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Nalandabodhi is a Tibetan Buddhist organization founded in the United States by 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 has worked closely with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in developing the Nalandabodhi Path of Study and Path of Meditation courses.
The organization encompasses meditation centers, study groups, the Mahasiddhi Retreat Center, Nalandabodhi Publications (a publishing house), and other enterprises. Nalandabodhi is overseen by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and the Nalandabodhi Mitras as well as lamas and acharyas. The Mitra Council are Nalandabodhi teachers appointed by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 2005 who guide the Path of Meditation and Path of Study courses for 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.
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Nalanda West, located in Seattle, Washington and inaugurated in 2005, is the primary seat for 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 Path of Study courses.
Nalandabodhi Path of Meditation
The Nalandabodhi Path of Meditation (the practice curriculum) was developed by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche as a graduated course of 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 Path of Meditation courses begin with instruction in 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 a written essay. During the second stage of practice, bodhisattva vows may be taken.
Nalandabodhi Path of Study
The Nalandabodhi Path of 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 Path of Study courses proceed in a graduated curriculum that covers topics from hinayana, mahayana, and vajrayana Buddhism. As such, the material is designed to complement the Nalandabodhi Path of Meditation courses (practice curriculum) as well as the material covered at Nītārtha Institute, a school of advanced Buddhist studies also headed by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. The material is primarily derived from the teachings of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, with the support of his teacher, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, and explores topics from the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages.
- Nalandabodhi: Courses. http://nalandabodhi.org/courses/
- Nalandabodhi: Teachers. http://nalandabodhi.org/teachers/
- Nalandabodhi: About Us. http://nalandabodhi.org/about-us
- Nalandabodhi: Centers. http://nalandabodhi.org/community/centers
- Nalandabodhi Path of Meditation. http://nalandabodhi.org/courses/path-of-meditation
- Nalandabodhi Path of Study. http://nalandabodhi.org/courses/path-of-study