We gathered (on Zoom) for the annual Khyentse Foundation board meeting on November 7, and as usual, Rinpoche shared his thoughts and advice to the assembled group. We always look forward to Rinpoche’s address to the board, and we take time to consider his words as we plan for the coming year. In this year of unusual difficulty and change, Rinpoche spoke confidently about what the foundation can do to support people in this time of uncertainty and volatility. We are pleased to have the opportunity to share with you Rinpoche’s words, and the larger view behind the work of the foundation. We hope it will inspire and shape your view as we approach the new year.
First and foremost, we appreciate that Rinpoche reminds us that to be happy, to benefit others, and to realize the truth, Buddhadharma is the only way.
We all want to have something that benefits us. We like to think that we worry about what is beneficial or not. But I think that by and large we are after what makes us happy. This is what we want, but what we actually need is the truth. We want to be happy, but we need to realize, to actualize, the truth. Similarly, we want to be happy, but it is also important that we pursue what is beneficial, not just for ourselves but for everyone.
After all this time and contemplation, the words of the Buddha, that is it. This is the only way. Buddhadharma is the only thing that brings us what is beneficial to self and others. Buddhadharma is the only thing that will bring us closer to the truth. Therefore, one way or another, Buddhadharma is the only source of happiness.
Dare to Dream
As an organization, KF is always doing its best to keep up with Rinpoche’s ever unfolding imagination and ambition. 2021 will be no different in that respect; if anything, Rinpoche has suggested that even more work is forthcoming. In the coming years, KF will continue to search for ways to expand Rinpoche’s vision and to realize even bigger aspirations and plans.
It’s such a joy to work with all of you to preserve, propagate, and support this dharma. We have done quite well. More than we dared to imagine and dream. Of course, we are all human beings, so when things are working, we wish to do more, we have more greed. In this case, our aim and our objective are not just philanthropic but something that is beneficial and actually the only source of happiness. We should be greedy and be thinking more farsightedly. We should not have poverty mentality — if someone is offering billions, we should be ready to accept it and plan according to it.
Modernity and Buddhism
Throughout much of 2020, KF has been working to identify new channels for our support and brainstorming about how we can reach new audiences and share the wealth of Buddha’s teachings. At the board meeting, new initiatives were proposed alongside new methods of communication. It was inspiring to hear Rinpoche talk about the world we live in, to be reminded of the truth of impermanence, and to contemplate how KF can, and must, adapt and work within this fast-changing reality.
Modernity, of course, is just a term, it’s really just another way of saying that all compounded things are impermanent. This needs to be practiced. It’s funny that some of us lamas talk about how all compounded things are impermanent and yet everything we do is like we have no clue about this. We seem to want to go back to the old way of doing things. Of course, we don’t want to modify the core teachings, then the whole point would be lost, but the way it is taught, how it is taught, to whom it is taught — this is something that KF can do. We need to explore this area, how to incorporate modernity.
Connecting People to the Dharma
Although Khyentse Foundation has always been focused on supporting Buddhist study and practice, and this focus will continue, it’s clear that we must expand our thinking in these volatile times. As Rinpoche said earlier this year at an online gathering, “We are fortunate: We are following a path and we know what to do. But there are all these other people who don’t have that.” Connecting people to the dharma and the truth is more relevant now than ever. How KF, as an organization and as sangha, can work toward this goal is now at the forefront of our thinking.
When we think about retreat, many of us think of mountains and caves, something solitary. But it doesn’t have to be, it can be in a New York penthouse, or in a Ginza street. I’m thinking about who will teach people and guide them. Not necessarily someone who looks like me, like a religions person who has been tarnished or stigmatized as a religious person. We are not really talking about choosing a guru or a spiritual master, but kalayanamitra, a spiritual friend or companion. A businessman, a businesswoman, an architect, a doctor, a lawyer, all talking about nonduality, mindfulness, all that. This is something I think we can brainstorm about in the coming year.