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Showing posts from 2015

Christmas in Nepal

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Far away from what we might call home, and yet Christmas here still feels like family. Never do I walk in the street without meeting a friend, or feel like a stranger in these streets that are so much like a village to us, full of known places and faces. Without any of the commercialization of Christmas, the Christmas song and advertisement overkill, or any of the family obligations, perhaps somehow even some appreciation of Christmas is born. Celebrating with close friends, thinking of the values Christmas used to represent, I find myself enjoying it, and realize it actually shares a lot with the way Buddhists celebrate holidays: generosity, sharing, charity… and of course, going to see the new Star Wars movie, where many of the remaining RYI students and staff met the day after Christmas. Which goes to show that things aren’t so different here, sometimes… and have become much more like home than strange cities where you never meet anyone you know in the movies by chance.
So despite t…

Being a True Warrior !

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What it means to share our favorite pizza with someone else? What it means to repay the kindness of our parents & people around in deepest sense? What it means to be a ‘True Warrior’?  For Bodhisattva Shantideva, it is not an uncanny affair but an ‘indispensable attitude’ or a ‘truth’ for fulfilling our own aspiring vision of ‘paradise’ of peace & harmony, yet we keep on forgetting such a simple raw blatant truth, we miss it. Though, we don’t miss to ‘look’ but we do miss to ‘see’ it, we ‘hear’ but we don’t ‘listen’, Shantideva keeps on striking the same chord again & again through his amazing lines of reasoning on ‘meditation on bodhichitta’ in the text Bodhicharyavatara.  I am fortunate along with many other friends to study this awesome text with, Khenpo Urgyen’s in-depth commentary & our eloquent translator Joost, and right now we have just finished with the meditation chapter. Part of the chapter was on generating bodhichitta through ‘equalizing & exchanging sel…

Shedra Futsal Group

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Normally socializing can be a bit difficult especially when we are new students. However, joining in Shedra Futsal Group made my social life easy and fun. 
Every semester, we RYI students make up teams and play together in an Arena. For me, Shedra Futsal Group became the bridge to connect with others shedra students and teachers of RYI.  It is coherent that there are many benefits of playing soccer. It increases our aerobic capacity, lowers body fat, increases bone strength and improves cardiovascular health and so on. These are just few health benefits of playing soccer.  On top of that, there are many social benefits by engaging in soccer group. 

Personally, this is the best thing that I always look forward on Friday. The wonderful thing is that I get to burn my unwanted fats and most importantly, I get to socialize with other students, teachers besides my class mates. 
What I really like about Shedra Futsal Group is they encourage female player to join their group. Therefore, there is …

Back to Shedra

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I have first come to Baudhanath in the autumn of 2001, met Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and stayed for the annual seminar. On its last day I went up to Rinpoche and asked if I should stay on for the winter programme, and he told it's a wonderful idea. 
This was my first introduction to Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy in the Tibetan tradition as we studied The Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa. The next year the BA programme started at RYI for the first time, and I stayed for one year, but felt more inclined to go for retreats. I felt at the time like focusing on meditation practice and was not sure if academic studies were my thing. 
After quite a few years of doing this and that, basically roaming around in Samsara, I started to feel again a very deep urge to study the Buddha Dharma in earnest. That was exactly two years ago, while I was living in Bodhgaya and Rinpoche arrived there, as he does almost each October. Approaching him, he immediately saw right through me, as he…

Archive

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I hardly leave Baudha, our cozy village-like neighborhood on the outskirt of Kathmandu city. But with  a classmate it is fun to go downtown through the bumpy dusty roads. The seat of the Nepal manuscript archives also hosts the archeology department, that mythical place that stamps all statues and artefacts leaving Nepal. 

And mistakenly that is where we go first. This tiny grey office filled with administrative rubbish adorns any export artefact with a bright red wax stamp fixed on a little cotton string. It comes with a short handwritten note – you may call it custom poetry. 
Soon we find our first link to the actual archives: a red lipstick lady sitting in front of a computer in a deserted office. Kindly she indicates “five number room” a bit further on the same side of the building. Never sure whether we get it right and what we are actually looking for, we follow cryptic indications that lead us in and out of the building. Following finger-pointed directions we reach the stamp-sell…

Listening, reflecting and meditating

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I found each and every activity that is done at here in Rangjung Yeshe Institute to be extremely awesome. From my personal way of understanding, sincerely, it is a place where the profundity and the vastness of sublime dharma is introduced reflectively and genuinely. Here, there is the excellent opportunity to taste the nectar of the teachings of the Buddha in the modes of listening, reflecting and meditating which are the genuine way to follow the Buddha dharma for the achievement of ultimate goal.

            Being a monk and having trained in a traditional way, there is no other place where I can pursue my bachelor's degree which is accepted world wide and comparable with other universities. And I am a monk, there are some problem of paying tuition fees, and so forth. However, I solved many of my hardships and troubles due to having received funding from the South Asian Himalayan Scholarship Program. I am extremely satisfied to pursue my study here and feel fortunate to have thi…

Bright Spirit

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During the reading week, at the end of October, we went to Tibet. Our group of four people visited a few monasteries: Tashilhungpo in Shigatse, Kumbum in Gyantse, Drepung and Sera in Lhasa, as well as Jokhang Temple, where one of the oldest Buddha statues is preserved, and Potala, the former residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
During the journey, the sense of appreciation and respect towards Tibetan people was growing in me. Even today the Tibetans are maintaining their Dharma practice. In Lhasa, every morning and every evening they are doing circumambulations around the Jokhang Temple (Barkor) and around the old part of the city (Lingkor, which takes about 2 or 3 hours). But it is not just the fact that they are doing this that is so remarkable, it is the way they are doing it! How sincere they are, how they appreciate their Dharma legacy and how happy they are in their practice.

I really think that we are so lucky here at RYI: we have the access to studying and practicing the Dh…

Resistance

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Sometimes in my study, although I am filled with interest in the teachings of the Buddha, I find myself with resistance towards it. In my fourth semester at RYI, I learned to see this resistance as nourishing ground for my self-study. What I call ‘self-study’ is something we indirectly sign up for when engaging the Buddhas teaching. It is the consequent watching of the movements of our minds, the study of our self as it manifests from moment to moment.  It is the awareness of the mind ground, onto which all the Dharma teachings are to be applied.
So when I saw my resistance to study, I learned that behind it was the mere painful sensation of growing pains. Studying Buddha dharma does change our way of thinking. It is often an invitation to letting go of cherishing beliefs and habit patterns. Especially if one has held something for a long time, to then let it go initially is very painful - like letting go physically of a (luggage) handle that one held on for a long time. The tighter th…

Moon’s Full of Indian Music

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Here in Nepal, there are perhaps less entertainment options than in the West. But quality entertainment can be found in Nepal, sometimes free, especially for those curious and appreciative of the realities of a culture different than one’s own. I am not Nepali, nor am I Tibetan, but it is possible and a healthy endeavor to feel curiosity for other cultures and systems of thought, despite modern culture in general might consider them as inferior. These days, only economic development seems to be the mark of progress, a way of thinking which unfortunately is also propagating to non-westerners. As traditional cultures become absorbed into the global economy, it is a luxury to still have access to wonderful concerts of Indian music, ragas, in a traditional setting, free to all. This happens here in Kathmandu, in one of the temples at Pashupatinath. At which date and at what time? On full moon days, when the sun sets, where the sky is still both clock and calendar. Getting there is part of t…

Beginning of an uncommon school year

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At first glance, this might seem like the beginning of a school year in any common university, albeit in a monastic setting. Agendas are filling up with deadlines, and heads with all the different tasks at hand. Students and teachers alike are busy processing information and organizing thought. In and out of class, time is studiously consumed. 

But come Saturday, we meet with the uncommon spearhead of all this academic busyness. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has returned to ‘office’ and welcomes students with his hallmark, precious advice: his ambition is for us all to become scholar-practitioners, and not just “dry scholars.” The knowledge we accumulate here is not meant to merely fill up our brains, but should also enter our lives. 

Dharma, according to Rinpoche, means change. It is meant to transform us into kinder, happier human beings. There isn’t a line of the texts we learn that is not meant to be put into practice in our daily lives. Rinpoche reminds us once again that it would be a gre…

A home away from home

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It’s been 8 months …..8 months… The first day of orientation in the big classroom was when I saw so many faces. They were going to be a part of my stay here in Kathmandu. And before I realized, we were a big family. It felt like we have been together since forever. The atmosphere and the energy at the shedra and in Boudha was so accommodating.  As days, weeks and months passed, everyone so close to eachother, fighting like kids and taking care of eachother in times of need. Rushing to class and getting other school work completed had to be balanced with this big family. Friends from Kathmandu went out of their way to make students from outside Nepal to feel so welcomed and comfortable.  Welcoming us into their homes with arms wide open, made us feel like we were still at home. They took the effort to be the guide while taking us to see beautiful outskirts of Katmandu. Laughter was and is always a daily dose in our lives. Who said people who study do not have a sense of humour!!!!  Apar…

Why Choose RYI: My Experience at RYI

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Sometimes in life you feel like you know something but you fail to express it with a reason when the time comes for you to explain. That happens to me with Buddhism. Being born and raised up in a Buddhist family I used to take certain things for granted but I realized that I do not really know the reason behind them. 
For example: Why are there five colors on prayer flags? What is important about taking refuge? 
Just to mention few. 

My interest in Buddhist teachings arises from when I studied at Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School founded by Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. My interest in Buddhism started to grow bigger and bigger with the pass of time.  However, I wanted to study more and I found RYI to be the best place for me because the answer to my confusion can be solved here. I believe study is very important in order to practice and contemplate Buddha Dharma authentically. 


With the generous and kind help of the Khyentse Foundation and Rangjung Yeshe Institute I got the South A…

The Great Stupa

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Kora around the great stupa tends to end our evenings. Less people and noise inspires a sense of sincerity difficult to cultivate during the day. 
As a student of Rangjung Yeshe Institute, our days are quite busy, and the focus is on study and reflection. The early bedtimes of residential Boudhanath makes it easy to set aside one method of progressing along the path for another. I have found such appreciation and practicality in this great stupa of ours. Lucky to have the opportunity to study at an institute that has an appreciation for the unity of study and practice, I make aspirations to understand and engage in the day’s lesson. 

Coming from Bhutan, the blessings and places of power that are spread throughout my country are said to be limitless. Yet, here, I am fortunate in that I am studying and contemplating the teachings, and am motivated by more than just the transformative power of this historic place. 

My fellow students and teachers encourage a rich level of interest in invest…

Compassion is the Driving Force of Bodhisattvas

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To reiterate what some others have said in their blog posts, Rangjung Yeshe is a special Institution that combines a monastic style approach with “western” academic classes. Through this blog I have read many inspiring testimonials about Rangjung Yeshe and really do think that the Institute deserves the praise it has gotten and more. Yet somehow I have found it difficult to come up with anything new to say about the Institute.

Perhaps it is not enough to just commend the Institute itself. It is definitely wonderful and all that but I believe that Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and gang make this a truly special place to be. Beyond the academic platform it is Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche who seems to make the teachings we receive in the classroom come alive. Being the jaded and small-minded person that I am, I often fall into states of lethargy and procrastination. At times I even find myself labeling the materials I study as dry, intellectual philosophy because they seem far removed from my experienc…

Integrating the earthquake experience

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It’s now over six weeks that the massive earthquake hit Nepal. The changes that began through it are still in the works and their ends are not to be seen, yet. Houses, monasteries, temples…in fact the main class rooms and offices of RYI needed to move and are on the way to being rebuilt.
One might wonder, what is it like to be in a massive earthquake like that? While individual experiences differ, one can summarize this experience as being very un-grounding. All that was familiar and considered stable before the earthquake, now seems unreliable. A massive earthquake that changes ones lives so drastically, does indeed give much insight into impermanence, one’s mortality and the preciousness and fleeting nature of this moment of our life. 
Although impermanence is generally considered frightening and a topic most likely avoided, in Buddhist studies this topic is not only discussed, but its contemplation highly encouraged. And in fact, as this earthquake showed me, holding the truth of im…

Rangjung Yeshe Shenpen

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My alarm rang at 5:30. But I stopped it, and again, I slept because the day was Saturday and I don’t have class at Rangjung Yeshe. After one hour I woke up and had one cup of coffee. That is how I start my day. Then I started reading articles, writing papers and so forth as my exam was scheduled just the following Monday and therefore I had to prepare for it. 
Suddenly I got a call from my friend who stays in swayambhu and he wanted me to join his house to have lunch together, as he had made vegetable momo, which is my favorite dish. I left from my apartment (Boudha) around 11:45 riding my scooter towards Swayambhu. I just crossed the Hyatt gate when I lost my scooters balance. I tried my best to handle it and it worked.  Then in front of me I saw two bikes that had fallen. So I put on my scooter brake when I saw people running out from ten directions. All the buildings were dancing, the vehicles were parking on the middle of the street. I felt like watching the movie called 'T…

Purple Flowers

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Learning, exam, exam, essay, exam….Done! The last weeks of a study semester at Rangjung Yeshe are – probably like at most universities, full of effort, eagerness and emotion. Like walking the last stretch of a steep mountain slope, there are pain and excitement mixed with fear, while just following each step with a sense of purpose to reach a goal.- How refreshing is it then to then, to make the last step onto the reached plateau and experiencing the new view!

And that I did reach a new perspective became especially palpable after this last semester in Madhyamaka reasoning. Through the help of the Indian Buddhist pandit, Chandrakirti’s text the Madhyamakavatara and especially through our wonderful Lopon Shedrup Gyatsho, I can’t help but notice now a subtle difference that is hard to pin down or communicate. Yet, imagine the following:
Imagine you had had an eye disease since the beginning of your life, which made you see small purple flowers anywhere you looked. Like everything was hap…

A Book

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As a reader there are innumerable books to get yourself immersed into. Books can bring us everything, namely; wealth, power, merriment, grief, humility, desire, wisdom, ultimate bliss, as well as hell, and so forth. Yet, without reading books no one improves or reaches merriment or blissful states.
As human beings we are by nature supposed to creep towards the virtuous life without any pause. This whim or vigor to do so is the best gift we have for all other beings. To be a virtuous and kind loving person towards others, reading books takes precedence for every single one of us. Well then how to be a virtuous and kind loving person through reading books is to be selective between right and wrong. Just one right book one can bring us all the ample insights that we could ever need.  Since the fact that we are all caught up in this samsaric marsh, all we have to do is just to follow or read the books by those great saints who have already extricated themselves from the marsh. Amongst the…

The Creator of All that is Being Gone Through?

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From when our friendship begun, he gives no clue, and even I know not whence this beginningless started its voyage. But, I am curious to know how all this began, because I have already started to look for cessation. When all I have is that friendship alone as a support, I wonder if this search is meaningful. However, though it looks crazy, I have chosen the pursuit to unshackle the chain of this friendship. When bed, the mother calls me at night, I soon disappear to nowhere—with no clue where I had been, and for how long! It feels like I have gone to the rest into the lap of my mother, giving up the indulgence that my friends make me do, at least for a while. But soon, they wake me out from that blissful sleep, and once again under the persuasion of habit, ego turns to repeat its naughtiness. I know that they are playing with me and all they had given is but the betrayal. Though it is clear that these doors of senses take me nowhere but  to the world of pain and anguish, still I—the e…