IMI Monks and Nuns

Community

Chenrezig Nuns Community, Australia (26)

Khachoe Ghakyil Nunnery, Nepal (1)

Kopan Monastery, Nepal (9)

Nalanda Monastery (24)

Shedrup Zung Drel Ling, India (7)

Shenpen Samten Ling Nunnery, Italy (28)

Takden Shedrup Targye Ling Monastery, Italy (13)

Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery, Australia (5)

Outside of Monastic Communities (179)

Total 291

Please visit our website to learn more about the activities of the IMI Community.

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The IMI community is deeply grateful for your support!

November 2008

In this Issue

Wisdom From Our Teachers

In 1994, Ven. Pende Hawter met with Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche to ask advice about keeping one’s ordination strong in the West, which still has relevance many years later...read more

Announcements

Lama Zopa to lead 100 Million Mani Retreat; Monastic Training 2009; International Mahayana Institute Development Plan; Pre Ordination Training Dates Changed; Your IMI Profile; Summer Sangha at Vajrapani Institute; Free email for IMI members. read more

IMI Moments in Time

2004 - Discussion at Mahamudra Retreat led by Lama Zopa Rinpoche focuses on needs of aging sangha community...read more

2009 Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund Grants

Deadline of December 1, 2008 for Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund Grants beginning January 1, 2009...read more

Hayagriva Retreat at Sera Je Monastery

Last year I was fortunate to be amongst a group of monks and nuns who were permitted to join the annual Hayagriva retreat at Sera Je Monastery, along with all the lamas, geshes and monks...read more

Compassion Buddha Retreat House

Compassion Buddha Retreat House is offered as a place of rest and retreat for IMI Sangha...read more

Prayers for Quick Return of Geshe Jampa Gyatso

The 27th of November 2008 will be the first anniversary of our beloved teacher and abbot Geshe Jampa Gyatso’s passing away. The Associazione Sangha Onlus is organizing an offering of prayers and pujas...read more

News from Our Communities

Sanghata Sutra Marathon at Nalanda Monastery, Ven. Adrian returns to Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery, and Viritual IMI at Sera Je...read more

Learning and Sharing

In September, Ven. Monlam, was a guest of Abhayagiri Monastery in California, a monastery in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah...read more

Wisdom from Our Teachers

Advice for Keeping our Vows Purely in the West

Ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche

In 1994, Ven. Pende Hawter met with Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche to ask his advice about keeping one’s ordination strong in the West.  At the time, Lama Zopa Rinpoche suggested it would be good to share this information. For your benefit we reproduce this advice, which still has relevance many years later. 

Avoid situation that might endanger the vows, such as walking alone at night with a person of the opposite sex.

Make the determination to keep the vows strongly. Especially when in difficult situations, think of the benefits of ordination.  

Remember the three doors of keeping and degenerating vows – body, speech and mind. The most important of these is the mind, one’s thought.

When with others, avoiding talking of things that are not conducive to keeping the vows.  

And guard the actions of your body.

Be mindful of the are four doors of transgressions of the vows:

  • not knowing the vows,
  • lack of respect for Buddha and for those who have ordained us; also thinking that the Buddhas are not aware of our actions,
  • nonconscientiousness and carelessness,
  • having many afflictions and delusions

These are like the four thieves we have to stop from getting in. Think of your minds as the guardian at the door of the celestial mansion in the mandala. The guardians are memory, alertness, also faith and conscientiousness, who stop the thieves of the mind from stealing our vows and ordination. 

When we are in danger of transgressing our vows we should pray to our meditational deity and our gurus to help us.

Announcements

Mani Retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche

May 5-June 6, 2009

Institut Vajra Yogini, France

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, will guide a "Mani retreat" (recitation of 100 million mantras of the Buddha of Compassion, 1000 arm Chenrezig), from May 5 to June 6 2009 at Institut Vajra Yogini in southern France. The heart of the retreat will be held in a large tent on the grassed area opposite the Kadampa stupa on the grounds of the center. 

Institut Vajra Yogini and IMI have teamed up to sponsor retreat fees, food and accommodation to all Sangha attending the retreat.  Accommodation is in dormitory or camping only; some double and triple rooms may be reserved on a space available basis. Please note we will be unable to sponsor travel costs.  When you register, please note that you are a Sangha member.

For further information on the retreat, please visit IVY Lama Zopa Mani Retreat.  If you have any questions or need further details, please email Instit Vajra Yogini. 

For those who wish to help sponsor the monks and nuns attending the retreat, please donate here.

Monastic Training 2009

Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy (July 13-26, 2009)

Compassion Buddha Retreat House, Crestone, Colorado, U.S. (TBA)

Monastic training has been identified as one of the key success factors for the future of our community.  IMI has been working behind the scenes with several of our Senior Sangha to develop training programs for new monks and nuns on a regional basis.  We are pleased to announce two training programs being scheduled in 2009.  Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa has kindly agreed to host a monastic training program from July 13-26, led by Sister Jotika. A second program is currently being scheduled for Crestone, Colorado in the U.S. with Ven. Thubten Saldon leading the one month course. Future training programs are being discussed for Asia and Australia regions.

As indicated in the recently issued Guidelines for Ordination at an FPMT Center, monastic training is important to help the student make the transition to monastic life.  These programs will be geared to monks and nuns within the first few years of ordination.  Costs for the course including food and accommodation will be sponsored by IMI. 

Further details will be available in the coming months.  

International Mahayana Institute Development Plan

A Vision for the Future

When I stepped in as Director of IMI, I felt I needed a clear vision on what the community hoped to achieve.  This document is a narrative of that vision and it is my intention to guide that vision into reality—Ven. Losang Monlam

The International Mahayana Development Plan is now available for download here.  This document represents the work of the delegates who attended the IMI Planning Retreat held at Land of Medicine Buddha in February 2008.  Ven. Monlam, director of IMI, requested the delegates to come together to help design the future development of the IMI community.  

The document represents blueprint for IMI as it helps set the direction, priorities and design of the areas, which are critical for the success of our community.  Due to the interdependent nature of a dynamic community, the document is considered a work-in-progress .  If you have any questions or comments about the development plan, please do not hesitate to contact office.

Change of Dates for Pre-Ordination Training

February 23 to March 21, 2009

Just a reminder the dates for ordination with His Holiness Dalai Lama has been changed and now the Pre-Ordincation Training will be from February 23, 2009 to March 21, 2009.

To review the guidelines, please refer to July, 2008 IMI eNews available here.

The Application for Students Requesting Ordination with HH Dalai Lama is available as a resource document here.  

Please remember your application is due no later than November 30, 2008.

Your IMI Profile

You may not appreciate the reminders; you may even ignore them.  Yet it is important for IMI to know the community it serves.  As many of our members age, IMI is looking for ways in which we can provide care in return for the years of service and practice offered within the community. Sometimes we are requested to verify the ordination of our members for teaching events and when visiting other Centers throughout the FPMT mandala.  We hope we have accurate information so we rely on you to check and update accordingly.  Your participation does not require much of your time and is deeply appreciated.

Summer Sangha at Vajrapani Institute!

Get Involved in Making the Dharma Teachings of Past Lineage Masters Available

This Summer 2009 Vajrapani Institute is offering a work-study program specially tailored for sangha members.

Vajrapani Institute is the holder of an incomparable wealth of precious dharma teachings from incredible masters: HH Zong Rinpoche; Lati Rinpoche; Lama Yeshe; Lama Zopa Rinpoche; HH Tri Rinpoche; Geshe Sopa to name a few. Thanks to a generous donation, we have now digitized these teachings in order to preserve them. We are looking for help in prioritizing and organizing these teachings with a view to make selected ones available to the public. The project involves listening and extracting succinct sections on key themes. Skills required are basic computer literacy; basic editing skills would be a plus although not mandatory. 

Vajrapani Institute offers room/board in exchange for 25 hours of work/week. Duties include the Audio project as well as  daily protector pujas. We would also support candidates to do personal retreat for one week in a private cabin. We have 2 or 3 positions open. Time commitment is 2 months: July and August.

Accommodation: Comfortable camping accommodation - each sangha will be housed in generous-sized tents (large enough for bed; altar; meditation cushion). Vajrapani Institute is a rustic environment with outhouses and outdoor showers; it is suitable for people who are relatively fit and adaptable. Food: Delicious vegetarian meals. We are not able to cater to special dietary requests.

For more information, please contact Fabienne.

Free email Accounts

monasticname@imisangha.org

Members of IMI are welcome to their own personal email account at no charge.  IMI is able and willing to offer POP and IMAP (or webmail) accounts to it's members.  The internet, although not to be relied upon exclusively, is a great tool with which we can communicate around the world.

To request an email account, please send us contact information for you (or another IMI member) and we will set up the account and contact you.  All addresses will be name@imisangha.org.

IMI Moments In Time

 2004 During the Mahamudra retreat led by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Adelaide, South Australia, the IMI monks and nuns gather at a special meeting requested by Rinpoche.  Discussions take place on the care of our sangha and the needs of an aging sangha community. With many monks and nuns offering service throughout the world, a well developed plan with funding is needed.

2009 Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund Grants

Deadline of December 1 for Awards beginning January 1, 2009

The Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund was established to provide support for the community of monks and nuns of IMI. Since it began the fund has offered assistance enabling monks and nuns with limited means to engage in study and retreat. In 2009 IMI is offering members of its community up to US$300 per month towards the cost of providing the four requisites (lodging, food, medicine, clothing).

The offering is to encourage and support those monastics in study, in retreat, and in service.

2009 Grant Guidelines and Applications Available

We welcome you to participate. The Lama Yeshe Sangha Fund Grant Guidelines for 2009 are now available in English, Espanol, Francaise, and Italiano languages.  Applications must be received by December 1, 2008 for awards beginning January 1, 2009.

Compassion Buddha Retreat House

Available to IMI Monks and Nuns beginning in 2009.

Compassion Buddha Retreat House is offered as a place of rest and retreat for spiritual practitioners who wish to take a break from their normal life circumstances and live in surroundings conducive both to rest and practice.

IMI is pleased to announce the availability of a rest and retreat house for the monks and nuns of IMI. The retreat house is located in Crestone, Colorado (USA), a town of about 100 people.  Crestone is set in an area highly conducive to spiritual practice and has become home to many traditions; Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave teachings here in June, 2008.  The retreat house is located at the edge of town with unobstructed views of the mountains, a private garden yard in a quiet, peaceful setting, yet within a few blocks of the grocery store.

Sangha are expected to be self care; guests will provide their own food, transportation and housekeeping.  Monks and nuns may apply for stays of one week up to one month; stays beyond that can be requested. The house is offered to Sangha for stays up to one month on a donation basis; a deposit is required to cover the cost of utilities.  Sponsorship is available to members of IMI for stays longer than one month.

For further information on staying at the house, contact compassionbuddharetreat.

To learn more about Crestone, Colorado and its unique spiritual heritage, please visit Crestone, CO.

Ven. Kim, a member of IMI has stayed there and can be contacted at Ven. Kim and 509-322-1661 to discuss.

Prayers for the Quick Return of Geshe Jampa Gyatso

Where there is an end, there is a beginning.

The 27th of November 2008 will be the first anniversary of our beloved teacher Geshe Jampa Gyatso’s passing. Associazione Sangha Onlus is sponsoring the offering of prayers and pujas to take place on this day at Sera Monastery in India, as well as in Pomaia, Italy. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has suggested the recitation of the Names of Manjushri, the mantra of Buddha Shakyamuni, the mantra of Lama Tzong Khapa, and the name mantra of Lama Tzong Khapa. The practice will conclude with the Prayer of Quick Return that was composed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. 

The cost of the ceremonies at Sera Monastery is estimated to be around 10,000 euros. Associazione Sangha Onlus has will dedicate the offerings on the occasion of Lama Tzong Khapa Day to this initiative. The raising of funds will begin on November 1st and end on December 21st, the actual day celebrating the life of Lama Tzong Khapa. Because of the auspiciousness of this day, we invite all disciples and students to join us in generously contributing to this most worthy endeavor.  Excess donations will go to a fund in the name of Geshe Jampa Gyatso for celebrating pujas and other activities dedicated to Geshe-la’s next rebirth.

While all prayers on the 27th of November will be dedicated for the quick return of Geshe-la, on the 21st of December in Pomaia, sangha will dedicate prayers according to your wishes. Please send dedications by email to info@sangha.it

DETAILS FOR BANK TRANSFER:
Risparmio di Volterra – IBAN IT 94 L 06370 70970 000010002367
Associazione Sangha Onlus – specify ‘donation for pujas, Geshe Jampa Gyatso’

POST OFFICE TRANSFER:
Account no. 81230138 – Associazione Sangha Onlus
56040, Pomaia (Pisa) – specify ‘donation for pujas, Geshe Jampa Gyatso’

News from Our Communities

Sanghata Sutra Marathon, Nalanda Monastery 2008

For ten days the monks of Nalanda recited 24 hours a day, non-stop, the Sanghata Sutra. It was a wonderful and harmonious event which left a big impression on the community. One monk recited for an hour, and then just as the hour was up, another monk would arrive and take over. The whole marathon was broadcast live via web-cam on Nalanda's website, you can still watch some of the recorded footage on the website today.

It was a busy time, as just after the marathon there was an exam on Shantideva's Guide to a Bodhisattvas Way of Life as part of Nalanda's Basic Program. Still, the monks showed great enthusiasm to get up in the middle of the night and recite the words spoken by the Buddha. One of the monks, Losang Tsultrim, said "It was like diving into the dharma. For the 10 days that we recited, even when we weren't reading, it was still over us somehow. It was like we were marinated in the sutra." We were also joined by visiting elder monk Steve Carlier who kindly participated with the reading.

Many lay people joined the recitation with the monks, not just at the monastery, but also in their own homes. People had the chance to leave a short message about their experiences of reading and listening on the website. One person wrote saying “My three children and I are copying this sutra as we hear it every night” another wrote saying “we’ve been playing this at the relics exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina which people are really appreciating...”

In all we recited 156 complete readings of the sutra, and on the last day we all got together to dedicate the merit to the happiness and full enlightenment of all sentient beings. We would like to thank everyone who offered any support in whatever way or made prayers with us. Also, Nalanda Monastery will offer as a result of the recitations about 5000 Euros to Tsetang Khamtsen in Sera Monastery, India. —Ven. Jinpa

Ven. Adrian Returns to Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery, Australia

Ven. Gyatso (Adrian Feldmann) has recently returned to Thubten Shedrup Ling from his three-year retreat. It is so good to have him back. Ven. Gyatso is keen to stay here as much as possible. Between teaching commitments; help establish the community as well as play a vital role in the future building program, he will be busy.  Ven Tony is now at Nalanda Monastery to participate in the study program and will return sometime next year.

Geshe Konchok Tsering (resident teacher of Atisha Centre) is preparing for his annual trip to India where he will visit Sera Je Monastery and then see his family in Arunachal Pradesh. All in all, quite a lot of coming and going. Maybe we should employ a full-time travel agent.

The teaching program for Atisha Centre will be relatively quiet over the Christmas/New Year period. The monks at TSL continue their practice with pujas, leading meditations, visiting prisons, and maintenance/renovation at the monastery.

Viritual IMI, Sera Je Monastery, South India

Virtual IMI is now at home at Sera Je Monastery in South India.  Combining his duties as attendant for Ven. Geshe Ngawang Dakpa with those related to IMI, Ven. Monlam has to ensure that IMI is mobile.  Now at Sera Je for a three month visit, the IMI office is now directed from Kewtsang Labrang where he is staying.

Early on, considering the nature of our community being spread out across the globe, it was really key to work in a virtual environment.  This ensured that not the Director but other members of the community could participate in the communications and even administration of this worldwide community.

Learning and Sharing

A Visit to Abayaghiri Monastery

In September of this year, Ven. Losang Monlam, director of IMI was a guest of Abhayagiri Monastery, located in Redwood Valley, California.  This is a monastery in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah.  Ajahn Ammaro had invited Ven. Monlam to visit the monastery to get a first hand experience of a successful Buddhis monastic community in California.  Established over 13 years ago, Abhayagiri is home to about 15 western monks.

During his visit, Ven. Monlam participated in the morning and evening meditation and chanting sessions as well as the ceremony around the midday meal, with the monks in procession complete with begging bowls.  “This was my first experience around the tradition of the begging bowl and it was both a fascinating and deeply moving experience.  Fascinating from the point of view of compartmentalizing the varieties of food within a bowl; obviously mixing the chocolate cake with the thai curry and the fruit salad was not something I had much experience in.”

“I was deeply moved by the integration of the lay and monastic communities into the daily life of the monastery. While certainly we also have a mutually dependent relationship in our tradition, the very experience of living with such an emphasis on the monastic discipline makes that integration so much more real; and perhaps valued on both sides.”

As the community does not handle money (nor do the monks drive), Abhayagiri relies on a stewardship role for the lay community.  This is evident in the legal structure they have established to ensure the stability of the monastic community; the experience of which they were happy to share with IMI. 

Ajahn Amaro and Ajahn Passano serve as coabbotts of Abhayagiri, and when they are in residence sit for an informal tea discussion period every evening.  It was an opportunity for Ven. Monlam to learn more of their tradition and even the more mundane aspects of conducting community life.  They have a formalized program for those interested in monastic life where someone can first get a taste and then move progressively through the levels of ordination.

In addition to meditation and chanting sessions, there are morning work periods (afternoon in winter) in which Ven. Monlam participated. “Not having a set of work robes and given the work of painting the new retreat hut, I donned the robes of the Thai tradition over my Tibetan robes.”

During the rains residence, the community also spends evening sessions reviewing the Vinaya (code of monastic discipline). “This 2500 year old discipline established by Shakyamuni Buddha was certainly brought into the present day with many examples on how one might apply the intent to everyday situations” Ven. Monlam said. “The awareness of the vows is extremely important; this is the basis of then understanding the intent on how one can apply to individual situations.”.  

Ven. Monlam was encouraged by the engaging experience and was ensured he was welcome to return again to share even more in the monastic community of Abhayagiri.


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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