Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New offering: One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy

In September 2016 I shared the news that Tibet House Delhi, India would be offering an opportunity for interested people to study Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy for the next four years, taught by Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul la (Geshe la). The Nalanda Masters Course officially launched at a celebratory event held in India on December 9, 2016 with guest of honor His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Some of the Nalanda Masters Course students with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul la.
I am in the top right corner, leaning forward with a white khata (scarf) in my hands.
Taken at the conclusion of the November 9, 2016 Nalanda Masters Course launch program.
Photo by Tibet House photographer Kalsang Jigme.

Tibet House Nalanda Masters Course

There are more than 400 students enrolled in the Nalanda Masters Course. Many students live in India, but many more are overseas participating in the course remotely.

We generally meet twice per week for lectures taught by Geshe la. These lectures are livestreamed from the Tibet House Delhi classroom. Course material, archived video and audio recordings of class, mid-semester, and final exams are uploaded to a website we use just for the course.

When Geshe la has to be out of town for some time, we have a guest teacher. First semester last year Geshe la requested Venerable Geshe Pema Dorjee la teach us from February 8 - 22. Our teacher, Geshe la is a graduate of Tibetan Children's Village (TCV - Upper) primary and secondary school in Dharamsala, India. Venerable Geshe Pema Dorjee la was one of Geshe la's classroom teachers.

Venerable Geshe Pema Dorjee la.
Photo from Tibetan Buddhist Charity Facebook page.
Geshe Pema Dorjee la met with us at Tibet House Delhi on seven occasions to lead us through The Aphorisms of the Seven-Point-Mind-Training by Geshe Chekawa Yeshe Dorje. He told us beautiful stories from his own life as a teacher and student of the Buddha, illustrating the importance of Bodhicitta. I was particularly touched by his great love for animals and children, and his commitment to service that arises in his heart.

He taught us if you are not happy with one pair of shoes, then you will not be happy with more shoes. If you don't have a strong determination for yourself to be free of samsara, then how can you cultivate the wish for others to be free? It's not a certificate you can get. It has to be in your heart, mind.

Here is a nice 12 minute teaching from Geshe Pema Dorjee la on how to equalize and exchange the self for others, recorded in 2015.


Second semester, Geshe la requested Venerable Jangchup Choedon Rinpoche la come teach us while Geshe la was away. Venerable Jangchup Choedon Rinpoche la met with us from November 11 - 19. He is the former abbot ("Khensur" with "Khen" meaning abbot in the Tibetan language, and "sur" meaning former) of Gaden Shartse Monastery in south India.

Venerable Jangchup Choeden Rinpoche la with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2009.
Photo from Buddhist Gem Fellowship website.
Venerable Jangchup Choedon Rinpoche la met with us eight times, leading us through the text Illumination of Thought by Lama Tsongkhapa, An Extensive Explanation of Chandrakirti's 'Supplement to the Middle Way'. We talked a lot about the bodhisattvas, which I greatly enjoyed. 

He gave us such beautiful teachings, sharing insights from his own life experience, and relating conversations he had had with his teachers.

He taught us in Tibet, water is a very precious substance, most precious for survival. The water in Tibet is of very high quality, so pure. He told us some children walk 1 km (0.6 miles) to fetch water for their families. So when in Tibet, people fill water bowls on their altars with water, they are offering to the Buddha the most precious substance, that which sustains life. We should think the same when we make our own water bowl offerings.

Here is a 1 hour 28 minute public talk Venerable Jangchup Choedon Rinpoche la gave at Tibet House in November 2017.


We are now in the first semester of our second year of study, set to complete the Nalanda Masters Course in 2020. After completion of the first four years of study, there will be an option to continue studying with the program for an additional two years.

Tibet House One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy

In January 2018 Geshe la announced that Tibet House would be offering a new course, a One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy. This course was designed to benefit the students who have come to Geshe la since the Nalanda Masters Course began, asking about opportunities to further their Buddhist studies.

Geshe la has explained that students who complete the One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy will automatically become eligible to join the next cohort of the Nalanda Masters Course. The students currently enrolled in the Nalanda Masters Course are the first cohort; Geshe la has not yet made plans for the start of a second cohort.

Here is the official e-mail announcement from Tibet House Delhi, announcing the new course:


Tibet House
One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy
(Regular & Online)

------------------------------ ------------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------

After the successful launch of the ongoing Nalanda Masters Course by HH the Dalai Lama on 09/Dec/2016, Tibet House feels that there is a genuine need in the modern world to introduce the rich legacies of the Nalanda Tradition in a systematic and comprehensive way but also within a shorter duration of time. The various subjects included in the Diploma course are the same as those studied and practiced in the various Tibetan monastic universities following the Nalanda Tradition.

Keeping this in mind, Tibet House is extremely pleased to announce a One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy.

This course is being offered for all those who wish to acquire the knowledge of the key subjects of Buddhism and deepen their understanding and practice of Dharma.

On successful completion of this course, participants will be entitled to get admission in the second batch of the Nalanda Masters Course.

Please note that Monastics and students can avail a 75% discount on the course fee (Terms and conditions apply).

Registration for this course has opened. For more details please visit Tibet House website - http://tibethouse.in/node/555

Last date for registration is 31st July 2018.

For queries, please email info[@]tibethouse.in


I visited the above website, and found that Geshe la has created an eight minute video to introduce potential students to the One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy.


If you have even a thought to enroll in the course, then please do. The Nalanda Masters Course has been an amazing opportunity, and I am sure the One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy will be the same.

As Geshe la mentions in the above video, the course fee should not be a barrier, and thus has been kept very low at 5,000 INR ($78). If you are a monk or a nun, the course fee is $19.50 for One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy.

If you would first like to learn about Geshe la's teaching style, then I recommend listening to this audio recording of a class taught on Acharya Aryadeva's 400 Verses at Tibet House on January 29, 2017. Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul la begins teaching 22 minutes into the recording when he remarks that "we are on Chapter eight." I was in class that day, and really benefited from the lecture. There are also many video recordings of Geshe la teaching on the Tibet House YouTube channel.

Launch of the Tibet House One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy

Tibet House circulated an invitation to all interested in participating in the launch of the One Year Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy. Although the course will not begin until Wednesday, May 2, 2018 Tibet House will be inaugurating the course on Friday, February 16.

Here is the email announcement from Tibet House:


Friday, 16th February 2018
Losar (Tibetan New Year) Celebration
with Ceremony of Undertaking Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge*

On the joyous occasion of Losar (Tibetan New Year), Tibet House invites you and your family to join for the Ceremony of Undertaking Aspirational Bodhisattva Vow and Official Launch of Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy.

Program Schedule:

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM : Ceremony of Undertaking Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge
11:30 AM - 12:00 PM : Tea Break
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM : Launch of Diploma Course in Nalanda Buddhist Philosophy
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM : Lunch Break
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM : Pilgrimage Trip to Relics of Buddha at National Museum, Delhi

Venue: Conference Hall, Tibet House

RSVP - pc@tibethouse.in

*This event will be live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyZu0jsdpFk (screen just below this text) 

  


I found more details about the schedule on the Tibet House website. Please note that the above times are listed in India Standard Time. If you are planning to join the livestream of the Ceremony of Undertaking the Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge and you are in the USA, then you will want to set your alarm for 11:30PM ET on Thursday, February 15, 2018.

I would like to dedicate this post to a friend and fellow Tibet House Nalanda Masters Course student, Mithun Mahajan who unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 36 last November 15. He is greatly missed.

Mithun Mahajan. Photo from Tibet House.
The previous summer, 2016 the Tibet House community also lost another student, Tsering la. Geshe la offered Tibet House students, as well as their friends and family the opportunity to take the Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge for Mithun and Tsering la on November 26, 2017. Our efforts were dedicated to Tsering la, and to Mithun for his quick and wholesome rebirth.

Geshe la has not offered the Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge over livestream since we took it to honor Mithun and Tsering la on November 26, 2017. It is a rare opportunity, to get to take the Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge with Geshe la over livestream. If taking the Aspirational Bodhisattva Pledge is something that interests you, then I encourage you to join me in tuning into the livestream on February 15 at 11:30PM ET.