Care of Dharma Materials
Dharma books contain the teachings of the Buddha; they have the power to protect against lower rebirth and to point the way to liberation. Therefore, they should be treated with respect – kept off the floor and places where people sit or walk – and not stepped over. They should be covered or protected for transporting and kept in a high, clean place separate from more mundane materials. Other objects should not be placed on top of Dharma books and materials. Licking the fingers to turn pages is considered bad form as well as negative karma.
Disposal of Written Materials and Photographs
If it is necessary to dispose of written Dharma materials, they should be burned rather than thrown in the trash. When burning Dharma texts, it is taught to first recite a prayer or mantra, such as OM, AH, HUM. Then, you can visualize the letters of the texts (to be burned) absorbing into the AH and the AH absorbing into you, transmitting their wisdom to your mindstream. After that, as you continue to recite OM, AH, HUM, you can burn the texts.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche has recommended that photos or images of holy beings, deities, or other holy objects not be burned. Instead, they should be placed with respect in a stupa, tree, or other high, clean place. It has been suggested to put them into a small structure like a bird house and then seal the house. In this way, the holy images do not end up on the ground.
~ The above is advice from FPMT. Additional information at FPMT.org's FAQ page.
At Kadampa Center
To serve the community, the center prints many Dharma quotes, names, and texts. Volunteers help burn our excess Dharma printed materials weekly at the center. We have a growing collection of images which need a home someday. Geshe Gelek recommends a tsa tsa house, which would be a proper place to house broken or disproportional statues and tsa tsas as well as images. Our hope is to have a place and funds in the future to build one of these structures. We also have a free shelf of Dharma materials in the lobby on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive free book shelves, where we offer free texts, images, and other extra materials for students to take and use in their practice.
With such a large membership, we are not yet able to provide services to deal with individual student's excess Dharma, holy images, or broken statues and tsa tsas. Students should think carefully about how they can dispose of Dharma respectfully themselves or how to volunteer to help the community in this way. If offering holy objects and texts to the center, please remember the motivation should be to benefit the community, so we ask that you contact the SPC before making an offering to see whether the center can accept and properly house your donation.