WOW!!! My stepdad just wrote me a note reminding me it has been nearly 3 months since I lasted posted a blog. Since July 15, or some such, I spent 6 weeks in Italy, applied for the Master Program at Lama Tsong Khapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy, got accepted, ran back to the States for 3 weeks to secure my visa, included a trip to Canada with the folks, and began the Tibetan Language Course on September 17, which preceeds the Master Program.
What is the Masters Program you ask? I am taking the easy road out, and have copied and pasted the below directly from the website, ” The FPMT Masters Program in Buddhist Studies of Sutra and Tantra at Lama Tzong Khapa Institute is based on the traditional geshe (teacher) studies program of Tibetan Gelug monastic universities. This residential study program is taught in Tibetan and translated into English and Italian for students from all over the world. It is based on the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni as commented on and realized by the scholars and meditators of India and Tibet, including Arya Nagarjuna, Acharya Chandrakirti, and Lama Tsongkhapa. Not only does this program offer an in-depth study of such important texts as Abhisamayalamkara by Maitreya, Madhyamakavatara by Chandrakirti, and Abhidharmakosha by Vasubandhu, it also offers an extremely rare opportunity to receive extensive teachings on tantra in the Buddhist tradition, in particular the highest yoga tantra of Guhyasamaja.”
What does that actually mean? To me it means that I will gain a map of the mind/heart that is useful during meditation practice and will enable me to offer help, advice to others, on the Buddhist, Meditative, Yogic path…’full enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings’.
Why did I choose this course? Because it is one of 2 programs in the world in that uses a scholastic approach to Tibetan Buddhism which is made available to westerns via english language translation. It is the only one where women and men study under the same external circumstances. It is also the only one situated in the rolling hills of the Tuscan country side! I always wondered why I had to study Italian in 2002, but I knew I had to…and now it is proving very useful. If you’d like to see pictures, go to the website at http://www.iltk.it. Pomaia is a beautiful place.
Oddly enough, mom, john and dad have all been here. Mom and John came 3 years ago when they visited Tuscany. I was just beginning to research the school then and asked mom if she could make a trip. Turns out their best friends, Bob and Cindy, the ones who invited them to Italy in the first place, have family about 20 minutes away. The school is literally up the hill from where they were staying. Last summer when I was in Italy, Vanessa and Kevin drove me up to look at the school. So they’ve been here too and Viareggio is about 45 minutes away…another odd coincidence. And then when dad was here in August we made a trip up. He was taken by the beauty of the place and both he and mom agreed to help me out. 6 years of study with no steady income…what can I say other than I feel incredibly grateful to everyone who is sacrificing for me so I can be here.
As for Tibetan Language…che palle! as the would say in Italy. The only real way to take it in is to just open the mind and let it flow. You can search all day for rules but as soon as something seems solid, fixed or with a pattern, you see pretty quickly that either in the colloquial, written or honorific language it is different. It is like learning 3 languages at the same time. But really, really amazing because of our teacher, Gavin. He took the “Magic Bus” from Europe acrossed the Middle East to India in the 60s, arrived in Dharamsala and stayed there for 14 years. His Tibetan is amazing and his knowledge of Buddhism is profound. Not to mention he is a quirky, Einstein-type, english gent.
6 years! yeah. But the good news is I have summers free and I can take part of the course online, which I may do for the first few years. I may have the chance to go back to Thailand and continue studying at Agama and do the Masters Program at the same time. As for the future…only time will tell.
So, how are you? are you still out there? write soon.