IMI Monks and Nuns

Australia  58
Austria  2
Brazil  1
Canada  8
Columbia  1
Denmark  1
France 16
Germany    8
India    2
Indonesia  1
Ireland  2
Israel  3
Italy  26
Malaysia 6
Mexico 4
Nepal  2
Netherlands  9
New Zealand  6
Norway  1
Poland  2
Russia  3
Singapore  7
South Africa  1
Spain  17
Sweden  1
Switzerland  8
Taiwan  8
United Kingdom  19
United States  59
Uruguay  1
Venezuela  1   

Total      284

The IMI community is deeply grateful for your support!

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March 2008

In this Issue

Wisdom From Our Teachers

Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggests this be made a part of the daily practice of monks and nuns. These are the ten innermost jewels of the Kadampas. By merely keeping them in the heart, the fortress of delusion collapses, the ship of evil negative karma disintegrates and one will reach the very blissful ground of remedy. read more

Announcements

Bodhicitta Retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche; Position Available - IMI Education Director; IMI Lunch at HHDL Teachings; Forward Looking - Old Age, Sickness and Death; IMI Referendum on the Shugden Practice; Sanghata Sutra Recitation; New Abbott at Nalanda; Remembering the Tibetans  read more

IMI Moments in Time

1974A group of ten western students take ordination in Bodhgaya, India, in January. read more

IMI Organizational Planning Retreat

During the meeting, Ven. Monlam introduced the establishment of IMI Inc. as a legal entity envisioned to serve the the IMI community. read more

Financial Statements - Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund

Overall the Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund grew this last year (about 8%).  Direct Monastic Support was $17,100 last year; this year to date IMI has awarded 2008 grants of almost $40,000. read more

Pre-Ordination Training Course at Tushita

Slowly, through hands on experience, we began to understand what it means to be a monastic in this day and age. read more

The Growth of a Community

In accordance with the wishes of Venerable Geshe Jampa Gyatso a few IMI monks and nuns have recently established the Associazione Sangha Onlus (NGO). The purpose of the Associazione Sangha Onlus is to bring to life the building of a monastery read more


Wisdom From Our Teachers

Ten Innermost Jewels of Kadampa Geshes

This text was written by the highly attained lama, Tsokdrug Rangdrol. It was translated by Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche on the 23rd day of the first month of the year of the Earth Rabbit, March 10, 1999, at Kacho Dechen Ling, Aptos, CA, USA; dictated to Ven. Lhundup Ningje. May all beings benefit .  Reprinted with permission from Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. For further information, please visit www.lamayeshe.com

Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggests this be made a part of the daily practice of monks and nuns.

These are the ten innermost jewels of the Kadampas. By merely keeping them in the heart, the fortress of delusion collapses, the ship of evil negative karma disintegrates and one will reach the very blissful ground of remedy. Therefore, if one has these ten innermost jewels, one will achieve liberation and enlightenment quickly and without hardships; and, by the way, one will attain the happiness of this life and the happiness of all future lives.

I request the possessor of the mighty one, the kind Gurus, the direct and indirect Gurus, please bless me to give up this life, as in the holy biographies of the previous holy beings.

By seeing sickness, old age and death, the unequaled son of Tsetsang (Prince Siddhartha) felt great sadness and then abandoned his reign of the kingdom. At the end of six years, having lived the austere life of an ascetic, on the banks of the great river Naranza, he became fully Enlightened. Like that, as in the life stories of the previous holy beings who reflected on impermanence and death, felt great sorrow, gave up this life, practiced in solitary places and achieved Enlightenment in one life; in this way, reflect on the nature of the uncertainty of death: Why shouldn't I give up the activities of this life—home, field, house, relatives, food, wealth—all of which do not allow pure Dharma practice to arise?  Read the complete article.

Announcements

Bodhicitta Retreat with Lama Zopa Retreat

June 17-June 22

Blackheath NSW Australia

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has kindly agreed to give teachings on Bodhicitta at an upcoming retreat in Australia in June 2008, following the teachings with HH Dalai Lama in Sydney.  The retreat will begin on the afternoon of June 17 and is being organized by Kunsang Yeshe Center.  Rinpoche will begin teaching on Sakadawa, June 18.  Ven. Dondrub will lead the retreat.

It is anticipated that the retreat will fill up quickly so please register in advance.  IMI is working with the organizers and has offered sponsorship for food and accommodation for IMI Sangha during the retreat.  For further details and to register, please visit www.kunsangyeshe.com.

Position Available—IMI Education Director

IMI is hiring an Education Director to serve its community in developing a monastic education program and developing monastic education resources.

IMI will introduce a structured program of training for all candidates taking ordination at FPMT Centers around the world.   The Education Director would be responsible for the development and coordination of the monastic education program.  They would be in communication with Senior Sangha relating to existing programs and materials.  In addition, they would be responsible to research and review educational materials related to Sangha. 

Candidates should be well organized, have good communication skills and enthusiasm for serving the monastic community.  A background in education coordination and program development is preferred. The job can be done remotely by someone with good internet connectivity or by someone willing to relocate to San Francisco, California.  The position requires a commitment of 25 hours per week.  Compensation will be provided based on experience and local cost of living.

For further information, or to apply, please email office.  Applications are due April 30, 2008.

IMI Lunch at HH Dalai Lama Teachings

Sydney, Australia—June 2008

IMI is organizing a lunch for its members at the upcoming teachings with HH Dalai Lama in Sydney, Australia in June 11-15, 2008.   As a Sangha community spread out around the world, the opportunity to come together is rare for many of us.  Not only do we have the opportunity to take in these wonderful teachings but we also have can come together as a community.

Details for the lunch will follow.

For those who may be concerned at the expense of offering lunch for the IMI Sangha during the teachings, please note that these are organized at a minimal expense with sponsorship sought (and offered).  If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to request.

Forward Looking—Old Age, Sickness and Death

In addition to being noted as the sufferings, which first inspired Lord Buddha to leave his princely state for a life as a renunciate, these same issues also concern us as a monastic community.  IMI is working with a Gerontology Specialist (who has offered her services) to develop a program of information and services that can help our community as we move towards our elder years.  A questionnaire is currently being developed to provide information about services that may be available as well as to profile the needs of the community.  Initially the questionnaire will be developed for the IMI American Sangha community.  We invite you to  respond so that IMI can better serve you.

Referendum on the Dholgyal (Shugden) Practice

During the recent teachings in Drepung by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness mentioned the issue of Shugden a number of times, and this time there was much more concern around the issue.

His Holiness has asked for a referendum regarding 2 questions. IMI is requesting its member monks and nuns to participate in this referendum. We want to make this referendum a message of support for His Holiness Dalai Lama.  The results will be tabulated and a summary prepared for His Holiness Dalai Lama.

By now you would have received an email inviting you to participate in the referendum.  If you have not received the email invitation, please contact us at office. We ask that you respond to the referendum no later than March 31, 2008.

For further information regarding the practice, please visit www.dalailama.com or www.fpmt.org.

Sanghata Sutra Recitation

International Sangha Day - August 5, 2008

IMI is requesting is members to offer their support for International Sangha Day, this year celebrated on August 5 (Wheel Turning Day).  This is the time when we can share the experience monastic life has given us with other Buddhist practitioners.  It is also a day that we can offer our practice for the benefit of others.
This year, IMI would like to request its member to participate in the recitation of the Sanghata Sutra on Wheel Turning Day.   An invitation seeking your participation will be sent out in the coming weeks.  We ask you to join your community in this global activity.

The Sanghata Sutra records a discourse given by Buddha Shakyamuni on Vulture's Peak in Rajagriha. This discourse, like all Mahāyāna sutras, was memorized by his disciples and later written down in Sanskrit. However, the Sanghāta Sūtra is unique in that it is a teaching that the Buddha himself had heard from a previous Buddha, and it is also unique in the scope of the effects it has on those who recite it.

New Abbot at Nalanda Monastery

Geshe Jamphel, Abbot

Ven. Geshe Jamphel was recently installed as Abbott of Nalanda Monastery in France.  Ven. Tendar, Director of Nalanda writes 'Yesterday morning we had the enthronement of our new abbot; the monks who had been to India during the past months got the practice, Tharchin has translated it, and they had a talk with one Rinpoche who gave all the necessary instructions for our specific situation. Once Geshe-la accepted also to do this official ritual, he added some instructions. It was very nice.

Remember in Your Prayers

As each and everyday passes Tibet is in the news as the Tibetan people struggle to ensure the survival of the culture.  HH Dalai Lama has said 'Violence is against human nature.  We must not develop anti-Chinese feelings. Whether we like it or not we have to live side-by-side”  He continued by saying that even if "1,000 Tibetans sacrificed their life", this would be "not much help".

It is a time of sadness and suffering.  Please remember the Tibetan (and Chinese) people in your prayers. 

IMI Moments In Time

1974 A group of ten western students take ordination in Bodhgaya, India, in January. These new monastics join the five previously ordained western monks and nuns at Kopan monastery forming the first western community. A program of study and meditation is offered. Lama Yeshe names the community International Mahayana Institute.

IMI Organizational Planning Retreat

February 8-12, 2008

Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok, resident teacher at Land of Medicine Buddha met with the delegates to offer some advice, 'You have all some experience, there are a lot of elders here.  You know what is necessary. I am happy to see many elders. You are the ones we gave the transmission after we have arrived from Tibet. We need to see the benefit of having communities, established sangha. You see the value of that.'

IMI monks and nuns representing the monastic communities and regions of the world were invited to participate in a four-day conference organized by Ven. Losang Monlam, director of IMI.  The planning retreat was hosted at Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel, California and facilitated by Karuna Cayton.

The conference drew on the experience and skills of the delegates to creatively assess and strategize on how IMI could serve its community of monks and nuns.   In addition to reviewing the development of the IMI community from its early beginnings in the 70's, delegates also focused on the various aspects within their own life as monastics that have been beneficial.

As part of the process, a vision statement for IMI was developed along with the mission for the organization.  During the course of the retreat, the question of who is the community we call IMI, and what is the organization that represents that community, surfaced repeatedly.

Clarity and consensus came within the group as we identified the IMI community as representing the monastic communities around the world as well as individual member monks and nuns.  IMI Inc. represents the voice of the community and acts as the organization providing services to its members.  During the meeting, Ven. Monlam introduced the establishment of IMI Inc. as a legal entity envisioned to serve the the IMI community.  A working group was formed to helped formulate the groundwork for representational governance within the IMI community.

Within the work of the planning retreat, several areas were identified, where IMI could focus in its development as a community.  These include Family, Finances, Teacher/Guru/Lineage, Administration, Education, Community, Personal Sangha Qualities and Service.  Priorities were established by consensus within the group.  Within these areas, working groups were established which will follow-up with input into a comprehensive plan for IMI's development within the short and longer term.

The major work groups formed include:

  • Promoting IMI as Family

  • Securing Finance Stability

  • Preserving the Lineage—Our Teachers

  • Human Resources

  • Education

  • Communications

  • Integrating Technology, and

  • IMI Community Governance/Relationship on a Global Scale.  

Preliminary work includes program development within each of these areas.  If you have any expertise to offer in any of these areas or are interested in the identification and development of design steps within these areas, please contact us at office.

On the basis of this work, a report presenting the collective work of the group will be prepared and will be shared with the larger IMI and FPMT community in the coming weeks.

IMI would also like to thank Tse Chen Ling Center, Liberation Prison Project, Land of Medicine Buddha, Vajrapani Institute  and Lama Zopa Rinpoche for the beautiful job done in hosting and caring for the delegates.  

2007 Financial Statements - Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund

The  financial statements for the Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund are available online for informational purposes.  Overall the Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund grew this last year (about 8%).  Direct Monastic Support was $17,100 last year; to date IMI has awarded 2008 grants of almost $40,000. The IMI planning conference total cost (2007 and 2008) was $25,500 with approximately $8,600 direct sponsorship for a net expense of $16,900.  As overall activity within the IMI community increases, expenses and income are expected to rise from historical levels.  The 2008 budget has been submitted to the IMI Board of Directors for review and approval.  For any questions regarding the financial statements, please contact the Finance Director, Ven. Char Fanning.

To review the financial statements, please click here. 

Pre-Ordination Training Course at Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala

Ven. Tenzin Namsel 

The Tibetan New Year (Losar) is always a special time in McLeod Gang with the the traditional Losar teachings with HH Dalai Lama.  It is also the time when  HH Dalai Lama confers monastic ordination for those candidates who have requested and been accepted.  One of the requirements for nonTibetan candidates is to undertake Pre-Ordination Training, which is led by Sister Jotika and hosted by Tushita Meditation Centre.  This year marked the first year that IMI offered sponsorship for the 22 candidates attending the course.  One of the candidates, Ven. Tenzin Namsel (Scott Tusa) talks about his experience in undergoing monastic training.

Twenty-two potential monastic's convened at Tushita Meditation Centre on a chilly January day in McLeod Ganj for the Pre-Ordination Training Course for 2008.  Uncertain of what was to come, we arrived excited, yet apprehensive. The course leader, Sister Jotika ,swiftly got us into the spirit of the coming days by holding an introductory meeting where the rules for the course were given.

This initial meeting ended up being a great teaching on monastic community and how the rules of a monastic community are guided by a well trained abbot, and decided by the community on consensus. As the days continued, we discussed important topics that face western monastic's today; Sister Jotika would give daily teachings on monastic vows. Sister Jotika also led us in daily meditations geared towards learning more about our inner emotional world, and how to deal with it in a very compassionate and immediate way. 

Slowly, through hands on experience, we began to understand what it means to be a monastic in this day and age. Many sessions were spent discussing Shakyamuni Buddha's intent in creating the vows, and the specific circumstances within which they were created. We discussed different traditions and how they approach the vows and leading a life as a monastic.

Our group also had a chance to have private audiences with Denma Locho Rinpoche, Jetsun Kalka Dhampa Rinpoche, and His Holiness Karmapa. It was a really wonderful experience go have advice from these great Lamas, and to hear common themes throughout.  

The Course ended with a wonderful Ordination with His Holiness Dalai Lama. I was amazed to see the joy and care His Holiness put into the ordination ceremony. Within a group of 100 Tibetans, and a handful of westerners, His Holiness focused on each and every one as they took the Getsul and Getsulma vows.  He would beam a huge smile every time someone received the vows. Geshe Dorje Damdul, and Namgyal Monastery also spent countless hours kindly preparing for our ordination.

I gained a lot from the Pre-Ordination Training Course. Through the discussions and lectures I came away with a feeling of the challenges that face me as a western monastic. I also gained an increased understanding of the importance of a proper monastic environment, the importance of senior sangha guiding the younger members of the sangha, and the importance of setting up more monasteries for western monastics. 

More importantly, I began to comprehend the spirit of what Lord Buddha intended. Keeping vows and living as a monastic is the framework to achieving liberation, and is the best basis for receiving and keeping higher vows. Buddha, through his infinite compassion showed us this precious way to spend our human lives.

I would highly recommend anyone who is seriously contemplating ordination to attend the Pre-Ordination Training Course.  Very few of us will have a chance to live amongst Tibetans in a large Tibetan Monastery where we can have access to good examples of other monastics. In my view, it is extremely important that we develop training for western monastics. I sincerely hope this can happen for the future generation of monks and nuns.

The Growth of a Monastic Community

Pomaia, Italia

In accordance with the wishes of Venerable Geshe Jampa Gyatso to ensure that the many aspects of the Buddhist path are preserved and flourish, a few IMI monks and nuns have recently established the Associazione Sangha Onlus (NGO). The purpose of the Associazione Sangha Onlus is to bring to life the building of a monastery, which will be open to ordained Sangha, (monks and nuns living in separate structures). The idea is to create an ideal environment conducive to study and meditation based on the monastic code of conduct, the Vinaya. The monastic community will enable the monks and nuns to embody the ethical, doctrinal and spiritual values of the teachings of the Buddha and to serve the larger dharma communities.

The first steps to establish a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Italy is now taking place.  This was the dream of Lama Yeshe and of Venerable Geshe Jampa Gyatso, originating in Kopan, Nepal, in 1980 when they envisioned the construction of a monastery in the West for both monks and nuns. The project has located an an ideal site to build the monastery, a disused quarry only 2 kilometers from Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa.

The future monastery will be built at this site on the bare rock, similar to many monasteries in Tibet. Rebuilding here, provides an opportunity to participate in the regeneration of an area dominated by rolling Tuscan hills and a view which extends to the horizon of the sea.

The planned monastery's architectural aspect will be similar to the Tibetan style with environmental sustainability planning, choosing materials and installation methods that have the lowest impact on the environment, and which maximize efficiency in energy and the use of resources. Current plans include initial housing for about 50 monks and nuns (total).

In January 2007 at Sera, South India, Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggested building the new monastery in the Tibetan style. He also added "It will be the first monastery of the Tibetan tradition in Italy and it is important to do it in the best way."  Also in July 2007, there was also the opportunity to inform His Holiness Dalai Lama and he was pleased to know of the project.

For further information, please visit www.sangha.it.

IMI eNews is published periodically to communicate with the IMI monastic community. If you would like to submit announcements or write an article for the IMI eNews, please email office@imisangha.org

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