What: Teaching on Nagarjuna’s ‘Letter to a Friend’ When: 15-17 April 2020 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Letter to a Friend (Skt. Suhṛllekha; Tib. བཤེས་པའི་སྤྲིང་ཡིག་, shepé tring yik, Wyl. bshes pa’i spring yig) — a shastra by Nagarjuna, which belongs to his Collection of Advice.
Nagarjuna (1st-2nd century A.D.) wrote this celebrated poem as a letter of advice to his friend King Gautamiputra/Satavahana.
This advice gives a concise and comprehensive introduction to the entire path and practice of Buddhism. It guides both householders and the ordained onto the path leading to liberation and enlightenment. The instructions are of special interest to those who wish to take up spiritual activity while continuing to live and work in society; they are meant to convey the whole meaning of the Dharma to the ordinary person in a language and style that are easy to understand.
Despite its short length (123 verses), it covers the whole Mahayana path with unusual clarity and memorable imagery; thus it is widely quoted by Tibet’s great masters and scholars in the many commentaries they have written on the Buddhist path.
“Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend with commentary by Kangyur Rinpoche ”
What: Bodhicitta Retreat When: 24 July – 2 August 2015 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Geshe Dorji Damdul
This retreat will focus on practise of “Boddhicitta,” the “awakened/altruitic mind,” which is ever-present as a seed in us, all sentient beings. The path to nurture and awaken this, will be based from the Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, specifically the Four Seals.
About Geshe Dorji Damdul
Since 2005, Geshe Dorji Damdul has served as the official translator to H.H. the Dalai Lama. Geshela, has completed his studies from Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) in Dharamsala, Drepung Monastic University and Gyumed Tantric College. Serving as a fellow in Cambridge University, England in 2003, he was appointed as a visiting fellow at Delhi University to give lectures in three of the University’s departments – Philosophy, Psychology, and Buddhist Studies. Presently, he is serving as the Director of Tibet House, Cultural Center of H.H. the Dalai Lama, New Delhi. He gives lectures and leads philosophy classes and meditation retreats in Tibet House, Delhi University and other venues. He also travels widely in India and abroad, to teach Buddhist philosophy and practice.
What: Residential course on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika Where: Dharmalaya Institute in Bir, HP, India When: 4-14 July 2015 (must attend from the beginning) Language: English (with Hindi translation if requested) Instructors: Roshan Palat and his assistants
Description: A ten-day residential course exploring the rich world of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (one of the most influential of the great classic texts on hatha yoga), through both practice instruction and philosophical explorations.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika (Skt. haṭhayōgapradīpikā, हठयोगप्रदीपिका; literally ‘Clear Light on Sun-Moon Union’) was written in the 15th century CE by Swami Svātmārāma, a disciple of Swami Gorakhnath, drawing on the great wisdom of earlier yoga texts and synthesizing a definitive work that survived the test of time over centuries. Even today, it is regarded as one of the greatest authoritative sources on Hatha Yoga. In fact, scholars view this text as establishing the very definition of hatha yoga as the term is used today.
This course will cover both practice and theory, including:
Asanas: Instruction and practice in hatha yoga asanas from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Philosophy: Exploration of the profound meaning of the text
Advanced practice elements: Pranayama, mudra, bandha, dharana, and dhyana
What: Introduction and Retreat-Seminar in the tradition of Nondual Kashmir Śaivism When: 15 May 2015 (Introductory seminar) and 16-21 May 2015 (retreat-seminar) Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Dr. Bettina Sharada Bäumer, Varanasi
The Vibration of Consciousness:The Spanda Kārikā with Commentary by Kṣemarāja
A Retreat-Seminar in the tradition of Nondual Kashmir Śaivism
The Spanda Kārikā or “Verses on Vibration” by Vasugupta (9thcentury, Kashmir) is one of the foundational texts of Kashmir Shaivism which teaches the dynamic nature of the Absolute, of the cosmos and of human consciousness. Its Nirnaya Commentary by Ksemarāja, direct disciple of Abhinavagupta (11th century) adds a lucid spiritual interpretation to the concise verses of the text.
Spanda means creative vibration and the inner divine dynamism which pervades everything, and which can be mystically realized in one’s own essential nature. The text teaches an analysis of consciousness and a way to full awakening (suprabuddha).
Two sessions of text teaching daily
4-5 hours of meditation
Walks in nature
Recitation of hymns and ślokas (Sanskrit)
Silence from dinner time till next day lunch included
Note : Silence is essential for the practice of the teaching and for maintaining an atmosphere of retreat.
Requirements for participation:
Basic knowledge of Indian spirituality and philosophy and basic knowledge of Sanskrit is an ideal preparation, though not a necessary condition for participation.
Experience in meditation is a necessary requirement.
Text editions and translations recommended:
Spanda-Kārikās. The Divine Creative Pulsation, ed. and transl. by Jaideva Singh, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1980 ff.
Dyczkowski, Mark S.G. : The Stanzas on Vibration. The Spandakārikā with four Commentaries, Albany: SUNY Series in the Shaiva Traditions of Kashmir, 1992.
Dyczkowski, Mark S.G.: The Doctrine of Vibration, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 2006
Silburn, Lilian: Spandakārikā. Stances sur la vibration de Vasugupta et leurs gloses, (French transl.), Paris: Ed. de. Boccard, 1990.
What: Teachings on the Wisdom Chapter of “The Way of the Boddhisattva” by Shantideva When: 9-13 May 2015 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Khenpo Sonam Tsewang
Teachings on the Wisdom Chapter of “Way of the Boddhisattva”
Based on Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary
The “Ketaka Gem” (Tib. Norbu Ketaka, Wyl. nor bu ke ta ka), a commentary on the ninth chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara written by Mipham Rinpoche, based on the teachings of Patrul Rinpoche. It was composed in 1878, when Mipham Rinpoche was 32.
Lhobpon Rechunpa said:
“From the emanation of Lokeshvara, Dza Paltrul Rinpoche, [Mipham Rinpoche] received the Wisdom Chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara in only five days. Based on this, he wrote the commentary on the Wisdom Chapter known as the She Drel Keta Ka.”
Mipham Rinpoche himself said:
“When I was young, I was present when many accomplished, learned lamas gave Dharma teachings, but I only seriously studied Dza Patrul Rinpoche’s teachings on the Wisdom Chapter of the Bodhicharyavatara. Later, in dependence on the kindness of my venerable lama and Manjushri, no difficulties with study ever arose for me.”
In the ninth chapter of Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech, Khenpo Kunpal’s commentary on the whole Bodhicharyavatara, Khenpo Kunpal closely followed (almost verbatim) Mipham Rinpoche’s Norbu Ketaka.
About the Teacher
Khenpo Sonam Tsewang is a khenpo (equivalent of Professor of Buddhism) at Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, the advanced center of philosophical study at Namdroling Monastery, Bylakkuppe. He finished his graduation in Buddhism from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Varanasi and also from Ngagyur Nyingma Institute, Namdroling. He has translated for His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche on many occasions. He published published English translations of books such as “How to Follow a Spiritual Master”, “The All Pervading Melodious Sound of Thunder : the Outer Liberation Story of Terton Migyur Dorje” and “Drops of Nectar”. He was enthroned as a Khenpo (equivalent of Professor of Philosophy) at Namdroling Monastery in 2010 by His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche. Khenpo Sonam travels extensively with his root Guru, Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche, for international teaching tours. In the process, he is also receiving close personal guidance and spiritual instructions from Khen Rinpoche.
What: A Darshan in Vimalakirti Sutra When: 28-29 April 2015 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra (Sanskrit: विमलकीर्तिनिर्देशसूत्र) or Vimalakīrti Sūtra is a Mahayana Buddhist sutra. Sometimes used in the title, the word nirdeśa means “instruction, advice”. The sutra teaches, among other subjects, the meaning of nondualism. It contains a report of a teaching addressed to both arhats and bodhisattvas by the upāsaka (lay practitioner) Vimalakīrti, who expounds the doctrine of śūnyatā to them. This culminates with the wordless teaching of silence. The sutra has been influential in East Asian Buddhism for its “brash humor” and flexibility. It has also been influential in Mahayana Buddhism for its inclusiveness and respect for non-monastic practitioners as well as stating the equal role of women in Buddhism.
Darśana (also Darśan or Darshan; Sanskrit: दर्शन) is a term meaning “auspicious sight” (in the sense of an instance of seeing or beholding and being seen or beheld at the same time; from a root dṛś “to see”), vision, apparition, or glimpse. It is most commonly used for theophany, “manifestation / visions of the divine” in Hindu worship, e.g. of a deity (especially in image form), or a very holy person or artifact. One could also “receive” darshana or a glimpse of the deity in the temple, or from a great saintly person, such as a great guru.
Nagarjuna, one of the most important Indian Buddhist philosophers, wrote in his Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way) that the wise person perceives true reality (tattva-darśana). In Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, darśana came to be an important concept. As scholar Paul Harrison has noted: “By the second century CE, then, the vision of the Buddha (buddha-darśana) and the accompanying hearing of the Dharma (dharma-śravaṇa) are represented as a transformative experience of decisive importance for practitioners, be they renunciants or householders.” The term darśana-citta (a seeing mental event) became an important term in Sanskrit Abhidharma literature. Indian Mahayana philosophers Vasubandhu and Asanga divided the Buddhist path(marga) into five paths, of which the third is the “path of seeing” (darśana-marga).
What: Ten-day Retreat on Madhyamakavatara (Entry into the Middle Way) by Acharya Chandrakirti When: 14-23 April 2015 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Ven. Geshe Dorji Damdul
Acharya Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara is a classic commentary on Arya Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika. It elucidates the true import of Arya Nagarjuna’s mangnum opus by clearly bringing out the meaning of the Ultimate Reality through an insight into Dependent Origination. Madhyamakavataraalso expands upon several points in the Sutra of the Ten Bhumis (Dashabhumika Sutra).
The path to enlightenment can be viewed in terms of the ground, path and result. The ground is the two truths of emptiness and dependent origination. The path consists of the wisdom and method, which one engages in through understanding the two truths; emptiness being the basis of the wisdom aspect and dependent origination of the method aspect. The result can be seen as two-fold as well, the realisation of wisdom gives rise to the dharmakaya and of the method aspect of the path to the rupakaya. Thus, understanding the two truths leads to the two paths, which in turn leads to the two resultant states of the dharmakaya and the rupakaya. This text covers the profound aspect of Arya Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika, whose subject matter can be understood in essence as emptiness, as well as the vast aspect related to the paths and the bhumis.
Ven. Geshe Dorji Damdul la will also bring in explanations from “‘Thorough Elucidation of the Intent: An Extensive Exposition of ‘Entering the Middle Way’”, by Lama Tsongkhapa, one of the most elaborate and precise commentaries on Acharya Chandrakirti’s text.
What: Easter Retreat, “An introductory Buddhist retreat” (View, Meditation, Action) When: 3-5 April 2015 (9am-12noon & 3-5pm) Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
An intensive study-practise retreat aimed to introduce new students to Buddhadharma and refresh “old”students!
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is a renowned Buddhist teacher, popular worldwide for her warm, clear and down-to-earth presentation of the Dharma and its application in daily life. The inspiring story of her life, including 12 years of secluded retreat in a Himalayan cave, is the subject of a well-known biography, “Cave in the Snow”. Jetsunma is the founder and abbess of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery near Tashijong, H.P (www.tenzinpalmo.com).
What: Teachings on mind training (Tib: lojong) When: 22-23 March 2014 Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is a renowned Buddhist teacher, popular worldwide for her warm, clear and down-to-earth presentation of the Dharma and its application in daily life. The inspiring story of her life, including 12 years of secluded retreat in a Himalayan cave, is the subject of a well-known biography, “Cave in the Snow”. Jetsunma is the founder and abbess of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery near Tashijong, H.P
What: Introductory seminar on the philosophy of Yogacara
When: 11-12 Nov, 2013
Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir
Who: Ven. Dhammadipa
Now 60 years old, Venerable Dhammadipa (lay name Thomas Peter Gutman) was born in Czechoslovakia in 1949. He studied Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Prague University, graduating in 1969, and then studied Russian literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received a degree in 1973.
In the late seventies Venerable began his Buddhist studies in Berlin, where he had immigrated as a refugee after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1977 he received a master’s degree in Chinese literature and philosophy at the University of Paris. In 1979, he enrolled at Nalanda University in India (where he also taught French and German) to study Sanskrit and Buddhist Philosophy. After receiving a degree at Nalanda in 1984, he returned to serve as the Associate Librarian at Berlin University.
In 1986, Venerable Dhammadipa went to Japan and studied under Zen Master Harada Serrei Roshi of the S t school (Caodong in Chinese) practice. He was given a Dharma name as Xing-Kong (meaning Nature of Emptiness).
In 1987, with the encouragement of Venerable Athurugiriye Nyanavimala Mahathera, Venerable Wijayasoma Mahathera, and Venerable Dikwelle Mahinda, he ordained as a monk in Meetirigala and was given a Dharma name as Dhammadipa (island of Buddhism or Dharma). He received the full Theravada Bhiksu ordination in Sri Lanka where he practiced meditation under the guidance of his preceptor, Venerable Nanarama Mahathera. In 1989, he received the Three Fold ordination as a Mahayana Monk in Hsi Lai Temple, Los Angeles and began Dharma teaching in US, Germany and Taiwan.
In 1996, Venerable went to Myanmar to practice meditation with the contemporary master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, and was recognized by the Sayadaw to be first of the Sayadaw’s Western disciples qualified to teach meditation. He has since been teaching Samatha (tranquil mental states) and Vipassana (direct seeing of the Dharma) meditation at monasteries and universities worldwide.
Venerable Dhammadipa speaks Czech, French, German, English, Russian, and fluent Chinese. He reads and translates Buddhist texts from Pali and Sanskrit. His translated works in French and Czeck include Treatise on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Mahayanasraddhotpada-sastra), Entry into the Bodhisattva Path (Bodhicaryavatara) and a Collection of Han-San’s Poems. His teachings in Taiwan have been compiled and printed in Chinese.
Over the years Venerable has presented dharma teachings and led meditation retreats around Europe, North America, Taiwan and mainland China, India and Southeast Asia. Personally he has a gentle and easy going manner. His teaching follows the framework of the classic Theravada Buddhist commentary The Path of Purity (Pali: Visuddhimagga): one starts with training in the precepts (virtue) which lays the foundation for training in concentration and then the development of wisdom. Venerable teaches that knowledge of the Buddhist way should be applied in practice and verified first hand through direct experience. One should make a great vow to tread the way and realize the dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings.