Tulku Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche
Supporting Tibetan Monks and Nuns
Let me share with you a few thoughts that keep returning to my mind.
Buddha Shakyamuni's flawless words are now flourishing everywhere in our world. Wherever the perfect Buddha's teachings flourish, people who connect with them discover the immediate benefits of compassionate love and a peaceful, carefree state of mind. Needless to say, the ultimate benefit of truly putting these instructions into practice is the attainment of liberation and complete enlightenment.
Wouldn't you agree that the unceasing presence of the Buddha's teachings in our world is extremely precious? If you do, how best can we preserve the Buddhist doctrine? This is what I've asked myself again and again — how can we secure the Buddhadharma for future generations? Who can perfectly maintain and uphold the teachings?
Consider the outstanding monasteries of earlier times, such as Nalanda and Vikramashila in India. In such havens, people could study the Buddha's profound teachings, without distraction, and deeply reflect on their meaning. Some scholars would take leave, later in their life, to meditate in secluded wildernesses. Many became the accomplished masters and great mahasiddhas whom we've read about. Similarly, in snowy Tibet, learned and accomplished masters, such as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrül, Chokgyur Lingpa, Paltrül Rinpoche and many others, emerged from sangha communities.
All of these renowned masters had their modest beginnings in a monastery and eventually graduated to the unconventional lifestyle of a yogi, behaving in all manner of extraordinary ways; yet, we shouldn't forget their background — like the source from which a great river springs, they sprang from monastic sanctuaries that safeguarded the sacred Buddhist teachings. Progressing through the traditional monastic education, they unfolded the fruit of learning and manifested both the qualities of realization and advanced stages of experience.
If we look at our present world, large numbers of Dharma Centers now exist in Asia, Europe and the Americas, each with many practitioners of every race and from every stratum of society. Some have taken ordination as a monk or nun; others are tantrikas; some simply live and work in the Dharma Centers. Yet, the vast majority is lay people who attempt to practice the Dharma while sustaining a job and family.
Recalling how the great monasteries of India and Tibet, with their huge congregations, benefited beings through upholding and spreading the Buddha's teachings, I feel we must do whatever we can to emulate them. I gave this a lot of thought. It's my wish to create a very solid foundation for a sangha community filled with people who possess the three levels of precepts — outwardly observing the precepts of Individual Liberation, inwardly maintaining the Bodhisattva Trainings, and, in their innermost heart, keeping the key points of Vajrayana's stages of development and completion.
Such a community would make available to men and women a thorough Buddhist education in terms of practice — meaning the traditional trainings of Individual Liberation, the Bodhisattva Trainings, and Vajrayana samayas, and in terms of learning — meaning study of the Tripitaka, the four sections of Tantra and so forth. Ideally, it should be an environment where the teachings are not left as mere theory, but where each individual is encouraged to personalize and apply the teachings. Why is this important? Because if just a single practitioner fully unfolds his or her buddha nature, I'm certain he or she will immensely benefit countless others.
With this in mind, our monastery has formed Shedrub Gendün Yargye Tsogpa — the "Shedrub Sangha Development Committee." The first step in developing the Noble Sangha, who uphold the teachings, is to continually increase the number of monks and nuns. Large numbers of ordained will not, in itself, suffice. Both quantity and quality is essential. Since monks and nuns require a proper education and authentic training, good teachers are indispensable.
Presently, our collective community consists of 220 monks, 103 nuns and six knowledgeable khenpos [Professors of Divinity]. My aim is to quickly increase the number of ordained to 500 and eventually to 1,000. Once these monks and nuns have completed their education, they should, at best, complete the traditional three-year meditative retreat. Afterwards, those of the highest capacity can enter the mainstream of Dharma education now flourishing in all parts of the world. In this way, both the main purpose and the long-range objective of our monastery and nunnery is not only to provide male and female practitioners with the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential, but to send those of the highest accomplishment all over the world to spread the word of the Buddha for the welfare of all beings.
When I was young, I imagined that during my lifetime I might one day have as many as 108 monks to educate and take care of. Now, the number of monks under our monastery's care long ago exceeded 108. By the time my life draws to its end, I would like to have helped 1,000 monks and nuns uphold and advance the Buddha's precious teachings. For this to happen, I need help. If you also regard this ongoing project as significant and have the wish and means to contribute, then together we will easily succeed.
Many people ask me, "Rinpoche, what do you want? What do you need? Do you need a nice pair of shoes?" I have quite a number of shoes by now, and lots of other things. Even all kinds of gadgets! But do you want to know what I really want? Well, now you needn't wonder anymore.
Thank you for visiting Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling. Tashi Delek!
Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang
Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery