Tag Archives: Tibet

Asian Heritage Month Ends with a Winner!

Asian Heritage Month Ends with a Winner!

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

May has come and gone and the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event is now over at The Bibliotaphe’s Closet.

It was not only an honour to feature different cultural aspects and literature about Asian places such as Japan, China, and Tibet, it was also a learning experience for me (and I’m Asian!).

Special post highlights for me were features on the geisha, the Tibetan language, and the various children’s books about Japan, China, Tibet, and Korea, and learning the translations of my own name in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Tibetan.

My chinese name: Zhenrui
My Japanese name: 清水 Shimizu (clear water) 子 Aiko (child of the morning sun).
My Korean name: Park Dae Rae
My Vietnamese name: Ai Le
My Tibetan name.

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To see the posts featured for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

And what better way to celebrate Asia then with a winner of the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event Giveaway?

I am happy to announce that a fellow vocalist and book reviewer has won the coveted prize of the book, Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize. You can read my review here.

PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM by Kyung-Sook Shin

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I-Ching was certainly in this entrant’s favour!

Congratulations to…

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Margaret, a Literary Chanteuse!

I’m positive she’ll be “singing a great tune” when she receives the book in the mail and finishes reading it.

Thanks to all who visited my blog and entered the giveaway contest.

Just a kind reminder that the Cherry Blossom (or Asian Theme) Photo Contest is still open until the end of June. If you don’t have a photo of cherry blossoms to submit, photos portraying an Asian theme are more than welcome.

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The prizes are books related to the Cherry Blossom and will be delivered by The Book Depository.

Depending on the amount and quality of photos that are submitted, more winners and prizes may be added to the pile!

So, get your photos in!

Cherry blossoms at Kariya Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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For more details about the Cherry Blossom (or Asian Theme) Photo Contest, please visit here.

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And a special thanks to L.R. of Random House of Canada and Vintage Canada publishers for kindly providing the literary prize for this contest. Looking for your next great read? You can check out new titles at their website here.

 

May we all continue to work together to encourage respect, reading, and inclusivity!

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Meditation and Mala Beads

Asian Heritage Month:

Tibetan Meditation

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Tibetan Chi Kung meditation or Qi Gong began by ancient societies in the mountains of Tibet which were influenced by Chinese martial arts and Indian yogic practices.

Tibetan Chi Kung incorporates many different schools of Chinese martial arts and is particularly dependent on visualization and the circulation of the breath.

It is practiced not only for health, but for spiritual purposes and does not arise from Tibetan Buddhism as expected, but from an older, nature-based religion.

In Tibetan Chi Kung, intuition is classified as receiving a thought about a situation or a person, and empathy is classified as having a somatic sensation in the body about a person or situation.

It is linked to the practice of an internal martial art called Lin Con Ji or Empty Force, which is a process where an Empty Force/Chi Kung master directs and manipulates energy to transmit to his students, allowing them to raise their level of energy. Various exercises combined with the teacher’s presence and intention to transmit energy cause this to happen.

 Tibetan priests are called Lamas, and many of them also learned martial arts. Because of the different cultural background, not only are the Lama’s meditation techniques different from those of the Chinese or Indian Buddhists, but their martial techniques are also different. Tibetan Qigong Meditation and martial arts were kept secret from the outside world, and were therefore called Mi Zong, with means secret style and emphasizes spiritual cultivation through still meditation.

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Malas

Malas are mainly used to count mantras that can be recited for different purposes. In Tibetan Buddhism, malas traditionally consist of 108 beads. Doing one 108-bead mala counts as 100 mantra recitations where the extra repetitions are done to amend for any mistakes.

The material used to make the beads can vary according to the purpose of the mantras used. Some beads can be used for all purposes and can be made from the wood of the Bodhi tree or from Bodhi seeds. Another general-purpose mala is made from an unknown seed, the beads called Moon and Stars by Tibetans, and sometimes referred to as lotus root, lotus seed or linden nut.

Lotus seed mala

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I am truly humbled by the Tibetan spirit and in my search to better understand a part of the Tibetan culture, I studied a little about Buddhist meditation and searched for my own mala beads.

In doing so, I discovered I wanted to be able to make them personally for myself and others.

Here are some of the mala beads I have created in honour of the Tibetan people, their struggle for religious freedom, and in support of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

The black onyx stone can help to release negative emotions such as sorrow and grief and used to end unhealthy relationships. It has protective properties. since black has an absence of light and known to create invisibility. – Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Picture Jasper’s grounding energy can give you a strong sense of who you are. It is said to encourage creative visualisation and creativity. – (c) Mala beads created by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Coral symbolizes life and blood force energy. It is used as an aid to depression, lethargy or deficient nutrition. – Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

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Here is the space I created for myself for quiet meditation:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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To learn how to make your own set of mala beads, here is a video clip lesson found on YouTube.

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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If you are a practicing Buddhist, what is the mantra you use the most during your meditation?

Have you ever made your own personal mala beads?

What are your mala beads made of? If you don’t yet own mala beads, what kind of beads would you most likely want to use?

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My name in Tibetan.

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Music

Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Music

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Since the 12th century, Tibetans have practiced a tradition called the Lama Mani, which is the telling of Buddhist parables through song. They were performed by storytellers who travelled from village to village and Buddhist thangka paintings helped the audience in the teaching.

Street musicians in Ladakh.

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Chanting

Tibetan music often involves chanting in Tibetan, which is an integral part of its Buddhist religion. The chants are often recitations of sacred religious texts or in celebration of Tibetan festivals.

Tibetan monks playing the conch, 1938.

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World Music

One of my few hobbies includes listening to world music. And in doing so, I discovered the beautiful voice of Yunchen Lhamo, who had fled Tibet on foot in 1989; a voice gifted in devotional singing and has performed for the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, numerous times.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

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Here is a video clip of Yunchen Lhamo singing at the American Music Festival in 2009. It is live and without any accompaniment:

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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Are you a practicing Buddhist? Have you ever chanted or meditated?

What do you think of Yunchen Lhamo’s voice?

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My name in Tibetan.

Asian Heritage Month: The Tibetan Language

Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: The Tibetan Language

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Dzongkha (Bhutanese) (རྫོང་ཁ) is the national language in Bhutan and is spoken by about 130,000 people in Bhutan, Nepal, and India. It is a Sino-Tibetan language which is closely related to Tibetan and distantly related to Chinese.

The Tibetan alphabet

The form of the alphabet below is known as u-chen (དབུ་ཅན་) and is used for printing. Cursive versions of the alphabet, such as the gyuk yig or ‘flowing script’ (རྒྱུག་ཡིག་) are used for informal writing.

Consonants

Tibetan consonants

Vowels

Tibetan vowel diacritics

Numerals

Tibetan numerals

Punctuation and other symbols

Tibetan punctuation and other symbols

From: Omniglot: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/tibetan.htm

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Here is an excellent audio and video introduction to the consonants by Lama David Curtis on YouTube:

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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What other rare Asian dialects are you familiar with or would like to learn?

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My name in Tibetan.

Asian Heritage Month: Children’s Feature: Books about Tibet

Asian Heritage Month Blog Event: Children’s Feature: Books about Tibet

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez/@ZaraAlexis

In light of Asian Heritage Month and Mother’s Day, the posts on The Bibliotaphe’s Closet will feature children’s books and stories about and originating from Asian countries every day of this week.

To not only celebrate the beauty of Asian culture, it’s also important to share cultural stories with children to broaden their understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and inclusivity.

Today’s children feature is about books and stories about and originating from Tibet.

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All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet

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Category: Children’s/Tibet

Author: Barbara Helen Berger

Format: Children’s Hardcover, 32 pages

Publisher: Philomel Books (imprint of Penguin Putnam Books)

ISBN: 0-399-23387-3

Pub Date: 2002

My Review :

All the Way to Lhasa is a retelling of a parable from Tibet as heard by the author and artist, Barbara Helen Berger from Lama Tharchin Rinpoche.

It is a quiet, meditative, and encouraging story of a young boy who would like to know how far it is to travel to the holy city of Lhasa.

The first boy is told that it is very far and so he rushes off into the distance, running towards the city of Lhasa with his horse.

The second boy is told that it is close enough to reach before night fall and so he takes one step and then another, plodding slowly with his yak.

The boy who took his time towards his goal was the one who was able to reach the city.

The book is exquisitely illustrated indicative of Asian art, Tibetan colours and symbols, the majesty of Lhasa as a holy city, and hints of the Tibetan prayer and meditation: Om mani padme hum.

It’s a beautiful and peaceful narrative that encourages young readers to continue faithfully and perseveringly towards their path.

Zara’s Rating

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The Mountains of Tibet

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Category: Children’s/Tibet

Authors: Mordicai Gerstein

Format: Children’s Hardcover, 32 pages

Publisher: Harper & Row Publishers

ISBN: 0-06-022144-5

Pub Date: 1987

My Review:

The Mountains of Tibet by Mordecai Gerstein was the winner of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book in 1987.

It’s a story of reincarnation told in a step-by-step process by a conversation between a boy who grows into a man, dies, and then hears “a voice speaking to him.”

At each turn of the page, the man in given a choice to “become part” of something. First the universe, the galaxy, the planet, the species, the ethnicity, the place to live, to his choice of parents, and then whether or not he wants to be a boy or girl.

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It’s a wonderful story of inclusion as the man is given the freedom of choice at every turn and each choice displayed to him as equally good and valuable.

The illustrations, too, help to share the theme of inclusivity as the drawings are enclosed in a circle with pictures closely swirling and almost entwined in a theme of “togetherness.”

The Mountains of Tibet is kind introduction to children about the simple process of reincarnation, the cycle of life and death, and the beauty, gift, and value of all living things, living and working together in cooperative harmony.

Zara’s Rating

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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What’s one thing you appreciate most about Tibet and the Tibetan culture?

Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?

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My chinese name: Zhenrui

Zara’s Bucket List Sunday: 02.12.2012

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Learn how to make

prayer mala beads

I watched the movie, “Kundun” about the 14th Dalai Lama and was intrigued not only by his personal story, but the story of Tibetan history, spirituality, and exile.

"Kundun" movie cover

I am not a practicing Buddhist, but I wanted to understand and connect with the Tibetan people and their cause in an intimate way.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

So, I searched for prayer malas, both in shops in downtown Toronto and online. I did find a few pieces that I liked and bought them. But, my desire to buy them were, of course, hampered by my financial inability to do so.

So, instead, I decided I would learn how to make the malas themselves. Not as pieces of jewellery, but as tokens of love, meditation, and prayer for the Tibetan people.

I have given some to friends whom I have had to leave (for example, friends from work that I grew to know, love, and respect).

Here are some of my creations:

The black onyx stone can help to release negative emotions such as sorrow and grief and used to end unhealthy relationships. It has protective properties since black has an absence of light and known to create invisibility. - Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
Picture Jasper’s grounding energy can give you a strong sense of who you are. It is said to encourage creative visualisation and creativity. - Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
Coral symbolizes life and blood force energy. It is used as an aid to depression, lethargy or deficient nutrition. - Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

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STATUS: COMPLETED

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Zara Alexis