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Showing posts from 2016

Excellent Opportunity for Lay Students

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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 enr…

‘dharma-bear’ (chos dred)

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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 transfo…

Winter Excavation

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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 …

Cooking in Nepal

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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 outsi…

Progress Comes In Its Own Time

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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 …

From a Wannabe RYI Alumnus - How ‘bout that?!

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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? Yeah.
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 fromwhat?
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. Where is beauty? Beyond being moody of being empty? Then, what is beauty? where does it come from? why do we feel it? why do we hear it? why do we smell…

One Traditional Way of Memorizing

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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 preparationTo be better able to remember a stanza, and the connection between lines and stanzas, first make sure you understand the meaning to …

What I want and what I need

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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 an…

35th Annual Seminar at Rangjung Yeshe Institute

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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.   W…

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

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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.

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 sol…

Namo Buddha

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Namo Buddha, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sides in Nepal, was blessed by the Buddha out of his limitless compassion and generosity for sentient beings.   Since then the place has become a sanctuary for pilgrims. It is the greatest source of direct blessing from the Buddha, and the 'classroom' where still anyone can learn the prowess of the Buddha in the course of saving countless ignorant beings from suffering. 
Just visiting the cave where the Buddha performed the greatest act of human generosity the area, one is enfolded by the compassion of the Buddha. Spending a few days there, one is removed from afflictive state and levitated in the sphere of blithe. Under the great bless and vision of a Tibetan Bodhisattva, the place’s sanctifying potency has been enhanced, the actual words of the Buddha in thousands volumes are studied with the inspiration that had been planted there by the Buddha.  The learning center, with such a magnificent temple surrounded by many large…

Will You Visit My Village?

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‘’Mero gau maa jaane ho?’’ 
The only question I have been asked more times than this is whether my hair is real or not. 
‘’Will you visit my village?’’ everyone asks after a short conversation and getting to know each other. 

Having grown up in Nairobi, the capital city of my country, I had become accustomed to people having rather condescending views of the more rural areas. I and a lot of my friends viewed them as boring places where life was generally harder and, as such, most of my generation born and raised in Nairobi would not enjoy trips to the villages where our respective tribes are concentrated. 

Here in Nepal though, I have encountered that more often than not, people take pride in their homelands and villages, regardless of how simple or humble a background they may come from. It’s quite a refreshing experience to say the least. It makes me wonder how people from the rural areas that have moved to Nairobi feel about their villages. It’s something I had never given thought to b…

A Shedra Student

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The feeling is indescribable; 
I have never studied in a Shedra before. The atmosphere is so welcoming at the Shedra , it feels like home. 

This is my first formal education in Buddhism and I cannot think of a better place than RYI. The whole Shedra experience has been and is very over whelming. 

Personally, I feel that the classes are not just targeted to readings and writing but on how one must practice the path too. And that totally makes sense. And I remember, Chokyi Nyima Rimpoche mentions that we should be both a practitioner and a scholar. 

The way of the Bodhisattva text is very profound  and I feel everyone must learn this text. The lessons in class help those who practice. As we learn more and more, I am more aware about my intentions and actions. Not that I was not aware of them before, but now I am more aware on the importance of the aspirations, dedications , etc. 

What makes learning more enriching is –being able to clear ones doubts. Not everyone who studies Buddhism is a Bu…

Keeping Philosophy Juicy

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Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche urges us to become scholar-practitioners. At the same time, Rinpoche and other lamas, khenpos, lopöns and the texts themselves often warn us against becoming merely “dry scholars.” The tri-fold approach to studying philosophy that is urged upon as at RYI—listening, contemplating, and meditating—is precisely a method to bring vitality to study, to make it into lived experience.
One of the texts that we study is Ju Mipham Rinpoche’s Gateway to Knowledge. It is easy enough to imagine that this compendium of abhidharma, tightly packed with taxonomies, categories and lists, would be a dry philosophical text. As a phenomenology of all that appears and all that we experience, however, I find the more I study it, the more I think about it, the more it is on my mind, then the more the text comes alive and presents itself in life, as life, as if I can read it there everyday, everywhere.
For example, suffering—the first noble truth (which Mipham details according to differen…

Leaving Kathmandu

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I had been studying and living in Bodhanath (Kathmandu) for the last 5 years, benefiting from a unique environment to study and practice Buddhism. 
A couple of months ago, as my classes were finished and my family was waiting for me in Europe, I had to leave half of my heart in this incredible place and move back to old familiar Europe. 

As I was preparing for this transition, I was so touched by the warmth of the Rangjung Yeshe Institute community – my professors, fellow students and close friends. It is extraordinary to have shared these years with so many brilliant and warm-hearted scholars and practitioners of all origins and ages. In this little neighborhood, it is impossible to walk home without meeting a few friends on the way. In this holy place of Bodhanath, we are constantly suffused with the blessings of the gigantic stupa and the numerous authentic monastic institutions that have developed there. 

In our dear institute, the knowledge and kindness of the monastery’s abbot, mon…