Words From DJKR
A Message From Our Founder
What we are trying to do at Khyentse Foundation is to become a support system for the study and practice of dharma, of course for the Tibetans, but for all students as well. Buddhism has already been introduced to the West, now it has to be maintained and truly established. This is not a new idea. We Tibetans tend to get carried away by our gurus and lamas. As you must have noticed, we talk quite a lot about great figures like Milarepa, Paltrul Rinpoche, Sakya Pandita, Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava. We also talk about Indian Buddhists such as Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu. But we don’t hear about enough about the patrons – Tibetan King Trisong Detsen and King Ashoka and all of those who have done so much to support the flourishing of the dharma in India and Tibet.
This support to the dharma is as important today as it has always been. Today, if a student wants to become a monk or study and practice for three years in retreat, it’s so difficult, especially for a western student. They have to give up their livelihoods. Then when the three years are up, the world is entirely changed. One of my friends told me that when he went in retreat, there was no Internet. When he came out, there was this Internet. When he went looking for a job, he couldn’t cope and there was no system to support him. In places like Bhutan and Thailand a monk can basically take off with a bowl, walk in the street begging for alms. It’s very well accepted, even venerated; he’s not looked down on as a beggar. Even though this acceptance is slowly declining, there is still a recognition in those countries that this person is creating some merit. But this isn’t found in western society; it doesn’t even occur to people to think in this way.
But the interest in study and practice exists and now, we now have the next generation of non-Tibetan Buddhists–your children. Again, we don’t have facilities to support them, to give them the proper influence. Most kids have such good intention but the only Buddhist influence they have is at home. Once they go to school, especially after they reach a certain age, face so many varied influences by many different people and this I feel often does not support their original good intention.
Khyentse Foundation supports schools and institutes in the East, such as Dzongsar Institute, and I’m sure will continue to be, very supportive. We can bring this to the West by endowing a Chair of Buddhist Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Our hope is that there will be future generations of people like Gene Smith graduating from such programs.
The Foundation’s aim is to be an on-going patron of Buddhism. It’s not something that we will finish within this decade and be done with. I don’t think our job will ever finish. It will go on. This kind of mentality I think we should have. And I think already it is helping a lot of people individually. Already it’s beginning to help on the small scale. But we should keep in mind our bigger goals. Of course, we have to try our best to fulfill this aim as best we can. But just keep in mind that if we fail this time, it does not mean that we stop. We will persist.