to and assist new friends in the organisation. On top of that, Kechara Care also does its best to support existing members and Kechara staff by providing help when they are ill or facing difficulties, and by encouraging them towards the Dharma with many gifts, advice and love.
Liaison Su Ming, head of Kechara Care shares, ìKechara Care holds great responsibility to manage the new people who come into Kechara House everyday through its various departments. These people need nurturing, care and someone to talk to. That is where my department comes in, to talk about Kechara and Rinpoche. I will ensure that is all done with lots of love and care!î
Kechara Care has just recently opened Kechara Lounge, just a few doors away from the new Gompa in SunwayMas. The lounge is opened to all members and friends as a place to chill out, dance, make friends, sing their hearts out and sip on yummy non-alcoholic drinks. Birthday parties, receptions, celebrations and all types of events are welcomed to be held in Kechara Lounge. Moreregular events and Dharma parties will also be planned for Kechara Lounge in the near future.
But how does this all fit into a Buddhist organization? A disco in a Dharma centre? How radical! Yes, it might be, but Kechara Care and its hip, happening lounge is all about creating conducive, comfortable, relaxing places for people to meet, gather, create friendships and develop support for each othersí spiritual practice. Dharma isnít just about sitting in a puja session for hours; more importantly, itís about what you do after you get off your meditation cushion and how youíre bringing this same benefit to others.
In the near future, Kechara Care will be expanding further to the lot right next to the lounge. This will be transformed into a museum and gallery as well as provide essential office space for even more staff to join. With this new museum/gallery new people will be brought on visual journey through the history of Kechara and its various departments, and introduced to the many varied activities and aspects of the organisation. This space will also include cozy discussion areas with comfortable seating so Kechara Care staff and friends can further engage in conversation about the Dharma and Kechara.
Besides Kechara Lounge, KC also handles a monthly animal liberation activity that brings families together in this meritorious activity. Fish are released into a large lake in the Kepong Metropolitan Park with recitation of prayers and mantras of Medicine Buddha. Fish pellets are also abundantly given to feed these fishes right after the liberation. KC also organizes Kechara Mini Tours around various departments within the organization which everyone is welcome to join.
The future doesnít end there. Kechara Care has infinite room for expansion into activities such as baby blessings, weddings, parties etc. In the future, Kechara Care will also be overseeing a children and youth department to nurture a future generation of Kechara members and Dharma practitioners.
KC1: Kechara Careís gorgeous lounge / disco is more than just a beautiful place. Underneath the glitter, it is all about care, love and sharing the benefit of Dharma with others.
KC2: KC organizes mini tours around the various departments of Kechara, to give newcomers an insight into the many activities we have.
KC3: KC plays a pivotal role in organizing the Kechara family days and monthly animal liberation sessions, to bring friends and family together and cultivate a culture of great care, even for our fishy friends!
KC4: Celebrate the good times! KC will make every day a special one for you, especially your birthday! Here they are throwing their first birthday party in the new lounge.
KC5: The other ìsecretî portfolio of the KC team: they are also all Santaís Elves! Sharing gifts with new friends is a very big part of what KC do as a means of connecting people to the blessings of Dharma.
Kechara Saraswati Arts Department
Kechara Saraswati Arts began in the back room of Kechara Paradiseís first outlet in SS2, Petaling Jaya, where volunteers would gather in the evenings to roll mantras, paint and do beadworkon Buddha statues.
As this department grew in its work and volunteers, it evolved into a whole department of its own. It branched off and was named after the female Buddha of the arts, Saraswati. After much development and a few changes, this department is now led by Liaison Paul Yap who also headsKechara Discovery.
H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche started this department because of his passion and belief in collecting merit through making offerings to the Buddhas. In KSA, offerings of our time, effort and money are made by adorning Buddha statues and thangkas with precious stones, brocades or intricate painting. Rinpoche encourages his students to make as many offerings as possible to collect lots of merits for our spiritual practice to be successful.
With the development of many services and by exploring many different styles of atrwork, KSA is now able to offer practitioners many different methods for beautifying and painting their statues. For example, some people prefer a more traditional style, while others prefer their statues to be painted in brilliant colours or given a unique antique finish.
In the past, Rinpoche would offer plastic or costume jewellery onto the statues. Now that we have better resources, KSA offers practitioners the opportunity to offer real and semi-precious stones onto the statues. The artists of this department do very fine beadwork of pearls and various semi-precious stones to adorn statues, wealth vases, butterlamps and ritual implements, all according to the customersí preferences.
KSA also offers traditional sewing methods, such as for brocading of thangkas or in making traditional clothes for Buddha statues. These techniques are all handed down from generations of artists that have learnt their craft from Tibet and the Himalayan region. Our very good friend from Nepal, Raj Kumar, came to KL especially to teach traditional sewing skills that are still being used by KSA.
When all is done, KSA can also insert mantras into Buddha statues as a way of ìsealingî and consecrating the statue. Before this is done, many volunteers get involved in rolling strips of mantras or prayers into scrolls which can then be inserted into the statues. This activity is actually a very old practice which is still done in the monastery and is also very perfect for those of us who canít paint, handle beads or do anything creative!
Besides these services, KSA also organize various art activities for children and adults, such asflower arrangement classes, mala restringing,jewellery-making, painting and beading workshops. Rinpocheís dream for KSA is to have people craft Buddha statues just like what one of KSAís staff, Lili Ng, has done recently for Rinpoche. Rinpocheís other dream for KSA is for the department to expand into an art studio in one of the major shopping malls. It will be a creative heaven for people who like all things creative and arty.
But it isnít just about an outward appearance. KSAís deeper purpose is to create a very strong spiritual connection for people. Whether itís about inviting a statue home, beautifying it or contributing your time as a volunteer, KSA offers people the most precious opportunity of practicing and expressing their spirituality through the arts. Behind every activity in KSA is a very deep and significant meaning for our practice; the very Buddhas that we are painting carrying many profound Dharma teachings just on their physical form. Within this one department alone, there is so much to learn!
As the arts have also been a very therapeutic method for soothing the mind, KSAís many activities also provide people the chance to unwind and relax, while contributing to something very meaningful. Thereís even a relaxing space, called the Hring Room, which encourages volunteers to spend time with each other and work in a calming, fun environment.
Since its humble beginnings KSA has really gone on to great heights. On top of providing all artistic work for the organization, it has also uncovered many hidden talents of individuals throughout Kechara.
Now, they have a firm team of seven staff and many talented volunteers. An example of these talents lie in Lili Ng, a volunteer who has now committed to working part-time with KSA. She has done extensive restoration work on statues, as well as contributed to many painting projects within KSA.
Thereís also Pat who decided several years ago to swap her job working with a local fashion designer to sewing clothes for the Buddhas instead! Now, she heads the sewing division of KSA.
The head of Kechara Saraswati Arts, Liaison Paul Yap says, ìKSA has come a long way since its early days in the back room of Kechara Paradise. It has since moved into a studio of its own and is now on the brink of even more expansion. The current KSA studio in SS2 will move into SunwayMas in the near future. I will also be looking into expanding into a creative studio in a shopping mall to connect to the vast numbers of young creative people who hang out in the malls. There will be lots more to come for Kechara SaraswatiArts!î
KSA1: The bright, versatile space of KSA allows for many different types of artwork to be done by many volunteers.
KSA2:† At the service of the Three Jewels: Kumar and Nani are KSAís resident artist and tailor who offer all their talent, time and effort to the departmentís growing works.
KSA3: Kids classes organized by KSA bring out the most creative, imaginative talents of all children (and those who are young at heart!)
KSA4: The artwork at KSA is very highly detailed and intricate, and requires great patience and skill. Fortunately, we have many very talented people in this department!
KSA5: An example of the beautiful paintwork and beadwork that KSA can do on Buddha statues.
KSA6: Learning the art of traditional sewing from expert tailor Raj Kumar from Nepal.
KSA7: Even adults have a chance to unleash their inner child in KSAís many varied workshops. Here, a volunteer Kien Wong teaches participants how to make their own jewellery.
Kechara Media & Publications Department
There are books that make us laugh. There are books that make us think, and there are books that inspire us. However the most valuable books are those that move us to look within and help us change for the better. They shape our lives and give us meaning. This is the kind of literature thatKechara Media Kechara Media & Publications Publications produce.
Kechara Media Kechara Media & Publications Publications (KMP) does more than just print spiritual books. The dynamic, young publishing house also produce videos that spice up minds and make a difference in peopleís lives.
KMP began like most departments in the Kechara organisation, by a small group of dedicated students. It started out with two or three people working on books over someoneís dining table; the first official KMP office was made up of two desks pushed together in the corner of a room. As many students experienced the benefits of Rinpocheís teachings, they wanted to share it with as many people as possible and make these valuable teachings readily available to all. A media and publications department was formed to spread the good word.
Originally, this department just documented Rinpocheís teachings and transcribed them into articles and books. Today, KMP has evolved into an entity of its own and its books are sold in all major and independent bookstores across Malaysia, as well as online on kechara.com/eshop and amazon.com etc. To date, KMP has published over 25 books in both English and Chinese, elevating Rinpocheís name in the book world and creating a platform for local authors such asJamie ìParisî Khoo and David Lai to emerge too.
The books published by KMP are designed and written for the Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. There are inspirational collections of teachingsfrom Rinpoche, biographies of Rinpocheís students where they share their personal spiritual journeys, comic books of our Spiritual Lineage Masters and gorgeous box sets to introduce the world to some of Kecharaís most central, sacred practices.
In addition, there are beautiful coffee table booksthat complement oneís home as well as enrich oneís mind. Beyond all else, KMPís books are aimed to benefit as many people as possible with its inspiring message and beautiful pages. Although its primary ingredient is Buddhism, its presentation of content is universally appealing, fun and hip ñ even the likes of celebrity journalist Lorraine Hahn and internationally-renowned author Anne Jones, love our books!
The team itself reflects the teachings they are working with. While many of them held highly respected and well-paid jobs as journalists, designers and business owners, they chose to trade in a life on the corporate ladder for the much more exciting and meaningful work of Dharma publishing. The trade-off was worth it ñ youíll never see a happier, more fulfilled group of individuals who have that special fortune of working directly with Rinpocheís teachings on a daily basis.
KMPís books and videos are a testament that Buddhist teachings are relevant and easily relatable to everyone. The team in KMP comprises a team of 13, including full-time writers, translators, a designer and a cool CEO who believe that spirituality is very relevant, applicable and necessary for our modern daily lives.
The success of many of their titles, including If Not Now, When??, Call Me Paris and Thereís No Way But Up are testament to the fact that Buddhaís teachings are just as relevant today as they were 2,500 years ago. Call Me Paris even made it into the Top 10 Bestselling list of Local Authors ñ a sure sign that her spiritual story is inspiring many young Malaysians around the country.
The importance of KMP lies in getting as many books out to the worldís audience so that people can get the help that they need. Many readers around the globe have been expressed how KMPís books have touched their lives and changed them. KMPís books have also landed in the offices ofPresidents and Royalty such as former Vice President of USA, Al Gore and the King of Thailand. This goes to show how KMPís books appeal to all spectrums of society.
For every life that KMPís books have touched, it is a life benefited. This is what motivates KMP each and every day to do more for others, push the envelope and continue creating beautiful books to inspire the body, mind and spirit. This is the true living mandate of Kechara Media Kechara Media & Publications Publications.
KMP1: The cosy, colourful spaces of the KMP office reflect the vibrant, happy energies of the team itself.
KMP2: More than just officemates, KMP members see each other as real family.
KMP3: Bringing the word to the world! KMP also participates alongside KP in roadshows around the country.
KMP4: At the heart of all KMPís publications are the teachings and spiritual message of H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
KMP5: We wanna be heard! To promote the teachings and books, KMP also organize regular book clubs and book talks in our own Kechara Paradise outlets and in mainstream bookstores.
KMP6: KMPís books are now in all major bookstores around the country and have been widely promoted in the most prominent outletsí store windows and displays.
KMP7: Fame beckons for KMPís two youngest members, David and Jamie, who have each written spiritual biographies of their experiences in Dharma.
Kechara InMotion Department
Documenting Dharma teachings and making them interesting to watch is not as easy as it sounds. However the work does become a lot easier when the ìstarî is a Lama who possesses great screen presence as well as in-depth Dharma knowledge to impart the priceless teachings for all to comprehend.
Kechara InMotion, otherwise known as KIM, is the media and video production department of the Kechara organization. Although they are a small team of only three full-time staff, KIM captures everything audio and visual in Kechara and beyond, and have become a vital arm in documenting everything that happens within Kechara. Content ranges from Rinpocheís private and public teachings, to personal spiritual journeys of Kechara students such as the Whoís Who series, personal testimonials and theDharma Princess Diaries; from overseaspilgrimages to special events within the Kechara family. There is always something for everyone because Rinpocheís teachings cover all aspects of life.
The objective of KIM is to project valuable information and teachings in an exciting format in order to engage the audience. It is only in engaging the audience that actual learning can be shared with all.
Prior to KIM, many of Rinpocheís teachings were not documented. Some were archived only as audio recordings. It is only with KIM that video documentation has really taken off. Almost every teaching of Rinpoche has been uploaded ontoYouTube for everyoneís free viewing pleasure. From YouTube alone, hundreds of people around the world have been able to receive Dharma teachings and begin their practice. It is from these videos that people from as far as Australia, Portugal and Scotland have come all the way to Malaysia to visit and join the centre.
Much like the other departments in Kechara, KIM is also started by a group of students who have been immensely inspired by Rinpocheís teachings. These students have left their high profile jobs in order to work alongside their Lama to bring valuable teachings to the worldís audience. Liaison and Head of KIM, Han Siew Fong was herself a highly qualified producer who worked on internationally-renowned programmes such as Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal. She has openly shared her expertise with the rest of the team and KIM now boasts a team that can cover every aspect of film production, from filming, to scripting to post-production and extensive editing.
Although KIMís main mission is spirituality, its scope of work is not limited to Dharma videos. KIM also undertakes commercial jobs to be self-sustaining. However, it is not commercial for commercialismís sake. All works from the Kechara organization ñ whatever outward form they may take ñ is to serve and benefit the greater whole. By its Dharma and commercial projects, KIM realises this vision and is able to bring Dharma to both Dharma practitioners as well as a larger audience who might not otherwise connect to spirituality.
Under the superb leadership of Han, the KIM team is deeply committed to using their talents and skills for a higher purpose. Han herself undertake commercial jobs in order to bring in funds to sustain KIMís spiritual works. In this way, the team has been able to sustain KIM and even contribute to the entire organisation through their unique talent and skills.
Through KIM, the mass audience can witness the various aspects of how spirituality can be incorporated in our everyday life. Real people and real life are happening through the lenses of KIM, capturing how peopleís lives have changed and why spirituality is the pulse of humanity. In documenting all that is valuable and meaningful in life, we are able to give present and future generations the insights to lifeís essential learning.
KIM1: Han (left) with her volunteers are the silent heroes who work hard at every single Kechara event to photograph, film and archive every part of our history.
KIM2: From live film coverage to chat-shows and interviews, thereís nothing KIM canít do!
KIM3: On-site filming at a Nepal pilgrimage in 2008 meant KIM staff were constantly on the go, 24 hours a day through the dusty, tricky streets of Kathmandu.
KIM4: Full-time staff Chris Tan was not professionally trained in video production but thanks to KIM has picked up all the skills needed to be right up there with the experts.
KIM5: KIM have really made stars out of our own people and places within Kechara! Here they are filming one of our members in a series of personal testimonials.
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