Issue 04 – May 3, 2008
Internship Program Update: An Additional Opportunity for New Students
Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche teaching in the Mandala Garden at the Dzogchen Retreat Center on April 26, 2008
The Dzogchen Six-Month Internship Program is approaching fast, with a start date of July 4th just about two months away. Though attending at least two seasonal retreats with Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche is listed as a prerequisite for joining our historic Six-Month Internship, there may be exceptions. In fact, the upcoming Summer Retreat may fulfill part of that prerequisite. In addition to this, Rinpoche has recently set forth the opportunity to attend a one-week introduction on the Buddhist Fundamentals prior to the Dzogchen 6-Month Internship Program and Summer Retreat. So don’t let this requirement be an obstacle that prompts you to wait for a chance that may never come again.
This introductory week will allow newcomers to test the waters and make a final decision before committing to the 6-month program. This opportunity is being opened up to the right people with the right intentions. It’s an important chance to not only receive these teachings from Rinpoche, but to actually experience and realize them. Here we can really prove to ourselves how Dharma can transform our thinking and lives.
If you are a newcomer who wants to attend the Six-Month Internship Program, but you haven’t attended a retreat in the past, you can and should register now. Since Rinpoche was unable to teach part of the recent spring retreat, we want to provide the opportunity for another short retreat before the Internship begins. This Introduction week will only be provided if enough people are interested and commit to attending. If this interests you and you can attend, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.
If you are even remotely considering attending the Internship, please contact:
A Special Appeal Regarding the Dzogchen Six-Month Internship Program
Some of the springtime wildflowers and rainbow dew drops covering the Mandala Garden Meadow at the Dzogchen Retreat Center
More than 90% of people today are working towards short-term goals that benefit only themselves, and only in this life. Very few people are engaged in activities for the benefit of all sentient beings, and even fewer people are trying to realize their basic goodness and reach enlightenment. Even when we know our lives are impermanent, we still continue to engage in the world with a limited perspective.
The Buddha’s teachings emphasize just how wonderful it is to actually understand, make use of, and preserve the instructions that help all beings increase their happiness, while helping others do the same. The most effective means by which we can successfully do so is to study, contemplate, and meditate using the authentic methods of the Dzogchen Lineage.
Everyone is encouraged and invited to attend the Six-Month Internship. It is not too late to take advantage of this precious opportunity. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Kunzang at 702-343-5833.
Some people may feel hesitant to attend because of relationships and family concerns. Consider the possibility that you may actually benefit your relationships more by increasing your love, compassion and wisdom—much more so than by not attending. Reflect on how, in our society, families send loved ones to serve and fight in the military for a year or even years. This is all done with the accepted notion of a “great sacrifice” for the freedom of others. Conversely, one attending the Six-Month Internship isn’t making any sacrifice, but is benefiting oneself and others by becoming immersed in the techniques that all people can use to permanently free themselves from suffering. So, everyone wins. How wonderful it will be when a loved one returns with true medicine for removing the cause of suffering, our negative thinking!
To facilitate families and relationships, the Dzogchen Six-Month Internship Program has provided several avenues for maintaining our close connections. First, loved ones are welcome to volunteer as support staff for short periods, or even the entirety of the retreat. Second, one Saturday a month, family members may visit Internship students. Additionally, summer, fall, and winter retreats will be running concurrently during the Internship Program which not only provide a chance to visit with loved ones, but also provide our extended families an opportunity to experience a retreat at the same time.
Others might feel as though they are not ready for this intensive program, that it’s too early in their development. In truth, we can never be sure that opportunities like this will present themselves again in the future. This uncertainty derives from both the potential that the program may not be available in the future, and the awareness that we ourselves may not be able to attend in the future. We may move, get sick, or even die. We never know. If you wait, it may be too late.
Even if you are just capable of attending, you already have the 36 freedoms and advantages of a precious human life, which include a healthy body, sound mind, leisure, and access to the teacher and teachings. In short, a precious life is one with the purpose to increase positive thinking for self and others. If even one of these 36 qualities were missing, there’s no way one would be able to attend. You are so fortunate. Seize this opportunity, because learning to teach the Dharma is the ideal fruition of these freedoms and advantages. While recognizing what a rare and precious opportunity this is, ask yourself what could be a better way to leverage our fortunate circumstances than to attend the Dzogchen Six-Month Internship Program?
Please dear friends, we implore you to realize the opportunity you have before you, and to do whatever it takes to attend. Time is short. The future is uncertain. Don’t waste this opportunity.
Even looking at the Buddha’s life story, we find that our situations are similar. So many times the circumstances in our lives pull us away from pursuing positive activities and achieving our highest goals. There will always be conditions that keep us from participating in a retreat of this kind—jobs, relationships, pets, and even our own insecurity. If we choose not to attend based on these ever-changing conditions, how can we be sure that these things will be stable and last? In truth, if we make the heartfelt commitment and effort to attend, it is guaranteed that the long-term results will improve.
At times, even our closest family and friends may try to dissuade us and, while some people may have good intentions, they don’t understand that holding others back from pursuing their life’s purpose is potentially damaging to themselves in the long run.
“We respect their good intentions,” says Khenpo Choga Rinpoche, “but we should tell them that we are not abandoning them for a vacation. As a matter of fact, we are doing this FOR them—our family, friends, coworkers, our cities, our country, and the whole world. Many people are doing good things for this world, but we are doing something unique and indispensable for the peace and well-being of all. There is no reason to hesitate, my dear friends. We all want a better world, and the best thing all of us can do is to teach Dharma. I believe that. If you ask the Buddha what is the best thing you can do to help this world, the Buddha will tell you it’s teaching Dharma. It is the best medicine, true hope in a chaotic world.”
Dzogchen Spring Retreat Recap
Dzogchen Spring Retreat group photo, April 2008
The 2008 Dzogchen Spring Retreat successfully came to a close on Sunday, April 27th. We had nearly 30 retreatants, and we were able to share a highly productive retreat where many new students gained a strong understanding of the foundational principles of Buddhism. The retreat began facing obstacles with a display of flu symptoms by H.E. Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche. Rinpoche, who had just arrived back from overseas after constantly teaching and traveling throughout Asia for three months, took an unannounced personal retreat in his room during most of the retreat. Fortunately, by the end of the retreat, Rinpoche recovered and was able to conclude the retreat jubilantly, with seven new students taking refuge.
Students react to Khenpo Choga Rinpoche's amazing good sense of humor at the conclusion of the refuge ceremony on April 27, 2008
Because of these conditions, experienced students were asked by Rinpoche to guide the retreatants through the foundation of Buddha’s teachings. The guiding teachers, Erik Jung, Hazlitt Krog, and Justin Armour, also benefited greatly from the valuable experience of teaching the group for several days during the week.
In the end, the retreat was a resounding success. The retreat group was made up of many new students, who remarked that they were “extremely satisfied” with the comprehensive teachings. Those who had attended previous retreats benefited from the review and were also able to pass along some of their wisdom during the sessions and breaks. There seemed to be even more Dharma discussions between sessions than at prior retreats. This experience left all three guiding teachers feeling that the retreatants were given “a good, solid foundation” on their path to understanding Buddhist teachings and awakening their own basic goodness.
This process led to many realizations about the Dharma and teaching. Of vital importance is the recognition of just how crucial it is for Khenpo Choga Rinpoche to lead the Dzogchen Six-Month Internship Program to train future teachers, in order to firmly establish the Dzogchen Lineage in the modern world.
Just a few key realizations regarding this retreat experience:
The events of the Spring Retreat made it crystal clear how important it is to study Dharma when one is young and healthy.
Summer Retreat Registration Open
Friday, July 4, 2008 to Friday, July 25, 2008
Join us for a three-week Dharma training intensive and Drupchen practice guided by H. E. Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche
Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche teaching from the Tibetan Book of the Dead on April 27, 2008
Dzogchen Buddha Foundation is pleased to announce the 6th annual Dzogchen Summer Retreat. The Dzogchen Summer Retreat 2008 will be held at the beautiful and secluded Dzogchen Retreat Center USA.
This summer's retreat will have a unique format with three distinct one-week phases. Retreatants may register to attend either Week One or the entire Three-Week event. Due to the extraordinary blessing that the retreat will culminate in a Drupchen, it will not be permissible to return to the retreat once one has left it, nor to arrive in the middle of it.
Week One: Consists of Rinpoche's essential teachings on the foundational topics of Buddhism and on the sacred text The Buddha Path.
Week Two: Transitions into the preparations of ritual offerings for Drupchen as well as teachings specific to Drupchen practice. Preparations will be a joyful blend of Dharma activities, learning, and practice.
Week Three: This week will be entirely dedicated to the actual Drupchen practice. The Summer retreatants will practice alongside the six-month interns and help to set an auspicious tone for the historic first ever Dzogchen Lineage Internship.
For more information about the Summer Retreat, please contact:
Khenpo Choga to Teach in Las Vegas
Event Just Scheduled
Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18, 2008
The Dzogchen Bodhi Institute of Las Vegas is pleased to announce the May 2008 Dzogchen Urban Retreat led by H.E. Dzogchen Khenpo Choga Rinpoche. Students attending the retreat will receive a profound, yet basic understanding in the view, meditation and conduct of the Buddha’s teachings as taught according to the Dzogchen Lineage. This retreat is intended to give students the opportunity to learn the most essential principles of the Buddha’s teachings, thereby creating a solid foundation from which all other practices can build. Teachings, meditations, prayers, as well as Q&A sessions will provide students with practices of positive thinking which they can incorporate into their daily lives and help all sentient beings.
For those students interested in attending the Six-Month Dzogchen Lineage Internship, yet have not met the prerequisite of attending a previous retreat with Khenpo Choga, this retreat will act as a partial fulfillment of the requirement. Check with event coordinators for details.
We encourage students of all levels to come and join us in an event filled with meditation, prayer, wisdom, love and laughter.
Location is yet to be determined. For the latest information about the location and to register please contact either Edgar Hartley at 702-204-1331 email@example.com or Justin Armour at 702-610-2016 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dzambhala Kitchen Project Update
Volunteers Needed for Ongoing Projects
May and June 2008
We’ve got great news regarding our kitchen, which will accommodate providing ample meals for all of our future sangha members. The progress is going smoothly. The refurbished gas range has been delivered and is scheduled to be hooked up soon. However, we greatly need volunteers to complete this project and to have a functioning kitchen by the end of May. There are cabinets to build, shelves to complete around the upper part of the cooking area, electrical wiring, and a pantry to complete.
Robert Lapham, the kitchen project coordinator, will be at the Dzogchen Retreat Center around May 7th to begin lining up the projects. He is requesting diligent skilled and non-skilled volunteers throughout the month of May to help finish our beautiful Dzambhala Kitchen.
If you are available to help on the Dzambhala Kitchen project, call the DRC at 202-657-4108 or email Robert at email@example.com.
Volunteers are also greatly needed during May and June for the Mandala Garden Project. Please contact Erik Jung at 503-998-8088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers are also greatly needed as soon as possible for the Tech Department Project. Please contact Susan Lanker at 503-504-2486 or email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATE: May 23-25, Retreat Center Anniversary Celebration
Event Just Scheduled
Friday, May 23 through Sunday, May 25, 2008
Khenpo Choga Rinpoche and students soak up the healing energy of the land in the Mandala Garden at the Dzogchen Retreat Center on April 26, 2008
Plans are tentatively in place for a combination work party and fundraising celebration on the weekend of May 23-25, the first anniversary of the acquisition of our holy property. We will have great Dharma activity projects for us to all participate in and rejoice in the progress we’ve made in the last year. All while raising funds to pay for our next installment by July.
Those unable to attend the work party are warmly encouraged to celebrate this milestone by donating what you can towards this year's lease by sending check or money order to:
Be sure to rejoice and dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. You may also recite the Heartfelt Dharma Aspiration Prayer for the success of the historic Dzogchen Six-Month Internship Program at the DRC:
Download the Heartfelt Dharma Aspiration Prayer
Watch the Dzogchen Lineage website for updates. Call 202-657-4108 with any questions or to pre-register for the anniversary events.
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Love and Compassion + Awareness and Wisdom = Dzogchen Lineage