Yangsi Rinpoche, President of Maitripa College in Portland, Oregon was one of the presenters at the 2010 International Conference on Tibetan Buddhism. On his left is Jacqueline Mandell, guiding teacher of sangha Samden Ling in Portland.
The Pacific Northwest had a strong presence and showing of participants at the 2010 International Conference on Tibetan Buddhism, held October 18-20 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The conference was hosted by Emory University and co-sponsored by The Office of Tibet, New York and The Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture, Washington, DC, with support from Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta.
The opening morning talk to the 300 in attendance was given by HH Dalai Lama, a Presidential Professor at Emory University. In his opening remarks the Dalai Lama encouraged everyone to seek the teachings of the Buddha from the 'root trunk'. He emphasized seeking true teachings of Dharma through root texts and cautioned that too many people pay too much attention to the branches of Buddhism, but we must remember that the branch is there to strengthen the root. The branches can't survive without the root.
Ven. Thubten Tarpa of Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington, participated in the event.
The Dalai Lama urged everyone to come together like the trunk of the tree of Buddhism. He emphasized harmony in Buddhism and declared that this conference had the potential to bring about individual responsibility. With that in mind, he urged everyone to get to know one another, then have friendly, responsible exchanges and discussions so that humanity could be well served and suffering could be dispelled.
The conference program included morning and afternoon panels and discussions. The tenor was one of respectful listening, inquiry, informational exchange, and a search for the best way to be of benefit to society. Topics included: Tibetan Buddhism's encounter with modern science, Tibetan Buddhism and social engagement, translating the Dharma, Tibetan Buddhism and the modern academy, Tibetan Buddhism in modern western culture, and surviving modernity in traditional Tibetan Buddhist regions.
Yangsi Rinpoche, a Geshe who is President of Maitripa Institute in Portland, Oregon was a presenter on the “Modern Academy” panel. He emphasized the traditional importance of taking time with major texts to digest the material rather than hurrying on to the next topic. He said that academic understanding can bring up the practice level. To serve humanity we need more than the motivation to do so. We need the philosophy along with the meditation to create a deeper source of strength from which to serve.
At the “Social Engagement” panel summary there was mention of the need for Buddhist networking for social engagement, especially in the field of prison dharma. Jacqueline Mandell, a Northwest Dharma Association board member, mentioned the Association’s multi-tradition work in that field and referred panelists to the NWDA website and NW Dharma News.
Teachers and monastics who attended from the Northwest, in addition to Yangsi Rinpoche, included Tulku Yeshe Gyatso Rinpoche and Khenpo Jampa Tenphel of Sakya Monastery in Seattle; Ven. Thubten Tarpa of Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington; Ven. Dhammadinna and Tenzin Jesse of Bodhiheart Sangha, Seattle; and Jacqueline Mandell of Samden Ling, Portland. A number of lay sangha members also made the trip from the Seattle and Portland areas, including Diego Gonzalez, Vanessa Bradley, and Mary Lynne Evans.
Attendees met each other at lunch and dinner to continue discussions and to get to know one another. There was a great spirit of camaraderie and pulling together as strong as a tree trunk!