Throughout the world, all cultures, religions, and individuals cherish the basic human qualities of generosity, compassion, and loving kindness. As human beings, we recognize that extending ourselves to others not only brings happiness to the recipients of our care, but also warms our own hearts.Compassionate activity has always been intertwined with Buddhist practice. Actively helping those in need, making offerings and prayers to the buddhas and bodhisattvas on behalf of all beings, and supporting the conditions for the sangha to flourish are ways of serving others that awaken our potential for sympathy and care. Making others the focus of our care, we reap the reward of decreasing our excessive self-concern. We may even find that serving others is the most immediate and effective way to experience the happiness we all long for. As we increasingly free ourselves from self-cherishing, each prayer and aspiration we make for the benefit of others plants a seed of compassion that will one day blossom into enlightenment.Compassionate activity is a natural expression of being on the Buddhist path. Every year Rinpoche travels to India to make offerings at the significant sites of the Buddha’s life and to help beings in need. All who have asked for prayers, and all who donate to this activity, make a connection to Rinpoche’s compassionate activity for that entire year. It is like one big pot, filled with wishes, prayers and pennies, from which offerings are then drawn and disseminated to worthy causes.These activities include making offerings to the Three Jewels in Bodhgaya, supporting elderly practitioners in Bir who have no means or family to support them, saving animals from slaughter, sponsoring druchens to clear obstacles for the Sangha and bring peace to the world, and offering food to beggars in India. By bringing these activities to your attention, we hope to share with you an opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves. If you are inspired to contribute, we ask you to take a moment to rejoice in your own generosity, for when we give, we don’t just benefit others. Our generosity becomes the foundation for an increasingly greater vision in our own lives as well. All contributions are used in their entirety for Mangala Shri Bhuti’s compassionate activities.We invite you to explore some of the activities listed below, and welcome your connection and support. If you would like more information about the progress of any of these activities or funds, please contact MSB’s VP of Finance, Polly Banerjee Gallagher. Below is a brief description of the regular activites that Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and the Sangha and friends of Mangala Shri Bhuti engage in each year, along with information about how you can join in.View Giving options. Life Release: The Tsetar FundBeings value nothing more than their own life. For this reason, saving lives brings tremendous merit, and has always been a central practice of Mahayana Buddhism. MSB students gather together in Portland, Maine six times a year to buy and release lobsters and sometimes crabs and other shellfish, back into the wild. Throughout the year people ask Rinpoche for prayers, either for themselves, loved ones, for those who have passed, are struggling or for the world.Rinpoche designates a large portion of offerings made to him directly to the practice of tsethar, or life release, as a vehicle for those connected to him to receive the merit of this practice. Rinpoche continues this activity in different places whenever possible as he travels. All contributions to the Tsetar Fund are used entirely for ransoming lives. Donate to the Tsetar Fund.Prayer RequestsDuring the MSB drupchos Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and the Mangala Shri Bhuti sangha accumulate 100,000 feast-offering prayers based on guru and dakini practices of the Longchen Nyingtik lineage. The merit of this practice is dedicated to dispelling obstacles on the spiritual path and to increasing harmony in the world. We invite you to share in the merit of this practice by submitting prayers on behalf of yourself or those in need. Prayer requests are read aloud each day during the periods of accumulation and offering to the Three Jewels. Kongtrul Rinpoche and his students then keep those prayers in mind.We engage in a similar practice during the life release. The names and prayers are read aloud after the release and before the dedication. Anyone is welcome to join in this meaningful activity by submitting your prayers. Email MSB Secretary to submit a prayer request. Please include your name in addition to your prayer. For example, “John Smith: Please pray for my brother who is sick.” A monetary offering of your choosing usually accompanies these prayer requests. Your entire offering will be spent toward creating this current drupcho’s feast offerings. You can make a contribution here. Offering and Dana PilgrimageIn 1999, in honor of the passing of his mother and great practitioner, Mayum Tsewang Palden, Kongtrul Rinpoche initiated a program of traditional offerings, prayers, and dana (“generosity practice”) in India. Known as the Offering and Dana Pilgrimage, this practice each year takes Rinpoche and other participants to Bodhgaya, Saranath, and other sacred sites in India, to present myriad offerings and carry out dana activities with the positive intention that they bring benefit to countless beings.In addition to his own personal reasons, Rinpoche makes this an annual pilgrimage in order to ensure that all who have a connection to him and have asked for prayers — whether for themselves, loved ones, or the world — make a link to the Three Jewels and gain the merit of giving to others.The OfferingsThe approximately ten days of the Offering and Dana Pilgrimage follow a fairly regular routine. The pilgrims meet in the morning for meditation at the Mahabodhi Temple, the heart of Bodhgaya. We begin the day’s activity with a traditional offering — to the ancient statue of Shakyamuni Buddha inside the temple — of over fifty bowls filled with rice, fruit, crackers and sweets, and flowers. These bowls symbolize the Buddha’s own begging bowl. We remember his activity through this offering to the Three Jewels, which includes a set of monastic robes with which the temple caretakers clothe the Buddha. In addition, we make extensive flower and water offerings around the outside of the main temple. Then taking our seats with Rinpoche under the Bodhi Tree, we recite the seven-branch offering prayer and take the bodhisattva vow together, reading from the classic Mahayana text, The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, by Shantideva.To make offerings on this scale in Bodhgaya, India, requires an artful coordination of people, resources, and finances. Part of the purpose of the Offering and Dana Pilgrimage has been to understand the workings of the local economy for offering supplies, and to promote fairness and sustainability in our relationships with vendors and the many local children who assist in gathering supplies. Every year is a bit different, but in this respect we strive to maintain consistency.“Making offerings to the buddhas and bodhisattvas present in these holy places, and giving to those in need, forces us to step outside our habitual self-clinging. When that happens, our afflicting emotions also subside and we have an opportunity to develop an open love and care for others. If through the power of such merit we can shift the focus of our care from ourselves to others, even just a little bit, there is a good chance we can give birth to bodhicitta. If that happens then the aim of the pilgrimage has been accomplished.”— Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheBir Dana: Pema Gyurme’s IntentIn the beginning of 2010, Kongtrul Rinpoche initiated a new endeavor as an extension of the Offering and Dana Program. In order to address the real need of the elderly poor within the Tibetan refugee settlement of Bir, located in northern India, we organized a program called Pema Gyurme’s Intent. Pema Gyurme was the name of Kongtrul Rinpoche’s father, a reincarnation of the great terton Chogyur Lingpa and the founder of this Tibetan settlement.Rinpoche’s brother, Jamyang Gyaltsen, helped to identify a group of twenty-five elderly Tibetans and several elderly or handicapped Indians within the local community. The recipients are the most indigent of the village, those with virtually no income or support. In a moving exchange presided over jointly by Kongtrul Rinpoche, Jamyang Gyaltsen, and Dungse Jampal Norbu, redeemable food coupons are distributed to be used as credits at local shops, covering monthly staple food needs for a period of a year. Thus the legacy of Pema Gyurme, Neten Chokling Rinpoche, continues to flourish into its third generation with Dungse la’s involvement in this endeavor. Providing the elderly or handicapped people of Bir, many whom have devoted their lives to the Buddhist path, with a year’s worth of sustenance is now one of MSB’s annual dana activities.Butter LampsThe flame of a butter lamp symbolizes the clearing away of ignorance and the unveiling of one’s buddha nature, the enlightened capacity that resides within all beings. Each year we offer 100,000 butter lamps to the Three Jewels with the wish that all beings may clear away the obscurations that overshadow their buddha nature.The largest numbers of lamps are lit on the grounds of Shechen Monastery in Bodhgaya or within the Mahabodhi Temple grounds. Many others are lit at the tables of local villagers alongside the Mahabodhi stupa. In Bhutan, we sponsor butter lamp offerings throughout the year at the sacred Kurje Monastery in Bhumtang and in front of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s stupa in Paro, as well at the great Jarung Kashor stupa in Boudhanath, Nepal.