Friday, June 29, 2007

Translations and Red Beans

I have been busy lately with an ongoing translation project from the Tibetan (an explanation of the four main festivals of the Buddhist calendar that are associated with the Buddha's life), assisting six students from North America as a co-coordinator for the Passage Project , and some personal study, contemplation and meditation.

Last night the students and some other friends came over to my apartment for dinner, I cooked red beans (with some black beans and blackeyed peas) with okra and rice for them, a spicy taste of southern Louisiana in Kathmandu. More people ended up eating than I expected, I think 16 people enjoyed rice with us together. A big family!

Thanks to the Passage Blog for this photo!

Last weekend we organized a two day meditation course for our Passage students at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Boudhanath. Khenpo Sherab Dorje was kind enough to teach Shamatha (cultivating concentration calmly) in the mornings, and I sat next to him as the translator. It was my first experience translating from Tibetan in a formal teaching. I felt like I did an OK job, not so many glaring errors and it seemed quite natural and comfortable. Besides being a great learning experience, my drive to study Tibetan has increased.

For the sake of all beings!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Summer Tibetan Passage Program

So our six summer Tibetan Passage Program students have arrived in Kathmandu, and I've been busy helping them with an orientation program in the town of Bhaktapur and moving them into their homestay families today in Boudha. They are enthusaistic and open; I think the six weeks we will be together will be a fun learning experience for them, as well as myself. Although my job title is coordinator, I honestly consider myself a student on the program as well.

In a month I will have the distinct pleasure of escorting the group on a two week trip through central Tibet (U Tsang).

In the meantime I am busy living in Boudha, working for the program as a co-coordinator and assistant Tibetan teacher. I am also deep into another side project, translating a short text about the four main ritual festivals in the Tibetan calendar year. I hope to have it finished before we leave for Lhasa Tibet on July 13. A group of Nepali (Newar Buddhists) have requested me to translate it from the Tibetan for them so that they can translate it into Nepali to make a book for general distribution this summer.

I'm also still working on improving the education at our monastery in Chapagaon. I've been charged with introducing basic instruction in international languages to select groups of monks. We are looking desperately for teachers and volunteers in Nepal for English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese languages. We also need a variety of language study materials like easy to read books, magazines, comic books, CD's, DVD's, kids books, etc. New or Used is fine. Actually, if you have any of this kind of old lanugage study stuff lying around or want to help out and purchase something, you can send it to the following adress, and we would all be extremely grateful:

VajraVarahi Gompa
PO Box 12212
Chapagaon, Lalitpur, Nepal
00977 1 5570037
00977 1 2334837
00977 9851003819

please include the phone numbers on the address. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Urgyen Tulku Rinpoche

Haven't had much time for posting as I am working on a public presentation that I will give tomorrow (June 6) from 5pm to 6.30. It will be at the Fulbright Commission Auditorium in Ganeshwor, in Kathmandu. The topic of the forum will be "The Influence of Himalayan Buddhism on the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley: Is There a Newar Buddhist Revival?" and I will be basically giving a slideshow of many of the pictures I took over the past 9 months doing research in Kathmandu. It will mainly cover the various case study sites I have been visiting, some history and a few observations (the Cultural Buddhist Anthropology part). The photo below is one (that I didn't take) that I will be putting in the slideshow. I think it is touching.

A picture of Urgyen Tulku Rinpoche at Nagi Gompa, probably taken in the early nineties. Besides his humility and unassuming personality, his special quality was that he spent up to half of his life in retreat doing intense personal meditation practice.