October, 2004

Dear People,

We have received a number of emails asking if they had been taken off the mailing list because they hadn't received a newsletter for several months. Actually, we have been extremely busy with the construction of the interior of the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center. Here are some updates and a formal newsletter will be sent in about three weeks.

We would like to apologize sincerely for the delay in book orders and for not responding in a timely fashion to all inquiries. We hope you will forgive us when you hear about the results of the last couple months.

Progress on the Vajra Vidya Retreat Center

The exterior of the building was completed in July, 2004. Now the completion of interior is happening. In the next three to four weeks the plumbing and the heating will be completed and then the doors and window trim will begin. In the last two weeks the walls, soundboard and wall insulation, have been hung. 278 of 4 by 12 sheets of wall board were unloaded then hung, and the finishers completed the texture yesterday. The oak floor gets installed in the upstairs rooms in the next three days. The painters are scheduled for the week end.

We are now fund raising for the appliances and furniture that will go into the center. The kitchen will have to be able to prepare meals for 25 retreatants plus visitors. The kitchen will have to be commercially equipped, stove, dishwasher, and refrigerator, and freezer, hand washing sink, as well as shelves and cabinets. The dining room will need tables and chairs and each retreat room (there are 8 retreat rooms in this first phase and the rooms will require a bed, desk, chair, and shrine). We also have to furnish the rooms for the two lamas that Thrangu Rinpoche will be sending in April.

The good news is that our fund raising efforts have allowed the completion of this first phase of the North Wing. The retreat center is scheduled to be finished by the winter solstice (December 22nd). The doors to retreatants could open as soon as January, 2005! A discussion with Thrangu Rinpoche in San Francisco October 20th, 2004 will give us the direction for the next steps.

Rinpoche's Teachings in Boulder and Crestone

Thrangu Rinpoche began his North American teachings in Boulder, Colorado with several teachings including a weekend teaching on the Two Views of Emptiness: Shentong and Rangtong. He visited his Mahamudra group in Boulder and also was able to visit Shambhala Mountain Center (formerly known as Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center, and before that as Rocky Mountain Dharma Center). Below are photos of Rinpoche in a tent at SMC and visiting the "Great Stupa of Dharmakaya" at Red Feather Lakes.

In Crestone, Thrangu Rinpoche gave a nine-day teaching on the bardo emphasizing the benefit of knowing what to expect in the bardo of death. Last year in his teaching in Crestone on Dzogchen and Mahamudra he discussed how the peaceful and wrathful deities (the Shitro) reside in the body and the Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices for identifying their presence. This year he continued by explaining how these deities manifest at death and how one should prepare for the transition. He also gave the short Shitro empowerment with an explanation of the practice. There will be an updated version of the Shitro practice text for those who are now doing this practice.

Upon arriving from Boulder Rinpoche was taken to the retreat center site and given a tour. After going into every room in the retreat center he went into the lama's room and spontaneously sat down in the center of the room and meditated with a small group of people. He then smiled and said, "Very good." How fortunate to have had this place of practice be blessed by Rinpoche in this way. Enclosed is a photo of Rinpoche looking out of one of the retreat rooms with the four flags in front of the retreat center in the background. The enclosed photo shows the dining room just after Sheetrock hanging with the far door going to the caretaker's room and the arch opening will be a food serving area. Better pictures will follow in the newsletter.

For updates on the retreat center, please check our website : http://www.VajraVidyaRetreatCenter.org/

If Thrangu Rinpoche has visited your dharma center we would be interested in photos and a brief write-up on his teaching to put in the Newsletter. We are always looking for great pictures of Rinpoche to put on the website.

Rinpoche's Travels

There are several opportunities and special programs for receiving teachings from Rinpoche before and after he returns to Asia.

For further information please see Rinpoche's schedule

Message From Nepal
Tibetan Language Intensive Program

This program, originally planned for the summer of 2004, has been rescheduled to complement Rinpoche’s activities in Nepal in 2005. This is an eight-week residential language-training program established in Boudhnath, Katmandu, Nepal to help new students who are interested in learning Tibetan. It will provide opportunities to become familiar with Tibetan and Nepal life and customs. Also there will be activities to help further student’s dharma practice. Altogether it will provide a unique experience for life and study in Nepal

Date: March 20 to May 17, 2005.

Classes will start the Monday after Rinpoche completes the Katmandu portion of the 2005 annual seminar.

Objectives:

1. To obtain proficiency in basic conversational Tibetan. At the end of the program students will be able to hold modest conversations in Tibetan.
2. To be able to read a dharma text, Chenrezig, and carry that skill over to other texts.

Faculty:

Tinley Dhondup, who has had extensive teaching experience in Katmandu, will direct the program. He has directed and taught several programs, including a semester abroad program in Nepal for the University of Wisconsin. During the summer months, he is responsible for the Tibetan Program at Cornell University in New York. He will be directing a faculty of Tibetan native speaking professionals who have also taught extensively in Nepal and India.

Khenpo and Lamas will be conducting classes involving dharma texts. Monks will be available from the monastery for conversation practice.

Dharma activities:

Khenpos and lamas from Thrangu Monastery will be available to teach students some of the following activities:

1. Practice in reading dharma texts.
2. Meditation instruction
3. How to set up a shrine
4. How to make tormas
5. Instruction on individual practice
6. Instructions on individual roles in group practice, such as umze and chopan.
7. How to arrange and conduct a tsok
8. How to play instruments for practice, damaru, bell, cymbals, drums.

Additional activities;

1. Guest lecturers from Tribuvan University and other local colleges on Nepali culture, Hinduism, Tibetan culture environment, current Tibetan situation and local interests
2. Cultural programs, Nepali and Tibetan, music.
3. Optional guided tours to areas of local interest and pilgrimage sites
4. Optional tutorials can be made available to those interested in such topics as: Nepali language, jewelry making, and thangka painting.

Accommodations:
Single room maintained to western standards in a new hotel, with hot water showers and bedding. New classrooms and facilities. Meditation Room for Individual and group practice

Cost of Program: $1,500.00 USD.

Cost includes room, meals, course fees, and all instructional materials.

Daily Schedule:
6:00 – 7:00 Group practice (Chenrezig or Green Tara)
7:30 Breakfast
9:30-10:30 Class, Tibetan grammar
10:30 Tea
10:45 – 12 Classes
12:15 Lunch
1:30 –2:45 Conversational Tibetan
2:45 Tea
4:00 – 5:00 Guest speakers/Dharma Readings
5:00 Group practice
6:30 Dinner

Classes will be held 5 days per week, weekends for field trips and optional excursions.All attempts will be made to have casual conversation in Tibetan. Monks will be visiting from the monastery to provide conversational partners. Classes conducted by native Tibetan professional language teachers. Program size will be limited and classes kept small for maximum individual attention. No more than 5 to a class. New classroom and facilities. For those interested, basic classes in the Tibetan alphabet will be available during the afternoons of Rinpoche’s seminar in Nepal. Rinpoche has agreed to teach on occasion to students.

Any questions? gene@mail.com.np

This course is conducted under the auspices of the Namo Buddha Educational Program directed by V.V. Thrangu Rinpoche.

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