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Education

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by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche


What about the monastery's education program? I think balancing the three wisdoms of hearing, analytical contemplation, and meditation is the most important thing. In the monastery, these three must be balanced. Simultaneously, they must also be exercised. You shouldn't have the attitude, "First I'll study for 10 or 20 years; then for the next 30 years I'll analyze what I've learned; finally I'll meditate until I'm 100." That's a common misunderstanding. It's true that

the Sakya Pandita said, "He who meditates without first studying is like an armless rock climber." But many people, even learned geshes, misinterpret that statement. They'll tell you that the first thing you have to do is to learn stuff; that it's almost criminal to meditate without first studying. Of course, it's true that you can't make Coca-Cola without first having heard about Coca-Cola, that you can't meditate without having listened to Dharma teachings. But it's a misinterpretation to conclude from this that you have to study for 20 years before you can do any analytical contemplation, and then only after another 20 years of that, say when you're 60, can you begin to meditate. That is completely wrong. Some Tibetans have this attitude, but not Lama Tsong Khapa. Even as a boy he meditated. He went into retreat on Manjushri, and when he was 16, he met him: Manjushri appeared out of a rock in his cave. Remember that story? We term

that a rang-jung [self-originated] Manjushri. Lama Tsong Khapa combined everything into his everyday life: listening, analytical checking, and meditation. He put all three together. We should do the same: every day, all three should be practiced. Don't go a long time doing one without the others. That's a wrong conception. Even when I was a boy at Sera Monastery, I was a victim of these misconceptions. I used to love praying, but I had to keep my small prayer book

hidden from my uncle who took care of me because he didn't like me sitting in meditation position, doing my prayers. He'd tell me I was crazy; that-there's a Tibetan expression for this-" When your hair goes gray, that's when you meditate." How stupid! So whenever he came in, I'd hide my prayer book under the long philosophy pecha I was supposed to be studying. I was okay as long as he didn't know what I was doing! That was a complete misconception. For me, it is difficult to study philosophy and do nothing else. Sometimes in debate, while someone would be making an argument, I would completely space out, not knowing how to debate against him. For two or three hours I would just sit there doing

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nothing. Combining prayer with study kept me down to earth, and I want you people to be the same. You have an excellent understanding of the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment because of your extensive lam-rim studies. If, on the basis of this fundamental understanding, you do some practice and a little philosophical study as well every day, the lam-rim will become so beautiful for you. In our own organization you can see that some people have an incredible level of intellectual understanding, but their hearts are not so much into the Dharma. Please, I have sympathy for you. I've been watching all my students to see how they do. For example, some people are like, "Oh, I want to learn Tibetan language, study all the different subjects, and then I want to practice everything." So I watch. After a couple of years of study, they become expert in Tibetan language, but they give up the Dharma. They never practice

lam-rim; for them lam-rim is nothing. I have seen this; it's amazing. Sometimes the Dharma of people who study Tibetan language becomes Tibetan-style-they never practice any more. I'm not criticizing everybody, but there are definitely some people like that. It disappoints me. I guess when they learned the Tibetan language they came to know all about Tibetan samsara. Then instead of becoming liberated, they get caught up in Tibetan samsara. You know, the history of every samsaric culture is not so good. When you're caught up in a samsaric culture, you can't differentiate between that culture's garbage thought and Dharma; you can't distinguish one from the other. Sometimes people who have not

studied Tibetan but whose hearts are truly in the Dharma can better integrate their lives with life in the West than can those who have studied Tibetan language. Of course, I can't say it's always like this, but I am saying there are different ways of looking at it. Therefore, the organizers who structure life at Nalanda Monastery should try to balance teaching, study, meditation, and daily life. I'm not going to go into the details of my own experience because the situation at Sera is different from that in the West, in France. We will need a different schedule, one that accords with our environment. We cannot make it Tibetan style. However, the Tibetan way is to have certain periods of intensive study and certain homework-like periods. For example, one month could be devoted to community study according to the monastery's schedule, the next to personal study in your own room. Then this cycle can be repeated. In that way, the

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intensity of the study cycle varies. Think about that; I'm not going into the details of it now. Perhaps I can another time, but not today. Because the education program in our monastery is balanced, the Sangha we produce will be

intellectually clean-clear and, therefore, universally accepted. Because the Sangha practice on the basis of the pure thought that always puts the benefit of the majority first, their minds will develop and people will see that they are compassionate and dedicated. Those are the kinds of monks and nuns we want our monasteries to produce. The syllabus should include both sutra and tantra; we have to take this opportunity to study tantra. Our monks and nuns should be perfectly educated in both sutra and tantra. That's the way to grow quickly in order to benefit others. When you need to take a break from your studies for vacation, for FPMT organizational work, or for your own personal work, you should not leave the monastery without the permission of the abbot or the gekˆ. They should investigate the situation and decide with compassion what is of most benefit for you.

Developing the Sangha organization

It is very important that everybody contribute something to the development of our organization. For example, some monks and nuns have their own money and can take care of their own food, clothing, and so forth. Others do not. Both those who have their own money and those who don't should work for, say, two or three hours a day for the benefit of the organization, with the aim of creating a strong Sangha community. If you are really dedicated, you can always fit

everything in. But we are lazy; therefore, we rationalize. We can't even manage to do a one-hour puja. Don't you think you're rationalizing when your mind finds it too difficult to spend an hour at the Sangha community puja? Can you imagine! "I don't have time; an hour is too long." You're going to say that, aren't you? That's completely unrealistic; no compassion. Most Western monks and nuns who come to India and Nepal tell me that they shouldn't have to work for their food and clothing because in Tibetan monasteries the monks don't have to work. "The monks in the Tibetan monastery in Bouddha don't have jobs; why should we?" My goodness! What can I say? Can you live on only black tea and tsampa?

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Can you? You'll be dead the next day. Tibetans can live like that. Look at Tibetan monks' faces: you can see that they eat only tsampa and black tea! You Injis can't do that. Your pink skins come from good, nutritious food! You couldn't survive on a Tibetan monastic diet. I think you are capable of doing what needs to be done because your society has given you a good education; don't waste your time and energy trying to be Tibetan. It's unrealistic. It costs $500 a onth for you to eat in the way you've been brought up-not here, but in the West it does. Who's going to give you that money? Think about it scientifically. It's not part of Western culture for parents to work in order to support their

adult children. And anyway, you're capable of supporting yourselves. If you really can't work because you're crippled or you've broken your leg, perhaps that's an exception. But you are so well educated, it's not good if you don't take care of yourselves. Of course, if you are from a rich family, you can ask them to support you. But if your parents are not well off, it is not their responsibility to take care of you. This just does not happen in Western culture.

Whether you have money or not, in the monastery you should give up your selfish needs and work to help others as much as you can. This is so important. Unless you can't see the benefit of having a community of monks or nuns. Is a Sangha community important or not? Can you see that or not? I'd like to know what you think. Yes, it is! It is so worthwhile. But this is not Lama Yeshe's effort. You people think that only Lama Yeshe can do it; I can't do anything. All I do is talk, "Blah, blah, blah.." It's you who have to act to make the community successful; it is in your hands. I can't do it; it's your responsibility. But it is really worthwhile doing. You should not think of just yourselves. Let's say I think only of myself. Why would I bother with you people, running after you all the time? I could disappear into a cave, go to the beach, sleep, be comfortable. That would be better than this. However, I feel it is necessary, somehow,

that you should act to benefit others as much as you can and not always be obsessed by the pursuit of your own pleasure, always "Me, me, me." That's wrong, that's wrong. Try to benefit others as much as you possibly can; that is the most important thing. You have a choice: help yourself alone or benefit many people. Choose to benefit the many. Remember what it says in the Guru Puja? "If it benefits even one sentient being, I will spend eons in hell." Remember that verse?

It is so powerful. The way the Panchen Lama put that text together is incredible. "To bring Dharma to the West, for the benefit of the entire world, I am prepared to give up my own comfort." Think like that. You are more important than I am in bringing Dharma to the West. This is true. You people can live more realistically in your own culture than I can, and you relate to other Westerners better than I do. Anyway, I'm about to die, so I can't do it. It's best if you feel, "I myself am responsible for bringing the Dharma to the West. That's the reason I became a monk; that's the reason I became a nun." It has great significance if you dedicate yourselves in that way. If you develop that sort of motivation, the appropriate actions will follow spontaneously; you won't have to force yourself. Don't think that it is a bad thing for monks and nuns to work for their bread and butter. Who else is going to take care of you? Should mother sentient beings serve you? In the West there is no such thing as someone being someone else's servant. Look, I am convinced that we can completely bring Dharma to the West; you people have convinced me. You are the nuclear energy

of this movement. When you got ordained, you decided to dedicate your entire lives to the benefit of others. Remember? We taught you to have that attitude, and you said the words when you got ordained, didn't you? You said, "For the benefit of all mother sentient beings I am becoming a monk/ nun." Did you say that or didn't you? Okay, you said it-we can agree on that! You don't have husbands or wives; your lives are not committed to just one person. Don't think that

you're married to me! You're free of me, aren't you? You understand what I mean. It's true. That's the point: you are completely free. What you have to do is dedicate yourself, without discrimination, to all mother sentient beings; that is your job. I truly feel that to bring Dharma into the Western world, you have to be living in some kind of purity. That purity gives power to your words, and then you can offer Dharma to the West.

Source

buddhanet.net