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Shantideva’s Classic, Part one! July 2, 2008

Posted by Karen in Blogroll, Courses, International Buddhist Academy, Personal Perspectives.
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Sixty-five students from more than thirty different countries, ( including Russia, Guatemala, Switzerland, Peru, New Zealand, Estonia, South Africa, Belgium, Georgia, The Netherlands, Argentina, Honduras, Brazil and Portugal ) have registered for studies at the International Buddhist Academy in Kathmandu this year. Such a genuinely “International” atmosphere stimulates a great deal of appreciation for what we share in common as practitioners, no matter where we are from.
The great value we have placed on receiving authentic Dharma teachings from highly qualified teachers led many of us to travel half-way across the world to study the Bodhicharyavatara, a renowned classic by one of the greatest realized Buddhist masters and scholars of ancient India, Arya Shantideva. Since this powerful text contains so many direct and vivid reasonings regarding each aspect of practice in the Paramitayana, it has been divided into two parts, the first part taught this year, and the second part, (another month-long course), in 2009.

Khenpo Jamyang Tenzin taught using an English translation of the root text, and consulted a Tibetan commentary.  But additionally, to our great benefit, he also drew deeply from his own experiences of monastic life. The challenges and responsibilities that we imagine to be unique to our “house-holder” existence were revealed by our beloved Khenpo as the ever-present constants of human life everywhere. Our Khenpo’s honesty about his struggles, and his advice to us, was refreshing and generous, and set the tone for our own introspective tasks, guided by Shantideva’s courageous self-examination and rigorous destruction of all excuses for harm and ignorance.

All of us who experienced this course on the Bodhicharyavatara have shared an opportunity to take home something infinitely precious, something to nourish with our growing understanding.

The chapter on Patience (Forbearance) was deeply challenging, a vast and daunting topic, both for contemplation and for practice. I hope that my efforts to better develop Patience over the coming year will bear some fruit, and that through such efforts, I will be more ready to meet the great Arya Shantideva’s presentation on Meditation and Wisdom, for the second part, in summer 2009.  Please join us then!

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