The following article is from the Winter, 1994 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

New Altar and Traditional Teaching Seat at Namgyal

Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ithaca, New York was founded in 1992.  After 18 months of makeshift arrangements, Namgyal Monastery's new altar and traditional teaching seat neared completion and was ready for installation. The altar was designed by the brilliant scholar, gifted artist, and Namgyal monk the late Ven. Pema Losang ChogyenaNamgyal-Ithaca was established as a branch of the main Namgyal Monastery located in Dharamsala, India.

Constructing the Altar

Built of solid oak, the altar covers most of the front wall of the meditation hall. The center of the altar holds a large thangka in front of which will be a large statue of the Buddha, as well as three statues representing long life and auspiciousness. A small stupa is also part of the arrangement. Three more larger statues for the altar have been shipped from India.

On either side of the statues are shelves for the cloth covered sutras and tantras along with their commentaries. Namgyal Monastery's textbooks will be stored here.

Tibetan Buddhist Teaching Throne, cloth covered manuscripts, scared Buddhist texts

Creation of the altar got underway in spring of 1994 when Marcus Shaffer, an Ithaca cabinet-maker, volunteered his time. In the end, he spent about 200 hours constructing the altar.

Building the Teaching Seat for His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mr. Henry Robertson, a master woodworker in Eureka, California, volunteered his time and know-how to build a beautiful traditional teaching seat for His Holiness to use at Namgyal. In the Buddhist tradition, the offering of a Dharma Seat is in essence requesting the Lama to stay in the world and transmit the wisdom of the Buddha for the benefit of all beings.

The majority of the wood used for the seat is northeastern cherry. The panels of the front, sides, and seat back are made of satinwood. Cherry ages to a beautiful deep red-russet color and satinwood ages to a warm golden yellow. The decorative carvings are a combination of a light brown wood, satinwood, and a bright red or reddish-orange wood.

Offering a Dharma Seat is in essence requesting the Lama to stay in the world and transmit the wisdom of the Buddha for the benefit of all beings.


Donation Details

The monastery requested donations to cover Henry's cost of materials (his time was donated). The name of the donor will be inscribed on a brass plaque to be mounted on or near the Dharma Seat for donations of $25 or more .

One can make a donation on the behalf of another person, such as a friend or loved one. It was asked to please limit one name per $25 donation. And be sure to enclose that name as you would like it printed, first and last name. Any donations beyond the cost of materials and shipping of the seat to Ithaca will go to the Monastery for other improvements to the meditation and teaching hall.

Continued Donations accepted:

"Please consider making a donation in support of our mission, as established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Your contributions make possible our many efforts to promote world peace, religious harmony, education in science and religion, as well as preservation of the ancient culture of Tibet."

-Namgyal Monastery

For more information:

For the Benefit of All Beings Dalai LamaHis Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is considered the foremost Buddhist leader of our time. The exiled spiritual head of the Tibetan people, he is a Nobel Peace Laureate, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a remarkable teacher and scholar who has authored over one hundred books.

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