A Symbiotic Relationship…
Preserving Timeless Wisdom for Future Generations + Women Working for their Children’s Future
A Visit to the Southern India
ACIP’s Sanskrit scholar, Dr. John Campbell and filmmaker extraordinaire, Osiris Luciano visited our preservation centers in India in February 2020. Their trip was cut short due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions which took effect mid-March. They made it home just in time, with incredible footage and stories.
We want to share with you what they witnessed. Our centers are staffed by women with full-time careers, who come home to families and children. In this simple agricultural community in Southern India, women have few opportunities to work outside of their homes. Their employment with ACIP has opened up a new world for this generation, contributing essential income and creating greater life opportunities for their children.
In immigrant communities in India such as these, few things are more important than the ability to ensure a standard of education that gives the younger generations a chance for successful assimilation, as well as the opportunity of maintaining a distinctive cultural and linguistic heritage. ACIP is tremendously proud of how our staff at these centers are contributing to their communities.
John and Osiris witnessed how hard our women work during the day preserving their culture’s precious wisdom and then leave work for a vibrant home life. Their children are their legacy, but elders in the community have expressed a deep concern: how are the youth learning their culture and language today?
Their Buddhist heritage and their culture and language are in crisis. How will they assimilate, and be prosperous, and not totally abandon their culture and language? There is a chance that the new generation could completely forget their own language. The dynamics of the modern world in many rural communities means that young children leave the countryside and flock to the city, tragically leaving behind their roots.
In spite of these pressures, there is hope and light for these communities in India. Through ACIP’s projects, they are preserving their own culture and language, and at the same time learning Hindi, a new language for them. These immigrant communities have had to make it happen in a new country with not much help from outside sources.
When John and Osiris first saw this situation, they felt that staying in these communities looked to be a dead-end for the younger generation. But when they looked deeper, they saw that these women are indeed making better lives for themselves through their work with ACIP. What our women are actually doing is helping to establish prosperous communities that allow them to maintain their language and their culture.
We are now seeing a second generation of women—the children of the first generation—working to preserve a language and culture that their parents brought with them to India.
In response to COVID-19, Sonam reports that her village and surrounding area are
in total lock-down at least until mid May. The police are everywhere making sure people are not coming out of their homes. They are allowed only one hour in the morning from 9 to 10 am to buy groceries and supplies. Due to poor internet connectivity, staff are not able to work from home. Instead, they are all reciting specific mantras and prayers to help heal our world of the COVID-19 crisis and for the benefit of all beings. Sonam reports this also makes our workers feel more at peace and that they are contributing something very meaningful, and that everyone at her centers are doing well.
We are so proud of our employees, especially this group of women that have been with ACIP for so many years. The ACIP staff and families and local communities they serve are all a part of a beautiful, symbiotic relationship, working together to create the best possible society and future through the preservation of timeless wisdom.
An Incredible Opportunity to Save a Legendary Collection of Buddhist Texts
The National Library of Mongolia houses one of the largest and most significant collections of Buddhist texts in existence today. Since the 13th century, travelers have made the extraordinary journey on horseback, over high mountains and vast deserts to bring precious woodblock prints and manuscripts to Mongolia.
The collection at the National Library includes not only the very rare Tengpangma Kangyur—a gift to the Mongols in 1671—but also tens of thousands of volumes of rare and important Buddhist works, which were hidden by nomads and farmers in the Mongolian countryside. These precious texts now rest in the National Library. This vast collection is largely unknown.
Much of it has been untouched for hundreds of years, many of the texts are wrapped in the original cloth book covers, are damaged and in urgent need of preservation.
It has only become accessible to the international community since the Soviet policy of glasnost in the 1980s. ACIP and its partner Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC) have been working hard to preserve this collection and make it available to everyone online for free.
Introducing ACIP Super-Donor, Yao Li Hsu
Yao Li Hsu leads many of ACIP’s fundraising efforts in Asia. In the summer of 2019, She had an incredible experience visiting the National Library that changed her life. In the past few years, her teacher kept encouraging her to visit Mongolia to see firsthand the amazing work that was being done at the National Library. Last summer the opportunity came.
The ACIP team was in Mongolia working at the library so Yao Li hopped on a flight and flew in to meet ACIP Executive Director John Brady, Jeff Wallman, Christina Kasica, and the Mongolian project team working at the library.
When she first walked into the library, she saw this incredible collection with her own eyes. She was moved to tears by the enormity of the collection and the inconceivable wisdom contained in these texts.
Her heart was touched to see the fragile state of the manuscripts and she realized the huge task that ACIP had in front of them. Right there in front of her was the wisdom needed to help future generations, and the key to access the tools for the well-being and happiness of all humanity. That was the moment when Yao Li decided she was going to use her spectacular fundraising ability to support ACIP and get this important collection preserved and made available to the entire world, for future generations.
Preserving Timeless Wisdom
Keep Wisdom Alive is ACIP’s global campaign to preserve the National Library of Mongolia. We’d like to invite you to participate in this historic quest. Please help us do this amazing work. You now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to personally save a volume in this vast collection.
The National Library of Mongolia contains 41,000 volumes of precious manuscripts, including 300,000 to 500,000 individual titles. We started the project in 2018, and currently have ten Mongolian employees—five catalogers and four scanning technicians—who work at four state-of-the-art scanning stations, plus a senior operator.
The scanners each preserve 500 volumes per year. At this rate, we will complete the work in the year 2037. It is always possible that the situation at the National Library of Mongolia will change, so going slow is our biggest risk.
We’d like to speed up the process by adding scanning stations and catalogers, so that we can finish preserving the collection by 2024. The cost of this increased capacity is around $500,000 per year for the next four years.
Sponsoring a volume will keep you connected to timeless wisdom, as we will actually put your name on the metadata of the digital volume. This is a great blessing and honor to be included in the documentation of these incredible volumes. In pre-digital times, patrons would have their names carved into the actual woodblock or scribed by hand into the pages.
In the 2020 version, your donation of $120 preserves one volume and puts your name on the digital text forever. We invite you to be involved for posterity and to preserve one volume for future generations. Enable our children to discover the wisdom these volumes contain. Become part of the legacy by sponsoring a digitized volume. Together, we can save this great collection!
Thank you for your support!
Keep Wisdom Alive Campaign
Our cultural preservation work has very concrete outcomes. Our campaign strategy is to connect individual people with individual volumes of manuscripts and block prints.
If donors have a personal connection to actual manuscripts, it will make our preservation effort more transparent.
Therefore we want to offer a unique opportunity for our donors. For your one-time donation of $120, we will inscribe your name on the manuscript metadata, forever to be preserved with that particular volume.
There are different levels of donations: text and collection donations. Text Donors can make a one-time gift to preserve one text volume, and Collection Donors can make a one-time gift to preserve 108 volumes.
P R E S E R V E O N E T E X T
$120 ~ preserves one text volume.
P R E S E R V E A W H O L E C O L L E C T I O N
$12,000 ~ preserves 108 volumes.
W I S D O M K E E P E R
$50,000+ ~ significant donations, please contact Executive Director, John Brady.
Mixed Nuts Translator Ben Kramer and His Beautiful Wife, Kendra: A Super Cool Couple Bringing us Outer and Inner Methods to Reach Our Highest Potential
Ben Kramer is a brilliant translator working on the Mixed Nuts translation team, translating
A Brief Essence of All Schools of Philosophy by Choney Lama, Drakpa Shedrup a very important Buddhist philosophical work.
Ben was attracted to Buddhist philosophy at an early age. For the past 15 years he has devoted his life to the transformational teachings of Buddhism and for seven of those years he lived a rustic lifestyle in a tent in the desert of Arizona. It was there that he met his wife Kendra.
Kendra brought yoga into Ben’s life and Ben brought Kendra to the art of debate and a vigorous study of Buddhist philosophy.
They married in 2009 and built a small cabin at Diamond Mountain. Together they went into a three-year deep meditation retreat to fully embody all they had been learning.
The retreat was very powerful but also presented many challenges for the young couple. Like many couples, they preferred to meditate at different times. Ben loved meditating at 3:00 am and Kendra loved 9:00 am. No matter what, they still would meditate together, working hard on stillness meditations which have become an integral tool they use now to focus better, in order that they may help others in a more powerful way.
In retreat, Kendra loved to dance. Together they would do ballet along with yoga practice. They would revel in the magic of nature, lying on the cabin rooftop watching the night and the world spin around them—the sky, the stars, and the changing seasons—realizing more deeply where our reality is actually coming from. The inner and outer methods that Ben and Kendra were practicing in this retreat created a powerful partnership.
After retreat, they moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take care of Kendra’s aging father and to start a family. Their son Ezra was born on Valentine’s Day in 2016. In 2019, Ben and Kendra opened a beautiful yoga studio which quickly became one of the most popular studios in Albuquerque: Nirguna Yogа.
In addition to taking care of his family and running a yoga business, Ben has been working on his translation, A Brief Essence of All Schoolsof Philosophy. Since 2017, he has driven three times a year from Albuquerque to Sedona to join the Diamond Cutter Classics Translation Project.
Ben has been a main translator in the Diamond Cutter Classics Translation Project, affectionately called “Mixed Nuts”. Starting in March 2020, in order to keep our community together during the COVID-19 quarantine, the Mixed Nuts Reading Club was launched online with live-stream discussions every Thursday, 6 pm (MST), led by Geshe Michael Roach. These wonderful sessions dive deeper into the Diamond Cutter Classics translations.
Please join us for these exciting discussions with any questions that you may have by visiting the Mixed Nuts Reading Club.
We are also excited to announce that the Diamond Cutter Classics Translation program will be live-streamed in May. The spring term of our translation classes, usually held in person in Sedona, will be offered as an online webinar during the Sedona College of International Management term from May 19th to June 2nd. See page 14 for exciting details on how you can join.
We are so grateful for this talented couple, Ben and Kendra, who have dedicated their lives to practice and helping others. During these pandemic times when staying home is the most compassionate thing we can do, they will help keep us all together, teaching inner and outer methods online to reach our highest goals and potential.
We dedicate this newsletter in memory
of Kendra’s father, James Hall Brister,
who passed on April 20th, 2020.
Please keep James, Kendra, Ben
and their family in your prayers.
We would love to see you at the Mixed Nuts Reading Club, every Thursday at 6 pm
(MST). In this online group, we get together to discuss the profound ideas contained within the Mixed Nuts translations and their practical applications in today’s world. A rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the ideas of ancient masters.
Info and registration: https://asianclassics.org/translate/reading-club/
For more information, email: [email protected]
What exactly are the Mixed Nuts?
A favorite snack during ACIP’s Diamond Cutter Classics translation classes is mixed nuts; there’s often a bowlful on the class table to provide protein and extra energy to keep the translators going.
One day our teacher, Geshe Michael Roach, affectionately called the translation team the “Mixed Nuts,” insinuating they were a mixed bag of nutty, super brilliant, budding students of mixed cultures and ages who have been coming together to learn how to translate the most important books of Buddhist scriptures into English. Along with these ten primary translators are secondary translators who also attend the classes; they’ll be working on translating the English translations into languages such as Chinese, Spanish, German, Russian, etc.
For more information about the Diamond Cutter Classics Series and the Mixed Nuts, check out the story on Bets Greer and how her text sheds Light on the Path to Freedom. You can also visit diamondcutterclassics.com where you can see all in-process translations of the books and even comment on them or leave your questions.
You can also email the translation program at: [email protected]al.com
Dive deep! Join the Diamond Cutter Classics Translation program online. The spring term of our translation program will be offered as an online webinar, live streaming deep dives into Buddhist philosophy to the whole world. For 10 days, 5 hours each day, join in-depth classes with Geshe Michael Roach as well as other bonus sessions. Don’t miss this rare and precious opportunity! The course is from May 19-June 2.
Info and Registration: https://asianclassics.org/translate/diamond-cutter-classics-translation-program/
Preview texts here: www.diamondcutterclassics.com
For more information, email: [email protected]
Ways to Support ACIP
ACIP Needs Your Help
ACIP is doing exciting work around the world to help find and preserve the ancient wisdom texts endangered by environmental and cultural change and upheaval.
We’re making these works available for free online on our website. And we hire, whenever possible, women from underserved or impoverished communities, train them to scan, catalog, and transcribe, and give them salaries and benefits to enrich their lives and the lives of their families.
But ACIP needs your help to keep helping others. We make it as easy as possible. Your help can come in many ways and many amounts:
A One-time Gift in Any Amount
• Donating conveniently online or sending a check
• Signing up for our dollar-a-day program. We will
charge your credit card or debit card $30.41 a month
(a dollar a day).
• Committing to a regular monthly donation.
Any amount — large or small, will help greatly.
Many of you are current, generous donors who have been supporting ACIP for a long time. Our heartfelt thanks go out to you. You make our work possible. We could not do it without you. Thank you for your support and generosity.
John C. Brady
Executive Director, Asian Classics Input Project