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A Conversation with Gyangkhang Khentrul Rinpoche on Communication and Contentment
His Holiness the Fourth Chogtrul Gyangkhang Rinpoche (shortened here to Khentrul Rinpoche) is one of the Palyul lineage’s most senior teachers. Recently his organization in Malaysia, Yayasan Pema Norbu Vihara, reached an educational milestone by providing a grant to HELP University, a private tertiary institute in Kuala Lumpur. With the grant, HELP University will establish an accredited English program at the Padma Mani Translation Committee (PMTC), based in the language department of the Ngagyur Nyingma Institute in Namdroling Monastery, the institutional heartland of the Palyul school.
“Usually in Namdroling Monastery, the monks and nuns are taught English by monastics who had a secular education in modern schools. I hope this [the grant] will advance the English language education within the monastic community. Giving education is not a task to be completed within a few weeks or months. We need to think about the long term and how to bring about a perfect outcome in the future,” Rinpoche told me. “The government of India and the Indian people have always been supportive of us. The board and the councils of the various departments at Namdroling Monastery are working with full dedication, following the aim and spiritual advice of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.”
It was in 1994, under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, that Khentrul Rinpoche received the vows of full ordination from His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche (1932–2009), the most significant figure of the Palyul lineage of the 20th century. Khentrul Rinpoche has long understood the responsibility entrusted to him as a representative of Pema Norbu Rinpoche, even after the latter’s Parinirvana. Since 1999, he has been responsible for the general management of Namdroling.
Building on the theme of skillful communication, Rinpoche declared: “Communication is the only way to share knowledge and experience. Love and compassion, respecting one another, and the like, are the most needed values in the world today. Namdroling Monastery has many capable monks and nuns that can give Dharma teachings in the Tibetan language to benefit others and help them gain inner peace.”
“Experts and scientific studies have also proven that acting on love, compassion, and Dharma advice can have a powerful impact in creating (external) peace and making a positive difference. Therefore, in order to communicate and interact with other people, the English language, as the international language, is important to know and master. In turn, this will hopefully lead to more people being able to absorb an expression of Dharma relevant to their daily lives.”
Critical education is more important than ever in our ever-changing world. Social media has become a staple of the 21st century and this has upended not just mass information but also the way religious teachers spread the Dharma.
“Now, almost the entire world’s attention is assailed by modern technology. Challenging and competitive new apps on smartphones have made people’s minds unable to resist their usefulness and ability to entertain. Even the illiterate or people in villages are getting used to it,” Rinpoche said. “The world now has now shrunk so small that everyone can know what is happening around the world in just a few seconds. It is so easy to spread both facts and falsehoods. Therefore, if social media is used wisely, it helps one to get educated, but if not, it seems to be a cause of serious problems.”
Nevertheless, Rinpoche feels that there are upsides to social media, especially as it allows people to come together to share their beliefs and thoughts to stimulate action and activism.
The reality is that across the globe, people’s sense of community, mutual support, and interpersonal harmony and cohesion has been splintered and fragmented. Rinpoche observed: “Today the world is dominated by materialism. Young people find their lives have become so competitive and challenging. They are under constant pressure to have worldly aims and ambitions, to chase after success, pleasure, status, and wealth. This puts them in a dilemma.”
Rinpoche said that older generations seemed far more content compared to people today. “Outer development absolutely does not correlate with inner peace; if anything, the latter can be even more disturbed. The desire of wanting branded and luxury items, new technology, a luxurious lifestyle, and the like can really ruin people’s peace of mind,” he said. “For the most part, younger generations are not happy with what they possess and they are never satisfied what they achieve as the world now has become extremely competitive with technology evolving so rapidly, day after day. Furthermore, when the mind is dissatisfied, the feeling of loneliness arises regardless of material accumulation. Hence it is very important to be contented and generate positive thoughts which can surely bring inner peace.”
Rinpoche concluded with a simple reminder for those who feel this sense of alienation in the face of rampant materialism and ways of seeking happiness that simply do not work: “We work every day to live a happy life. In order to live a contented and meaningful life one should be a master of one’s own mind and work with one’s negative emotions to engender a spiritually nourishing outlook. Only we can be the masters of our own minds and we can balance and control our emotions if we work on them with diligence and compassion.”
Short Biography of Khentul Gyangkhang Rinpoche (palyul.org)
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