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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 79 Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche was inspired to teach Western students by his own teacher, the Sixteenth Karmapa. “He told me many times that you’ve got to teach whoever is inter- ested in the dharma,” says Chokyi Nyima, “and Westerners are really hungry.” The firstborn son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima was twenty-five when he became the abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal, in 1976. He soon began to give weekend teachings to Western travelers, but thought it was important to offer nonmonastics (Western and otherwise) a more comprehensive Buddhist education. For this reason, in 1997, he established the Rangjung Yeshe Institute (RYI). On its own, however, the institute could not offer recognized degrees, so it joined forces with Kath- mandu University in 2002 and formed the Center for Buddhist Studies. Today the center offers B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Buddhist studies and Himalayan languages, as well as study abroad and intensive summer programs. Though now a branch of Kathmandu University, the institute is still located at the Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Mon- astery and its classes are held at the monastery’s shedra, or monastic college. A hallmark of RYI is that it combines the Tibetan monastic way of teaching Buddhist phi- losophy with modern academic methods. “Tibet- ans go much more in-depth on any particular thing that they study,” says program director Joanne Larson. At least at the B.A. level, “West- erners tend to be more about breadth.” When Larson taught Madhyamika, for example, she approached it in the Western way. Leading her students to look at several different Madhyamika texts, she taught them where the tradition came from in India, who the first Madhyamika was, what he had to say about it, and how the Tibet- ans interpreted the tradition. In contrast, the Profile By Andrea Miller RANGJUNG YESHE INSTITUTE PHOTOS(TOP,LEFT)MICHAELEISENBACH,PETEROLIN (Top) Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal (Above) Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, founder of Rangjung Yeshe Institute