by Wamgon Tulku, Wamgon Monastery and Nunnery, Derge
I was born in India and was raised in an average class family. Growing up far from the Tibetan community in an Indian colony helped me be more open and learn more about people. Yet visiting my relatives in Tibetan community often also helped me stay in touch with the Tibetan culture and belief.
I was recognized by the H.H Sakya Trizin at the age of 9 and started studying in a monastery. Unlike many of the tulkus and rinpoches, my life was not so glamorous and high class. I have no complaints financially or food, but I had really tough training from my previous teacher! Well I’m not here to tell you my story, but the reason I mentioned this is to let you know my background wasn’t so fancy and spoiled growing up.
The reason why I went to the workshop is mainly because I have a monastery and nunnery to look after back in Derge, Tibet and also a few big projects on improvement in societies and flourish dharma, hoping that I could learn something which can be helpful in future. I didn’t have much clue since I have never been in any similar kind of workshop, so I didn’t have specific expectation. But I did have big expectations since it was organized by Dzongsar Khyentse since he is one of the smartest person, perfect teacher, well educated in Buddhism and at the same time updated to the modern world.
I worked with a group with the right balance of types; we had the super TJ [Thinking/Judging types in the Myers-Briggs system] who were really outgoing and also ones who were really introvert, quiet and shy, and also some who were like bit of both and were cool with anything. So because of the different varieties we had more to compare and reflect on ourselves.
The teachers were amazing, professionally skilled. They knew their participants did not have ordinary life styles. And accordingly they tried to give us the message gradually. I was surprised with everything, most of the topics were unexpected. I was guessing it was about speech, direction, and manner. But it was whole lot beyond that. Everything was perfectly designed for us and something which was very important to all of us, from management to leadership.
From aligning people to the issue tree [a graphical tool for solving problems] I learned so many things at the workshop. One of the most important I felt to us was how to read people according to their psychological type. Since we are the heads of monasteries and societies it will be very important for us to know who are working under us and make sure we get total benefit according to their ability. The vision worksheet and SALSA training were also very important.
Another important topic was the issue tree. I personally think it was very important for us because we do have all the ideas and know what to achieve, but what we don’t know is how to reach there and all the tools for arranging everything, for example how you use issue trees to assign tasks to individuals.
Another thing about the meeting I think is important is that we have a different style of meeting in our society. For example, in our monasteries there are a lot of formalities and some things can’t be brought up because we are living in a society where status is given by birth or title. So out of respect we avoid discussion of some decisions made by some a high rinpoche.
I learned so many things, not only from the workshop itself, but equally from the participants because all of them were people who have already achieved a lot and made me reflect on myself. From the workshop the biggest thing I learned was to be open and learn more. There are so many things out there which we need to know and prepare ourselves for. The things I learned were all new. Some things may take many years of experience to actually understand and realize, but there were many important tips for if you want to be a leader and do something big. Just as we need new antibiotics to kill new viruses, likewise we will need new methods and tools if we want to teach in the new generation.
One of the moments I would like to share from our leadership training was when Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche gave the speech at the end. He talked about modernizing the system we have here, which was the key message to all. Frankly I know most Tibetan people are pretty narrow minded and they probably wouldn’t agree if that was coming from anyone else then Rinpoche himself.
In the middle of the speech there was a complete silence, maybe a silence of acknowledgement, like a wake-up call, a silence of self-reflecting realization! Sorry, maybe those words are not usually used and I am not so good in English but I am just trying express myself as much as possible. Another moment was when they started to discuss a topic and it seemed like a debate between the old generation and the new, and all the people got involved in it.
I don’t think the leadership training could had been organized any better. And I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.
With respect and best wishes to the team,