Newsletter November 2008
1. Young Tulkus at Kopan
Kopan is very fortunate to be the
home of three young tulkus.
Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche, the
incarnation of Geshe Lama
Konchok will be 6 in early
November. He is now attending
Kindergarten class at Kopan
together with Thubten Kundol
Rinpoche, (the incarnation of Geshe Jamyang) who will be five in
Tenzin Phuntsok Rinpoche and Thubten
Kundrol Rinpoche on the way are happy learning, playing and making friends, each in their own
November. They bothto exams.
Rinzin Lama, the incarnation of a meditator in Tsum who was close to Geshe Lama
Konchok, is also living and studying at Kopan. He was recently enthroned in the monastery
in the Tsum valley where he was the abbot in his previous life, with hundreds of local people
attending the ceremony.
4. Welcoming Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup back to the
After an absence of 5 weeks to teach in Malaysia and
Singapore, Khenrinpoche has returned to Kopan. As is the
traditional custom, all the monks lined up along the side of the
road offering khatas, all 700 of them.
Khenrinpoche gave blessings to everyone,
including a large group of Western visitors who happened to be
visiting the monastery on that day, and who felt very privileged to
They even helped to paint the eight auspicious signs on
the road before Khenrinpoche's arrival.
2. Upcoming program for winter/spring 2008/2009
Nov. 19 - Dec 19 2008 Ven Dondrub will be teaching at the November course.
Record numbers of people have already registered, from a wide array of
countries. It is always amazing to see and experience this harmonious getting
together of all different nationalities under the banner of Dharma.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche will be teaching during the course. Expected teaching
dates are between Nov. 27 - December 10, with a Long Life puja offered to
Rinpoche requesting him to stay and teach till all sentient beings have been
liberated. The long life puja date will be posted on the Kopan website next
Jan 30 - Feb 10 2009 Ven Antonio is leading a 10 day Vipassana program at Kopan.
In January this year more than 30 people attended this program and were
enthusiastic, calling it a wonderful opportunity to deepen their meditation
experience and get back to being more aware of Dharma in daily life.
Book directly from our web site: www.kopanmonastery.com/program
Before 3. Building activity at
the Monastery and Nunnery
Building, building, and more building
has been the theme of the past year
both at the monastery and at the
Kopan Monastery just completed a
new accommodation block with
deluxe guest rooms. If you are used to
the old style accommodation at Kopan, then these new double
rooms will surprise you with their air-conditioning and comfortable bed rooms, with some
even equipped with a small kitchenette.
At the same time Kopan is building the first school for its 250 students, built specially for
this purpose. It will have 18 class rooms, a library, a computer room, and audiovisual
facilities. This is definitely moving into the 21st century.
Although the Mount Everest School has been in existence for 38 years, there has never been
a dedicated building for the school. The classes were held in rooms that also functioned as
dining rooms, or even as dormitories, or store rooms. The current headmaster, Geshe Sherab
initiated the building of the school. Read more about the school and education program at
The nunnery's new gompa is growing,
with the construction just about
complete, and the work on the inside
making good progress. As you can see, it is a huge project - the
painting of the gompa alone will take around one year, with several
artist working every day. In the basement there will be a big hall for
debate. For summer 2009 it is planned to hold the intermonastic
debate for nuns at the Kopan Nunnery, when severla hundred nuns
from India and nepal will come together to measure each other's
The nuns are eagerly awaiting the completion of the new building,
when they can again sit all together in the prayer hall, and make
prayers together, as a community. The consecration of the gompa is
planned for December 2010.
5. Education at Kopan - it is changing dramatically
For many years, education at the Kopan
monastery like at most other
monasteries, was primarily focused on
the study of philosophy. Kopan was
actually considered very progressive, as
it also offered classes in Tibetan, Nepali
and English. The goal was to provide an
environment in which the teachings of
the Buddha could be studied in depth,
and in which monks and nuns could
follow their aspirations in a supportive,
conducive monastic environment.
Well, modern times have invaded even
this peaceful realm of monastic life.
The demand for more modern skills,
especially communication skills, has become overwhelmingly obvious. Email
and mobile phones are a fact of daily life and essential tools for
communication with the outside world.
A way had to be found to combine the teachings of the Buddha on how to live
with the demands of modern life.
New skills are needed to teach the Dharma, to communicate with supporters
and students, and to make the Dharma available to those who are not in direct
contact with teachers. In short, monks and nuns need to receive a modern
education alongside their traditional education. Geshe Sherab, the principal of
Mount Everest School, formulated the advantages as follows:
1. The monks and nuns need to have better understanding of the outside world
so they can compare the two worlds. This will help them to appreciate their
own world better, seeing advantages of this way of life.
2. With better understanding and communication skills they can relate the
Everest School Dharma better to other people, because they are more familiar with their
concepts and principles
3. They need be able to explain their own world, their own concepts to other young people
and explore shared subjects, and ways of explaining their world.
4. They haveto be able to become professionals in their own field, opening up possibilities of
advanced religious studies in Western universities and colleges.
To make this happen Kopan Monastery decided to develop a government recognized school
in which standard subjects are taught, such as math, science, social science, as well as
languages, while still maintaining the high standard of Buddhist education it has pursued for
the past 35 years.
The Mount Everest School, Philosophy Study Program and Tantric College form the core of
the new education program, which at present employs 34 teachers. More will be needed in
the future, as the classes are expanded to grade ten.
The main goals of this new concept for schooling are to:
1. Improve the communication skills of the sangha
2. Develop better understanding of the outside world
3.. provide them with the formal qualifications to be able to pursue higher education
in different fields, other than Buddhist philosophy.
4. Provide those who choose not to pursue a monastic life for their whole life with the
necessary skills to take care of themselves
Buddhist Universities and colleges will come to Nepal in the not so far future, and
Kopan wants to be ready for this change, so that the monks and nuns graduating
from Kopan School will be able to directly join these universities.
The school is now in Year Two of the development program, and will slowly be
built up to Year Ten.
Exams - always a challenge
change in the curriculum the school year is now divided into three sections,
which exams three exams are held...
As for school children all over the world, also here at Kopan exams are a
great source of anxiety and stress…
And at the end a visit to the zoo as a reward …
The tropical house
and the elephant
Teacher trainer needed - your kind of holiday?
The Kopan Mount Everest School is looking for professional teacher trainers that can come
to Kopan for short periods of time and offer teacher training workshops. Kopan would offer
free accommodation and food, and re-imbursement of the visa fee. The training sessions
could be combined with a personal retereat, or trekkin gin the beautiful mountains of Nepal.
if you are interested, send us an email with details of your qualifications and experience, and
what type of training you could offer.
Window on Tibetan Culture - Kora or circumabulation
Visit Tibet or many of the places in India and Nepal where Tibetans are settled and you will find,
particularly in the early morning and evening, people walking with a determined air around
buildings and other structures they consider sacred. This practice of literally walking around
something as a mark of respect originates at the time
of the Buddha.
The Heap of Jewels Sutra describes the Buddha's
leading disciple, Maudgalyayana bowing before the
Buddha and reverentially circumamabulating him seven
times before addressing him. With regard to sacred
objects representing the Buddha, many of the significant
events of the Buddha's life took place under trees, which
in time became the focus of acts of reverence. The
Buddha spent more than twenty rainy seasons in a park
near the north Indian city of Shravasti and when his
disciple Ananda asked him how or where devotees could pay their respects when the Buddha
himself was not present, he indicated the tree under which he regularly sat. Shortly before his death,
the Buddha remarked to Ananda:
Bhikshus, after my passing away, all sons and daughters who are of good family and are faithful
should as long as they live, go to the four holy places and remember: Here at Lumbini, the
enlightened one was born; here at Bodh Gaya he attained enlightenment, here at Sarnath he turned
the Wheel of Dharma; and there at Kushinagar he entered Parinirvana. Bhikshus, after my passing
away there will be activities such as circumambulation of these places and reverence to them.
Following the Buddha's passing, dome shaped monuments known as stupas were erected to
enshrine relics from his cremation. Being solid structures, stupas could not be entered, so as was the
case with the trees associated with the Buddha, walking around them mindful of their significance
was a natural way of paying them respect.
In Tibet, circumambulation became widespread. People walked respectfully round sacred objects
that could range in size and significance from the reliquaries known as stupas or chörtens that dotted
the landscape, to temples that contain images of the Buddha and collections of scriptures, to entire
monasteries or even mountains, such as Kailash in the western province of Ngari. Such objects
might be as small as a lama's teaching throne or a cairn of mani stones on top of a mountain pass.
People mostly walked around these things to earn religious merit, the basis of a better life in the
future and the foundation of any progress on the spiritual path. The practice is simple and easy -
anyone can do it. The only qualification is mobility. What's more, it is intensely practical because it
allows you to involve all three fields of human action, physical, verbal and mental at the same time,
by simultaneously walking, reciting mantras and cultivating the aspiration to benefit all sentient
beings. In a landscape filled with sacred objects it is easy to earn merit simply going about your daily
life. Here at Norbulingka people walk round one side of the temple on their way to work and round
the other side on their way home. The elderly and retired spend more of the day circling the temple
and piles of small stones on the window sills are evidence of their keeping a record of their rounds.
The pre-eminent circumambulation in Tibet that virtually every Tibetan aspired to do was around the
Jokhang, in Lhasa, the most sacred temple in the land. There are three routes: the inner circuit or
nangkhor lies within the precincts of the Jokhang itself; the intermediate circuit or barkhor is a
quadrangular route encircling the entire Jokhang complex, the Muru Nyingba, seat of the State
Oracle, and several erstwhile noble houses, that pilgrims have trodden for more than a thousand
years, which survives to this day as the hub of Tibetan life in the city; while the lingkhor an outer
circuit that used to encompass the old city of Lhasa has been somewhat modified by the building of
modern roads and expansion of the city.
In Dharamsala, near the residence of HH the Dalai Lama, a steady stream of people circle the
Theckchen Chöling temple and the Kalachakra temple next to it. Those with more time follow the
Lhagyari path that runs around the crest of the hill on which the temples and His Holiness's residence
stand. Many spin prayer wheels as they go or count mantras on their rosaries. Besides the standard
refuge prayer, the mantra recommended for circumambulation is as follows:
Om Namo Bhagawate Ratna Kitu Rajaya Tathagataya Arhate Samyaksam Buddhaya Tayatha Om
Ratne Ratne Maha Ratne Ratne Vijaya Soha
The practice can be done at any time, but the 8th, 10th, 15th, 25th and 30th days of the Tibetan lunar
month are regarded as propitious occasions, while nearly everyone makes special effort during the
fourth Tibetan month of Saka Dawa, when the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and nirvana are
The Wheel of Life portrays the cycle of birth and death in which sentient beings find themselves.
Circumambulation is a way of breaking the circle.
Taken from "melong" newsletter of the Norbulinka Institute in Dharamsala
Published October 08 by Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu, Nepal
Kopan is affiliated with the FPMT (Foundation for the preservation of the Mahayana Tradition