Ignorance is the cause of suffering

The goal of the Rime Shedra is to make accessible the vast treasures of Buddhist wisdom to those who wish to progress further in their understanding of the profound principles presented in these advanced Buddhist texts. The understanding of the ultimate nature of reality is the key to liberation. For practitioners this program provides an opportunity to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of reality.  For scholars it provides an opportunity to expand their understanding of Buddhism by cultivating an experiential understanding. The program is based upon the traditional Shedra, or monastic college, curriculum which is the cornerstone of Buddhist education in all of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

RimeShedra.NYC’s 12th Year Anniversary

In the summer of 2003, I attended the of first four consecutive summer programs taught by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on the famous classic by Chandrakirti called Introduction to the Middle Way. Rinpoche gave an amazing presentation on the content of this profound text, both generally and word by word. It was just like the way this text is taught in the traditional Tibetan monastic university, i.e. Shedra, setting. 

I was deeply inspired by his presentation, and the way that he had gathered so many students who otherwise would never go anywhere near this difficult text! I determined to follow his example and also to build on the momentum that he had created in doing this. I decided that I would try to do the same thing–on a lesser scale of course–at our Shambhala Center in NYC, where I was serving as Director of Practice & Study. 

With the help of Nancy Murphy and Michele Laporte as co-teachers and the invaluable support of then director of the center, Deborah Garrett, in the winter of 2004, we began a two-and-a-half-year, five-part series of courses on that same famous and difficult text.  We used the written commentary by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, which his organization had published from his teachings on the text a few years before, and also a commentary by Jamgon Mipham the Great. Our first class had 50 participants! And in the spring of 2005 DKR finally accepted our repeated requests and visited us to address our class! 

When that five-part series was completed, instead of being exhausted and not wanting to study anything so rigorous, most participants wanted to go further in the study of classic Buddhist texts!  And so began the Rime Shedra

Over the past twelve years we have held 33 courses, plus two weekend seminars, focused on the traditional classics.  The courses generally consisted of 10 classes each, thus comprising a total of over 330 classes! For each course, there is a detailed syllabus and for most, a sourcebook compilation of the readings, plus many handouts and often additional supplementary sourcebooks. All of these are elegantly posted here, along with recordings of each class since 2009, and as a podcast going forward!

The courses are sorted into the five topics of our Shedra curriculum: Meditation (our innovative replacement for the precepts!), Abhidharma, Pramana, Madhyamaka, and the Path.

Tremendous gratitude to Morgan Sandquist for creating and maintaining the site, to my colleagues and advisors, to all of the over one hundred and fifty participants over the years, and to the Shambhala Center and its many directors and staff for helping make this possible! 

Derek Kolleeny