Middle Way Education, a landmark non-profit education initiative inspired by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision of a progressive environment for educating children founded on Buddhist values, has announced the appointment of Brandon Lee to its board of directors.
“Middle Way Education embodies, for me, a spirit of integrating the wisdom of the Dharma through thoughtful and relevant education materials for our current times.” said Lee, former consul general for Canada to the US, in an announcement shared with BDG. “I also appreciate the open and harmonized way that the education frameworks are inspired from a broad range of experts from across the Buddhist world. I’m delighted and honored to be part of this board and to help in whatever way I can.”
Lee joins five other board members: Manwai Ng of Zen Mountain Monastery, Chagdud Khadro of Khadro Ling Brazil, Michael Macioce, a schoolteacher from Santa Barbara, and Pema Abrahams and Kuhn Sucharitakul of Thailand, along with Middle Way Education board chair Noa Jones.
Jones offered a warm welcome to Lee, noting: “We are inspired to have someone with such a big vision, who has worked in the highest offices of this continent, and who sees the value that the teachings of the Buddha can bring to modern challenges. Children are the leaders of tomorrow and by equipping them with a set of time tested tools, such as discernment, equanimity, a respect for inquiry and facility in mind training, we have a better hope for a harmonious future.”
Middle Way Education is a nonsectarian organization, with advisors from the Zen, Tibetan, Thai Forest, Shambhala, and other Buddhist traditions. Supported by a grant from Khyentse Foundation, Middle Way Education established its first pilot school in 2018, The Middle Way School in New York’s Hudson Valley,* and is now partnering with educational institutions in Brazil, Nepal, Thailand, and the West Coast of the US.
Khyentse Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche in 2001 with the aim of promoting the Buddha’s teaching and supporting all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation’s activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a worldwide scholarship and awards program, development of Buddhist studies at major universities, training and development for Buddhist teachers, as well as developing new modes of Dharma-inspired education for children.
“Lee was appointed to oversee the relationship between Canada and the US as consul general of Canada in San Francisco and then also in Seattle, and was Canada’s ambassador to Silicon Valley,” Middle Way Education shared with BDG. “He has a strong background both as an executive and leading innovation, and he has held several executive positions with national and international governments. From 2007–11, he oversaw global reform activities to strengthen Canada’s international presence and became the department’s first Director of Innovation. From 2012–14, Lee held senior positions at the World Trade Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross (both in Geneva), spearheading major organizational and international reform initiatives.”
Founded in 2017, Middle Way Education is a non-profit global network established with the vision of creating a new system of education based on Buddhist wisdom and compassion, and drawing on schools, resources, and education projects around the world. The project includes an online hub where Buddhist educators can communicate, network, share resources, lesson plans, and teaching materials, and learn from and support one another.
“The inherent intelligence and kindness in children is profound,” Jones shared with BDG. “We are developing an educational model focusing on cultivating these natural qualities. We are finding the ways Buddhist philosophy and practice breathe life into educational elements such as connection to the natural world, sensory integrated and state-based learning, inquiry-driven academics and the necessity of attunement in order to meet students on their individual paths.”
Born in Bhutan in 1961, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and was a close student of the Nyingma master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91). He is recognized as the third incarnation of the 19th century Tibetan terton Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959).
In addition to Khyentse Foundation, Rinpoche’s projects include Siddhartha’s Intent, an international collective of Buddhist groups supporting his Buddhadharma activities by organizing teachings and retreats, distributing and archiving recorded teachings, and transcribing, editing, and translating manuscripts and practice texts; 84000, a non-profit global initiative to translate the words of the Buddha and make them available to all; Lotus Outreach, which directs a range of projects to ensure the education, health, and safety of vulnerable women and children in the developing world; and Lhomon Society, which promotes sustainable development in Bhutan through education.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has long championed education reform, viewing education as a fundamental platform for ensuring the survival of the teachings of the Buddha and for creating a better world for all beings, stating: “We are trying to prepare and train some of the next generation of human beings through Buddhist values and Buddha’s teaching of love, compassion, and wisdom. We are also hoping that through training the next generation of Buddhists, the authentic Buddhadharma can continue to flourish and that knowledgeable practitioners of the Dharma will carry on the lineage through their love and support, and study and practice of the teachings. So we are developing a model of education.” (Khyentse Foundation)