Bodhicitta Foundation  


 

 

The Foundation for

Non-Himalayan Monastics and

Plains Indian Buddhists

 

Bodhicitta Project is a socially engaged Charity in the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism. We support Non Himalayan monastics in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition to study, practice and offer service full time. We also offer services to the wider community (based on a volunteer basis). We offer Dharma classes by donation; teaching Buddhism, meditation and yoga in Drug and alcohol rehabilitation Centres, offer counselling and chaplaincy in hospitals and jails.

 We are also currently building a monastery in India (although at present we have no funds). We do social work in Indian Buddhist Communities. These people are incredibly kind and generous, but often very poor. They converted to Buddhism in 1956 to escape the oppressive Hindu Caste System, which had enslaved them for many years as 'untouchables'.

 

The Kalyanamitra Foundation

What do we do?

Kalyanamitra means ‘spiritual friend’. Kalyanamitra is a socially engaged Tibetan Buddhist organization that works internationally to offer Dharma teachings freely, working to help alleviate the roots of suffering in the world with charity projects such as the social work we do with poor Indian Buddhists who belong to the community in India previously known as ‘untouchables’. We also have a branch that helps preserve the monastic way of life for non-Himalayan monastics, specifically people who are not supported by a pre-existing Buddhist Culture and ancestry (i.e. they have no support to be monastics from their society or country).

 

In times of Kaos, stress, alienation and lack of inner connection and happiness, we can use the compassionate teachings offered by Buddhism to transform Society and ourselves.

 

OUR PROJECTS:

 

Scholarships for

Non-Himalayan Monastics:

 

 

 

We are currently sponsoring several Non Himalayan monastics to engage in full time training and meditation. We offer one off scholarships of $3000 Australian to monastics who are not supported by the Tibetan System in which they were ordained. We also organize Non-Himalayan monastic dialogue, support, seminars and Dharma Studies where possible. We hope to create a monastery in the West in future where monastics are allowed to train and study for free in the precepts and manner laid down by the Buddha. Recognizing the importance of having well trained Monastic Sangha who can be teachers from your own country is important for the flourishing and long term preservation of the Dharma (this is stated in the Sutras). We wish to encourage the existence of Non-Himalayan monastics, 60-70%of whom often disrobe due to lack of support.

 

 Socially Engaged Buddhism:

Kalyanamitra recognizes the importance of making Buddhist principles available

and and implemented in the world. Our monastics and some lay volunteers offer:

- Monastic training

- Counselling

- Dharma Teachings by donation – not just to those who can afford it

- Meditation and teaching retreats to help people embody Dharma in their daily

lives and transform their suffering

- Free yoga and meditation/teachings in Drug and alcohol rehab Centres, hospices, jails, schools, universities, with HIV infected persons and the terminally ill etc.

- Chaplaincy in prisons and hospitals.

(All of this is subject to volunteer availability).

 

Our Work with Indian Buddhists:

The background of Indian Buddhists -

 

 

Our Services in India

 

Buddhism dissappeared in India in approximately the 9th Century C.E. There were many reasons for its demise. The complete teachings of Buddhism from the great Indian monasteries of Nalanda and Vikramshila were Preserved by Tibetan Buddhists for Centuries. Now the world is a Global Village, and Buddhism is spreading, not just in Asia, but also in Western countries. It has also made it’s way back to India. In 1956 500,000 Indians converted to Buddhism under the guidance of Doctor Ambedkar to escape the Indian Caste system, which had oppressed them in a dehumanizing way for many centuries.

 

Doctor Ambedkar was one of the first people of scheduled caste (previously known as ‘untouchables’ – people who in the past did the lowest and most degrading kind of work for society and suffered under slave like conditions) to receive a higher education in Law. He was the ‘Martin Luther King Jnr’ (i.e. the black civil rights leader from America) of his people. There are also a growing number of Indians from many backgrounds who are taking an interest in Buddhism, an Indian spiritual tradition of their own free wills. In a country where approx 40 % of the population is illiterate and approx 65% lives in poverty, we believe the compassionate principles of Buddhism can make a difference. Not by from a missionary like approach, but a humanistic and socialist one.

- Sponsorship to poor Indian Buddhist students to study Buddhism and other subjects that will increase their quality of life and enable them to live dignified lives and lift their families and communities out of oppressive poverty.

- Assistance to women being abused by their husbands, divorced women and widows,  who are often regarded as pariahs by Indian Society.

- Free Dharma teachings and retreats for Buddhists

In future we also hope to run job training and income generating projects for poor Indian Buddhists so they can help themselves and become educated and financially independent. Only then can they focus time on the spiritual path.

 

Bodhicitta Vihara

Will be a haven of peace in the Centre of India in a place called Nagpur, where most Indian Buddhists live. We will offer traditional monastic training to Plains Indians and Foreigners from the local and international Buddhist communities. Indian Buddhists have great faith in Buddhism, but so far, have had little access to many fully trained Buddhist teachers. We will offer a 5 year traditional monastic philosophical /meditative /ritual programme. We will also offer retreats, counseling and teachings to the local Buddhist community and teach in jails, schools etc. In a community as poor as the one in Nagpur, socially engaged Buddhism that has strong roots in a correct view and deep meditation practice is essential. Bodhicitta Vihara will admit men and women and some lay students, but men will reside on a piece of land a few kilometers away.

 Time Scale

We estimate it will take 5-7 years to collect enough money for this project, to recruit monastics (Indian culture traditionally looks down on unmarried women) and to establish a well-trained community of committed monastics and lay students and supporters. We are not after vast quantities of monastics, just sincere people who are very committed to the Dharma. The Vihara will focus on training younger monastics as the rigorous lifestyle and the demand to change oneself to suite monastic culture is often a challenging step for more senior citizens, but exceptions may be made.

 

Cost

We estimate the cost of this project could be between $220,000-$400,000 US or

$250,000 - $550,000 Aust (2-3 Indian Crore rupees).

 

 

Why are Monastics Important in the

Modern World? Can’t we just have a

modern day ‘Lay’ Sangha?

 

 

The Tibetan community in exile is now well established in India, with many large monasteries, nunneries, free schools, hospitals, universities etc. They enjoy good support from Foreign Aid and some Indian Government subsidies. Under the skillful leadership of HH Dalai Lama, the Tibetan community in exile has flourished, although it’s problems are real and their loss is great. Approx 80% of Tibetan monastics in India have support.    Buddhism is one of the fastest growing religions in the West. But 40 years after some of the first ‘Baby Boomer’ generation became Buddhist there is still little support and training for Western Buddhist monastics and few places where Lay Westerners can access the teachings of Buddhism under the ‘donation’ system the Buddha himself established.

 

Buddha said that the teachings of the previous Buddhas disappeared quickly because there was no Vinaya or code of ethics set down to preserve the teachings. He also said that when there was no one keeping the full Dharma Vinaya (.i.e. fully ordained monastics) there Dharma would quickly disappear. Even the Tantras mention that the most ideal practitioner of Tantra is a fully ordained Buddhist monastic. Of course there have been so many great Householder Yogis and Saints in Tibetan Buddhism, but to firmly establish Buddhism in any country, to master all the teachings, rich philosophy and      meditative practice of Maha/Vajrayana Buddhism of takes 20 years of full time training. Many Householder Yogis have no time for this, being tied down with family and work commitments.        

Monastic life offers a very real chance to have a deeply spiritual and meaningful life and to fully devote oneself to Dharma and the service of others without distraction in a world that is fast falling apart. It offers people a chance to have a ‘radical transformation of the heart’ and to live just as the Buddha lived. At the time of the Buddha people were also busy with work, trade, art, politics and economy, much as they are today. For people that wonder if monastic life is still relevant we might ask – is overcoming suffering still relevant?               

 

Monastic life is very disciplined and not an easy life path. Often as lay people Westerners sponsor Tibetan and Himalayan monastics, but when they ordain they are refused admission into the very monasteries they sponsored because they are unable to speak or learn Tibetan language, live in crowded conditions within a Tibetan cultural context, obtain Visas or handle basic food and the intense schedule of a Tibetan monasteries. It’s not that Non-Himalayans are lazy, they just are unable to survive in that very challenging environment physically and culturally. They may find the ‘learn by rote’ system of studies not very meaningful. Tibetan Centres in the West function for lay people and are controlled largely by Tibetan Lamas who inevitably support their Himalayan disciples but seldom their Western ones.  

 

The Buddha made it very clear that monastics should not work, what is the point of being a monastic if you’re engaging in business just like a Layperson? How does that help you to fully train and embody the Dharma and become an inspiring example of ‘the Dharma life well lived’? Tibetan Lamas would never dream of asking their Tibetan Monastics to work, even though if they did work in lay jobs as Western monastics do they could survive in India, but they would not have enough time to preserve the Dharma. Monastic life is an all consuming and full time career worthy of support. Why is there a double standard? We need to support all sincere monastics, not just Tibetans.   

 

How You Can Help:  

We invite you to help us in anyway you can in this social work and Dharma project.

- Would you like to offer billeting when monastics need a place to stay in your City? This is for short term accomodation to help the Sangha do their volunteer work more easily.

- Organise a fundraiser in your area - Set up monthly donations from your bank account

- Become a member for $40 Australian a year

 

Presently we are supporting many monastics and poor Indians to study, practice and improve their lives. We hope to make a Monastery. You can donate by addressing chqs to:

 

 ‘Kalyanamitra Fund’

c/o 3 Leon Ave, Georges Hall,                 

2198 NSW Australia

 

Email: moondakini@hotmail.com  If you have any queries, need a scholarship or would like to organise a fundraiser or invite Thanks for your support.

May you ever grow in Dharma.