By Sylvia Lee from Taiwan
I have been fortunate enough to attend quite a few teachings from Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in the past 2 years and heard about the mandala of his Dharma activities every now and then. Just as the vastness of Bodhisattvas’ compassion that is beyond our comprehension as Rinpoche often taught, I vaguely know the whole mandala is so much vaster than the handful of web sites I often visit to check on his teaching schedule. However I never got to know what exactly has been keeping Rinpoche busy beyond his already impossible itineraries for teaching, writing and filming… until I was allowed this rare privilege to attend the recent Khyentse Foundation annual meeting at Bodhgaya as an observer.
The two-day board meeting was well organized with private meeting sessions in the morning among the board members only, open sessions to have KF team members to introduce and report project progress in the afternoon and finished with a music concert as finale to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Khyentse Foundation and complete the annual gathering. The first thing that impressed me was the diversity of the crowd mix in terms of gender, age, profession, origin… Just among the small group of people I managed to talk to, I ran into people from America, Canada, Britain, mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil, India, Bhutan…even Kazakhstan. People gathering from all corners of the world, highly motivated, with their different background, experience, resources…for a common goal to the support and enhancement of Buddhist study, practice and scholarship throughout the world under Rinpoche’s guidance.
Diversity can also be used to describe the activities of Khyentse Foundation. Readers of this newsletter should be familiar with activities such as the monastic education at the Shedras in India, China and Bhutan, 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, KF scholarship, or even the academic endowments in various universities. It’s encouraging to know all these programs are well under management and development. There are more sutras being translated and a new program is initiated to translate sutra in Chinese to Tibetan and vice versa. There would be more universities working with KF either on endowment and/or Buddhist Forums… There are many other activities of KF that I am less familiar with such as activities in Mongolia and Cambodia…etc What caught my attention was the education initiative of Lhomon Society in Bhutan. The goal of this initiative is to integrate Buddhist and secular education and to create education alternatives that reinforce these ancient Bhutanese wisdom traditions while introducing the best of progressive sustainable development practices. Within less than a year, they developed curriculum modules and framework for both monastic and secular environment and will start testing it on 20 pre-class monks (ages 10-14) at The Chokyi Gyatsho Institute in Dewthang, East Bhutan a secular curriculum in math, language, science and other key subjects along with its existing curriculum of classical philosophy and ritual. It is a daring project to touch on the old tradition and bring the monastic education to the 21st century. It is an inspiring project to bring a sense of balance to the secular education as well in an era that we put way too much emphasis on scores, ranking of school, jobs. Even though it is only in Bhutan at the moment, I can see it would have a much bigger impact in the years to come.
The music concert was a highlight of the board meeting. What performance other than the Cello performing with Indian traditional Charmer drum against the background of Shechen Monastery’s main shrine hall can better illustrate the adaptivity and compatibility of Khyentse Foundation.
Padmasambhava said: “My view is higher than the sky, but my attention to my actions and their effects is finer than flour.” For deluded beings like me, it is difficult to grasp what Guru Rinpoche really means. Luckily I have KF and its teams offer me a live example.
Photo: KF concert featuring acclaimed cellist Saskia Rao-de Haas (right) at the Shechen Monastery in Bodhgaya. (Photo by Sylvia Lee.)