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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Progress Comes In Its Own Time

I am beginning to appreciate that progress comes in its own time. It seems, any result arises naturally, but only by following the effort that aspires for those results. The painting as a finished picture ripens through the efforts of brushstrokes and mixing, but the product is shaped and perfected as a fruition of time, blinking into completion. The good qualities we aspire to cultivate – knowledge, insight, perspicuity, eloquence – arise out of the not-so-easy-bake ovens of our efforts and patience. We are good to aspire and wish for fruition in the moments we want them most, but wanting and receiving rarely come in parallel time or provide us with the gratification of sought after reward without, first, the ache of waiting.

“May you bless us with the courage to study and learn.”

To Manjushri, archetype of innate wisdom, we ask each class to be blessed with courage of all things. So that we may not be shy or feeble in the face of reality’s jarring truths, to have the guts to ask and ask and ask, and the audacity to give even that up. We are asking to be students and philosophers of a radical sort, who from the beginning are lured by the song of peace and encouraged by a community that is not afraid to admit,  “We are lost and suffering.” We ask for courage to look into the seemingly obvious, struggling for familiar air in a world alien to conventional thinking, nonetheless desperate for a respite from the momentum of life’s cynicism and polarity. Courage to challenge everything we believe in is the hallmark of a scholar, forged through unrelenting analysis and quenched in times of silence and hair-raising ah-ha’s.

We are lucky in that we have this opportunity as aspiring students of courage. The more we understand why we need courage and patience, rather than a fake smile to charm or a resume to outshine others, the more we understand the nature of success and what it means to investigate.

I enjoy all of this very much and I feel very lucky. May I stick around long enough to see our efforts take shape and inspire others.

~Kaleb from USA

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

From a wannabe RYI alumnus - How ‘bout that?!

Where to start?

Why can’t you make a dead man eat?
I am not asking a question, definitely not, you are the one who is failing to answer it.
Because the consciousness has gone out of it, isn’t it?

So much to say.
*eating chocolate*
The subjective experience of the consciousness has nothing to do with the objective reality of the body.
But consciousness is free from any causal transactions of [what to write?] very successful merchant group... or something like that... we have to find a word.
Consciousness has nothing to do with donations for earthquake relief.
The body is the result of consciousness’ power of manifesting a place where it can stay.

So where is this consciousness going, out from what?

But I wanted to write something more…
This explanation? Who cares? Who needs it?

Still the emptiness shies at the one who realizes her essential beauty.
Beyond being moody of being empty?
what is beauty?
where does it come from?
why do we feel it?
why do we hear it?
why do we smell it?
What is its role and relationship with consciousness?
How beauty connotes
miraculously all the purities
that consciousness ever desires
to abide within!

Now I’m becoming poetic.

Beauty is love’s only confidant who builds a bridge not seen by anyone
this subjective mind and its objective body.

Union is the ultimate addiction.
Enlightenment is ultimate union,
like the deepest dream.

And Krishna says: I am everything that you desire. ?

Now, Who rants?

Being in something comfortable is also consciousness’ ploy. But this feeling of comfort is beauty’s property.
So again we come back to beauty.

Where consciousness is going after dying is a living man’s suffering.
Who cares!?

Consciousness is so subjective that it produces objectivity like the sun’s gravity producing light.

The sun is so fxxxxx up it has caught fire.
Now, don’t write that. It has to be rephrased in a nice way.

Consciousness is subjectivity.

Still… talking about consciousness.
But how can something be said about that, which is devised to photograph itself through itself? You feeling yet, anything beautiful about that?
Never mind.

“But if you in your pain you call birth as an affliction and the support of the flesh as a curse written upon your brow.
Then I answer: that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.”- Kahlil Gibran 

~Sagnik from India

Thursday, October 13, 2016

One traditional way of memorizing

Since I started studying buddhist texts in a more thorough and general way I’ve been curious about the traditional methods of learning and pedagogics used by monastics, and the efficacy of them.

Certain practices from a modern outsider’s perspective may seem overly traditional, dated and possibly useless, or at least not the most sensible way of doing things. But I have a strong suspicion that the methods used has stood the test of time because of their efficacy, not in spite of a lack of it, so I’m happy to try them out and investigate how they work for me.

I asked one of the khenpos of Ka-Nying monastery how the monks go about memorizing texts. I got the advice below, and I’ve tried to apply to the best of my ability. And I find that it’s fun and works well.

If you ask around, you may find that different people have different techniques.

Some preparation

To be better able to remember a stanza, and the connection between lines and stanzas, first make sure you understand the meaning to some degree, and extract and associate a few keywords that capture its meaning.

Pick a suitable number of stanzas for memorization, somewhere between one and five four-line stanzas may be a good place to start. It seems like the more verses you memorize in the same chunk, the better the long term retention is. But it takes more time to get it all committed to memory. You will find that it’s easier and goes faster to memorize just a single verse in a night, but long term retention may suffer. Experiment with the numbers to find what’s suitable to your capacity and schedule.


The faster you can read, the better and more you can memorize. But be careful and meticulous, and increase speed only when you can do it without causing mistakes.

To be able to read faster, try to look ahead. So while reading one word out loud, try to keep your eyes on the next few words - the further you can look ahead, the better.

And don’t be shy! By reading out loud, and clearly moving your lips and tongue, you will activate your muscles in the mouth and also hear what you read, and thereby create better circumstances for remembering

While reading the last syllable of a line, stress it while you are looking ahead to the first syllables of the following line. This will help to create a supportive mental link in those places where you otherwise might easily forget the following line due to it being less strongly connected to the flow of the words of the previous line.

Evening time

In the evening, before bed time, read your selection of stanzas out loud approximately 100 times.

While reading, don’t work on trying to memorize the stanzas in a conscious way. Just read. Read fast, and read many times. Apply the techniques mentioned above.

In my experience, remembering comes gradually and spontaneously, and you will find that before reaching a hundred repetitions you more or less remember the stanzas, with maybe a few places causing some struggle. When this happens, you may want to apply some memory technique as a bridge to that particular passage so that you manage to remember what doesn’t come spontaneously after what you just read.

In the morning

When you wake up in the morning, again try to read your selection of stanzas from memory, and look at the text when necessary.
By now you will more or less effortlessly have committed your selection of stanzas to memory.

Once you can remember your stanzas with some ease, you can just recite them from memory while walking around.


In some of our khenpo classes at RYI we need to memorize stanzas, and for the quizzes you might need to write the stanzas. In that case need to adjust the process a bit to account for learning how to spell all words properly (in Tibetan), or remembering the correct punctuation (in English). I’ve found that just adding a few rounds of writing the stanzas after having prepared as above works fine for me.

Final words

At a recent lunch with Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche at Ka-Nying monastery, he mentioned the benefits of having a text memorized, for instance the one thousand stanzas of the Bodhicaryavatara. With a text like this committed to memory, one is always prepared to read it to oneself for inspiration, or use it as a basis for teaching others. By learning 3 stanzas or so every day, the entire book would be memorized in a year. If this inspires you, and you decide to do it, please let me know how it goes.

~Peter from Sweden

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What I want and what I need

In Bodhicharyavatara, Śāntideva mentions:

Since I and other beings both,
In wanting happiness, are equal and alike,
In fleeing suffering, are equal and alike,

However, not knowing the causes of happiness and of suffering, all the sentient beings are wandering in Samsara since the beginningless time.

I am not different either. I am one of them seeking happiness.

During this journey towards what I want, I forgot to ask myself if what I want is what I actually need. I engaged in whatever activities craving for what I want. I found happiness in serving others but forgetting that even suffering does exist, I suffered and I did not know why.

After all, what I need is the happiness that lasted forever. Not knowing what brings about such happiness, I was lost.

What brings about that happiness then? Practicing DHARMA.

What is DHARMA then?

During an annual retreat for the locals in Pharping, His Holiness Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche gave the much needed answer to that question.

Dharma is taming one’s mind and happiness is serving all the sentient beings until Buddhahood. 

The moment those precious words were bestowed by Rinpoche-la; I realized, well, this is what I want and this is exactly what I need.
Rinpoche-la also mentioned about RYI located right at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery providing Buddhist Studies to lay people. There, one can learn to train the mind to tame the mind into its purest form – the precious Buddha nature.
I gathered courage and went to Rinpoche-la with the sincere wish to study in RYI. The joy in Rinpoche-la’s face to see a local youth wanting to study Dharma radiated throughout the retreat hall. That joy touched me from inside, brought me immense happiness and encouragement to study the genuine Dharma.
These days, I feel blessed and extremely fortunate at RYI doing Buddhist Studies with the blend of academic systems and the monastic settings. Taking a step towards what I want and what I need.

~ Laxmi from Nepal

35th Traditional Annual Seminar at Rangjung Yeshe Institute

As it is already tradition in Kathmandu, in November of 2015, at Rangjung Yeshe Institute,  happened the 35th  Annual Seminar, which's subject was “The Path to Enlightenment”.  During 12 days many activities were guided  by Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche and  Phakchok Rinpoche. Several teachings, practices and some empowerments were held. It was a time full of joy and great interest for everyone.

The students of RYI were present in all activities and many students of the Rinpoches joined from different parts of the world, as they do every year. Some local Tibetan and Nepali practitioners also were present during the seminar and others came only to pay respect and devotion to their masters. 
The institute and the Rinpoches created a real familiar and enjoyable environment. We had not only moments of practices and teachings, but also time to do any questions that could be important to us and even join lunch together sometimes when Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche invited us.  
We had special schedule in RYI during the seminar and the Institute sponsored us, covering the seminar fee. This way we were able to attend the teachings and empowerments and keep some regular classes. Everything passed in a really organized and harmonic way.

These days were a great opportunity to integrate the academic approach in which we are being instructed in RYI with the realization of the masters.  The masters transmitted their natural view and realization about different aspects of the path in the Tibetan Buddhism; the understanding and view that arise through their profound realization, as result of the many years of study, contemplation and meditation.

I was really moved to listen to many senior students exposing how important these teachings  and practices were to them as they had the opportunity to breakthrough all the conceptual understandings. Thus, these were very precious days. Under the guidance of these realized masters we could go into more  subtle aspects of the understanding and training, creating a really balanced education that is taught at the RYI.

~ Ani Choedzin from Brazil

Friday, August 19, 2016

“With your laughter the whole samsara collapses. With your laughter illusion falls apart.”

This is the chorus of a song that was composed by two special friends, in honor of my first Buddhist master (Lama Padma Samten, the first lama that received ordination by Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in Brazil).

I can say to you all that I have this good fortune to meet many masters endowed with a great power:  the ability of completely to break our rigidity and fear by their compassionate laughter.  The great ability and wisdom to show us that the liberation of the pain and sorrow will not happen by the hardness in our eyes or cold smile.

from left to right: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo; Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche; Gyalwang Dukpa; Lama Padma Samten and H.H. the Dalai Lama

Usually they are masters with great and daring aspirations. They have strong and inspiring presence. They take care us with profound loving-kindness and compassion. And when it is necessary, they also manifest through firm words that put our motivation in the right direction.    

Here in RYI is not being different. The presence and guidance of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche is very expressive. He also have this powerful laughter, that dissolves any appearance of solidity that we impute to everything around us.

Usually, just to stay close to these master or even keep them in our mind and heart already bestows many blessings. Through their compassionate presence and bright example, they nourish and irrigate the seeds of virtues that, for many lives, are waiting to be awakened.

Their wise words and delightful smile touches our hearts deeply. Because we know that they direct their love for all living beings without distinction, through their “magic dance of doing good in every way that is possible.”

Thus, I rejoice for all the masters who have shown me the path and inspire me to follow it.

~ Jigme from Brazil