#2 – November 2012 Newsletter

In this edition:

Science Exhibition and Conference Hosted at Shechen Monastery
Looking Forward
New! Online Prayer Requests
Shechen Nuns Study Science in Bhutan
An Interview with Pier Luigi Luisi
Conclusion of Yarne “Summer Rains” Retreat
“Yangsi”: A Film on the Young Reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The quickly approaching Science Exhibition in Kathmandu, and generous teaching by the eminent scientist, Pier Luigi Luisi, influence the scientific focus of this newsletter. The schedule of winter into spring public events for Nepal and Bodhgaya is now published. Online requests for prayer are now operational! Please review all of our new and exciting projects that will benefit from your support.  Our last bit of inspiring news is the recent release of the Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche film. Please enjoy!

Science Exhibition and Conference Hosted at Shechen Monastery

“The World of Your Senses”: A conference and exhibition on five senses from the scientific and Buddhist Perspective. Venue: Shechen Monastery, Boudhanath Nepal Dates: 14th– 17th November, 2012 (Registration not required)
Buddhism and Science Exhibition800px 4 2Shechen Monastery in Nepal is delighted to host an exhibition and conference exploring the interface between Buddhism and science. This event is being organised by the Monastic Science Leadership made up of representatives from several major monasteries and nunneries including Geshe Lhakdor (Director of Library of Tibetan Works and Archives), Mr Nyima Gyaltsen, (Director of Science Dept LTWA), and the monks of ETSI (Emory-Tibet Science Initiative). The exhibition is sponsored by the Sagar Family Foundation.
Dharma meets science
Key speakers include Ven. Matthieu Ricard and Geshe Nyima Tashi from Sera Jey.  Participants will arrive from ten major monasteries in South India, including Sera, Dripung and Ganden Monasteries, three monasteries and nunneries from Dharmsala, and Mindroling Mo
nastery in Northern India. It is a great honor for Shechen to host this innovative workshop, the first of its kind in Nepal.

PROGRAM 1st Day: Wednesday 14th 10.30am: Introduction to the exhibition stalls
11.15am-12.00 : Ven. Matthieu Ricard will speak on “The relevance of the collaboration between Buddhism and Science to bring about a better society”
12.00-1.00pm: Lunch break
1.00-4.00pm: General public viewing
2nd/3rd Day (15-16th ) 10.00-4.00pm: General public viewing
4th Day: Saturday 17th 10.00-12 noon: Exhibition viewing
1pm: Geshe Nyima Tashi will give a public talk. For more information please contact Khenpo Shelnang Mugum: shelnang@yahoo.com (M) +977-9841793049  office number +977-1-4470721.

Looking Forward

going forward 800px 2

Shechen supports the education, housing, and medical care for over five hundred monks, children, and nuns, who live and study at its philosophical colleges, elementary schools, retreat centers, monasteries and nunnery. Thanks to the kind contributions of all of you, in 2012, we were able to continue our support and implement essential projects: a new classroom was built for the children and a hostel for the nuns, the Tara Temple and the eight stupas in Nepal are restored, the monks’ Eco-Group is active and you have helped to fund the annual Yarne Retreat. Your contributions, large and small, have helped to make all this possible. A few new projects:

– A library for the children:  $800
A biogas system for the large monastery kitchen. (Biogas is an environmentally sustainable source of gas.):  $4,800.
The original temple in Bhutan was founded by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and is in need of repair: $5,000
–  A new washing machine for the children’s hostel: $490Labdra Opening
Only 225 of our monks and nuns have sponsors. Please join us in increasing this number -tell a friend, give a sponsorship as a gift this year, become a sponsor yourself, and enjoy all the benefits of sponsorship: $250/annually.

Our website now offers an automatic monthly billing system so that you can support a monk, nun, or project by a monthly contribution, as well as by check, Paypal, and wire transfer. Donations are tax-deductible in the USA.

Your enthusiasm and support is a key component of life at the monasteries and nunnery. It is the connection that fuels our efforts to help a wisdom tradition survive and flourish through the education and dedication of its students.

Please write to us and follow our website for further information.


Full Calender as PDF (right click to save)

New! Online Prayer Requests

prayer requests

The Shechen Monastery Prayer Request Service offers the opportunity to request prayers or special practices for you or for your friends or relatives who may be ill, experiencing difficulties, or who have died.It is a Buddhist tradition to offer donations to monasteries and nunneries with requests to do specific prayers. These donations help to support the monks and nuns and brings spiritual benefit for the sponsor. Our online prayer request system facilitates these requests.

Shechen Nuns Study Science in Bhutan

nuns scinece-001The nuns of Shechen Orgyen Chozong Nunnery in Bhutan attended a special series of lectures on science given by Dr. Pier Luigi Luisi.
Dr Luisi traveled to Bhutan from Italy especially to teach our nuns classical western science based on questions such as “what is life?” and “what is evolution?.”  He presented the scientific view, often in comparison to the Buddhist view. The workshop began by exploring the Big Bang and the origin of life on earth.A special student, Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, eagerly attended the workshop and engaged in many discussions with Dr. Luisi. To the surprise of all, the normally shy Bhutanese nuns also began to ask questions and energetically discuss the new ideas among themselves and with their teachers.Dr Luisi has been associated with the Mind and Life Institute from its inception. He is the author of “Mind and Life” (Columbia University Press 2009), a book about the interaction of science and Buddhism in Dharamsala at the Mind and Life meetings. He teaches biology and biophysics at the University of Rome.We are honored that Dr. Luisi has brought his knowledge of science and his skill in teaching monastics to our nunnery. It was a delight to host this first ever science workshop for Bhutanese nuns and women. liuisi teaching
The nuns with their English teacher, Ms. Nirosha Sirisena, wrote this poem for Dr. Luisi:

“You have travelled from far, all the way from Rome To teach us about the big bang, evolution, and chromosomes. Throughout our windows new light has come, Bringing new questions, like who is Dolly’s mum? You even told us we evolved from bacteria, Reducing our ego and bringing much hysteria. You even arose the curiosity of our Rinpoche Of your theories, he was left wondering what to say! And then there is the question of life and mind, And if consciousness exists beyond mankind. And as these debates will continue into the night We wish you to return and continue the fight!”

An Interview with Pier Luigi Luisi

Dr Luigi with Yangsi Rinpoche

How was your experience in Bhutan teaching the nuns and Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche about science?
It was a complex experience and it is not easy to give a simple answer, also because there was also the strong impact of the totally new environment….at the beginning, the nuns were very shy, no questions, although i had the feeling that they were following me and partially understanding. Then, in a second phase, they begun to open up and ask questions, and then the whole teaching became much more interesting and alive. I was actually surprised by the sharpness of some of the questions, and my general impression is thus of complete satisfaction. See also the nice poem that they have written to me in the last day-attached.
Have you ever been in the situation of teaching about scientific principles to students who had no scientific background?
Yes, I am not new to this kind of experience, and in fact I tried to use a very simple language, without scientific slangs. However, there are certain things which remain difficult: for example to talk about biology to nuns who do not have the notion of “molecule” or “cell”. You have to start defining also these basic concepts..
What value do you see in such exchanges and do you think Buddhism also has something to offer to western scientific investigation?
Buddhism has certainly a lot to teach to Western scientific investigation on certain areas, for example mind and consciousness. In other areas, it remains a gap or a division that I think, should be there. I told them for example that science considers bacteria, microorganisms, and plants, as living organism without mind and without consciousness. This is not so for Buddhism, where the notion of life and mind are inextricably connected to each other, and there is not one without the other. Who is right? Asking this question is a wrong thing to do: one should have simply respect for the other point of view, without trying to evangelize.

Conclusion of Yarne “Summer Rains” Retreat

Yarne Conclusion

Each year all of the Shechen Monasteries and Sissinang Nunnery participate in the annual monastic “summer rains retreat” (Tibetan: Yarne), which this year was held from 2nd August to 16th September. This practice stems from the Indian custom established by the Buddha in the Vinaya Sutra. At that time the retreat was three months long and occured during the summer monsoon. The summer retreat in India was a practical response to the monsoon weather. In the Tibetan tradition the retreat lasts for six weeks.

On the 15th September, to conclude the retreat, the monks all attended that Gyawe ceremony in the early morning, where the vows specific to Yarne were given back. On the 16th September, the final day, the monks all gathered in the temple and then went outside and circumambulated the temple before taking their first trip outside the monastery in full ceremonial robes, to make one circumambulation of the Boudhanath Stupa. When they returned to the temple an elaborate sang (fragrant smoke) offering was performed to create auspiciousness and torma offerings to the protectors were also made. This was followed by five days of holidays and picnics to celebrate the successful conclusion of the meritorious Summer Rains retreat.

Many thanks to those who made contributions towards offerings and the monk’s meals during Yarne.

“Yangsi”: A Film on the Young Reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Film on Yangsi Rinpoche
A new film on the life and training of Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, the reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche has just been released.
In this documentary, director Mark Elliott (The Lion’s Roar) follows Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche’s journey over fourteen years, from his discovery as a tulku by Trulshik Rinpoche to his enthronement at Shechen Monastery, his studies and life, and culminating in his introduction to the world as a young man.
The film was shot on location in Bhutan, Nepal, India, France, and the United States. It includes lively scenes of life and celebrations at Shechen Monastery and its monks and teachers. It features interviews with some of Tibetan Buddhism’s most eloquent and insightful teachers:Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and Matthieu Ricard. The DVD comes with over 40 minutes of bonus material, including the 100th year anniversary of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche with many of his closest disciples.Please purchase through our website as a percentage of your payment will go to Shechen Monastery.

Subscribe to Shechen Monastery E-news!