Ang Tsherin Sherpa, If you’re happy and you know it…2018. Gold leaf, acrylic and ink on cotton. Courtsey of the artist.
Catching Up with Modernity
Rinpoche’s Address from the
KF Board of Director’s Meeting
At this season of harvest and thanksgiving, we share with you Rinpoche’s address from the 2021 KF board of directors meeting. Rinpoche spoke at length about how we can focus our efforts to share Buddha’s wisdom and encouraged us to be aware of and to work with the changing times.
Modernization is not just going to stop. It will keep going, with things being modernized even faster and more viciously than at present. We need to pay attention to this reality and incorporate it into our thinking and actions if we genuinely want to preserve and propagate the dharma.
We really need to be aware of the ways that modernity is constantly creating different situations and environments, and therefore preserving and propagating the dharma means working with those new conditions and circumstances. This means that Khyentse Foundation as an organization must aspire to protect and spread the dharma with full awareness of modernity and the changes it brings.
Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Untitled, 2010. Gold leaf, acrylic and ink on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Rinpoche offered many examples and guided us to catch up with modernity. Most notably, he said that we must realize that anyone, not just lamas and rinpoches, can be a genuine holder of the dharma—layperson, man, woman, transgender, businessman, farmer, blogger, influencer, dancer, fashion designer, or cook. He also noted that although we don’t aggressively try to convert people, as Buddhists and bodhisattvas we have a duty to make ourselves available and offer helpful information to all those who are suffering.
We as an organization should explore and experiment with new strategies to reach a larger number of potential Buddhists. We should think of Buddhists fifty or a hundred years from now and try to produce a generation that basically appreciates Buddhadharma.
KF advisers also joined the conversation and offered useful and interesting suggestions that provoked our thinking about the direction and scope of KF work going forward. Although we may not have the resources to do all of the heavy lifting ourselves, we will keep our eyes and ears open and look for opportunities to collaborate with and support other like-minded organizations that focus on a more general, wider audience, and especially the younger generations. We hope to identify individuals who are promoting the Buddha’s wisdom in effective and creative ways. We fully recognize that we can properly protect and disseminate the true dharma only if we relate effectively to the people and needs of our fast-changing era. We also invite you, our KF supporters and collaborators, to share your ideas and to work with us in the coming months and years.
20 years of Service to Buddhadharma
In November 2001 the seed of Khyentse Foundation was officially planted, and on November 5, we celebrated 20 years of operation. Since the beginning, KF has been an organization of offering, and it is only because of your support, your labor, and your well wishes that we are able to continue in service to the Buddhadharma.
Thank you to everyone who is part of the foundation, to our generous donors, our incredible and hardworking staff and volunteers, and our grantees and collaborating institutions who do the work that will preserve the dharma for future generations.
As we enter our 21st year, our mandate is to catch up with modernity, expand our reach to a wider audience, and make our work more relevant to all the suffering people of this fast-changing world. The vision of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is vast, and together we work to realize his aspirations.
KF Executive Director Cangioli Che’s workspace. San Francisco, California 2021
Growing from the Original Five
Cangioli reflects on how we began
Shortly after KF was incorporated, in early 2002, Rinpoche and a few founding members of the fledgling Khyentse Foundation, along with Gene Smith, gathered on a beautiful summer day for a strategic planning session in my home in San Francisco. We discussed issues ranging from how we could support Rinpoche’s shedras so he could focus on teaching thousands of students around the world, to practical issues on managing the accumulating endowment and pooling resources on an international level.
Ivy Ang, the facilitator, encouraged and monitored lively sessions, and helped everyone map out KF’s goals and activities.
Then we asked Rinpoche the all-important question: What would he wish for the foundation to do and achieve, if money were not an issue?
Rinpoche responded without any hesitation. This was his wish list, which determined what we called his “happiness scale”:
1. Support the traditional monastic colleges and monasteries.
2. Support people who wish to study and practice Buddhism worldwide.
3. Preserve Buddhist texts and translate them into different languages.
4. Endow a chair at a North American university.
5. Develop Buddhist education for children.
Twenty years later, we are still working on these areas, and they have formed the backbone of the foundation’s activities. Over the years the founding members, together with a host of talented volunteers in more than thirty countries, have significantly developed and expanded the scope and scale of these activities, but we are always brought back to Rinpoche’s original wishes.
More recently, Rinpoche has urged us to not only support those who wish to study and practice the Buddhadharma, but to reach out to a wider audience—“anyone who has dukkha”—and to use skillful means to inspire, interest, and bring people to Buddha’s wisdom. This is the challenge that KF will continue to work on.
We can now see more clearly that Rinpoche has had the full vision and plan in his mind since the very beginning, but he was just giving it to us in pieces, waiting for the foundation to grow, mature, and be ready to take on bigger challenges.
Just like the Buddha, who, out of his compassion, taught more than 84000 skillful means to cater to the needs of all sentient beings, Rinpoche opens our minds and brings us to the dharma, step by step, in chewable bite-sized pieces.
Cangioli was a founding member of Khyentse Foundation and has served as its executive director since its inception.
Great Patrons of Buddhism: Her Majesty Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck, Emperor Wu, Gene Smith, and King Ashoka
Season of Thanksgiving and Offering
Khyentse Foundation aspires to be a patron of Buddhism. As much as we pay tribute to great masters like Nagarjuna, Atisha, Milarepa, and the lamas still alive today—as much as we pay tribute for the existence of the dharma—there’s something we shouldn’t forget: If you look at Buddhist history, at the golden age of the Buddhadharma, it’s not just because of the renunciate mahasiddhas. It’s because of the great patronage. Like King Ashoka. Like Genghis Khan. Like Trisong Deutsen. We have noticed in history that sound and healthy and strong patronage produced an amazing world of Buddhists and Buddhadharma. And it is also the case that when the Buddhist-influenced society is thriving, there is a lot of peace, harmony, and prosperity.
—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Giving, 2013.
Read about the patron kings in history and how they affected the world.
Help fulfill Rinpoche’s aspirations through the activities of Khyentse Foundation. Join our ocean of merit by making a donation or by including KF in your estate planning.
In Other News
• KF is seeking to fill the position of Technology Director. To read more about the opportunity, click here.
• KF PhD Dissertation Award extends the nomination period to January 15, 2022. We are happy to announce that a new “Southeast Asian and Pacific” zone is added to the Asian Dissertation award starting this year.
• Sanskritist and Khyentse Foundation volunteer Mattia Salvini offers a Sanskrit poem with English rendering: “What Pertains to the Sugata” on the website Collective Buddhist Studies Manifesto.
• For more information on the artist Ang Tsherin Sherpa visit his website.