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Recess in the IBA courtyard February 7, 2010

Posted by sazeve in IBA news, Personal Perspectives.
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Work-in-progress on the basketball court

The IBA basketball court came in handy recently for local thangka makers who made good use of the spacious expanse to assemble a Kagyu refuge tree, destined for a Kagyu monastery in Bhutan.

Debate!

SOL students (pictured below) enjoy their recess by engaging in some lighthearted Rangtong/Zhentong debate on sugatagarbha…

Rangtong proponents

Restrain that Zhentongpa!

IBA goes to Lumbini February 4, 2010

Posted by sazeve in Blogroll, IBA news, Personal Perspectives, Sakya.
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His Holiness's enthronement anniversary procession to the Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery

In November IBA staff and students took a well deserved break from their hard studying and decamped to Lumbini to attend the annual Sakya monlam. This year there were additional celebrations for the Golden Jubilee anniversary of the enthronement of HH Sakya Trizin.

The event staged a great gathering of the Sakya lineage, with high Lamas from all the clans, about 5000 monastics and many lay practitioners, both Asians and westerners from 22 different countries. One of our SOL students, Kunsang Dorjee says ‘I was very happy during this monlam because this was the first time I saw both of HH Sakya Trizin together.’

The programme included a grand Long Life offering ceremony, a series of public talks in the Mahadevi temple garden focussing on the topics of Environmental Protection and Climate Change and World Peace and a Jubilee Gala of speeches, music and dancing in the pavillion.

In the midst of thousands of monks and nuns, IBA monks assembled in the grounds of Tashi Rabten Ling Monastery, with offerings to present to HH Sakya Trizin during his Tenzhug Ceremony. IBA formed group number 119 in the mornings offerings proceedings!

HH Long Life ceremony: SOL students Tulku Yonten Gyatso and twins Nyimas Choephel and Losal are ready to present offerings to HH

Liz Knight, resident English teacher for SOL has used both these speeches given by HH Sakya Trizin as inspirational topics in the the English class. Liz recounts: ‘The monks were incredibly impressed by HH approach to the topics in a profoundly spiritual way and it also dawned on them how relevant and pertinent these concerns currently are. Because of the potency of the event: the teacher, place, time, teaching and sangha; the monks were highly motivated in subsequent oral and written presentations back in the IBA classroom.’

Carlos, our volunteer Spanish teacher, recalls: ‘ HH speech on caring for the environment highlighted the connection between one’s inner emotions and the outer environment. Whatever you feel, if you help those around you to feel better, the environment around us will improve. If you take care of your mind, naturally your care will extend to those around you and the environment – the trees, the animals, nature and so on – will automatically be taken care of. Our IBA Director, Khenpo Ngawang Jorden-la delivered an inspring speech about the importance of environmental protection.

HH also spoke of the union of all clans within the Sakya lineage –Sakya, Ngor, Tsarpa and Dzongpa- which has developed following the initial difficulties during the beginning of the time in exile coming out of Tibet. He praised the relations between the lineages and the success of the ongoing projects involving schools, hospitals and expansion of the dharma and encouraged those involved to continue engaging in these activities for the benefit of beings.’

Who is that handsome man?

This is Tom (pictured above), who is our fine gap year volunteer teacher for B group (intermediate level) English language student monks. This was his first monlam experience and provided him with a full-on immersion in Buddhist culture. Cosy night times were spent camping in the IBA monastic tent in a field with about 4000 other monks.

Jamyang Paljor (pictured left with Tom) remembers: ‘It was an adventure, I have been going to the monlam for 16 or 17 years although this was my first time to go to with westerners: I chaperoned Tom and accompanied him to his first audience with His Holiness Sakya Trizin.’

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.

tea-group-021

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.