Walking the talk: Fulfilling the wishes of others at Kalachakra

Founding Director Pema Gyalpo (left) and other members of Oshi Shenphen Tsokchung pose for photo at their campsite where they are looking after 26 aged and handicapped people, in Bodh Gaya, India, on 5 January 2017.

Founding Director Pema Gyalpo (left) and other members of Oshi Shenphen Tsokchung pose for photo at their campsite where they are looking after 26 aged and handicapped people, in Bodh Gaya, India, on 5 January 2017. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

BODH GAYA, India, 8 January 2017

For followers of Tibetan Buddhism, to attend the Kalachakra Empowerment is a sacred wish, with some receiving the empowerment as a full participant, others as merely a blessing. It is an intricate ritual given by a master for his disciples to receive authority to practice the Tantra. The Empowerment is conferred to benefit all the sentient beings. Depending on the disciples’ levels of commitment, different results are achieved.

In order to provide the opportunity to destitute aged and handicapped people to attend the Kalachakra event, a group of young Tibetans from the eastern Indian state of Odisha brought 26 old and disabled people to Bodh Gaya for the 34th Kalachakra Empowerment given by the Dalai Lama from 3 to 14 January.

Six members of the organisation, along with 15 assistants, are looking after the group, who are all staying in tents.

Following the advice of the Dalai Lama, that it is necessary to help others not only in our prayers but in our daily lives, Pema Gyalpo started Oshi Shenphen Tsokchung, a non-profit organisation that provides practical help and support to destitute aged and disabled people. He started the organisation with five other friends to look after these people with a range of practical care and services.

“I used to live a desperate life with no proper food to eat. I pledged to work for the betterment of the poor and needy people when my situation improved,” Gyalpo said.

Gyalpo’s situation did improve, and now his youngest daughter is about to join college. “I am in a much better position now. So I quit my job as a driver and started this organisation. I work full time heading the organisation as a volunteer, and I do not draw any salary,” he said.

The group provide food, shelter, clothes, and medical facilities. Since most of the people they look after are aged and without family, they also help with funeral support.

Odisha Phuntsokling Settlement is one of the major Tibetan Settlements in India. It was established in 1961 after Tibetans came into exile in 1959. The first settlers started their lives there from scratch. Apart from lack of education and health facilities, being illiterate left them without scope for employment. Consequently, they exist in very poor living conditions. There are also many who are old and alone with nobody looking after them. The number of such people is as high as 55% of the population in the settlement.

Gyalpo said that the Tibetan administration has been providing all it could, but due to lack of resources, not everybody could be covered.

He has been meeting people and promoting his organisation to seek donations, their main source for supporting their operations.

A few days ago, he had a sympathetic visitor at their camp site in Tenzin Dhondup, a businessman from Japan, who generously donated 50,000 rupees. He promised more from the donations he would collect from a concert he is producing in Bodh Gaya.

Dhondup, the owner of HITA Music Agency, along with his partner Phurba Fine Arts, are organising the five-day Second Tashi Delek Concert during the Kalachakra gathering.

“Oshi Shenphen Tsokchung is a noble idea. I appreciate and support the members of the organisation,” Tenzin Dhondup said.

He felt that it is the older generations who made us what we are today, and to give something back to them is what they deserve.

“Others should take inspiration from this organisation, and set up such organisations themselves. I will try to do my best in supporting this and other such organisations.”


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