Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Panel on "A Buddhist Path for the West"

I’ve been exchanging e-mail with Steve Seely, the managing director of the Nitartha Institute, today. He mentioned that Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and students, Carole Fleming and Tyler Dewar, are doing a panel at Nalanda West in Seattle tomorrow night, February 19, at 7:00 PM. This is the first of the “Big Topics” panels, which will be a monthly discussion series at Nalanda West. You can find the flyer for it here. The topic for tomorrow is “A Buddhist Path for the West & Spiritual Transmission.”

I encourage any of my Buddhist friends in the Seattle area to attend this talk. Nalanda West is based out of a former school building in Fremont (about two miles, if that, from where I grew up).

I wanted to reiterate that I think that the Nitartha Institute is doing really great things for Buddhism in the West in Seattle. I have several of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s books and a number of friends who have attended teachings with him over the last few years. Both the books and these personal encounters have indicated, to me, that he really does have a mission to engage with us here in the West and in finding the best ways to reach those of us from our culture. I really respect the work that he and his students are doing.

Steve Seely pointed out to me that there is now an introduction to the institute available on Youtube, as you can see below:

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I also want to mention that the next educational program at the Nitartha Institute is the nine day program at the end of March. It goes from March 22 through to March 30. This is described as follows:

Nitartha Institute will offer its initial course sequence in a 9 day format at the beautiful urban dharma center, Nalanda West. In addition, the second level sequence will also be offered for those that have completed Level 1. Each are equivalent to attending the first or second two-week sessions at the Nitartha Summer Program. The spiritual director of the Institute, The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, has also been invited to teach at the program though we do not have confirmation of his ability to do so at this time. The focus of Level 1 is a close and thorough examination of mind itself, its different classifications and functions, its ways of knowing phenomena, and the classifications and nature of those phenomena--mind's objects. The exploration includes an examination of the different aspects of perception and its relationship to our conceptual world. Session I curriculum courses, Mind & Its World I and Clear Thinking I, are designed to introduce students to the precision and clarity of the valid cognition teachings, as presented by Buddha and explicated by the great Indian masters Dignaga and Dharmakirti in the 7th-8th centuries. Along with these teachings on valid cognition are beginning explorations of the tenet systems of two of the great Hinayana schools, the Vaibhashika and Sautrantika. Two classics of the Tibetan study curriculum, the Lorik (Classifications of Mind) and the Dudra (Collected Topics), form the basis for the study. The purpose of these teachings is to reveal our fundamental confusion about what is real in our everyday world. They are not intellectual exercises. They are pragmatic explorations of our ordinary mind, its relationship with the world of phenomena and of thoughts, and exactly where we get confused by our projections and how. The teachings reveal how we can lead our lives with less confusion, and offer effective tools for clear communication with our world. The studies will be supplemented with hands-on experiential exercises in clear thinking and analytical meditation. The cultivation of contemplative skills is essential to understanding and progressing along the path of meditation, bringing further clarity to one’s mind, practice and relationship to one’s world. Level 2 continues with the exploration of mind through investigating karma, how our actions affect ourselves and the world. In the courses Mind & Its World 2 and Clear Thinking 2 this investigation includes looking at the nature and function of causes and conditions, mind and its accompanying mental events from the Abhidharma tradition, and the profound view of pratityasamutpada, or interdependent origination.

Information on the core courses can be found here and the curriculum information is here.

I’ve considered attending this upcoming session but given the amount of time involved and the fact of my current lack of vacation time at work, I will have to wait until some other sessions. I do encourage others to take the time to work in these programs if they are able to do so.