Part 2 – 7 Departements
Kechara House Department
Kechara House is the Dharma centre and the heart of the Kechara organisation. Kechara is named after the heaven of one of the highest tantric female Buddha Vajrayogini and is under the spiritual guidance of our dear Lama, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. Now while we may not actually be in Kechara Heaven right now, Rinpoche has established this wonderful centre for us to take that first step to get there.
The first link between our Spiritual Guide and Malaysia was made in 1992 when Rinpoche was sent to Malaysia by his monastery, Gaden Shartse, to raise funds through giving Dharma teachings. During his short visit to Malaysia, Rinpoche had already gathered a group of students in this region. After accomplishing his mission, he returned to Gaden Monastery in South India the following year.
Rinpocheís Malaysian students then began visiting him at Gaden and writing to him, requesting him to return to Malaysia to continue to teach. Out of his great kindness and in response to the many repeated requests he received, Rinpoche began to travel back and forth between Malaysia and India, teaching small groups in his studentsí houses and apartments.
Finally in the year 2000, as a result of Rinpocheís hard work together with several of his students, Kechara House was born. From a single floor in a shop lot, it has now grown to four double-storey shop lots (this new gompa (prayer hall) will be ready in 2-3 weeks times with seating capacity of 700, more pictures will be updated when the time comes) in SunwayMas Commercial Centre a small but very busy new township on the outskirts of the Kuala Lumpur city centre. (see construction of the new gompa here)
Kechara House follows the sacred Gelugpa Tradition of Gaden, which has an unbroken lineage from Buddha Shakyamuni (624-540 BC) to the Indian pandit, Atisha (982-1054 AD) and to the renowned Tibetan scholar, Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 AD).
But what does all that mean, anyway? Rinpoche shares this ancient Buddhist wisdom in a dynamic and contemporary style, which appeals to many modern people today and provides practical, inspiring solutions to many of the problems, stress or confusion we face today. This empowering and exciting energy is embodied in the activities and growth of the entire Kechara organisation. At Kechara House, the wide range of activities provides something for everyone; from the corporate professional to the hippy artist to the entire family.
As a Dharma centre, Kechara House offers weekly prayer sessions (known as pujas), as well as special pujas upon request ñ such as for particularly urgent cases, health, travel, examinations, clearing of obstacles or protection. Anyone is welcome to attend, to learn the sacred, traditional methods for making a profound connection with the enlightened beings, receive blessings and engage in spiritual practice with a supportive, loving community. Do note that Kechara is also probably the only centre in Malaysia which has learnt how to do these traditional pujas directly from monks from Gaden Monastery ñ we recite them in the original Tibetan and perform the rituals exactly as is done by the monks.
For those interested in the study of Buddhist philosophy, there is a range of Dharma classes suited to different levels of learning which are streamed live on www.justin.tv/kechara for students who are overseas or unable to physically attend. As knowledge and learning forms the basis of all Buddhist practice, Kechara House encourages people of all levels, ages and interest levels to join in the classes, where there is always debate and discussion to foster more interactive learning. Now, there are also kids’ classes, tailored for different age-groups of children and which provide a colourful variety of activities to assist in learning.
There are study groups in Ipoh, Malacca, Johor, London and Singapore, where groups of students gather to learn Dharma according to Rinpocheís teachings and to perform pujas. Members from Kechara House regularly visit these study groups to share and perform pujas with them, as well as to stay connected to out-stationed friends. Many of these members also come to join in the main activities of Kechara in Kuala Lumpur.
For visiting students from out of town, there is a simple guest house where they can stay. Since it was set up in 2007, weíve had friends from all over the world ñ Australia, UK, Indonesia, Portugal ñ who have come to stay in our guest house and join in activities throughout the organization. Students can also use the guest house for retreat purposes.
As a meeting point for all departments of Kechara, KH organizes many activities for both individuals and families to participate in. For example, there are animal liberation days at parks to put compassion into action, Family days to foster strong family bonding, recycling initiatives to love our earth and even birthday parties just to celebrate good times with each other. Being with friends of Kechara House is like being with a second family!
Now, because the activities have grown so huge, we are very quickly running out of space to accommodate everyone. So, right as weíre writing this, new gompa (temple) is under construction, scheduled to be ready by November. Watch for it!
The President of Kechara House and Liaison of Tsem Ladrang, Datuk May Phng says, ìAt Kechara, attending pujas, Dharma classes, various activities and most of all, listening to H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpocheís teachings will create the methods for you to live your life with purpose and wisdom to benefit others. The results will be that you will create your own self worth and great happiness.î
This is what Kechara House is all about ñ to bring peace, harmony and joy to all our lives as embodied by Rinpoche, and to bring this aspiration to life with alternative healing, philosophy and arts at the Kechara World Peace Centre ñ our 30-acre forest retreat centre.
Kh1: Dharma teaching by H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche in Kechara House are always packed out by enthusiastic Dharma students and friends.
KH2: Special puja sessions and prayer festivals, such as for Cheng Meng and Wesak Day, are organized by Kechara House and open to everyone.
KH3: Dharma classes in Kechara House always encourage group discussions, questioning and debate as a swift and interactive way of learning
KH4: Fun family days out in the sun bring families closer and provide kids with plenty of exciting activities to keep body, mind and spirit healthy and active!
KH5: Kechara loves our Earth! Do you? Join in our monthly recycling project.
KH6: KH has a very dedicated, trained puja team who work hard to introduce these sacred, ancient prayers to others and teach them how to join in the weekly sessions.
KH7: Kechara House loves to throw a good party too to celebrate the achievements and contributions of its members, as well as to bring people closer together.
Kechara Lounge Department
Overlooking the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the most spiritually significant sites in Kathmandu, Nepal, Kechara Lounge is a gorgeous, warm centre for international pilgrims and visitors to learn about Kechara and Lama Tsongkhapaís lineage as taught by H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.
Under the leadership of Chuah Su Ming, Ladrang Liaison and Head of Kechara Care, Kechara Lounge, Kecharaís first international visitorsí centre, was opened in February 2009. Its purpose is to share Rinpocheís teachings and to educate guests on our lineage and practices. Books and DVDs of Rinpocheís teachings are available for anyone to browse through or watch, while seated on the cosy sofas of the lounge. Visitors can also choose to relax and meditate in the lounge or simply enjoy the stunning view of Boudhanath Stupa itself or of practitioners doing prostrations or circumambulating the stupa. You canít help but feel on top of the world when youíre looking out of these windows!
There is a traditional Lamaís throne set up as an exhibit, labeled with clear explanations. Visitors may also make traditional Tibetan khata offerings to the throne and offer their individual prayers. Large information panels with comprehensive explanations are dotted throughout the lounge to allow visitors to make their own self-guided tour.
Liaison Chuah Su Ming shares, ìNepal is a magnet for spiritual seekers and trekkers from all over the world, and many have visited Kechara Lounge, taking back Rinpocheís books and DVD teachings home with them. I have benefited so much from Rinpocheís Dharma teachings and I really hope that Kechara Lounge will allow us to share this life changing wisdom with many.î
At the centre of the lounge is the highlight of this small but energetic space: a large statue of Vajrayogini, similar to that of Rinpocheís personal statue gives visitors to have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with this high tantric female deity. Accompanying explanations of her iconography and the significance of her symbology provide visitors with wonderful insight into this aspect of Buddhist practice. (Rinpoche has also given an extensive teaching on Vajrayoginiís iconography here).
Nepal has an especially close link to Vajrayogini and there are many holy temples and private chapels dedicated to her. From a pilgrimage led by Rinpoche in 2008, a coffee table book about Vajrayogini was written by KMP writer and apprentice to the Liaisonsí Council, David Lai and Kechara Discovery Liaison Paul Yap, entitled Vajrayogini and Other Sacred Power Places in Nepal. This beautiful book is filled with great information and vivid imagery, including some of private chapels which have never been previously photographed. It is available in English and Chinese, and since its publication, has received enthusiastic response from readers in this region as well as from pilgrims visiting Kechara Lounge in Kathmandu.
Get started on your own pilgrimage with this book, then hop on the next flight, make your way to Boudhanath Stupa and check in at our lounge. Kecharaís going global and we hope to see you there soon!
KL1: A stunning, sacred five foot Vajrayogini statue greets all visitors as they enter Kechara Lounge.
KL2: Visitors and local Nepalese friends alike are encouraged to make khata offerings and prayers at Rinpocheís throne (representing the presence of the Lama).
KL3: Just a stoneís throw away from the iconic Boudhanath stupa, Kechara Lounge is fast becoming a landmark of the area!
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