Fire and Smoke: A Conversation on Death and Ritual Offering with Tibetan Buddhist Monk Venerable Tsering Phunstok

img_4368A Discussion on Death & Impermanence Followed by a Ritual Offering with Venerable Tsering Phunstok from Dharamsala, India
Date: Monday, April 23rd
Time: 8:00
Admission: $8
(Please note: All admission fees from tonight’s event will be donated to support Venerable Tsering Phunstock, his monastery, and health projects in India)
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

What can a monk tell you about the secret of life? And how does understanding impermanence and preparing for death expand upon the secret of life? Tonight’s conversation between Venerable Tsering Phunstok– a practicing Tibetan Buddhist monk residing in India– and artist Shannon Brunette will investigate Tibetan Buddhist perspectives on death and impermanence in modern life, as well as the life of the Tibetan monk as it relates to the most basic tenets of Buddhist practice and beliefs regarding death, karma and reincarnation through conversation. Questions will also be taken from the audience.

After the talk, Ven. Tsering Phunstok will conduct a traditional Tibetan fire and smoke offering. The Smoke Offering (Sang) is a ritual practice of making vast offerings to pacify obstacles and raise awareness. It is a practice of connecting with the forces of life and establishing an open relationship with existence. It is traditionally used to create harmony, resolve karmic debts, generate vitality, success, prosperity and health in our life, in our land and in our local community. In this purifying ritual edible food, poison-less trees, flowers, fruits, grains, clothes as well as other things are burned to create a smoke cloud offering. This is an offering for both the living and the dead – and for all spirits.
Buddhists believe that giving without seeking anything in return leads to greater spiritual wealth; Buddhists call this generosity and giving Dāna. All admission fees from tonight’s event will be donated to support Tsering, his monastery and health projects in India. We are asking that you share your generosity further at the completion of the ritual offering.

Venerable Tsering Phuntsok has been a practicing Buddhist monk since entering the Palyulchoekhorling Nyingmapa Buddhist monastery in Bir, India, in 1987 at age 16. For the first 17 years he studied and practiced in the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, receiving training in meditation, Buddhist scripture and philosophy, tantric ritual, lama dancing and music. He has received many tantric empowerments and sutra teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other High Lamas, including late H.H. Penor Rinpoche. In the last several years he has worked on health related projects for his monastery as well as overseeing his nephew and nieces. He currently makes his residence in Dharamsala, India in the foothills of the Himalayas; his home is less than a minute walk from the Temple and residence of the H. H. Dalai Lama. Currently, he facilitates cultural exchange programs between the Tibetan community and US university students who come to Dharamsala to volunteer with Lha Charitable Trust, a local social work agency devoted to improving the lives of Tibetan refugees and local Indians.

Shannon Brunette has lived and worked in Brooklyn, NY since 1998 and her beloved hometown is St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. She received her Masters of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in 2006. Currently, she is exploring a new body of work relating to cultural exchange opportunities, from Alaska video artist-in-residence focusing on climate change to a 5-week international fellowship in exchange with the traditional craftspeople of Orissa, India to volunteer work in Dharamsala with Lha Charitable Trust. Utilizing film and video as a tool to investigate the past, present and future through a poetic and complex interplay between images, to offer an opportunity for reflection and meditation. Shannon captures vignettes from mundane to beautiful and editing in a collage-like style, she explores the nature of fragmented memory, triggered by temporality and impermanence.

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