Harvard University's Buddhist chaplain, Lama Migmar Tseten, was 3 years old in 1956, when he fled hi s bi rthplace in Gy antse, th e central region of Tibet, and crossed the Himalayas by foot with 100,000 Tibetans, led by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

The Chinese invaded Tibet in 1951, killing more than 1 million Tibetans.

The Chinese occupation of Tibet, which still occurs today, is what motivates Tseten to teach the Dharma of Buddhism.

"I was actually trained," said Tseten, 52 years old. "I have studied Buddhism with my teachers and I went to Indian universities to study Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. I made up my mind when I left Tibet because of the communists having destroyed thousands of monasteries. I think it is our obligation to preserve this rich cultural heritage in Tibet and to share it with others, and so, to share the wisdom, I took this responsibility."

Now a Buddhist chaplain at Harvard University and founder of the Sakya Institute in Cambridge, Mass., Tseten connected with islander Sherry Copeland who began studying at the Institute last winter. Hearing from Copeland that no Buddhist monks had been to Nantucket to share their teachings, Tseten agreed to come to the island next weekend.

On July 4, Tseten is teaching, "Training the Mind," a session "on how to calm your destructive emotions and then how to transform the person through pacifying destructive emotions of a person and cultivate positive feelings in a person," he said.

And on July 5, Tseten is offering "Green Tara Initiation and Practice Instruction," a female empowerment class to explore meditation empowerment through Mother Tara. The practice of Green Tara "helps to overcome fear and anxiety and eliminate suffering of all kinds. Tara brings happiness and can also grant wishes."

Tseten's visit to Nantucket is a chance for island Buddhists and those still exploring this belief system to learn about an alternate way of living one's life.

"I think the whole practice and study of Dharman Buddhism is just a method or structure in which to lead your life," said Copeland, a social worker with Nantucket Behavioral Health Services. "It helps you focus on what you're doing, and in that way it can be very transforming."

While on a trip to India and Nepal last year, Copeland "took refuge" or accepted the Buddhist teachings of Dharma.

"The study of Buddhism gives you a way to address the negativism in your life to help others," said Copeland. "With my own work, I'm trying to find a way to be more helpful, especially as a healing practitioner. It's hard to bring up issues and not get caught up yourself."

Part of Copeland's responsibilities as a Buddhist is to spread the word of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Towards that end, she will be hosting two teaching sessions by Tseten at the Yoga Room from July 3 to July 5 and a book signing at the Methodist Church.

Within the Buddhist belief system, Dharma is the truth about the way things are, and will always be, in the universe or nature, especially when contained in scripture.

Dharma is the written text around Buddhism, the body of teaching put forth by the Buddha, said Copeland.

What the Dharma means to each individual Buddhist, however, is as personal and unique as anyone's faith in their chosen religion.

By Peter B.Brace

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