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Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash: A benefit for the Maui Dharma Center

By BY CINDY SCHUMACHER - | Jul 26, 2018

The prayer flags that Lama Gyalsten brought from Maui are flying at the base camp of Mt. Kalish at 16,000 feet of elevation. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MAUI DHARMA CENTER.

KAHULUI – On Saturday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m., the Maui Dharma Center will present “Journey to the Center of the Universe: Mt. Kailash, Tibet” in the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Mt. Kailash is known in Eastern traditions as the Precious Snow Mountain, the Center of the Universe, the Navel of the World, and the Cosmic Pillar that unites Heaven and Earth.

Kailash’s nearly 22,000-foot summit has never been reached by any human being, but its 33-mile pilgrimage path has beckoned the faithful for centuries.

The Venerable Lama Gyaltsen of the Maui Dharma Center and 25 Maui residents made the sacred, transcendent journey during May and June on this formidable and magnificent pilgrimage path around Mt. Kailash.

“The Maui Dharma Center is pleased to present this unique and rare adventure in photos taken by pilgrimage participants and myself,” said Lama Gyaltsen.

“I will narrate the slide slow, and there will also be a screening of ‘Kailash – Return to Tibet,’ a movie by Emmy Award-winning Filmmaker Dr. Tom Vendetti. This extraordinary film has a deep message regarding overcoming obstacles, enduring when the odds are against you and getting in touch with a simple and quieter lifestyle. Dr. Vendetti will also present his interview with the Dalai Lama.”

The group’s full moon journey to Mt. Kailash coincided with Buddha’s birthday in May – a day of rededication to the dharma, the eightfold path of Buddhism. It is a gesture that is meant to represent Buddha, bringing enlightenment to the world along with the hope of peace. In fact, the prayer flags that Lama Gyalsten brought from Maui are flying at the base camp of Mt. Kalish at 16,000 feet of elevation.

“This was my first trip to Tibet and a dream come true,” said Lama Gyalsten, who prepared for his journey by hiking Haleakala.

“Mt. Kalish provided an interior spiritual experience for me. The vivid power of the entire area brought clarity to my belief along with the respect and devotion anchored in it. And physically, I felt like I was going to the Moon!”

The journey provided daily trials for the group, such as uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh weather conditions. Even the need for numerous permits for travel in Tibet caused some anxiety. The process for the paperwork was challenging for everyone. At one point ,there was even an uncertainty for permit approval for Lama Gyalsten, which had the whole group holding its breath.

“Food, lodging and transportation were also a big challenge,” Lama said. “However, it was all worth the effort. Even with limited sleep, I felt awake. Additionally, another dream came true for me. I got to visit Potala Palace in Lhasa, once a residence of the 14th Dalai Lama and now a museum and World Heritage Site.”

Lama Gyaltsen, a Tibetan Buddhist monk for over 40 years, is the resident teacher of the Maui Dharma Center in Paia. Born in Darjeeling, India, he studied in a monastic setting from age five and learned Eastern philosophies, language, Buddhist logic and arts that include sacred painting, dance, music and sculpture. He arrived on Maui in 2003 to continue the work of the late Venerable Lama Tenzin: to uphold a lifestyle of study, practice and selfless service to benefit others.

Tibetan Buddhism has spread to many western countries, where the tradition has gained much popularity. Among its prominent exponents is the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, who is well known for his affirmation, “My religion is kindness.”

“Timeless compassion is the wisest method of relief,” said Lama Gyaltsen. “Developing deep inner qualities requires study and living a way of life that comes from kindness, good will, awareness and wisdom.”

“He concluded, “We hope the whole community will come to our exciting fundraising opportunity to benefit the Maui Dharma Center. Anytime we gather together for something like this is a good thing. Moreover, the entire island is always welcome at the Maui Dharma Center.”

The center offers daily, weekly and monthly prayer and meditation sessions, retreats and Dharma talks. It has classes in Tibetan language and presents programs in Tibetan art and culture.

People from all over the world visit the stupa at the center, which stands 27 feet high, has a large mani prayer wheel and has become the sacred landmark in the town of Paia.

There is also a gift shop providing study and materials for practitioners along with a selection of treasures, including mala beads, Tibetan singing bowls, ritual instruments, unique clothing and jewelry, gift cards and much more.

For more information, contact the Maui Dharma Center at (808) 579-8076.