SUPPORTING THE THERAVADIN TRADITION:
Khyentse Foundation takes an ecumenical stance in its patronage of Buddhism
Recognizing the importance of the Theravadin tradition as the foundation of Buddhist practice, and in true Rimé spirit, Khyentse Foundation supports efforts to ensure the survival, preservation, and revival of Theravadin Buddhism in countries such as Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Burma. Much needs to be done, and we hope that the Foundation’s limited support arouses interest and leads the way to action in the Buddhist community.
In this issue, we interview scholars and practitioners who have devoted their lives to action in this area. Read about the challenges facing the Theravadin tradition today.
Photo of monk in Bodhgaya by Pawo Choying Dorji.
|Masthead photo bar: Khyentse Foundation's logo, the Ashoka lion (explanation below); Rinpoche in Bir by Pawo Choying Dorji; Thai monks marching in Bangkok (photo courtesy of Peter Skilling); the tradition of begging for alms; The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya by Pawo Choying Dorji (also at right).
NEWS FROM SIDDHARTHA'S INTENT
Rinpoche Teaches at Oxford University, Khyentse Visitorship Established
Rinpoche taught at Oxford University's Oxford Center for Buddhist Studies for three weeks in November, to inaugurate the Khyentse Visitorship program. The program, unique in the world's universities, will bring together Buddhist monks and nuns from all traditions to give lectures and tutor degree candidates at Oxford. Most of Rinpoche's tutorials and academic meetings were for Oxford students and scholars. He also led a meditation session for patients at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, which treats psychiatric cases.
Wolfson College, Oxford's largest graduate college and a centre of Buddhist scholarship, conferred on Rinpoche the official title of Visiting Fellow. Rinpoche's four public talks included a three-hour session on Buddhism and science to a standing-room-only audience that included prominent scientists.
Oxford degree candidates and their dons appreciated Rinpoche's down-to-earth approach to difficult Buddhist concepts. The only "shortcoming" of the visit, they say, is that it was too short. One attendee writes, "At the Oxford panel discussions, Rinpoche was in top form, as expected. He was totally brilliant, pithy, funny and self-deprecating."
Venerable Dhammasami, abbot of the Oxford Buddha Vihara, commented, "Rinpoche's visit to Oxford was fantastic. Everyone was very pleased."
Rinpoche's next public teaching will be on the Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva at Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India, 26-29 May 2011.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Ven. Dhammasami in Oxford. Photo by Janine Schultz.
THE BUDDHIST LITERARY HERITAGE PROJECT
BLHP's "Sponsor a Page" Drive Begins
BLHP is preparing for the revamp of its website, and will be rolling out a new "Sponsor a Page" donation drive very soon. Sign up today to be updated on its latest developments.
BLHP is like a fruit that is larger than the tree from which it sprung. For the time being, Khyentse Foundation is providing the infrastructure to allow the project to grow. Within the next three to five years, it will become an independent organization with its own structure and board of directors. Until that time KF is committed to fostering its success in every way possible.
GRANTS AND AWARDS
KF Awards Largest Number of Scholarships to Theravadin Practitioners in Its History
In January of 2010, Khyentse Foundation received 25 requests for scholarships, and in July we received 61 requests, for a total of 86 requests in the first 7 months of the year. In July, we awarded scholarships to 20 individuals—the largest number in our history. Eighteen of those scholarships went to Theravadin ordained sangha—16 monks and 2 nuns—to pursue advanced degrees in Buddhist studies. (The other two scholarships were awarded to western practitioners.) Most of the recipients are from Bangladesh and Burma, countries where the possibility of advanced education is limited, and they have limited or no resources of their own. With the support of KF, they are studying in India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Here are the stories of just a few of these scholarship recipients.
U Key Mong
is a monk from Bur
ma, studying at Nalanda University in India. He writes, "I am a Buddhist monk and now a student studying in Nalanda University by your support. I was ordained as a Buddhist monk in my native town in 1996. I am studying an M.A course for the final year in the session of 2010-2011. My goals are to learn Buddhist history and philosophy so that I myself become an educated Buddhist monk who is able to deliver Buddha’s discourses to those who want to know of Buddhism throughout the world. In order to carry out the above goals, I am now concentrating on my study with the encouragement of your support. For this great opportunity, I shall be thankful to you because without your support, it is impossible for me."
Ven. Satya Priya Bhikkhue
is a monk from Bangladesh who is studying for his BA degree in Thailand. "My motivation in studying Buddhism and the Vipasana meditation is to cultivate consciousness. Consciousness to see how suffering begins, to see how suffering ends, to reduce the magnitude of suffering, and eventually how to end suffering. I have lots of aspiration after finishing my studies. I hope to help poor Buddhist people in Bangladesh. I hope to open an orphanage for poor and Buddhist children to study Dhamma. I have realized that education is important for everybody. My main aspiration is to spread Buddhism in Bangladesh."
is a Burmese refugee Buddhist monk studying for his MA in the department of Buddhist Studies at Magadh University, India. "After completing my education, most of my time will be devoted to doing meditation and, if possible, I shall run a meditation center to guide the devotees who pursue our Buddha’s meditation way all over the world. As a Buddhist monk who has no other support, I am very happy to know that you are supporting such needy Buddhist monks."
Khyentse Foundation’s special grants and scholarships help to make the Buddhadharma available to all those who seek it. Financial assistance to individuals is awarded on merit and need, regardless of nationality, ethnic origin, Buddhist tradition, or cultural background. Visit the Web site for information about the KF Scholarship program.
PROGRESS REPORT: KEAP
Khyentse Foundation Funds Postgraduate Scholarships for Theravadin Monks
In 2009, Khyentse Foundation awarded the Khmer-Buddhist Assistance Project (KEAP) a special grant to support two Cambodian monks in a one-year M.A. program in Buddhist studies. Because there are no programs for postgraduate Buddhist studies in Cambodia, the monks are attending Kelaniya University's Post-Graduate Institute for Pali and Buddhist Studies in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Ven. Chhun Sophal and Ven. Hak Sienghai began their studies in Sri Lanka in January 2010, and Ven. Chhun Sophal intends to continue his studies to attain a Master of Philosophy degree.
Three new scholarship recipients will be selected by the end of 2010, so in 2011 KF will be supporting four monk-scholars through KEAP.
KEAP's purpose is to strengthen the Theravadin lineage of the Cambodian Sangha as part of a rebuilding process following the near destruction of Buddhism in Cambodia in the 1970s. For more information about KEAP and the Foundation's involvement, go to http://www.keap-net.org/.
Ven. Hak Sienghai, right, and Ven. Chhun Sophal, third from right, with accompanying monk, at Phnom Penh International Airport.
KF AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN
Li Ying Receives Award at Peking University
On October 22, 2010, a talented Buddhist scholar, researcher, and translator received the fifth Khyentse Foundation Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies, and the first awarded to an Asian recipient. For the past two years, Li Ying has been a graduate student in the Research Institute of Sanskrit Manuscripts and Buddhist Literature of the School for Foreign Languages at Peking University. With the guidance of Prof. Dr. Qing Duan, she has been involved in translating the Pali Canon into Chinese, under a program in cooperation with the Dhammakaya University of Thailand.
Photo: Florence Koh of Khyentse Foundation, Li Ying, and Prof. Bang Wei Wang, Director of the Research Institute.
KF NEWS AVAILABLE IN FRENCH
The COmmunique is now being translated into French. If you would like to read the French edition, please send an email
and we will add you to the list.
And if you prefer to read the KF news in Chinese, sign up here
. Please visit our Chinese language site
for information about how to participate as a sponsor and/or as a volunteer.
WWW. KHYENTSE.ORG LAUNCHED
New Web Site Serves as a Portal to All of Rinpoche's Activities
Rinpoche's friends have launched a new official web site that outlines his activities and allows people to explore each "pillar" of the mandala. Please visit www.khyentse.org.
Watch for the next issue of the Communiqué in February, 2011.
Khyentse Foundation’s logo is Ashoka’s lion. King Ashoka reigned during the Mauryan Empire (3rd century B.C.), one of Buddhism’s golden eras. His trademark was the pillars inscribed with Buddhist teachings that he erected throughout his kingdom.
“During those times, Buddhism suffused all parts of society, and people saw the value in investing in the enterprise of seeking enlightenment,” says Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. “The purpose of Khyentse Foundation is to create a system of support for the continuing study and practice of the dharma. If we sincerely want to carry on the traditions of Buddhism, if we are talking about establishing Buddhism in the West, we need to think ahead to the next generation.” This means creating lasting structures that foster practice and make the dharma available to everyone who is interested. Thus the lion pillar was an obvious choice to represent the principles of the Foundation.
JOIN THE KHYENTSE FOUNDATION OFFERING MANDALA
“Really, the expenditure ratio of less than 1% of total budget, I think that says everything.”
—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, August, 2010
In Khyentse Foundation’s fiscal year 2009, our operating expenditures were just 0.87% of our total budget. This means that more than 99 cents of every dollar donated goes to the people and projects that we support.
This frugality is possible only because of Khyentse Foundation’s no-frills policy and the people behind KF—the volunteers who offer their time, skills, and expertise (in addition to money) to the Foundation.
During the past year, 99.13 cents of each dollar received has gone to support a diversity of individuals, organizations, and projects dedicated to promoting the study and practice of the Buddha’s teachings in all traditions all over the world.
Khyentse Foundation is an organization of offering. Join us as a sponsor and as a volunteer to promote the Buddha’s teachings of wisdom and compassion for the benefit of all.
To continue this offering legacy, please consider including Khyentse Foundation as a beneficiary in your will and estate planning. For details, contact info@khyentsefoundation.
The Ecumenical Approach: Supporting All Traditions
Khyentse Foundation Supports Theravadin Practitioners, Scholars, and Institutions
"Buddha said, in the Prajnaparamita Sutra, that the bodhisattvas should never abandon the dharma. By this he meant that if a bodhisattva were to think, 'Oh, this person is only teaching the Shravakayana, that person is teaching only the Pratyekabuddhayana,' then even that can be considered as abandoning the dharma, which is one of the most hideous nonvirtuous actions. Thinking in this way means you have developed an attitude, considering Mahayana as the supreme and all the other vehicles as lesser. An ecumenical or nonsectarian attitude to the teachings of the Buddha is so much required—especially if you are practicing the Mahayana path."
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Parting from the Four Attachments, Kathmandu, Nepal 2009
Perspectives on the Theravadin Tradition
Venerable Aggacitta Bhikkhu
We asked one of Deer Park's favorite visitors about his path and what KF can do to support the tradition.
I think the monasteries in Nepal could use support. People think that Nepal is just Vajrayana, but there are many Theravadins there. I stayed in a monastery in Nepal funded by Malaysians. If that money ran out, what would they do? Also, there are 19 monasteries in Assam and some in Bangladesh. More than 95% of Bangladeshis are Muslim, but there is a minority population of Theravadin Buddhists there. Thailand is developing well and the communities are very supportive. But Laos, Cambodia, Burma—those poor countries could use help. Also we could be sending monks to the countryside to teach the rural communities. It would take some research to find out what is needed.
Peter Gyallay-Pap is founder and executive director of the Khmer-Buddhist Educational Assistance Project (KEAP). For more about Peter, the history and evolution of KEAP’s work in Cambodia, and KEAP's role in helping to restore the Buddhist culture and institutions after the Khmer Rouge period, read the interview conducted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. Also read KEAP's 2010 newsletter.
Theravada Buddhism has for centuries been and continues in our time to be an integral part of the web of life of the mainland Southeast Asian societies. In contrast to the Mahayana tradition, at least in East Asia, the Theravada is a thoroughly monastically based tradition. The wat (temple-monastery), with its monks, nuns, and lay elders, is both the physical and symbolic center of peoples' lives in these countries, and not merely in rural areas. It goes without saying that the quality of the Sangha to an important extent determines whether the societies there are able hold together (that is, living lives of meaning) or fall apart (such as succumbing to the defilements of greed and envy, brute power, and consumer capitalism). Apart from the Khyentse Foundation, I know of no foundation or donor organization, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, which recognizes this vital social reality in that part of the world and is doing something about it.
Venerable Dr. Khammai Dhammasami
Venerable Dhammasami is a Theravadin Buddhist monk-scholar who is involved in teaching and research in Buddhist Studies at the University of Oxford, where he received his doctorate in Buddhist Studies. Among his many other credentials, he teaches Pali and meditation at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is also founder and executive secretary of the Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities.
Westernization and globalization mean that those who are conversed in English are given a higher profile, even among the Theravada sangha, thus demoralizing in some way young Pali scholar-monks who come to think that studying Pali is out of date! While a recent effort by the Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities to give a higher profile to traditional Pali scholars by instituting international Pali-speaking academic conferences is a worthy effort in itself, that is by no means enough.
We must work to inform Theravada educators and students that studying English is not a pure route to learning secular subjects as it used to be; now studying English and Pali together can help students master the Tipitaka and access a wide range of interpretations from well-established teachers. Indeed this is what many of the ATBU members with an English medium education try to achieve. To ensure that their aim is realizable, we need to strengthen the ATBU as an international forum that is comfortable with studying both English and Pali. English is more than a language; it in fact symbolizes the western system of education, while Pali retains the traditional resources of Theravada Buddhist education. It is no longer necessary that the conflict between the two languages exists in our day.
Professor Peter Skilling
Peter Skilling is the founder of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation, dedicated to the preservation, study, and publication of the Buddhist literature of Southeast Asia. He is an advisor to Khyentse Foundation.
At the heart of all Buddhist traditions lie compassion and awareness. These core ideas are expressed in different languages, texts, and practices. The Theravada tradition, with its rich collection of texts in Pali and in the local languages of South and Southeast Asia, is an integral part of the universal Buddhist heritage. It is of inestimable value for all humankind.
Like all premodern knowledge systems, Theravada is going through a critical period as society changes rapidly in this age of globalization. The traditional study of Pali language and texts, dependent on a dedicated body of monks, has weakened considerably; fewer and fewer monks have a thorough and profound knowledge. Old texts and practices are disappearing as education becomes standardized and beliefs become rationalized. I doubt whether internet-based knowledge can replace time-honoured methods of training under a qualified mentor with the personal attention and role models that this offers.
On the other hand, the Sangha has not adequately adapted to or integrated the so-called modern or western system of education and research. It has not sufficiently understood its values, or, more importantly, crafted new solutions to the multiple questions of education and social change. I hope that new generations of educators, monastic and lay leaders, and realized masters are addressing this problem with wisdom and care.
Exchange and dialogue are always important; a significant recent initiative is the global network of the Association of Theravāda Buddhist Universities (ATBU) with its goal to "unite the people, knowledge and skills of every Higher Education Institution with a specific mission to educate students to understand and practise the Buddha’s Dhamma as presented in the Pāḷi Canon."
Revitalizing the Theravadin
Tradition in India
By Richard and Wangmo Dixey
Wangmo Dixey is chief executive and Richard Dixey is associate director of the Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International (LBDFI), and an advisor to Khyentse Foundation. Founded in 2002 by Venerable Tarthang Tulku, one of the missions of LBDFI is to support the preservation and restoration of the shrines and cultural artifacts of India.
In this essay, Richard and Wangmo discuss the Theravadin tradition of Buddhism and give us a taste of their experience in working in India for LBDFI.
Walking down the steps toward the main entrance of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara, the great Temple at Bodhgaya radiates like a jeweled lotus. As we enter this place of enlightenment, this sacred space immediately calls out an invitation to turn our minds toward the teachings of the Buddha.
There are few places in this world where all Buddhists come together under one umbrella—from the pilgrim who offers orchids fresh from Thailand to the Tibetan who has journeyed by bus or train from the Himalayas with a mandala offering of turquoise and coral or the Westerner who meditates under the sacred Bodhi Tree. They all share a common commitment to understanding and deepening their relationship to this sacred place.
After a few days, you come to recognize that there are three main strands of Buddhism. There are the Himalayan schools, represented by the Tibetans, the Bhutanese, and people from the Indian Himalayan regions; there are the classical Mahayana schools, represented by the Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Koreans; and there are the Theravadins, represented by the Sri Lankans, Burmese, Thais, Laotians, Cambodians, Bangladeshis, and the Indians themselves. You might conclude that the Theravadins are the most austere, wearing their robes with great care, chanting in unison, and closely following the Vinaya rules of conduct laid down by the Buddha and codified by Kasyapa, the great Arahant, 2,600 years ago.
In some respects you would be right, but then there are many aspects of the Theravadin tradition that have been hidden to outsiders. This is not due to deliberate action, but more that in many of the countries where the school is prominent it enjoys government support, with the senior monks accorded the status of diplomats and representatives of the state, and with access to impressive facilities. In such circumstances, there is no need to explain the school on casual enquiry.
The twin pillars of the Theravadin tradition are respect for the Vinaya as a means for living and the practice of meditation as a path to wisdom. Although the Vinaya rules are laid down in canonical form in the Pali texts upon which the school is based, the meditation traditions vary widely, with numerous approaches, techniques, and results handed down from master to disciple in oral lineages, more reminiscent of the Tibetan Schools. After 8 or sometimes 12 years of ordination, a Theravadin monk is free for the rest of his life to wander, and many do, with only the requisites of robe, outer robe, begging bowl, umbrella, water bowl, thread, and tooth stick to support them. Although the northern forests are shrinking, there are still huge areas in northern Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos where monks wander freely, living in caves or building simple bamboo khutis, and following the life of one gone forth, exactly as the Buddha Shakyamuni demonstrated in his own life thousands of years ago.
Palms Leaves Are Fragile Indeed
The aim of the Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation, established by Buddhist scholar Professor Peter Skilling, is to preserve and study the heritage of the Buddhist literature of Southeast Asia. Khyentse Foundation is supporting FPL's effort in cataloging and preparing a database of its large collection of Buddhist manuscripts. The texts are written on palm-leaf and paper, in the classical Pali language and in several Southeast Asian languages. KF also supports publication of the series Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka.
Because of its growing number of texts and library collections, FPL is at present inadequately housed and staffed. To properly preserve and study this important body of Buddhist literature, additional resources are needed. Initial plans are underway to develop the FPL Resource Center to provide the infrastructure for the critical study of the history and literature of Buddhist Southeast Asia from primary sources; to preserve related literature through replication and publication; and most importantly, to create a forum for the exchange of ideas and research methods within the region and internationally.
It is hoped that an international consortium of Buddhist organizations and supportive individuals can be brought together to make the FPL Resource Center a reality in the next few years.
A Khenpo in the Capital
Khenpo Jamyang Lobshal Goes to Washington, D.C.
as a Visiting Scholar
Visiting Scholar Ven. Khenpo Jamyang Lobshal in Washington, D.C.
Venerable Khenpo Jamyang Lobshal, Principal of Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute in Bir, India, is spending a semester as a visiting scholar at the George Washington University Department of Religion in Washington, D.C. Khenpo Jamyang's visit is sponsored by a grant from Khyentse Foundation to the university.
Khenpo is giving lectures at the university on Mādhyamaka philosophy and on the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra by Śāntideva, and he is also working on various research projects with Assistant Research Professor Ani Kunga Chodron. He is being hosted by Sakya Phuntsok Ling Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies and Meditation, where he is giving a series of courses on Mādhyamaka philosophy, Buddhist logic, and debate, at the invitation of Sakya Phuntsok Ling Spiritual Director Khenpo Kalsang Gyaltsen. In his spare time, Khenpo Jamyang is continuing his studies of the English language.
“This opportunity to teach Buddhist philosophy at a western university and to help to translate these ideas into English has been a very important experience for me," says Khenpo. "And I thank the Khyentse Foundation for making this possible.”
| FACES OF THE FOUNDATION
Meet Irene Suyin Lee
Our Beneficiary Coordinator Gives Grants Administration a Friendly Face
In each issue of the Communiqué, we introduce members of our volunteer team—country representatives, project coordinators, advisors, board and committee members, and members of the executive office. This month, meet Suyin Lee.
Suyin Lee is the lead beneficiary coordinator for Khyentse Foundation. Along with Pat Hanna, she is responsible for the administration of scholarships and grants. This is a huge and important job; the scholarship fund is the top priority among Khyentse Foundation's Five Projects. During the past year, the foundation has offered scholarships to 29 individuals, grants to 19 groups and institutions, and Awards for Excellence in Buddhist Studies to hardworking university students around the globe. In addition to western students, the program is increasing its support for monks in the Theravadin tradition in countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia.
As the primary liaison between grant recipients and the foundation, Suyin works directly with the individuals and organizations that receive KF funding. She says, “It is quite special to connect with individual recipients and groups from all around the globe to process their funding: the lone monk in Bangladesh, the physician in China who is translating the Dharma into Chinese, the small theatre group performing Bodhi Kata stories in rural India, and the large, well-respected Tibetan Buddhist Resources Center, which is digitalizing Tibetan language literature. It is even more special to meet some of these recipients during our travels in Thailand and Bhutan and the many who visit Vancouver. I am moved by their humility, devotion, and gratitude.”
Suyin has retired from her private psychotherapy practice, and she brings to the position of beneficiary coordinator her professional experience in nursing, psychological counseling, and group training and development. She and her husband, Doug Rickson, founded Rigpa Canada in 1998, before becoming students of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Suyin and Doug did several months’ volunteer service at the Bartsham Shedra in eastern Bhutan in 2004 and 2006. She recently retired as a co-coordinator for Rinpoche’s teaching events in Vancouver, Canada.
“Working with KF has been a very personal way to carry out Rinpoche’s vision of promoting Buddha’s teachings for the benefit of everyone through patronage. As well, Doug and I have been very blessed in having the chance to teach English to the monks at the Shedra in Bartsham. By the end of our tenure there, the monks were calling us Ama and Apa – this really touched us! Living and teaching in Bhutan has been the highlight of our lives; Bhutan is truly our second home. We love the country, the culture, and the kind and generous people. We cannot thank Rinpoche enough for giving us the opportunity to offer service in Bhutan!”
Photo: Suyin and Doug in Bhutan
Khyentse Foundation maintains a very simple organizational structure. The foundation is incorporated as a nonprofit in the United States, with representation in 13 countries. We operate by committees and working groups on a project and function basis. To learn how you can contribute to KF activities in your own country, please contact your KF country representative.
What if 100 of our friends joined
the KF Matching Funds program at just $20 per month?
They would each contribute $240 per year to support Rinpoche's vision,
the matching fund donors would double that sum,
and a total of
$48,000 would be raised for the foundation.
Think about it!
Join the Matching Funds Program
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