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!