AUTUMN COURSES 2017

In addition to The Complete Path course taught in August by His Holiness Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, IBA will offer two philosophy courses and two meditation retreats this autumn. The first philosophy course will be on the Abhidharma and the second on Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend. The topics for the meditation retreats will be the cultivation of Calm Abiding (shamatha) and the Four Immeasurables (brahmaviharas).

Dates 2017:

August 30 to September 3: Philosophy 1, Abhidharma teachings
September 6 to 15: Retreat 1, Calm Abiding (shamatha)
September 18 to October 2: Retreat 2, Four Immeasurables (brahmavihara)
October 6 to 26: Philosophy 2, Letter to a Friend, by Nagarjuna

 

Detailed description:

  • Philosophy 1: August 30 to September 3

Abhidharma teachings according to the Burmese forest tradition*

Teacher: Ven. Dhammadipa

Burmese Abhidharma

In this five-day course, Ven. Dhammadipa will explain the foundations of Buddhist practice as taught in the Abhidharma tradition of the Burmese forest monasteries, analysing how this perspective can be supplemented by the Mahayana Abhidharma. Relevant for a deeper understanding of the basis and methods of purification, this short course will be of particular interest to students of Abhidharma as it is presented in the Tibetan tradition, completing the picture in a beautiful way. In the Burmese Abhidharma tradition, the topics are studied from an experiential point of view, based on meditative experience and offering a theoretical framework to structure one‘s path of purification in a systematic way. Presenting the reality of our experience from the perspective of the wisdom of the awakened mind, the Abhidharma is a tool to help us deconstruct our mistaken views of reality and to come to a correct understanding of ourselves and the world.

*taught in Chinese with an English summary.

Daily schedule

7:00 BREAKFAST
8:00-9:30 Abhidharma teachings
12:00 LUNCH
2:00-3:00 Review session, Q&A
6:30 DINNER

 

Bhante Dhammadipa was born in the Czechoslovakia, where he studied Chinese literature and philosophy. He later pursued his studies in Jerusalem, Berlin and Paris, before enrolling at the Nalanda University in India to study Sanskrit and Buddhist philosophy. He then lived in Japan, Sri Lanka and Burma, studying and practicing as a Buddhist monk under renowened contemporary masters of Buddhism. One of his principal teachers was the Burmese meditation master Pa Auk Sayadaw, who recognized him as his first Western disciples qualified to teach meditation.

Ven. Dhammadipa’s years of training in retreat combined with his extensive scholarly background make him an ideal teacher, able to guide students in transformative meditation practice grounded in a deep understanding of the path. Bhante has extensively taught the Dharma in both theory and practice, and led students in meditation retreats in Europe, North and South America, India, China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. (More detailed biography at http://dhammadipa.info/Bio.htm.)


  • Meditation Retreats: September 6 to 15, and September 18 to October 2

Two Meditation Retreats with Ven. Dhammadipa (taught in English with a Chinese summary)

Shamatha – Calm Abiding Retreat (10 days)

September 6 to 15
WATERDROP

“Only a calm and focused mind can see things as they really are.”

Shamatha (‘calm abiding’) refers to a state of mind free of defilements, clear, calm and focused. Such a mind is necessary in the pursuit of wisdom, which is the only tool to overcome ignorance, the root-cause of all suffering.  For this reason, proficiency in shamatha meditation is an essential part of the Buddhist training, regardless of which tradition one follows.

In this meditation retreat, Ven. Dhammadipa will offer instructions for the cultivation of deep states of meditative absorption based on mindfulness on the ‘in-and-out-breath’ (anapana-sati). This will be supplemented with the possibility to consult with the teacher in daily private interviews to help fine-tune the practice according to one’s needs. The course also offers Chigong and Yoga classes everyday to help the body adjust to the extended periods of sitting.

Daily schedule

5:00 WAKE UP GONG
5:30-7:00 Chigong & Meditation
7:00 BREAKFAST
8:00-9:00 Karma yoga (working meditation)
9:00-12:00 Practice instructions & Meditation (also: time for personal interviews)
12:00 LUNCH
2:00-5:30 Meditation & Yoga  (also: time for personal interviews)
6:30 DINNER
7:30-9:30 Dhamma talk (incl. Q&A) & Meditation
10:00 Rest (or individual practice in your room)

Four Immeasurables – brahmavihara (15 days)

September 18 to October 2

“May all beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness.”

The cultivation of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity will be the focus of this retreat. These four wholesome attitudes form an essential part of the Buddhist path, enabling us connect with others deeply. By cultivating these states towards all countless beings (hence the name ‘immeasurable’), we learn to break down the boundaries of a self-centered mind, opening the heart in a genuine way to the wellbeing of others. These attitudes, which make an ordinary mind sublime, are important for both aspects of meditative training, i.e. calm abiding and special insight.

In this retreat, Ven. Dhammadipa will teach the methods for cultivating these four immeasurable states in a systematic way as it is taught and practiced in the forest tradition of Burma. This will be supplemented with the possibility to consult with the teacher in daily private interviews to help fine-tune the practice according to one’s needs. The course also offers Chigong and Yoga classes every day to help the body adjust to the extended periods of sitting.

Daily schedule

5:00 WAKE UP GONG
5:30-7:00 Chigong & Meditation
7:00 BREAKFAST
8:00-9:00 Karma yoga (working meditation)
9:00-12:00 Practice instructions & Meditation (also: time for personal interviews)
12:00 LUNCH
2:00-5:30 Meditation & Yoga  (also: time for personal interviews)
6:30 DINNER
7:30-9:30 Dhamma talk (incl. Q&A) & Meditation
10:00 Rest (or individual practice in your room)

  • Philosophy 2: October 6 to 26

Letter to a Friend by Nagarjuna

Teacher: Ven. Ngawang Tenzin

NAGARJUNA

The great Indian master Nagarjuna (1st – 2nd century A.D.) wrote his celebrated poem Letter to a Friend as a letter of advice to his friend King Gautamiputra/Satavahana.

This advice gives a concise and comprehensive introduction to the entire path and practice of Buddhism. It guides both householders and the ordained onto the path leading to liberation and enlightenment. The instructions are of special interest to those who wish to take up spiritual activity while continuing to live and work in society; they are meant to convey the whole meaning of the Dharma to the ordinary person in a language and style that are easy to understand.

Despite its short length (only 123 verses), it covers the whole Mahayana path with unusual clarity and memorable imagery; thus it is widely quoted by Tibet’s great masters and scholars in the many commentaries they have written on the Buddhist path.

Daily schedule: to be announced

^2666CF25DEF1DDF3DE23B60A02F26AF28CCBF5E37406E9CC5C^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrVen. Ngawang Tenzin was born in Mustang, Nepal, in 1988. After eight years of study, he graduated from Sakya College, Dehra Dun, India, with the Ka-Chu-Pa Degree/ Shastri Degree (equivalent of B.A.) in Tibetan Buddhist Studies. Fluent in Tibetan and English, as well as Hindi and Nepali, Ngawang Tenzin has a profound understanding of Buddha Dharma and an exceptionally clear manner when explaining its concepts to foreign students. He has translated both oral teachings and texts from Tibetan into English, and is highly sought after within the Sakya tradition for his excellent translation skills and knowledge.

We recommend the following publications for this course:

  • Nagarjuna’s Letter with Commentary by Venerable Rendawa Zhön-nu Lo-drö, translated by Geshe Lobsang Tharchin and Artemus B. Engle, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1979
  • Nagarjuna’s Letter to King Gautamiputra, with Explanatory Notes Based on Tibetan Commentaries, tr. by Ven Lozang Jamspal, Ven. Ngawang Samten Chophel and Peter Della Santina, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996
  • Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend: with Commentary by Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications, translated by Padmakara Translation Group, 2006

View Dr. Alexander Berzin’s translation of this text here.