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Help Needed For Book Transportation March 15, 2009

Posted by Karen in IBA news, International Buddhist Academy.
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At the request of H.H. Sakya Trizin, and in accordance with the wishes of Khenchen Appey Rinpoche, Dr. Khenpo Ngawang Jorden, IBA’s inspiring teacher and respected scholar, will be leaving his professionally paid post at the University of Chicago to serve as Headmaster of IBA, in charge of IBA’s full range of year-round educational programs.

In order for Khenpo Jorden to bring his entire library to IBA, to share with other scholars and researchers, he will need some assistance from patrons who understand the potential value of his collection as a resource for IBA.

This library of unbound Tibetan pechas, bound books in Tibetan, and books in English contains some irreplaceable volumes, as well as others that are unobtainable in Nepal, and some which, although obtainable, would be far more costly to replace than to transport.

A small fund of $825. US was raised by some of Khenpo Jorden’s students to help with the library moving costs before an estimate was obtained.  Now, an international relocation company has given Khenpo Jorden a detailed estimate of approximately $3500. US  for the cost of packing the books into a container, conveying it by sea to Calcutta, and transporting it by ground from the seaport to the IBA, where the library will be unpacked. The books are estimated to weigh approx. 1,500 pounds, and to take up over 200 cubic feet, after packing.

It would be a considerable gain for IBA to have these well-chosen and highly relevant books, both for Philosophy study and for Translation resources. But without help, it would be a heavy expense for Khenpo Jorden to bear, when he is already forgoing a professional’s Western salary in order to donate all of his personal talents, abilities and specialized experience for the rest of his teaching career, for the sake of IBA’s students.

If you can help or if you know someone who is willing to help with these shipping costs, please contact Khenpo Jorden :   <njorden(insert “at” symbol)uchicago.edu>, or follow our website’s links to a PayPal donation form, and specify that your donation is to be applied towards Khenpo Jorden’s Book Transportation Fund.

There is some urgency in this request for assistance, since Khenpo Jorden has a very limited amount of time to finalize the book transport along with so many other arrangements before he relocates to IBA in June.

Your assistance in finding this help is greatly appreciated and will indeed benefit many.

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Abhidharmakosa : 1st Two Chapters November 27, 2008

Posted by Karen in Courses, International Buddhist Academy, Personal Perspectives, Studies.
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IBA’s two-month course for 2008 brought a dedicated group of students into a concentrated study of the first two chapters of Vasubandhu’s fourth century classic, the Abhidharmakosa-bhasya, his autocommentary on the Abhidharmakosa, an exhaustive analysis of phenomena. The autocommentary critiques and refines the reasoning central to Vasubandhu’s own earlier studies in the light of his later realizations. Vasubandhu’s conversion by his brother Asanga ( who also wrote a valuable study of the Abhidharma ) brought him into the centre of the budding Yogachara-Mahayana school, whose influence eventually spread widely throughout the Buddhist world.

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As Khenpo Jorden explained, the traditional monastic college method of transmitting an in-depth understanding of Buddhist philosophy is accomplished through presenting the views of successive Buddhist schools in the order that each arose. This method increases comprehension of the more subtle and profound later schools through studying each school’s set of tenets sequentially. It also allows the development of an informed appreciation of the earlier schools’ foundational contribution to Buddhist philosophical exploration.

Khenpo Jorden’s clarity and his ability to assist us in tackling the Sanskrit terminology which appeared in almost every line of Vasubandhu’s work, was comforting to those of us who were baffled by the subject matter (and even more baffled to see it expressed in unfamiliar words). Eventually we students were able to let go of trying to find English equivalents for the Sanskrit terms and accepted them as new words with new meanings.

In addition to having the steady leadership and guidance of Khenpo Jorden in each day’s teaching, we had other valuable resources. Firstly, the review class was conducted with admirable skill and intensity by one of IBA’s senior students, Inge Riebe, who translates texts for His Holiness Sakya Trizin.  Review class preparation was very thorough and students’ questions were handled in depth and detail.  Secondly, IBA was fortunate to be hosting Khenpo Akkar, visiting from Samye monastery, Tibet. Khenpo Akkar accepted Khenpo Jorden’s invitation to answer some students’ questions on Abhidharma topics, at several of our open air question sessions in the garden, with Khenpo Jorden translating.

All of us who completed this course were in awe of our teachers, who have studied the entire eight chapters of this challenging book. Many of us will welcome an opportunity to study more of it, and to gain more familiarity with the refined language of Sanskrit, an ancient doorway into many treasures.

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!