What the *!@% Are We Chanting? A Brief Introduction to the Tibetan Language

Saturday, October 13, 2018 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Our teachers have encouraged us to do our practices in Tibetan, the language that has been used to transmit the practices to us through the lineage for centuries.

However the differences in language make it difficult to transmit the full benefit of the practices. Besides the difficulty of understanding the meaning of the words, the transliteration of the pronunciation cannot represent the actual pronunciation, which actually involves elements that do not exist in English.

In this class we will give a brief introduction to the Tibetan language, beginning with the alphabet and how it is pronounced, and how the pronunciation is transliterated for our practices. Then we will go through one of the prayers we do every week and look at the meaning of the words and how they fit together.

We will also discuss the options for an ongoing class. Please let us know if you are interested and what you would like to focus on.  

Free, donations accepted.

A Partial History of Ann Arbor KTC

Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche first gave the Refuge ceremony in Ann Arbor Sunday September 17, 1978. The visit was sponsored by David Mason and Lydia Saltzman.

Rinpoche taught at the Friend’s Center on Hill St. His translator was Ngodup Tsering Burkhar, who was then the only translator at KTD. Rinpoche taught the basics of meditation and gave Refuge and the Chenrezig empowerment.

Several of those who took refuge during that first visit have gone on to contribute to Ann Arbor KTC and the parent monastery Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, including our resident Lama Nancy Burks.

Another person who was there is Eleanor Mannikka, who was responsible for keeping the center going into the late 1990s. She says “The first glimpse of Khenpo Rinpoche that I had in my entire life was a pair of brown shoes, seen as I bent very low with everyone else to welcome him into the room.”

David McCarthy, who now lives near KTD,  says “I took Refuge in that first ceremony in 1978, and have never for a moment regretted doing so. I treasure my relationship with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, all the lamas, the Sangha, and the Dharma itself.”

The group began regular meetings after that first visit, doing Chenrezig Sadhana and other practices. It was during that first visit or at a later date that the group was officially labeled a KTC.

Khenpo Karthar usually came every year in the beginning, and other teachers came as well.

In September 1980, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa came to Ann Arbor along with H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Ven. Ponlop Rinpoche and his father (who was the Karmapa’s general secretary), Khenpo Karthar, Yeshey Namdag, translator Ngodrup Burkhar, and others. The Karmapa and his retinue stayed in David Mason’s parents’ house, a large house in Ann Arbor near the university campus.

HH gave a Black Crown Ceremony at the Michigan Union, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche taught at the Michigan Union and there were other events.

734 Fountain St KTC first building

The house at 734 Fountain St. where the center was located from 1984 – 1989.

David McCarthy shared this story:

Ann Arbor KTC was I believe the first KTC to purchase its own building. We bought 734 Fountain Street in Ann Arbor in the 1980s. Soon after the purchase Ben Bennett and I were at KTD (maybe for a KTC conference) and Ken Parks had told us that the house needed repairs, specifically the roof. Ben told Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche about this, and when we left to drive back, Rinpoche gave Ben an envelope telling him, “this is money to repair the roof.”

When we got back we set up a work day, which turned out to be a beautiful clear early autumn Saturday. One of those kinda rare days in Ann Arbor. Ben (I’m calling him Ben, but now he is Lama Tsultrim Gyaltsen, the Karme Ling Men’s Retreat Master) had gone to purchase the roofing material early that morning. When he got to the center he told us with amazement that the cost of the roofing materials was almost exactly to the dollar what Rinpoche had given him!

Under the direction of Ken Parks, our work crew of myself, Tim, Ben, and Ken replaced the roof in one day.

KTC members in the 1980s David Mason is standing at the left, David McCarthy is standing second from the right. Aura Glaser is in the center. In front, left to right,  are Eleanor Mannikka, Margaret Davis and Ken Parks.

An early version of the KTC shrine, taken in the 1980s.

Ann Arbor KTC members 1984

This photo was published in the Wind Horse, the newsletter of Ann Arbor KTC, in Summer, 1984

Ann Arbor KTC members with H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche when some members went to the cremation of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1987.

This picture is from the 1990s and includes a few people from Columbus KTC and one of the outdoor kitties…

40th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, September 16th: We had a wonderful visit with Lama Karma and a great celebration.

Lama Karma Drodhul

Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche sent a beautiful Amitayus rupa.

Lama Trying On Pat's Hat

Lama Karma tried on Pat’s hat. His wife Cherry is at the left.

Lama-La helped us hang a lot of prayer flags.

Phase One of the Renovation is Complete

Phase one of our renovation is complete. We have new lights, a new paint job, a new hardwood floor, and landscaping and prayer flags outside.

Thanks to everyone who contributed. May all beings benefit!

Shrine and New Floor

Renovation of the Shrine Room

The Shrine room in the center is being renovated.

The renovation includes new LED lights, hardwood floor, and painting.

June 21: Here are some pictures of the installation of the floor.

Sub floor in place

Floor Installation In Progress

And new prayer flags in front.

June 17: The material for the floor has been delivered and is acclimating. The installation is scheduled this week.
Plywood Underlayment

The color was selected to be compatible with the shrine.

Wood Sample

June 10: The replacement of the floor is scheduled for June 18-22. During the work we will not be able to have our weekly Wednesday meditation. We are planning to move the shrine back into the Shrine Room on the 23rd and have our Sunday practice on the 24th.

June 3: We will resume Wednesday 7:00 p.m. Meditation while the renovation of the floor continues.

May 28: The painting is finished, but the floor will take until at least mid-June to be renovated.

Because of the condition of the floor we will need to have plywood sub-flooring under the new floor. We are leaning towards red oak with a gold finish.

With the red accents we can see how the colors will look. The colors in these pictures look different based on lighting conditions and the phone camera used.

accents on the shelves

Red window seat

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the painting effort.

Angela Moody, our master painter and her kids did the major part of the painting.

Angela’s son Caleb

Angela’s daughter Virginia and our old friend Ken, who has also done a lot of painting over many years.

Sue is Angela’s Aunt and our Production Manger…

Lama Nancy

Joe Painting

Joe who put in a lot of time and effort, including transforming the window seat…


Barbara and Tim

Floor Without Carpet

The original floor from the store needs some help.
The store was built in 1906.

Removing the carpet

May 11: Removing the carpeting that has held up well since 1989.

Removing the carpet padding

With this much padding we didn’t notice the bumps in the floor.


May 9: The Karmapa throne was disassembled for moving. Pictures and thankas have been removed. The fabric on the thrones and tables is 20 years old and will be updated.

Led Lights

The LED lights are energy-efficient and provide even lighting over the whole shrine room.

And they can be adjusted to any brightness so we can adjust the amount of light in the room.