While the national lockdown in Nepal has come to an end, the monastery continues to be closed to the public in order to protect our monastic community. Study and practice have continued without interruption, however. The warmth of Rinpoche’s impartial compassion shines on everyone, and Rinpoche has always requested that the monastery find ways to make teachings available to those who cannot come to the monastery in person for whatever reason—distance, health, finances, work and family responsibilities, and so forth.
The lockdown has proven to be a perfect opportunity for the monks to continue to fulfill Rinpoche’s wish using the power of technology. Under Rinpoche’s guidance, working with local tech and design teams, the monks have undertaken the recording and production of online classes which will be freely accessible to all. These classes include a beginner’s Tibetan language class, in which students learn how to pronounce, read, and write the alphabet properly; a meditation course, beginning with śamatha and progressing on that essential basis; and foundational Buddhist teachings. The aim is to provide these courses with translation into as many different languages as possible.
Due to Rinpoche’s kindness and encouragement, the monks, tech team, and translators have come together to make the seventh annual ngöndro retreat available online. Even though we cannot come together in person for this precious practice opportunity, we can practice at home and be connected virtually to the monastic practitioners. The retreat includes four sessions a day live-streamed from the monastery’s Facebook page and recorded teachings that students can access any time.
Many of you may have joined Rinpoche’s birthday celebration online. At that time, a musical offering was made to Rinpoche. The monks and lay sangha have come together to record a collection of mantra and devotional chants that uplift and heal. This recording is being professionally produced and is nearing completion.
Future plans for harnessing the power of technology to connect students all over the world to authentic Buddhadharma include virtual trips to sacred sites, short animated films, and courses on all aspects of Buddhist philosophy.
While the monastery has already accomplished a great deal in spreading the dharma technologically in these past six months, these efforts are just the beginning of a greater vision. The monastery has built a strong working team of monastics and lay people, including both professionals and volunteers; they worked with the resources on hand to create an ad hoc audio-visual recording studio and editing room. We are now ready for the next level; plans are underway to create a purpose-built audio and video recording studio constructed and equipped to the highest international standards.
During the lockdown, the monastery has focused not only on making teachings available online but has also worked on making things easier physically for those in Nepal who wish to keep up their connection to the gompa. The offering office was previously located within the monastery. Knowing that many people would like to continue their prayer requests especially during this time of extra hardship and uncertainty, the monks set up a durable tent outside of the inner main gate of the monastery.
With deep winter fast approaching, this arrangement was no longer suitable, so the monks acted quickly to build a welcoming office just to the right of the entrance to the monastery grounds. Eventually this area will be expanded to include an information office and reception area to welcome all visitors to the monastery.
We hope you will support the monks’ efforts to expand public outreach both through technology and physical improvements to the monastery.