The Multiplier Effect of KF Scholarships
An article by Luke Younge, who completed two summer courses of study at Nitartha Institute in the United States with the support of a KF scholarship. Luke is bringing a systematic two-year Buddhist studies program to Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In 2007 and 2008 I attended Nitartha Institute’s month-long programme of intensive Buddhist Studies in the United States. My studies were partially funded by a scholarship from Khyentse Foundation. Nitartha’s curriculum is modelled on the Kagyu Shedra, but with a commitment to being appropriate to its western context. As one of their stated aims is to train western Dharma teachers, it seemed the perfect place to go for some training.
The scholarship from Khyentse Foundation this year was absolutely crucial, and enabled me to attend and benefit greatly from the programme. This benefit rolls on with every training I do here in South Africa, touching people’s hearts and opening them up to the wisdom of our lineages.
In 2008 I completed the Core Curriculum at Nitartha. I am keenly aware that there is major work needed to anchor Buddhadharma in western culture and society, and I am deeply interested in the philosophical and psychological interface that Buddhism has with the West.
Back in South Africa, while some excellent teachings had been given over the years, there had yet to be a systematic presentation of the major Dharma teachings. The Nalandabodhi curriculum seemed to be the type of programme we needed to fill that gap. Designed by Ponlop Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsutrim Rinpoche, the Nalandabodhi curriculum is a two-year course that goes through a step-by-step training in Hinayana and Mahayana.
So it was that I started the first Nalandabodhi group in Cape Town. We have completed the first year’s teachings in Hinayana and will commence with Mahayana in the new year. There is a general feeling of relief at finally having a systematic presentation of Dharma—no longer the need to worry about “where does that fit in?”
In 2008 we also started a second group in Johannesburg and have completed our first weekend study-retreat there. Our Zimbabwean Sangha have expressed a desire to have the teachings offered there too, but it may be some time before that can happen. At the moment, our Sangha is largely focussed on providing food to a population devastated by famine, disease, and violent political suppression. In addition to Dharma teaching, I have continued to be involved with secular mindfulness training. Together with other curriculum designers, we are currently designing and running a teacher training programme for established meditators to become accredited mindfulness trainers through our organizations in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
With deep appreciation,