Further Progress On the Library and Printing Press

Tashi dalek, everyone!

We have made a considerable amount of progress on the library! Everything is really starting to fit together. Within our group, the leadership structure was very much an open discussion. We had many people in the library printing press group, but we all took turns discussing what we did in the village and our ideas for the library, as well as what each of us wanted to focus on (if we knew at that point). I thought this was a good structure, because having one or two people leading the group would have been a little bit too demanding, and since we all had the common goal but different responsibilities and ways of pitching in, it added diversity to our library. We have a variety of different topics in the library, from biographies of Buddhist nuns (done by Pema) to pieces of art to decorate the library (done by Lavender). We will be adding a section (as I talked about in my last post) for the Pali Canon and having different sections for each of the three Pitakas. In terms of resources, our group needed scriptures and amulets for adding to the library.

I chose for my role, to focus on the importance of having a good selection of texts in the library, particularly in relation to healing, as it is one of my passions (and a secondary skill that I have been developing, on the side of working as a scholar on the Pali scriptures). My husband, Dorje, is a healer and many of the skills he uses have inspired me to digress from my usual research in the Pali language to find out some of the reasons for having a printing press and a larger library, using historical examples. One of the most important reasons that printing books is important is from almost one thousand years ago, from when the Lotus Sutra was written. It was said that those who helped in producing books, through writing or copying the word of the Buddha, would gain merit for their community and be blessed by the Buddha.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Goryeo-Illustrated_manuscript_of_the_Lotus_Sutra_c.1340.jpg

Being able to have a printing press would also teach those who are learning medicine or any other trade in our village, and allow them to pass on the knowledge that they have learned to others in the community or to future generations. As an amateur healer, I learned about the influence that Sangyé Gyatso has had on the history of Tibetan medicine. Sangyé Gyatso was the main regent to the 5th Dalai Lama (around the 17th century), and he wrote in his work, The Beryl Mirror, on the importance of writing texts in medicine and its critical part in learning and practice. I also wanted to include The Four Tantras in this section of the library, to particularly focus on the importance of texts in medicine. The Four Tantras include The First Tantra (Root Tantra, which describes illnesses), The Second Tantra (Explanatory Tantra, which talks about the physiology), The Third Tantra (Oral Transmissions Tantra, which descrines the causes and cures of diseases), and the Fourth Tantra (Last Tantra, which discusses diagnosis and other treatments). The Four Tantras are the Buddha’s teachings and the text that Tibetan healers have to study, and it quotes the following:

The physician without a lineage

Is like a fox that seizes the king’s throne:

He deserves no one’s respect.

The physician who does not understand the texts

Is like a blind person to whom you show something:

He can discern neither the disease nor the cure.

To me, this passage talks about how if a healer does not leave a legacy of his or her findings for others, then he would not be taken into high regard, and a healer who does not learn from the texts, would not very good at healing. I would like to include The Four Tantras in the library as it would be greatly beneficial for those who wish to study medicine or even those who may have someone sick in their family and want to know more.

I am anticipating the prospect of the library being finished soon! I know many of my fellow scholars and group members are also feeling the same way. I hope that the library will be able to give our community more awareness about different aspects of our culture and perhaps some more information about Buddhism. Not everyone is as fortunate as me to have received the training and education as I did to become a scholar and be immersed in a world of books constantly. I want those who perhaps have not spent as much time reading and discovering our history to be able to have the same opportunity that I did, in exploring our cultural roots and legacy. I will keep you updated on the progress of the library!

Chagpo nang (Take care),

Tashi

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