What: Intensive Service-Learning Workshop in the Vernacular Eco-architecture of the Himalayas Activities: Hands-on training in earthen architecture When: 15-29 October 2015 (must attend from the start) Where: Dharmalaya Institute, Bir (Ghornala) Languages: English (with Hindi translation if requested) Facilitators: Dharmalaya faculty and artisans, e.g. Mark Moore, et al.
Description: Residential service-learning programme at the Dharmalaya Institute with hands-on training in earthen building and more. Learn to build eco-friendly structures in the neo-traditional Kangra style of esteemed eco-architect Didi Contractor, while contemplating our relationship with nature and the values of sustainable and compassionate living.
After the introductions, orientation, and general overview of the programme, we will get straight to work doing various hands-on projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including work on several earthen structures that are in various stages of construction. The two main focal points during this programme will be raising the walls of a new earthen structure while doing some finishing work on another. The work will include adobe and other earthen techniques, and may also include stone, bamboo and slate, as well as mud plaster, landscape architecture, and possibly other activities. We will also have theory discussions and other presentations and explorations. If circumstances allow, we may also have a small participatory design process (depending on the needs on site at the time).
What: Vipassana Meditation Retreats When: 2 September- 23 September 2015 (2 retreats from 2-10 & 14-23) Where: Deer Park Institute, Bir Who: Ajarn Kanchana Punyesi & Ajarn Kanya Dhammapalee
Upcoming Program of Punyesi Vipassana Retreat on September 2015
Arjan Kanchana Punyesi (Yoobamrung) is a vipassana-insight meditation teacher at Punyesi Vipassana Retreat, Loei, Thailand. Arjan Kanchana was born on August 6, 1970. She is 44 years old and has experience to study Dharma with Sayadaw Pattantavirojana, NguTao U Temple in Chan State, Myanmar.
What: Volunteer service work opportunities Activities: Earthen building (primarily interior work), organic gardening, and tree planting When: 16 July – 13 October 2015 (Volunteers may arrive and depart anytime during this period, with a minimum stay of one week) Where: Dharmalaya Institute, Bir (Ghornala) Languages: English & Hindi
Description: Volunteer opportunities at the Dharmalaya Institute, open to both residential and non-residential participants (though, during the monsoon, we highly recommend staying on the Dharmalaya campus). During this period, volunteers have the opportunity to learn the arts and methods of sustainable living in the Himalayas by doing physical work related to earthen building and organic gardening.
Due to frequent rains in the monsoon period, most of the work will happen indoors. This usually includes:
Various aspects of traditional earthen building (e.g. interior mud plasters, tile work, wood/bamboo work, and fine finishing work)
Organic gardening and natural landscaping (as weather permits)
Possibly some tree planting
Dharmalaya is a beautiful place to get your hands dirty and learn about sustainable living and Himalayan culture in the process.
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: Intensive service-learning workshop Topic: Earthen building methods & techniques Where: Dharmalaya Institute in Bir, HP, India When: 22-27 June 2015 (must attend from the beginning) Language: English (with Hindi translation if needed) Facilitators: Mark Moore, Sidney Rosario, et al.
Description: Week-long, residential service-learning programme at the Dharmalaya Institute providing hands-on training in traditional, eco-friendly earthen building techniques of the Himalayas. Learn by doing, in the real-world context of helping to build a few new structures on the Dharmalaya campus. Activities will depend on the needs on site (and the weather), but are likely to include earthen renders (mud plasters), foundations and plinth, stonework, and possibly other methods and techniques of earthen building.
After introductions, orientation, and general overview of the programme, we will get straight to work doing various hands-on projects around the Dharmalaya campus, including work on several earthen structures that are in various stages of construction. The main focus during this programme will be on plastering and weatherproofing our newest buildings so they will be protected from the rains. The work might include mud plasters, foundation work, stonework, and possibly other techniques. We may do some water flow management as well, in preparation for the coming rainy season.
Workshops and groups sessions may include the following (depending on weather and the needs of the site):
Hands-on education in traditional earthen building methods of the Himalayas
Earthen renders (mud plasters)
Foundation and plinth work
Other natural building materials and methods (e.g. stone, bamboo, wood, etc.)
Natural landscaping and water management
What to expect:
Practical, hands-on training focus (no theory classes in this workshop).
Opportunities to learn traditional methods by working alongside village artisans.
You will be working with your hands and body for approximately six hours per day on most days of the programme, so it is recommended to be in reasonably good physical fitness when you arrive, and to bring work clothes.
Beautiful, rustic, village setting with a simple lifestyle.
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: Informal, minimally-structured volunteer opportunities Activities: Earthen building, organic gardening, and natural landscaping When: 10-30 May 2015 (Volunteers may arrive and depart anytime during this period, with a minimum stay of one week) Where: Dharmalaya Institute, Bir (Ghornala) Languages: English & Hindi Who: No formal facilitation, but as-needed guidance from Dharmalaya staff and artisans, e.g. Sidney Rosario, Raj Kumar (‘Raju’), et al.
Description: Informal volunteer opportunities at the Dharmalaya Institute open to both residential and non-residential participants. During this period, there is no structured educational or training programme as such, but there is plenty of physical work to do — including earthen building (adobe, bamboo, etc.), organic gardening, natural landscaping and possibly some tree planting — and Dharmalaya is a beautiful place to get your hands dirty and learn about green living and Himalayan culture in the process.
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.