Meditations by Lama Matthew Rice

Are You Ready to Take the Challenge?

Matt 8x10I’ve noticed that the Rime Center has always done a great job of introducing people to Buddhism. Whether you are taking the Basics of Buddhism or another core class like Lam Rim and Lojong, you are introduced to the foundational teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. But then what? How, do we engage Sangha members who have gone through the core classes, but still what to deepen their knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism? I’m pleased to say that at the beginning of the year, the Board began looking into that very question. What resulted from that conversation is that the Rime Center wanted to partner with our friends with the Drepung Gomang Monastery and work closely with Geshe Tsewang Thinley to develop a shedra program that would give the Rime Buddhist Center that next level of learning.

A shedra literally means a ‘center for teaching’ in Tibetan. In traditional monastic centers, the shedra is the school where monks and nuns study the important Buddhist scriptures. The goal is to develop that curriculum of higher learning with Geshe Thinley that is adapted to our lay householder Sangha. At the same time making it a curriculum that is sustainable with our current Dharma teachers. This process will be several years in the making. But, in the meantime I realized, if that is where we want to go with our learning at Rime, we need to prepare the Sangha for that style of program.

With that said, the senior Dharma teachers and I are developing a new set of core classes. Classes that when finished the learner will be ready to enter the shedra. The initial model will be a three tiered structure. The first level will be the Basics of Buddhism and a class on taking refuge. Once completed, refuge vows will be offered. The second tier will be a series of four week classes that will build on each other to lay a solid foundation of learning in the Tibetan Buddhist path. The classes will be focused on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Toward Dharma, the Four Wheels (developing a practice, finding a teacher, aspiration, and dedication prayers), the Four Immeasurable, the Vow and Practice of Bodhichitta, and finally Parting From the Four Attachments. Once completed lay ordination vows will be offered. The third tier will be several classes focused on understanding the path of the Bodhisattva. Two of these classes will be on Shantideva’s famous texts; Shikshasamucchaya and the Bodhicharyavatara. Then ending with a class on the Lojong teachings. Once this is completed Bodhisattva vows will be offered.

11x17-master-sheet_0021_G040-Seated-GuanyinIn order to develop the new core or pre-shedra classes we have decided to not offer our usual set of classes this fall. The exception will be the Basics of Buddhism will be offered as usual. In place of our usual classes we will be having a 108 day Bodhisattva Challenge beginning September 14th.

This challenge will be a great way for practitioners who want to intensify their practice on bodhicitta or enjoy practicing in a group setting. During this challenge we will be having several activities planned like weekly readings, Dharma talks that will be integrated into online group discussions, and classes at Rime. This challenge will culminate in our Annual World Peace Meditation December 31.

We welcome new Sangha members as well as experienced students who want to recommit to their practice and have insight to share. During the 108 Day Bodhisattva Challenge we are looking at integrating the activities with online content so those who practice daily at home and at their own pace can also be a part of this challenge. Are you up for the challenge? It all begins September 14th. Register Today!