In This Issue:
- Video: Round up of this year's winners
- Article: Learn about each winner's area of study
- Video: UBC award ceremony featuring Rinpoche's comments
- Article: Other Distinguished KF Awards given in 2015
- Teaching: A brief lesson on lungta by Khenpo Sonam Tashi
- Video: Mark Blum's receives KF Prize for Outstanding Translation
- Related news and updates
“We need to have academics and we need to have yogis. They create a system of checks and balances that will help future generations understand the Dharma. This is why Khyentse Foundation should support these scholars in their studies and at the same time encourage people to do retreat."
—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Rinpoche attended Eiji Okawa's Award Ceremony in Vancouver in June 2015. Past winners Casey Collins and Robban Toleno were present for Rinpoche's insightful comments on the importance of academic excellence. Watch here.
Help us build Khyentse Foundation's funding base so that we can continue to support up and coming academics.
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When you become a monthly donor, every dollar you donate is matched by the Patrons of Manjushri.
Our Partner Universities
More Support for Academia
KF rejoices when fellow organizations take steps to support the Dharma. Read here about how the Robert Ho Foundation is supporting Buddhist Studies
. Their aim is to "expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies." KF shares many values with the Robert Ho Foundation and we encourage you to learn more about their activities.
Professor Dorji Wangchuk on KF's Academic Awards
"By introducing the annual Khyentse Foundation Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies, Khyentse Foundation has initiated a tradition of celebrating the talent and hard work of students at the end of an intensive summer term. The award has been a cause of immense motivation for not only the awardees but for all students in the department focusing on the study of Tibetan or Indian Buddhism. The KF Award will continue to inspire and motivate academic prodigies in the years to come. I am extremely glad and thankful to learn that the award agreement will be extended for several more years. I, on behalf of the students and staff of the department, and on my own behalf, would like to thank Khyentse Foundation and all individuals involved for making this possible."
—Professor Dorji Wangchuk, Hamburg University
READ RELATED STORIES FROM OUR ARCHIVES BELOW
A Small Gesture of Our Respect
Khyentse Foundation currently partners with Buddhist Studies programs at ten universities on four continents to encourage excellence in Buddhist scholarship through the KF Award for Excellence in Buddhist Studies. The foundation provides US$1,000 per university per year, and the departments choose the award winner. In the grand scheme of academic expenses, $1,000 is not a huge sum, but it is our way of showing respect for the good intentions and hard work these students are investing in their studies. Many have expressed how this gesture of encouragement has been a positive influence.
"I am very fortunate to be a recipient of the award from Khyentse Foundation," said Ma Shengnan, award winner from the University of Peking. “It will be a twofold help to me: Financially, it is a timely support, and mentally, it is a generous encouragement. I will be always grateful to the foundation and your sponsors. In my everyday life, I will turn my gratefulness to you into kindness to people I meet."
Due to the success of these awards, plans are underway to extend the program to 15 universities. National Taiwan University is the first of these new partners to make a formal agreement.
KF offers several other annual awards: The Prize for Outstanding Translation ($8,000); the Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies, Europe and the Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies, Asia ($8,000 each); and our top award, the Khyentse Fellowship ($30,000).
Some of this year's award winners. Click the image to see a short video.
What Great Minds Contemplate:
Areas of Study from Winners of 2015 KF Awards
University of Peking
Ma Shengnan is a student at the Research Institute of Sanskrit Manuscripts and Buddhist Literatures, where she has mastered Sanskrit and Tibetan. Based on her previous study of archaeology and her role as a museum curator, her interest is now in Sanskrit iconographical literature. Her master's thesis is on Mañjuśhri images found in the Sādhanamālā.
Kathryn Boden is a senior majoring in physics who has also completed a number of courses in Buddhist, Tibetan, and religious studies. She first came to the attention of the UCB Buddhist Studies program in 2011 when she audited a summer class taught by Professor Jake Dalton. She is now embarking on a senior thesis project under the supervision of Professor Dalton, a sociological study of the encounters between science and Buddhism in Tibetan monastic communities in India and Nepal. Over the past two decades, numerous groups of scientists have traveled to Asia at the invitation of high-level Tibetan teachers to discuss recent advances in science (and neuroscience in particular) and how those new insights might mesh with Buddhist philosophies of the mind. Although Buddhologists and philosophers have joined these conversations, no studies have been conducted of the monks involved. Ms. Boden proposes to do that, and to consider the larger religious and intercultural implications of these conversations within the Tibetan Buddhist community.
University of Pennsylvania
Leopold Eisenlohr is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. He is working on the adaptation of Buddhist literary and philosophical forms to Islamic texts in Old Uyghur and Chinese, tracing the written interaction of Buddhism and Islam from the Yuan through Ming Dynasties as they shaped each other in China and Central Asia. An example of this material is a Chinese text from the late Ming that presents well-known koans from the Blue Cliff Record and Gateless Gate but tweaks them to reflect an Islamic sensibility, while still displaying a deep understanding of Buddhist tenets. Another text gives the reader Islamic prayers meant for chanting in Arabic, using Chinese characters, similar to the way in which Buddhist mantras are written in Chinese Sanskrit. By looking at a range of sources showing how the ideas of the two religions manifested in different social contexts, and what each had to say about the other, Mr. Eisenlohr hopes to shed light on the fluid nature of expressions of faith throughout the deeply interconnected history of Buddhism and Islam.
University of Hamburg
Jörg Heimbel earned his master’s degree in 2007 from the University of Hamburg, majoring in Tibetology and ethnology. His master’s thesis was on the life and works of the Fifth Dhongthog Rinpoche Tenpé Gyaltsen (1933-2015). He successfully defended his PhD thesis in 2014, passing the examinations with distinction. According to Professor Dorji Wangchuk, Mr. Heimbel’s PhD dissertation, “An Investigation into the Life and Times of the Founder of the Ngor Subschool of the Sakya Order” (1382–1456) is “an excellent work of enduring value.” In October 2014, Mr. Heimbel joined the Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies as the lektor for Tibetan.
University of British Columbia
Eiji Okawa, a PhD candidate in the Department of Asian Studies at UBC, is studying the relationships between the sacred landscape of a religious site and the social space that develops there. His focus is on Mount Kōya, a Buddhist monastery in Japan that was founded by the Buddhist saint Kōbō Daishi in the 9th century. The monastery has played important roles in the development of religion in Japan, with its unique synthesis of the doctrine and practice of the esoteric sect known as Shingon, devotion to Kōbō Daishi, and rituals for salvation in the afterlife.
Left to right: Professor Ross King, head of the Department of Asian Studies, UBC; 2014 KFA winner Casey Collins; 2015 KFA winner Eiji Okawa; 2013 KFA winner Robban Toleno; and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche at Okawa's award ceremony at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, June, 2015. Photo by Michael Pyne.
University of Sydney
Chris Clark is earning his PhD in Buddhist Studies under the supervision of Dr. Mark Allon. The focus of his doctoral research is the Apadāna, a Theravada Buddhist text in Pali that contains a large collection of hagiographies of early monks and nuns. The Apadāna is under-researched, partly because very few of its poems have been translated into any European language. Chris hopes to continue to edit and translate the Apadāna, which contains some 600 pages, with the aim of eventually having his work published so that this collection of interesting narrative stories can be available to scholars, Buddhist practitioners, and the general public.
University of Hong Kong
Mr. Alan Wong Chiu Ming, a retired CFO and COO and now a Master of Buddhist Studies graduate, achieved the highest average score in the two foundation courses of the UHK programme, Early Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism.
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
Natthan Manirat is earning his PhD in Buddhist Studies with an emphasis on numerology. "I would like to express my heartfelt thankfulness for your kind support of our faculty," wrote Assistant Professor Dr. Suradech Chotiudompant. "The award has significantly generated a perceptible increase in the interest in Buddhist studies, not only in our faculty but also in Thailand as a whole."
Other Distinguished Awards
Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Buddhist Studies, Europe Dr. Jens Wilhelm Borgland received the award for his thesis, “A Study of the Adhikaranavastu: Legal Settlement Procedures of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya.”
Dr. David Higgins also received the European award for “The Philosophical Foundations of Classical Dzogchen in Tibet: Investigating the Distinction Between Dualistic Mind and Primordial Knowing.” Because of the strength of both dissertations, the five-member selection committee decided to make a joint award.
Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation
Professor Mark Blum received the award for his translation of Volume I of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra from Dharmaksema’s 5th-century Chinese. Read More or watch the video.
Khyentse Fellow Venerable Professor Dhammajoti received Khyentse Foundation's top award, the Khyentse Foundation Fellowship, for his lifelong service to the Buddhadharma. Read More or watch the video.
A Few Words on Lungta from Our
Beloved Khenpo Sonam Tashi
Khenpo Sonam Tashi has been at Rinpoche's side since the 1960s, when Rinpoche was still a young boy, and has become a beloved teacher in his own right. We asked Khenpo to say a few words about the Tibetan Buddhist concept of lungta.
KF: Khenpo, can you please explain to us the meaning of lungta?
Khenpo: Lungta is the energy that makes one's merit higher or lower. Literally it means "wind horse." According to Tibetan astrology, each year there are animal signs and elements. Everyone has an animal sign and element depending on the time and date of birth. Animal signs and elements matching with that person, it will help to bring comfort and the support to succeed. Then there are some elements that may bring difficulty.
KF: How does hanging prayer flags relate to raising positive lungta?
Khenpo Sonam Tashi: Sometimes our lungta becomes damaged or weakened. We hang prayer flags to increase something. For instance, if someone has low lungta or a kind of debt, it is beneficial to hang prayer flags to increase their lungta. When you buy prayer flags at the market, you can choose the five colored flags. And it's even better if you can find your animal sign in that flag that will specifically increase your lungta. If your element is wood, for example, you should find green prayer flags. If your element is metal you should find white flags. If your element is water you should get blue flags. If your element is fire you should get red flags. And so on.
KF: Do other Buddhist traditions also have something similar to lungta?
Khenpo: Some Buddhist traditions don't speak about astrology, instead they will talk about luck and fortune, but I think the meaning is similar.
KF: Okay, thank you very much Khenpo.