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.

Next Course: Insight Into Emptiness

Insight into Emptiness

A Rime Shedra NYC Course on the Profound View of the Middle Way

12 of the Tuesdays from September 17 to December 17, 2019, 7:00-9:15 pm

At The Lithuanian Alliance of America, 307 West 30th Street, NY, NY

Suggested offering: $144 for the series or $15/class on a drop-in basis

This course will be an in-depth exploration of the Middle Way view of the nature of reality as presented in the Tibetan Prasangika tradition. We will focus primarily on the method of the Geluk tradition as presentation in the fine book Insight into Emptiness by Khensur Rinpoche Jampa Tegchok. However, we will supplement this with handouts and other selected readings provided in both digital and hard copy.

This book presents the essential concepts to facilitate our investigation into how things actually exist. When learning about the nature of reality, we will encounter some technical vocabulary as well as concepts that are new to us. The philosophical terms are explained, and a glossary can be found at the end of the book. Key concepts are unpacked in a clear manner. Thus, this book is an excellent, in-depth introduction to the topic of emptiness that will help prepare the reader for the study of the great Indian and Tibetan works. This clear explanation also includes instructions on how to reflect and meditate on emptiness.

The nature of reality is not easy to understand and realize. So this book is not a ”one-read” book, where we receive some useful information and go on to something else afterward. The topic of emptiness entails great effort in study and contemplation, and thus rereading this book will enable us to derive more and more benefit. Each time we read the material, new understandings will develop in our mind, even though the words are the same.

To participate in the course, please purchase a copy of the book on your own and express your interest to Derek Kolleeny. Classes are recorded so you can catch up on any you miss and placed on this Web site.

Classes are held at 307 West 30th Street, NY, NY 1001, on the third floor (this is a walkup). #307 West 30th Street, NY, NY 10001 is between 8th and 9th Avenues, but is closer to 8th and is a block away from Penn Station. The building is owned by The Lithuanian Alliance of America (which is written on the building). If the gate is closed push the right side of the gate forward to open (you may have to lift the long bar that sometimes is in the down position and holds it in place). Press the second buzzer from the top, the one labeled “Third Floor.” Go up two flights of stairs. When you enter please take off your shoes. If you sit on a cushion and can bring one, please do; otherwise, no problem, there are chairs and some funky cushions there.

Next Course: The Progressive Stages of Contemplation on Emptiness

The Progressive Stages of Contemplation on Emptiness: Nyingma and Geluk Presentations of the Major Buddhist Philosophical Systems

An Advanced Buddhist Studies/Rime Shedra NYC Course

Ten Tuesdays from May 15 to July 17, 2018, from 7-9:15 pm

Shambhala Meditation Center of New York

Register here

Meant as the prequel to the theme of the progressive stages of meditation on emptiness, i.e. reality, this course will explore the view and context that supplement that scheme. While for some this material might be viewed as the Nyquil of Buddhist topics, for those “in the know,” this is the very essence of what we bring into our practice of vipashyana meditation. As the Buddha says in the Lankavatara Sutra: “My dharma has two modes, advice and tenets. To children I speak advice and to yogis, tenets.”

The stages of this progression are mapped out into the four schools of Buddhist thought, however, instead of viewing these as literal historically distinct schools, the Tibetan tradition is famous for understanding these as stages that all of us go through in developing our understanding of reality, from naïve realism to subtle essencelessness. This way of viewing the progressive stages provides the foundation for the path of study and practice in our tradition.

In keeping with our characteristically Rime style, in this course we will study presentations of these stages from both the Nyingma and Geluk traditions. For the Nyingma, we will explore Mipham’s Summary of Philosophical Systems, translated by along with commentary by Herbert V. Guenther in his Buddhist Philosophy in Theory and Practice. For the Geluk tradition, we will explore Konchok Jigmey Wangpo’s summary presentation of Jamyang Shepa’s Great Stages of the View in Cutting Through Appearances translated along with commentary by Geshe Lhundup Sopa and Jeffrey Hopkins. Additionally, we will study the extremely helpful introductory contextual material in Buddhist Philosophy by Daniel Cozort and Craig Preston.

Readings will be provided in a sourcebook, available for free as a pdf or in hard copy at cost.

Next Course: The History of Buddhism in India

An Advanced Buddhist Studies/RimeShedra.NYC Course

Ten of the Tuesdays from January 23rd to April 3rd, 2018 (Omitting February 20th; From 7-9:15 pm)

Shambhala Meditation Center of New York

To fully understand the profundity of the Buddha’s teachings it is helpful to also understand its gradual unfolding in this world realm. The view and approach to practice are taught in terms of historical developments over time, and also as a personal evolution of understanding where each stage builds on the insight of the previous. In this course we will explore both traditional and contemporary western scholarly views of this evolutionary historical process. By becoming familiar with the major periods, systems of thought, authors and their texts, we can then understand the core texts of the tradition in a deeper and more experiential way. This will reflect in the stages of our development in understanding the view and our experience of view through practice. Readings will be provided in a sourcebook, available for free as a pdf or in hard copy at cost.


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!