Nalandabodhi

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Nalandabodhi is a Tibetan Buddhist organization founded in the United States by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 1997 and named after the historic Nalanda university of India. There are now Nalandabodhi centers and study groups in Mexico, Canada, Europe and Asia. "Nalanda" translates literally as "the place that confers the lotus (of spiritual knowledge)," and Bodhi translates as "enlightenment." The stated goals of Nalandabodhi are to provide a curriculum of study for students of the Dharma, publish commentaries by contemporary teachers, translate and publish historical teachings, and support the communication between western and international Buddhist practitioners. In 1998, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche was named Spiritual Director of Nalandabodhi and works closely with The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in developing the Nalandabodhi study curriculum.[1]

Organization[edit]

The organization encompasses meditation centers, study groups, the Mahasiddhi Retreat Center, Bodhi magazine, Nalandabodhi Publications (a publishing house), and other enterprises. Nalandabodhi is overseen by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and several western Mitras and eastern lamas and acharyas. The Mitra Council are Western teachers appointed by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 2005 who guide the Practice and Study Curriculum of Nalandabodhi. "Mitra" is a Sanskrit word derived from kalyanamitra or "spiritual friend". Mitras are available for teaching programs, personal practice interviews and study questions, giving refuge vows, giving bodhisattva vows, reading transmissions for the preliminary practices ("ngöndro"), and wedding, funeral, and other ceremonial services.[2][3]

Acharyas Lamas Mitras
Tashi Wangchuk Rabten Tshering Karl Brunnholzl
Lhakpa Tshering Tenam Lee Worley
Mark Power
Tyler Dewar

Nalanda West, located in Seattle, Washington and inaugurated in 2005, is the primary seat for The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Nalandabodhi. There are also centers in other major cities throughout the United States and Canada including New York, New York; the Maitrivana center in Vancouver, British Columbia; Boulder, Colorado; and West Hartford, Connecticut. Individual study groups are located globally, and Nalandabodhi also offers the option of independent home study and online classes for their study curriculum.[4][5]

Bodhi is a quarterly magazine published by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche that is geared towards meditation students in general and Nalandabodhi students specifically. It often features teachings by Ogyen Trinley Dorje (the disputed 17th Karmapa), the Dalai Lama, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, and others. Teachings in Bodhi relate to the different Buddhist schools and the practices associated with those schools.[6]

Practice Curriculum[edit]

The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche uses his specially altered edition of the text, The Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, to suggest what's meant by, for example, emptiness of self.
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche uses his specially altered edition of the text, The Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, to suggest what's meant by, for example, emptiness of self.

The Nalandabodhi practice curriculum was developed by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche as a graduated study in Buddhist meditation practice. Students can meet with trained Practice Instructors who are encouraged to guide and befriend newer students. General meditation instruction is also available at all Nalandabodhi centers.

The practice curriculum begins with shamatha, or "calm-abiding" meditation. After gaining familiarity with shamatha, students continue to vipashyana and analytical meditation. Students explore shunyata (or "emptiness"), ultimate reality, and dependent arising. At this stage of meditation, students are encouraged by their Practice Instructors to practice for longer periods of time, join the weekend long meditation programs at their Nalandabodhi center, or to go on group practice retreats. At this stage of practice, refuge vows may be taken and community practice is encouraged.

The second stage of practice begins one year after a student completes shamatha-vipashyana practice and focuses on lojong (or mind training), tonglen, and the four reminders. Each of the four reminders is contemplated upon for two weeks by the student. The student then discusses the importance of the reminders with their Practice Instructor, usually in the form of written essay. During the second stage of practice, bodhisattva vows may be taken.

Following the second stage of practice, students may continue on to study Vajrayana, Mahamudra, and Dzogchen practices under the guidance of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.[7]

Study Curriculum[edit]

The Nalandabodhi Study Curriculum is one of the first compilations of such material ever assembled in English and is available at Nalandabodhi Centers and study groups, online, or by individual home study. The curriculum adapts the traditional curriculum taught in Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences, and the study curriculum is graduated, covering topics from hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana Buddhism. As such, the material is designed to compliment the Nalandabodhi practice curriculum as well as the material covered at the Nītārtha Institute, a school of advanced Buddhist studies also headed by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. The material is primarily derived from the teachings of The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, with the support of his teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and explores topics from the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.[8]

External links[edit]

References[edit]