Many of us found solace in the numerous opportunities to see Rinpoche online in 2020; teachings, pujas, online gatherings, and other happenings were livestreamed from India and Taiwan, and people were able to join Zoom events from all over the world. Even though our physical access to each other has become limited, thanks to technology we have boundless opportunities to connect.
At some of our online events, Rinpoche talked about Khyentse Foundation and his aspirations for the organization. We started the Words of Wisdom series in December of 2020 with the aspiration to share Rinpoche’s words with you. We invite you to consider these words with us, as the foundation moves into new areas of focus.
Rinpoche spoke on many topics, but one theme that emerged again and again was how KF can, and must, find new ways to connect to those who are suffering and have yet to meet the dharma.
The sutras, the shastras, and our teachings have such wealth on how to assist people, and how to help them make their minds resilient and their emotions manageable. I’ve been thinking that this is something we can introduce to the world.
Khyentse Foundation is, and will always be, a Buddhist organization dedicated to supporting Buddhist study and practice, but reaching beyond the Buddhist label is new for the foundation. Still, as we expand the scope of our efforts, we always think about our ultimate mission, the preservation of the dharma and of Buddhist wisdom and practice. As Rinpoche said at one online event, “We want [dharma] to be understandable for modern people but not lose our own authenticity;“ This is a good summary of the task at hand. At this time of rapidly changing technology and an unclear and uncertain future, Rinpoche repeatedly remarked that the teachings of the Buddha are more relevant than ever.
We are talking about preservation of the dharma and propagation of the dharma. We are not just preserving and propagating some culture or some kind of a worldly value, like socialism or democracy, or some sort of culture. Really, we are preserving and propagating the means and the wisdom that will awaken us and others. We are trying to preserve skillful means and the wisdom that will liberate others. Thinking about others is an incredible thing.
Thinking about others’ values, others’ well-being—and not just temporary well-being, thinking about others’ awakening; that is just incredible. We always ask, Why are we practicing the dharma? We are practicing the dharma to attain enlightenment. As Mahayana practitioners, we practice the dharma for enlightenment—but for what? Why are we trying to gain enlightenment? To help other beings, right? So, actually achieving enlightenment is just a tool. We want to help sentient beings, so therefore we are trying to achieve enlightenment. Actually achieving enlightenment is just a bonus. The real profit is helping others.
We know from our own experience the impact the dharma can have, but what does that impact look like for others? With the advances of technology in the 21st century, how are the ancient words of the Buddha relevant to our modern existence? This relevance, along with the reality of artificial intelligence, online education, and virtual connection, is an important new focus for Rinpoche. For young people today, identity, profession, and purpose—or we could say, “who we are”—will be harder to define. In this, transition, the dharma is becoming even more necessary.