Buddhist Education
February 1996

by Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche
   Abbott of Kanying Shedrup Ling Monastery,
   Kathmandu, Nepal

The perfect Buddha Shakyamuni's flawless words are flourishing everywhere in the world these days. And where his teachings flourish the people who connect with them discover the immediate benefit of a peaceful and carefree frame of mind, of love and compassion. I hardly need to mention the ultimate benefit: if you truly practice you attain liberation and enlightenment. So could we agree that the presence of the Buddha's words in our world is something of immense value?

Now, this is what I have asked myself: How do we really secure the Buddhadharma for the future? Who can really maintain and uphold the teachings?

These are some thoughts that repeatedly have come back in my mind.

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche

Let's look back into the past, at the prominent monasteries of Nalanda, Vikramashila, and so forth. These were places where people could engage in studies of the Buddha's teachings and follow that up by deep reflection on their meaning. Later on in the life, some would take leave, to meditate in secluded places and they became great accomplished masters, mahasiddhas. We hear of many such masters, and all of them began in a monastery. For sure, they graduated to the lifestyle of a yogi, behaved in all strange ways, but we cannot ignore that their background, like the source from where a river springs, was a monastic establishment - they came from a sangha community.

In the snowy land of Tibet, as well, we can hear about the great learned and accomplished masters - Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, JamgÖn KongtrÜl, and Chokgyur Lingpa, and also PaltrÜl Rinpoche, and many others - the place where all these learned and accomplished ones came from was a sangha community, a monastic institution. Such a monastery is a sanctuary where the sacred teachings of the Buddha are in safekeeping. After going through their education in a monastery, they unfolded their qualities of study and manifested high levels of experience and realization.

When we look at the examples from India and Tibet, at how the great monasteries with their large congregations assisted in benefiting beings and in upholding and spreading the Buddha's teachings, I feel that we must do what we can to emulate them. One important reason for being a monastic personis that he or she really has nothing else to do but study and practice. Isn't it true that they have nothing else to worry about? Isn't their only concern study, reflection and meditation? And when having such leisure, aren't they able then to accomplish their studies and meditation practice?

I have given this a lot of thought: A solid sangha community must flourish! Genuine Buddhist education must be made available! Both in terms of the traditional trainings - Individual Liberation, bodhisattva trainings, and Vajrayana samayas - as well as the studies - the Tripitaka, the four sections of Tantra, and so forth.

That is why I wish to develop the sangha community. The first step in this development is to increase the number of monks and nuns. Secondly a large number of ordained people is not enough in itself, they also need proper education and training. We need both quantity and quality. The most important factor for this to happen is good teachers, and right now we have six competent teachers, good khenpos.

As of today, we have 180 monks here in the monastery and 108 nuns at Nagi Gompa. I wish to increase the number, soon to 400, then gradually to 500, with 1000 monks and nuns being the final aim. When those of you who consider this important and have the wish and means to help, do so, then this project will easily be successful.

Therefore, whether you are a Dharma practitioner or not doesn't matter, as long as you are a decent person who wishes to support this cause, you are helping develop the sangha community, and you are a supporter of the Buddhadharma which is the source of happiness and well-being for everyone. This, I feel, is something of immense value.

Translated by Erik Hein Schmidt.