Focus on Buddhist Education                                          July, 2008
In This Issue:

Personal accounts of life at Deer Park from contributors Kurt Schwalbe and Andrew Schelling.

 

The Cause and Effect School

A feature article by Jakob Leschly.

 

Educations Programs Around the World:

Reports from Brazil, Germany, and Australia.
 
Protect the World
A rap video about climate change made by The Siddhartha School students.
 

 

Above:  Lilliana Bowen takes part in The Siddhartha School's "Rap for Climate Change" song workshop. Photo by Eva Thomas.

 

 

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - W.B. Yeats.

 


 

Digital Downloads:


New Videos:

Deer Park:

The Nalanda Spirit Continues

An excellent introduction to Deer Park.

 

The Siddhartha School Students wrote and recorded two rap songs:

"Protect the World

  "Hatred Ceases"

 

Slideshows:

You may have seen them before, but the smiling faces of Siddhartha School students and classrooms in Sikkim and Ladakh never get old.

 

PDF Downloads:

Siddhartha School Brochure

KF Brochure 

Deer Park Ecological Report

 

 

News & Bits


Above:  The Siddhartha School Crest
 
CALL FOR HELP:
Making Connections
We are interested in hearing from you about any other Buddhist education programs, from preschool to higher education. We would like to compile a database of like-minded institutions. If you have access to any lists of Buddhist schools or individual contacts, please send them to Noa Jones.


CALL FOR HELP:
We Need Your Photos
We need your photos to build the KF photo archive. We are collecting photos that relate to the Five Projects. Maybe you have a great photo from the Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute in India, or shots from The Siddhartha School in Australia. Send them in!  Maybe you are a scholarship recipient and have images from your classroom. We'll take them! Or perhaps you have a nice series of retreat photos. We would love to have them in our library!  Photos of KF people and activities are scattered around the globe, and we need to consolidate them. This archive will supply photos for the website, the annual report, the KF Communiqué, and other KF publications.
 
Please send us your high-resolution photos so that we can store them in our new achieve. Along with your photos, we need the following information:
 
   1. Photographer credit
   2. Permission to use the photo
   3. Names of the people in the photo
   4. Location of the photo
   5. Date of the photo
   6. Description or suggested caption
   7. Type of camera used, photo resolution

If you have hard copies and no means of digitizing, you may send originals or negatives, which we'll scan and return. Even if you think we already have your photos, please send them again so that we can be thorough as we set up this archive. Send your photos, along with the necessary information, to Yulia Sheynkman.
            
PLANNED GIVING
A number of Khyentse Foundation supporters have contacted us about including the Foundation in their estate planning. We have explored a number of planned giving options and can help you select the best method for your particular situation. If you would like to include Khyentse Foundation as a beneficiary in your will and estate planning, please contact Cangioli Che


ENKI EDUCATION
The Foundation has offered Enki Education teacher training manuals to educators in Australia, Brazil, and Germany. Enki Education is a unique and innovative approach to holistic education for both the classroom and home school. It offers multicultural, arts-integrated education for children, as well as conferences, discussion groups, and training programs for parents and teachers.



THE SHAMBHALA SCHOOL in Nova Scotia was founded in 1994 by parents in the Shambhala sangha who wanted their children's educational experience to reflect their values as Buddhist practitioners. The approach to curriculum is based on meeting the needs of the child, not just academically, but socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The school fosters an environment where compassion and curiosity go hand in hand, and where each child is recognized for his or her unique capabilities while learning to work with others in the community. At the elementary level, the arts are integrated into the curriculum in all subjects and a thematic approach, based on cultures from around the world, gives the students an expansive world view and an appreciation of the wisdom that unites all cultures in their diverse forms. In July 2007, as part of the continuing development of The Siddhartha School (TSS), the TSS team hosted Jackie Mitchell, a Shambhala School teacher and cofounder. Through the sponsorship of Khyentse Foundation, Jackie led a three-day curriculum workshop attended by TSS curriculum coordinators, teachers, and board members. She also met with Rinpoche to discuss and clarify the relationship between the Shambhala School and The Siddhartha School. Team leader and Program Director Eva Thomas says that TSS's experience with Jackie Mitchell "was a huge help in bringing the school to the next level of formulating policies, building plans, and setting out the educational philosophy of the school." Jackie has offered her ongoing support, primarily in the area of curriculum development.

 

 

Education Contacts


KF Coordinator: Noa Jones

Deer Park Institute
Bir, Distt: Kangra,
Himachal Pradesh 176 077 India

Prashant Varma   
Jennifer Yo

Phone No: +91 - 1894 - 268 508

Australia

The Siddhartha School


Board of Directors

Meg Hart    

Bryan Rowe
Eva and Simon Thomas  
Jakob Leschly 

 

Phil Davis, Curriculum Coordinator  
Shakti Bourke, Ashoka Film Coordinator 
Sarah Mist, graphic design  

Brazil:
Chagdud Khadro
Lama Sherab 
Christine Boedler
Ianina Munarski
Luciana Novaes
Isabel Pedrosa

Canada
Lesley Patten

Germany
Doris Wolter

 

Shambhala School

 

Enki Education, Inc.

P.O. Box 2223
Providence, RI 02905
Phone (401) 228-7200
email: info@enkieducation.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Next Issue: 

Report from the annual Board of Directors' meeting--exciting announcements about the Berkeley chair, the translation conference, and moving into the future.

 

 

 

 

 

What's the best way to support Khyentse Foundation?


 

Join Our Matching Fund Program


 


Welcome to the July Communiqué

"Happiness is a skill, emotional balance is a skill,
compassion and altruism are skills,
and like any skill they need to be developed.
That's what education is about." 
- Matthieu Ricard
 
This issue of the Communiqué focuses on our Buddhist Education Programs, which support education models in countries around the world. But education is not relegated to this program alone, it is a key element of all five of Khyentse Foundation's projects. The KF Monastic Fund supports the traditional heritage of higher Buddhist studies, training young scholars to become Buddhist teachers for the world. The Scholarship Fund enables dedicated individuals to study and practice the Dharma. The Publication Fund supports the preservation, translation, and distribution of Buddhist texts. And the Endowed Chair supports the academic study of Buddhism.  May these programs help create a more compassionate and enlightened world.
 
Read on for highlights and updates.
 
Note: If the Communiqué print appears too small on your screen, please click the link above and see it online.


Above:  Pema Maya, Venerable Agacitta, Melitis Kwong, Jennifer Yo,  Prashant Varma, Kurt Schwalbe, and Nawang Gelek.

 

NEWS FROM DEER PARK INSTITUTE

Deer Park  Institute, located in Bir, Himachal Pradesh, India, is a centre for the study of classical Indian wisdom traditions. The centre is under the auspices of Siddhartha's Intent India, a registered educational society that was formed in March 2006 with a distinguished board of directors and advisory board. The society obtained charitable and tax exempt status in September 2006 and was deeply honored to receive the patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Khyentse Foundation provided the core financial support for the operation of Deer Park.


Vision: The administrators, teachers, and students at Deer Park Institute are trying to cultivate, in small ways and large, the conditions that prevailed at Nalanda University centuries ago. Nalanda was a place where students came from all traditions of Indian thought to enjoy the opportunity to debate and study philosophy, language, literature, poetry, economics, medicine, and the arts. "Such conditions were favorable to bring about both relative and ultimate realizations of reality," says Institute Director Prashant Varma. "Similarly, the Rimé tradition, which flourished in Tibet, was a renaissance movement that brought about studies of Buddhism with openness and freshness."  Using these models, the Institute is developing programs that explore all schools of Buddhism with origins in the Pali Canon and the Sanskrit Canon. "It's important to note," says Varma, "that the pursuit in Nalanda was not driven much by career-oriented studies. There was an ambition, a pride, yet that came out of a contemplative pursuit."


Environment:  Deer Park is not just rooted in the past; the Institute is making notable progress with its progressive environmental initiatives. Many Western students who have visited Bir are awed by the staggering beauty of the Himalayan foothills and brokenhearted by the garbage-filled streams and fields. Deer Park is taking a leadership role in the community, working to educate people about the environmental impact of their actions.  "We feel a great responsibility to both the land and the people," says Varma. "We are now beginning to develop a number of programs in the areas of ecology, traditional economy, and right livelihood." For more information, download Deer Park's Ecology Report.


Exchange: When you sit down at a gathering at Deer Park, you find yourself in the thick of an extraordinary multicultural exchange with students from around the globe. The Institute recently made these exchanges more formal by joining the Fredskorpset Exchange project, a Norwegian government agency that  supports exchange and learning across Asia and Africa. Interns have come to the Institute from the Participatory Development Training Centre (PADETC) in Laos and the Khmer Youth Association in Cambodia. The Institute recently arranged an exchange for a student from the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh to PADETC Laos. Another student from Nagaloka-Maharashtra went to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) in Thailand on a 11-month exchange.

 

Community: Often settlements like Bir are not integrated with the surrounding communities, but Deer Park is taking steps to bridge the gap so that the benefits of its programs can be shared by all. In addition to the environmental initiatives, the Institute reaches out to its neighbors in a number of ways, both formal and informal. "I think what is really growing is our work with the local communities," says Varma. "We support the Youth Buddhist Society from Uttar Pradesh by having their three interns work with us on various issues, including teaching meditation to villagers, running workshops for children on domestic violence, and supporting local farmers."




New Deer Park Video

 

Past Articles About Deer Park:

Vision for a New Nalanda

 

Two Personal Accounts of Life at Deer Park

Andrew Schelling:

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche had invited my partner, Marlow Brooks, to Deer Park. In August 2006, when Marlow introduced me to Rinpoche at a retreat in Leggett, California, he turned to me and asked, "Are you coming to India too?" I hadn't been to India in over 10 years, but with his quick warm invitation, and knowing Deer Park as a center for classical Indian studies (a subject close to my heart), I said yes. When we arrived the next January, the terrific, dedicated administrators, Prashant and Jennifer, with their Punjabi-rock 'n' roll-singing support crew, had arranged a week-long arts festival. (continued...)

 

Kurt Schwalbe:

Our group of Deer Park Institute students felt lost and alone. After a much delayed train ride, the chaos of the train station swirled around us. Suddenly, the Deer Park Institute drivers appeared, calm and confident.  They immediately organized our group and had us rolling toward Bir.  After a long ride in the dark through unfamiliar territory, we pulled up to the Institute gates. Smiling faces were everywhere.  Prashant's first words to us endeared him to me forever: "We have kept dinner hot for you."
 

I went to my beautiful, clean room with its beautiful, clean toilet and slept very well. When I walked out on the veranda the next morning, I felt I had awakened into a dream. I looked out at the courtyard and up the steps to a beautiful shrine hall framed by snow mountains.  Shangri-La images flooded my mind. (continued...)





UPDATES FROM OTHER PROGRAMS

At Khyentse Foundation's inception, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche shared a long-term goal of establishing international, nondenominational schools for children with curricula based on Buddhist principles. The Foundation has identified a number of projects that are in alignment with Rinpoche's vision.

 

 
Brazil

For several years, the Brazilian government has required presentation of religions other than Christianity in the public schools. State ministries of education are responsible for implementing this requirement,  but the ministries work with private entities to develop curricula and to organize the special training for public school teachers. Chagdud Gonpa Brazil has become the first non-Christian member of the Board of Religious Education,  which coordinates the activities of the private entities for the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Ianina Munarski and Christine Boedler are the Buddhist representatives on the board, and they have made useful contacts with municipal education officials.

The first trainings of public school teachers have taken place, and to support these trainings, an outline of Buddhist curricula and teaching methodology has been drafted. As it evolves, this training outline will be refined and expanded:

  • To create teaching modules on basic Buddhism for public school teachers.
  • To train lamas and senior Buddhist practitioners to answer the questions of school children whom they receive in their centers. Khadro Ling in Río Grande do Sul already receives hundreds of school children each year, and Odsal Ling in São Paulo can expect similar visits now that its temple has been constructed.
  • For use at Sítio Esperança (Hope Farm), a Chagdud Gonpa Brazil educational  and community project in the state of Minas Geráis. Sítio, formerly a cement factory, was nicely renovated by the sangha and currently is used for children's camps; for Projecto Florescer, an agricultural training project run in collaboration with a Brazilian organization for special needs children; and for after-school enrichment programs. The original intention was to start a school, but this proved too complicated as a first step. However, there is still the aspiration to establish a school--either a completely Buddhist school that leads to a shedra education in Brazil (Sítio is an excellent location for this purpose) or a school for the community that incorporates Buddhist values.
  • As part of the curriculum for a independent, private school, perhaps located in Porto Alegre. To establish such a school is the long-term objective of Ianina Munarski, whose aspiration is to provide high-quality education based on Buddhist principles at the fundamental, medium, and superior levels--a Philosophic Academy. The methodology will stimulate the interaction between the school and the community.
 
 
Germany

Since 2004, Doris Wolter of the KF team in Germany, as coordinated and overseen the teachers' training for Buddhist religious education in German schools for the German Buddhist Union.  In 2006 the GBU started a program for teachers of ethics (a new school subject in Germany), and for non-teachers as well. The program invites speakers from all the main Buddhist traditions in the spirit of inter-Buddhist dialog. The next two weekends will be October 8, 2008 in Leipzig with Dr. Alex Berzin and FJ Litsch on the "Four Noble Truths" and December 8 in Berlin with Alfred Weil and Yesche Regel on "Violence and Peace."

 

Doris will represent this project of GBU at a conference on "Buddhism and Ethics," during a panel on "Buddhist Ethics and Young People" in Bangkok in September 2008. The German Buddhist Union will hold a conference on "Paths into the Future" in October 2008 for children, teenagers, and parents. The conference will offer many events, such as meditation classes, clown classes for children, and seminars for parents about new education.



Australia


In 2005, Rinpoche recommended that King Ashoka be used as one of the role models for the Siddhartha's School children's programs. Shakti Burke wrote a children's musical based on the king's life with the idea of videoing the kids performing the songs. They filmed and recorded the first song, "I Am the King Ashoka," during a children's day in late 2005.

The second song, "Hatred Ceases," is also based on the life of Ashoka. It was written in 2003, around the time of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which served as an inspiration. The verses are based on  a booklet by the Dalai Lama. Shakti compiled a "study guide" summarizing the Dalai Lama's arguments, which in turn draw from Shantideva, and then asked the students to write their own rap songs based on the material. A young Australian rap artist, Karuna Bajracharya, answered a notice in the Gentle Voice aimed at young people who might like to get involved. Karuna, then 24 years old, has his own rap recording outfit. While visiting his father in Nepal, Karuna studied Tibetan art at Sechen Monastery in Kathmandu. He had already released his first rap album and has a second on the way. Karuna came to Byron to meet Eva Thomas and Shakti and to attend Rinpoche's teaching in 2006.
 

In March 2007, Eva and Shakti put on a Siddhartha's School children's day in Kyogle, facilitated by Karuna, to record "Hatred Ceases." Karuna brought with him professional recording equipment and a great energy for working with young people. The younger kids put down vocal "soundscapes" that they invented themselves, with Karuna's encouragement. The older kids paired up to cover the verses. They spent the morning learning, arranging, and rehearsing, and later took turns recording. Wearing earphones that played a sample of Karuna rapping the soundtrack, they performed several takes of their lines with complete professional concentration and commitment. "It was a fun and rewarding experience," says Shakti.

 

Around the same time, Shakti had met a community volunteer, Ron Way, at the local technology centre (Kyogle CTC). Ron, who has 40 years of experience as a director and producer in Australian film and television. Ron asked if could he come along to Karuna's workshop and do "some quiet filming." Ron's "quiet filming" turned into the visuals for the "Hatred Ceases" video clip that he then edited to Karuna's soundtrack.


 



Feature:THE CAUSE AND EFFECT SCHOOL

By Jakob Leschly

"I realize it is time to think seriously about future generations." -- Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

In recent years, many Western Buddhists have contributed  to the establishment of modern schools in traditional Buddhist cultures. However, so far not much has been done to establish Buddhist schools in cultures where Buddhism is only now taking root. Although the former initiatives will enable youth, mainly Asian, to obtain an education according to Western standards - ultimately providing them with autonomy in a commercially oriented world - Buddhist education for children is conspicuously lacking, in both East and West. A group of Buddhist parents in New South Wales, Australia, is making a difference. They are working to establish The Siddhartha School - a secular school based on Buddhist principles. Inspired by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, the group feels a strong impetus to share the wealth of the Buddha's heritage with the next generation. Jamyang Khyentse himself says, "After teaching Buddhist philosophy in both the East and West for many years now, I realize it is time to think seriously about future generations, and how we as a community can best prepare them for the challenges and opportunities this life presents."
 
The school has drawn inspiration and much positive input from the Shambhala School in Nova Scotia, Canada. In 2007, Shambhala School teacher Jackie Mitchell visited the group in Australia and shared her experiences. During her three-week stay she facilitated workshops, lectures, and discussion groups, addressing many aspects of school administration, curriculum development, classroom meditation, and discipline.
 
The School's Philosophy
The principles of the schools center on the Buddhist thesis of interdependent origination, the view that all phenomena exist on the basis of causes and conditions. This perspective of understanding encourages critical analysis and reasoning, and it also points to our responsibility and empowerment in creating auspicious causes and conditions for our own lives and for the world we live in. The conditions for becoming a good and balanced human are not something vague or arbitrary.
 
At the recent conference "Happiness & Its Causes 2008" in Sydney, monk, scientist, and best-selling author Matthieu Ricard spoke about Buddhist principles in secular education: "Based on an understanding of reality as the interdependence of cause and effect brings a sense of universal responsibility. Children can see that opening up and having concern for others is a win-win situation, as opposed to closing oneself in selfish pursuits of happiness which is a lose-lose situation. It could be useful and reasonable to bring such a perspective and practice into education, without the Buddhist label, but with the core of the training the mind and considering these trainings as skills. Happiness is a skill, emotional balance is a skill, compassion and altruism are skills. And like any skill they need to be developed, that's what education is about." Jamyang Khyentse says, "It is my hope that we can help children develop a broader understanding of the world around them as well as their internal world and how the two are so closely related. I feel certain that this new model of primary school education will be of great benefit not just for the children and families involved but can have a far-reaching effect on the world at large."
 
The Future of Education
The Siddhartha School is not an isolated phenomenon - it is a translation project to bring the wealth of Siddhartha's universal insight and ethics to future generations everywhere. It is therefore in the interest of Buddhists and like-minded parents and educators all over the world to gather around and support this effort. Jamyang Khyentse has stated his intention to establish similar schools in other countries, with The Siddhartha School as a pilot project for a global movement in education. Read more about the school at www.siddharthaschool.org.

Jakob Leschly is a meditation instructor and translator living in Australia. He serves on Khyentse Foundation's Grants Review Committee and is on our editorial team.



 Above: Andrew Schelling with partner Marlow Brooks.

 

... Andrew Schelling Continued

I hadn't been prepared for the generosity, for the warm friendship, or for the kind of place where teaching and learning could happen in such utterly open, playful circumstances. Meditation in the early morning amid butter lamps. Spacious courtyards where we could sing out poetry and release wild animal cries, or walk at night with lit candles. An outdoor communal dining hall where students from across the planet came and went. The setting is gorgeous--and profoundly interesting if you value snow-peak mountains, soaring forests, cold streams, animated bird life, and the endless processionals and pujas you find around Indian temples. The Kangra Valley turns out to be a center for archaic goddess worship (there are nine famous temples) and a major fly-over path for migrating eagles. Also, it's full of terraced tea fields and many ornate new Buddhist gompas.


Rinpoche has quite a few devoted Indian students, most of them artists or scholars. Enduring friendships with them are the most unexpected result of visiting Deer Park. It must be Rinpoche's easy international ways, his commitment to returning Buddhism to India, as well as his own film making, that draw unconventional people--artists, travelers, bohemians--to Deer Park. I decided to run a day-long poetry course for the arts event, where the group would create a linked-verse poem (Japanese form: renga, collaborative poem). When 35 people showed up, I was stunned. Participants ranged from about 14 years old to their mid-70s, and included Indians, Chinese, Japanese, a Kashmiri, an Israeli, Belgian, Spanish, Australian, and a few Americans, and with Rinpoche joining in, Tibetan. Nobody got tired of poetry, and we worked (and played) hard and seriously all day. By the end the shy youngsters were bold makers of verse, and we ended up with a poem that miraculously held together, flavored with Chinese monosyllables, Spanish romanticism, Kashmiri sense of the ghazal poetic form, and bawdy Tibetan Dharma humor. Through it all--and through another arts festival held the following autumn--ran these questions: What is art? What is its connection to Buddhism? Why do we so strongly need to make things of beauty and insight? Dzongsar Khyentse  Rinpoche threw himself right in with the questions--one of the things I admire most about him. He seems more interested in questions than answers, and he likes to stir up conversation between people from far-away cultures. He capped the first festival with several days of talks in the Manjushri Hall, in which he studied both Tibetan and Western notions of art, trying along with the rest of us to get a sense of why it's so important.

Andrew Schelling is a poet, author of 15 books, student of natural history, and amateur mountaineer. His translations from classical India are celebrated and have received an award from the Academy of American Poets and two Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry grants. He is currently working on an anthology of Indian bhakti (devotional) poetry for Oxford University Press, India.

 

 

... Kurt Schwalbe Continued
At breakfast, I met the staff and more of our group. Deer Park Institute makes me very happy and comfortable when I consider the treatment of the staff. The staff eats the same food as the guests! There are enrichment programs for staff as well, enabling them to continue their education while working. Some of the staff members were away, participating in an international peace march.

I loved seeing the well-treated dogs on the grounds, who were fed and cared for regularly. And I especially welcomed the emphasis on waste reduction and recycling at DPI. This program is a beacon in the night in India. I am so happy to see the Institute take this leadership position.

I had planned some months before to come to India to teach a course in Classical Tibetan to some Dharma students. We had arranged another location but that was cancelled. One of the students knew of Deer Park and suggested to Prashant that the Institute host the course. The Institute kindly agreed, and we were back on the schedule.

We had a excellent  group of ten students from North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. We studied together for a month,  meeting in the main shrine hall. By the end of the course, we read the Heart Sutra together. We also read a number of short devotional poems.  Our exercise on the last day of the class was to read some of the inscriptions on the beams of the entrance to the shrine room.

DPI was a very powerful and peaceful place for us to study. I especially enjoyed that Tibetan and Himachali people included it on their  pilgrimage walks. I was surprised at first when people came in during our class to make prostrations, circumambulations, and offerings at the main altar. I came to find it charming that we all were performing our practice together in our own manner.

I am very thankful to Deer Park Institute for giving us this place to study Classical Tibetan. And the food was fabulous.

Kurt Schwalbe earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, California. He is currently a professor of Classical Tibetan and will teach at DPI again in February 2009.  
 

 

The Communiqué is a publication of Khyentse Foundation, a nonprofit organisation founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001 to establish a system of patronage that supports institutions and individuals engaged in the study and practice of the Buddha’s vision of wisdom and compassion.

For further information Contact Khyentse Foundation at:
P.O. Box 156648 | San Francisco, CA 94115 | USA
Phone/Fax: 415 788 8048 | info@khyentsefoundation.org
Please Visit Our Web Site www.khyentsefoundation.org

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