Friday, January 20, 2017

The beginning of the spring semester.

Now we are at the beginning of the “spring semester” in RYI (Rangjung Yeshe Institute), however in this time is very, very cold in Nepal!!!

Everyone are using all the warm clothes that is possible to protect from the freeze weather, thus we have a huge variety of colorful and creative styles around. Even the nuns and monks display their warm neckerchief and gloves as well different kinds of very warm bonnet, as me they do not have natural protection from the chilliness…

That way, despite of the cold weather everyone is very happy and with warm heart!!!

All the students, teachers, staff and nuns and monks are very glad and rejoicing to see each other after a short vacation of one month.
When we meet each other the curiosity to know what we did during the free time is the first subject of our talking.

Some students went home, what means for some to travel for their countries - what mean all the continents, as our Shedra – university, is an international Shedra. As it was Christmas and western New Year time, for many families this represents the time that the families must stay together, that way many students had a good time with their families. Others students went to India, Thailand, and others neighboring countries, some for to tourism propose and others for pilgrimage, as example of many of them that went to Bodhgaya to receive Dalai Lama’s teachings and empowerments.

Others students went to some cities as Pokhara and Amaratika. Others spent their vacation staying in retreat, in places as Asura Cave, Namo Buddha, Nagi Gompa, and so on. However, many students preferred just to stay in Kathmandu and to rest and a bit, enjoy together their friends, eating the tasty local food, drinking a lot of ginger, lemon, honey tea, or drinking the famous chang, the Tibetan beer.

So, at the Shedra there are many interesting news to know about, as new students, new teacher, and, obviously, new subject to be studied. It is a very exuberant time!!!

~ Jigme Choedzin – from Brazil

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Best of studying in Nepal

 Pale sunrise in Boudhanath from my rooftop

I came to Nepal for the first time in 2013, when I started my studies at RYI. At that time, I was quite overwhelmed by everything, without any knowledge of Buddhism and university studies as I was. 

During that first year, it was difficult for me to have fun while studying. I definitely did not appreciate all the things I learned here, and I was terribly lazy. But now I know better! So, I would like to share a few things that I have learned to appreciate while studying here at RYI.

The first thing is to really appreciate the whole process of studying. Maybe it is only me, but I still feel the same childish excitement when I study Tibetan and realize that I understand what I am reading, even if it´s only a simple sentence. I am still overwhelmed by the fact that I can read and (sometimes) understand Tibetan. Often, when I sit up at night, translating for class, I think about this. It is a very, very nice feeling.

I also like to think about how fortunate I am, we all are, who get to study Buddhism in a place like Nepal. Nepal is such a one of a kind place. Knowing this makes me appreciate studying here a lot sometimes. Like yesterday. I woke up early to admire a pale sunrise from my own rooftop. I was fortunate enough to get to listen to a wonderful, wonderful teaching on emptiness and devotion. Then I came home to discover that a part of my bathroom wall had essentially exploded, spraying water all over the place. Amazing. All in one day ☺

~ Rebecca from Sweden

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

An ode to a lost Sailor

Hello how you doin?
He asked
Gulping on useless space
Spinning in circles he stood
In his abiding place.
And while he stood
We began to lose.
Where do we go now?
Asked the little fellow
Standing by my knee,
Also there were those
Who asked
how much the fee?

Above all, and below too, this is a mysterious situation, pertaining to the logic which fits in the wave as some distorted colour. But nevertheless, mystery lives 2 floors above masks’ rented “selves and shelves”!! They said the elevator is blocked these days as there is no oil. So we use the stairs, simple. But mystery’s roommate happens to be fear. Someone told me that too, I haven't been up there. She is beautiful though, that I know. Mystery spends much more time with her these days. You know what love could do.

But from love I digress
Back to protons and neutrons
(The heart of this matter)
Back to our sailor whose cosmic ship
Took a dip
And came up disturbed
Asking Who and Why
and you want to fly?

Flying is simple when you don't mind the physics, he said. But the mind minds until you are high and certainly uncertain about the location of the cat and the sailor himself.
Not here
Not not here
Like a steam locomotive
On Indian railway’s track
There's no question
About coming back.

And any middle
Of the whole

Is also not in the middle
rather beyond
so, he said once and for all
follow me not
Follow never
for you have eyes
which sees
Not that
Which is seen ..

~Sagnik from India 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Excellent opportunity for lay students

As we all know, there are very few places for lay students to observe, understand and experience the monastic way of study and practice, which is a sublime way to study Buddhism to intensify insight, advance spirituality and develop simplicity. The Center for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute is one among those places.

The monastic way of study differs in many respects from the secular way of study. The monastic way of study let us to reach at vast and profound teaching of the Buddha. The authentic understanding of such vastness and profundity of the Buddha’s teaching is possible only after our enrollment in the place like RYI. We can hear the difference between those two ways of study from someone, although hearing lacks efficacy to distinct them rationally and meaningfully. We cannot observe and experience what really goes on in the monastic way of study without being in a monastery. To be really able to observe, experience and distinguish the monastic way of study our enrollment in places like RYI is necessary.

As being a traditional Buddhist monk studying at RYI for few years, I have witnessed how lay students are benefiting themselves by their direct observance and experience in the beautiful sanctuary of the monastic way of study. They extremely appreciate their time in RYI and the excellent opportunity to intensify insight, spirituality and simplicity via the monastic way of study. They feel such privilege as something that is unlikely to be gained again in the future.

You can come and have a look whereby you can check my words whether they are true or false. I can surely say that you will feel much better than what I described if you are at RYI even briefly.

~ Karma from Nepal

Monday, December 26, 2016

‘dharma-bear’ (chos dred)

When we plunge ourselves day after day; month after month into the rigorous study of Dharma and its related skills (reading/speaking tibetan, sanskrit, ect.) in a challenging environment such at RYI;  it becomes all too easy to forget the original motivations and intentions that initially inspired our decision to enter full-time and in-depth study of the precious Buddha-dharma in the first place.

If you are someone like me; your initial motivation for studying at RYI in such an intensive manner was to simply gain the knowledge and education necessary to truly comprehend the vast Buddha-dharma on an intellectual level, and furthermore; (even more importantly/fundamentally) to gather the skills required in-order to experientially accomplish and realize the profound dharma’s innermost meaning.

These initial motivations which where once so strong/intense within my experience, have slowly diminished throughout the course of the two years that I have now studied at RYI. This gradual transformation/degradation was so subtle, slow and occurring on such a subliminal/subconscious level; that I did not even realize this was happening up until very recently. (a realization that ironically coincided with my decision to take a year off from study and redirect all time and energy into retreat/practice).

We Dharma scholars/practitioners of this present modern age are so extremely fortunate to have the capacity to enjoy unrestricted access to a virtually infinite wealth of Dharma material; such as audio/video recordings, english translations/publications, and endless online library/databases that are so widely available to us. However, this present state of extreme abundance/accessibility of the Dharma may give rise to one potentially detrimental side-effect.

What I am suggesting is that due to over-exposure; we may potentially grow insensitive/unreceptive to the dharma. We run the risk of becoming someone like what the Tibetan tradition calls a ‘dharma-bear’ (chos dred); that is to say someone who has received so much Dharma teaching without actually applying it to ones own experience, that it (the dharma) no longer has any potency to modify/alter ones way of thinking and behaving. This is of course a disastrous/fatal condition; one we must be sure to avoid at all costs.

Whenever we study or listen to the dharma we must intelligently and confidently extract/condense the essential key-point or meaning and then immediately apply that to our own life experience and Dharma-practice. If we get into the habit or studying without an overwhelming and fundamental concern for the practical implications and experiential repercussions of the Dharma; we may likely develop a certain insensitivity and resistance to the potentially transformative effects of the profound and vast topics Buddha-dharma.

In my opinion, there is absolutely no reason, purpose or benefit in studying Buddha-dharma from a merely from an intellectual/academic perspective. Therefore, if you are unwilling to study the profound and vast Dharma with an open, receptive, yet discerning/critical state-of-mind; and/or are simply not interested in exploring the experiential repercussions of practically applying whatever it is that you study- you should not even waste your time here at RYI.

This was written by the indifferent dharma-bear; known as Pema Chris C- with the intense wish that these words may inspire fellow students to abandon worldly concerns, and skillfully blend the three wisdoms of study, contemplation and meditation into a single vast expanse of awareness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Excavation


     In the last winter break I went to Lumbini, the birth place of the Buddha for about ten days of semi retreat. There, I've decided to visit the ancient town of Kapilavastu, where prince Sidhartha grew up and left at the age of 29 in search of enlightenment.

     As it was the time of unrest in the Terai and there was no public transportation, I rented a bicycle and paddled though the plains for a whole long and beautiful day. The area of Tilaurakot, which is about 25 km from Lumbini inhabits many ancient ruins of sacred places for Buddhists, including the birth spots of previous Buddhas. In Kapilavastu  itself one can stroll though the ruins, and even the famous “eastern gate” from which prince Sidhartha left through on the night he departed his palace is marked by archeologists. A few kilometers from there I biked to another isolated and special place called Kudan. This spot is identified as the meeting ground where the Buddha, about a year after his enlightenment, and seven years since leaving home, met his father, step mother, wife and his son, Rahula, who was ordained then and there, becoming the youngest monk. A few centuries later King Ashoka built monasteries and/or Stupas in all these holy sites, and although one merely sees ruins these days, the atmosphere in these neglected pilgrimage sites is unique and there is a palpable feeling of sacredness in these holy spots the Buddha abided at.

~Gilad from Israel

Friday, November 11, 2016

Cooking in Nepal

Generally, when we go into a kitchen, we are concerned primarily with making great foods. We don’t typically think about how to make a fire or whether there is sufficient fuel to start a fire, because getting fuel has always been available -- it’s a basic commodity. Therefore, as a person who grew up in a developed country, I simply went into the kitchen and turned on the gas. Living in Nepal, however, has totally changed my mind and I now understood how even basics commodities can be difficult to obtain for some people in other countries. 

After the major earthquake in April, the people of Nepal have experienced severe hardships, but the fuel shortage has added to their suffering.  The supply of fuel from India completely stopped from September until  Feburary 2016. It has been difficult or impossible for people to get any cooking gas from the supply sites or any gasoline from gas stations. Because of the gas shortage, most of the restaurants have had to close. Some people wait outside gas distribution sites for hours, sometimes overnight to purchase gas. Many of my fellow students have studied for their exams waiting outside these sites only to learn that there was no gas to purchase. Other people have paid four to five times what they usually pay to buy only half a tank of gas on the black market, and then there are those people who have resorted to building wood fires in their backyards or the roof of their houses.

But cooking over a wood fire is really a pain. First, one is exposed to the cold during the early morning hours and sometimes you have to spend 20 to 30 minutes in the cold trying to start and stabilize the fire. There is also the hardship of finding and chopping wood, staying clean from carrying wood or getting soot over everything from the smoke, and then there is always the problem of getting smoke in your eyes.

As a monk working in a small monastery, where I’m require to do a lot of cooking, I face these difficulties when trying to prepare food for the other monks, but I have learned many important lessons from these hardships. But I hope the fuel shortage will be over soon and things will return to normal and I can concentrate on simply making delicious food. 

~Lobsang from UK