REFLECTIONS ON THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING MENTORS & STUDENTS IN THE AUTUMN BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY COURSE – YEAR 2 (OF 3)
Students in the Autumn Buddhist Philosophy Court have completed Year 2, the Mahayana year. The insights, thoughtfulness and respect that emerged in the retreats, mentor groups and assignments has been inspirational. Thank you all so much for your dedication and commitment to your own and others’ development! What a special group this is! We don’t know the causes and conditions that have brought us all together, but we do know how grateful we are to have met. We experience the joy it brings to be able to help each other.
This Christmas New Year break is when the Course really gets going as we apply the dharmic principles to our everyday lives. What better application than the wind down to Christmas and New Year. It might be useful to keep a journal on your reflections as you apply the teachings.
Year 3, the Vajrayana year will be quite wonderful with teachings on the Heart Sutra, Seven Point Mind Training, an introduction to the four Tantric Schools, the Triple Vision and the Ngondro. Although this has not been confirmed, Khenpo mentioned that the year may hopefully culminate in November with a visit by His Holiness the 43rd Sakya and also a pilgrimage to the holy sites in India with Khenpo December 2024.
In the dharma, ~ Carole (Convenor)
Bodhicitta is like a mango tree: each season it grows even more fruit. Khenpo la began on this particular day with teachings on Bodhicitta, the most powerful antidote to our negative mind. He reminded us that each present moment is the time to implement it: ‘Past mind is already finished. Future mind is imaginary. Only present mind has the power to make change. This is the moment!’
These were very inspiring teachings which extended the study we have been doing this semester on The Six Paramitas, Bodhicitta, The Two Truths and the Perfection of Wisdom.
To receive even a single teaching on just one of these profound topics would be a great blessing but to receive all of these from such a skilful a master as Khenpo la, and then to be supported to deepen our understandings through group study as directed by Dr Carole, we feel truly, and deeply grateful.
This retreat is the culmination of the second year of the Autumn Buddhist Philosophy Course. In year one, we examined the Hinayana. This year we studied the Mahayana. We are already looking forward to the upcoming third and final year where we will explore the Vajrayana. Thank you once again to Khenpo la, Dr Carole, all of the mentors and students for creating such a wonderful atmosphere of learning, care and sincere investigation.
Thank you for putting together and running such a wonderful program, I feel truly privileged and grateful to be taking it. I started late, having begun the course in November 2022, I missed the first year. I spent most of the past summer catching up on the material and it started transforming the way I saw the world and my place in it. It further deepened this year with concepts of Buddha Nature, Bodhicitta, the Six Paramitas, the Perfection of Wisdom, and the Two Truths – giving me such hope for the world, a better way of viewing and navigating the world, how to see others and bring a perspective of loving-kindness to interactions.
Having been born into Buddhism and turning away from it very early on (at the age of 7), I never thought it would then become my refuge in adulthood. What draws me to this course and what compels me to traverse it, is the wisdom it offers through ancient knowledge in a modernist structure of reflective assignments, interactive and engaging practical retreats, compassionate teachers, mentors and facilitators with such patience and kindness. What I am learning over and over again is, it isn’t about ‘me’, the ‘I’, the self – it is about all sentient beings. It is understanding that suffering ends here, there is power in this mind to end suffering, and it is the same mind and heart that has the will and power to bring joy, healing, and happiness to the world. I am grateful to have come in contact with the teaching, and to have such a structured framework as the Autumn Buddhist Philosophy Course, and to help understand fundamental aspects of the insights, wisdoms, and teachings of the Buddha.
Warm regards, ~ Milhara
I always leave these retreats full of inspiration, hope and knowing I’m on the right path. Prior to the initial retreat, I felt like an imposter. I describe myself as a sponge absorbing the knowledge, topics and questions being asked lead to contemplation which in turn leads to personal insight. It has been nice to spend time amongst people/sangha who have similar values.
A few phrases that have stuck with me throughout these two years, either from Khenpo la, mentors and/or fellow students:
If you think you’ve got it, you don’t; if you think you haven’t got it, you’ve got it… felt relieved I got it (I don’t)!
Stick to the path.
It’s the journey not the destination.
It is just a flip of the mind.
There’s no pretending when there’s nothing. I so appreciated this honesty, as others may pretend by being dishonest.
Many thanks, ~ Diana
Year 2 of the Autumn Buddhist Philosophy Course has now come to a commendable close with our 4th retreat this November. After a beautifully balanced first year learning about the Hinayana Path, this year Khenpo la shared the gentle compassion and wisdom of the Mahayana Path. My experience and learnings over the first two years of this precious course has allowed me to develop a true and genuine understanding of the importance of practicing loving-kindness and compassion to all.
Khenpo la has tenderly (and consistently) reminded us, through his teachings of the Dharma, that each and every one of us can achieve enlightenment, all our suffering and happiness lies within our own mind, and through regular study, contemplation, and meditation we can awaken this mind, uproot our defilements, and understand that the true nature of all phenomena is emptiness. While the academic teachings are incredibly clear, powerful, and profound, at this past retreat Khenpo la highlighted the importance of integrating what we are learning into our everyday lives. It’s very precious to think that what we are discovering on this path can actually have such a widespread benefit.
Lastly, I’d just like to close with two final comments: my heartfelt thanks go to both Khenpo la for his knowledge, kindness, and humility in his teachings and to Carole for convening this incredible, well-structured Autumn Buddhist Philosophy Course, and to anyone considering taking this course, just do it, it’s amazing!
Thank you. With Metta, ~ Natasha P.
My experience as a mentor in the ABPC 2nd year has been one full of challenges for myself and my students. Life can throw us some curve balls sometimes. What we are learning is helping us to manage and learn from these difficulties experiences. I don’t consider myself academic and do struggle to hold such complex teachings in my head. The combination of reading the manual, watching the teaching video of Khenpo la, and then discussing the teachings in the mentor Zoom sessions is very helpful and deepens my understanding. I think this is true for the students as well.
We have just completed the second retreat for this year. We revised what we had studied throughout the semester and worked in small groups with other students and mentors. This is a wonderful and an important part of the integration of learning and is an opportunity to get to know many of the other students and mentors which deepens our relationships and enhances our learning.
An integral part of the course is on self-reflection and how we apply the teachings to our everyday lives. I, also, am reflecting on my life. I can only speak for myself how profound and rich the teachings have been for me. My spiritual and emotional growth has been exponential. Because of this I find myself managing very difficult situations in a much more helpful way and enjoying life so much more. It is an absolute joy to be a part of their journey. I feel privileged.