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Towards an American Buddhism

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche discusses the evolution of an American form of Buddhism…

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Upcoming Events

Nalandabodhi Tara Drupchen
Sept. 24 – Sept. 27, All Day

Dispel Fear Through Loving-Kindness:Add Your Prayers & Positive Aspirations 
The Nalandabodhi International sangha announces our fifth annual Tara Drupchen. The Drupchen this year is hosted online with practices at Nalanda West in Seattle, Karmapa Center 16 in Chicago, and many Nalandabodhi centers around the world from September 24 – 27, 2020.You can register to attend and participate in practice sessions online by clicking here.


There will be simultaneous translation during this event into Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, French, and German.


In all wisdom traditions, including Buddhism, it is said that the antidote to fear is loving-kindness. In Vajrayana Buddhism, the figure of Tara symbolizes the fearless and compassionate energy of our mind’s true nature and a firm resolve to dispel the suffering and fears of all beings.


This year’s event is hosted online with Nalandabodhi acharyas, lamas, and mitras leading this practice intensive in Seattle and Chicago. Please join us – as we practice together from all around the world.


Our 2020 Tara Drupchen is especially dedicated to overcoming the current pandemic, to all beings suffering directly or indirectly from it, and to dispelling fear in our world.


It is customary to make prayer requests and aspirations during this time. You can make those here. These requests and aspirations link our intentions with Tara to dispel fears, obstacles, sickness, and death. We will share your prayer requests with our Nalandabodhi teachers, sangha members, and practitioners participating in Tara Drupchen.

* You can register here.
* You can make prayer requests and aspirations here.

Find Out More

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Aspiring Kindly at Nalandabodhi Fourth Annual Winter Meditation Retreat

Thanks to all who worked to make it such a wonderful experience!


Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen offered incisive and heartfelt teaching on Eight Verses for Training the Mind by Geshe Langri Thangpa. Acharya Lhakpa Tshering offered practical guidance on approaching meditation practice skillfully and with an attitude of compassion. Both teachers engaged us with their warm and funny teaching style, and many participants commented on how profound and accessible they found these talks. In addition, Damayonti Sengupta, who leads Nalandabodhi International under the direction of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, and Ellen Balzé, who coordinates aspects of Nalandabodhi’s Path of Mindful Activity, facilitated workshops on bringing aspirations for greater kindness to life in 2019. Workshop participants engaged in a variety of creative activities designed to inspire and clarify heartfelt aspirations, and also worked with practical methods to help bring those aspirations to fulfillment in 2019. For the first time, we also engaged in an evening of dharma songs and stories, with our teachers providing invaluable insight as they joined with us in welcoming 2019 with the songs of Milarepa and of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

East Coast Winter Retreat, which is open to all, has become for many participants an important support for making the transition to a new year with mindfulness, joy, and connection to a kind community. Consider including it in your plans for welcoming 2020–we’d love to share the experience with you!

questions about Nalandabodhi retreats?

Please e-mail philadelphia@nalandabodhi.org.  We’ll do our best to respond promptly.

Please share on Facebook!

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Ponlop Rinpoche on Mindfulness and Political Activism

GOKIND-Mindfulness-Political-ActivismDzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche answers questions about maintaining mindfulness and a heartfelt motivation when engaging in politics or social activism.

From dpr.info 


Q: Can activism succeed without conflict or confrontation? How can one view prevail?

RINPOCHE:  We could say almost all of these movements have started with a good intention. Originally. Everything started with a good motivation — capitalism and what-have-you. But sometimes even though our original intention may be to help by starting a movement or being active in a certain area, we get carried away.

When we get carried away, then we ourselves actually become one of the very institutions or privileged groups … that we’re trying to change. We become pretty much the same except that we have different messages –– we have different labels and taglines. But actually we’ve become very aggressive. We’ve become impatient. We’ve become part of the status quo. Instead of becoming the solution, we have become part of the problem.

Q: So are activism and social movements just inherently going to go in that direction?

RINPOCHE: We don’t have to. We just have to keep the original motivation. That sense of when we first started it, like in someone’s garage or maybe around a bonfire or in a coffee shop. When we originally start it, there’s so much fun, there’s so much heart. There is so much enthusiasm and love along with that sense of desire to change something. There is a real sense of wanting to be part of that. Then later it becomes like a job where you just have to please somebody like your constituency, your boss, or your nonprofit organization. And then it loses the heart, the original motivation –– that genuine curiosity and excitement.


Q:  I have a question about obstacles to compassion. Sometimes our actions can result in what is sometimes called “idiot compassion,” or other unintended consequences. When the intention is good but the result isn’t great, what has gone wrong? Is it ego clinging and fear once again, or is it a different set of obstacles?

RINPOCHE: Yes, ego is always a problem. The basic root of our obstacles is ego, self centered view. But in compassion the main obstacle, so to speak, is lack of confidence and lack of skillfulness. Skillful means is very important.

In order for our compassion–– genuine compassion, not idiot compassion––to manifest a positive result, it also needs to embrace upaya, or skillful means.  Therefore bodhisattvas’ training, the majority portion of Mahayana training, is in skillful means because the actual teaching is very simple, right? It’s teaching compassion, lovingkindness, this heart of bodhicitta and so on. But the majority of the work is in action––how to do it, how to achieve it as well as how to make it effective.  Then that’s where the upaya, or skillful means, starts kicking in, you know.

That’s why when we look at the paramita practices like generosity, discipline, patience, exertion and so on, there’s a lot of training in skillful means involved. Learning how to be generous, how to be patient, how to be disciplined in mindfulness, engaging in the mindful discipline practices––all of these are aspects of training in skillful means. All of these things play an important role in our compassionate action. So as long as our intention is really pure, then sometimes you don’t really have to worry too much about the result. OK, it didn’t work one time, that’s fine. Let’s try again! We must try again and again. The most important thing is to check our intention, our motivation.

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Nalandabodhi Founder Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche’s Talk at Swarthmore College

An Evening with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Swarthmore College    

Nalandabodhi founder Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche addressed an audience at Swarthmore College on April 28th. His topic was Buddhism for the 21st Century.

Rinpoche spoke about how, despite the material and technological advances over the centuries since Buddha Shakyamuni’s time, the challenges of mastering our minds have remained remarkably similar. He also spoke about the fact that while technological and other material advances have been tremendously helpful to human society in many ways, these advances have not generally aided us in removing the causes of much of the suffering that persists on our planet. He suggested that, as a science of mind, Buddhism offers a way of addressing the causes of this suffering as well as powerful methods for cultivating and practicing compassion.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a widely celebrated Buddhist teacher and the author of Emotional Rescue, Rebel Buddha, and other books. A lover of music, art and urban culture, Rinpoche is a poet, photographer, accomplished calligrapher and visual artist, as well as a prolific author. Rinpoche is founder and president of Nalandabodhi, a network of Buddhist centers world-wide, including in Philadelphia. Rinpoche is acknowledged as one of the foremost scholars and meditation masters of his generation in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He is known for his sharp intellect, humor, and easygoing teaching style.

For more information on Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and his activities, visit dpr.info

Rinpoche’s talk was sponsored by Nalandabodhi Philadelphia, Wisdom Seat, and Swarthmore Buddhadharma.



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