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One month Lam Rim retreat in two cycles

The first cycle will be guided by Venerable Rene Feusi

The second cycle will be guided by Venerable Tenzin Gendun and Venerable Gyaltsen

We are delighted to announce that venerable Rene Feusi will come back to Nalanda monastery for another summer to guide a lam-rim retreat!

“During this contemplative retreat, we will develop mindfulness of our everyday thoughts and emotions and use Shantideva's wisdom to heal the unhealthy mental states. We will also train in a loving and compassionate outlook on life which will help us to give it a higher purpose. And finally we will explore what lies beyond appearances and intuit the beauty of our fundamental nature.”

Ven. Rene Feusi

Last July Ven. Rene led a calm abiding retreat at Nalanda that attracted more than seventy people from all around the globe. The retreat was a wonderful occasion in which Ven. Rene guided the participants with a lot of skill, humour, knowledge, and affection. The atmosphere was inspiring, peaceful, and gentle.

This year Ven. Rene has agreed to guide a lam-rim retreat based on the book “The Beautiful Way of Life”, his own meditation manual on Shantideva's spiritual masterpiece “A Bodhisattva's Way of Life”.

The emphasis of the meditations will be on refuge, bodhichitta, calm abiding, and emptiness.

The retreat will consist of two cycles

Ven. Rene will guide from 13 July until 23 July.

Ven. Tenzin Gendun and Ven. Gyaltsen will guide from 23 July until 9 August.

It will be possible to participate in a single cycle.

About Lam Rim

“The most important thing is the continuity of developing your mind in the lam-rim, the stages of the path to enlightenment. It doesn't matter if you are in Africa, in Tibet, on the moon, in Iraq, etc., whether you are rich or poor, whatever, continue to develop your mind in the lam-rim. This is the most important thing.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

In Tibetan, 'lam-rim' stands for the stages of the path to enlightenment. The lam-rim texts present unmistakably all the stages of the path to enlightenment in a gradual and complete manner, and in a way that is easily put into practice. This is why the lam-rim meditation is so special and powerful.

About the texts

The saint Shantideva composed “A Bodhisattva's Way of Life” in the 8th century, in the ancient monastic university of Nalanda (northern India). It is said that Shantideva had a reputation of being withdrawn and very lazy, and that some of his fellow monks, in an attempt to humiliate him in public, urged him to deliver a lecture in front of the entire assembly of monks. Little did they know that Shantideva secretly was a great scholar and saint. He taught the entire “A Bodhisattva's Way of Life” in one session, including the renown and difficult ninth chapter on wisdom.

Today, “A Bodhisattva's Way of Life” is one of the most influential texts within Tibetan Buddhism and a sparkling jewel in the canon of world literature. Although written in verses and poetic language the meaning is not concealed, but the instructions and lines of reasoning are straightforward and practical. Usually it is only the ninth chapter, which explains profound philosophy, that causes readers perplexity.

“The Beautiful Way of Life” is Ven. Rene Feusi's version of “A Bodhisattva's Way of Life”. It condenses the text, puts the verses in modern and plain language and makes the meaning even more clear, while reflecting the beauty and meaning of the original verses.

The teachers

Rene Feusi

Rene Feusi trained as a florist for the purpose of taking over the family business of flower shops in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1979, while on a spiritual quest in India and Nepal, he met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who were to become his main teachers, at the month long November course at Kopan Monastery in the Kathmandu Valley. At the advice of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, he took ordination as a novice in 1985, and a year later he took full ordination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After two years of study and retreats in India and Nepal, he joined Nalanda monastery and studied under Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Tegchok. After completing his studies and the traditional nine preliminary practices, he entered a two-and-a-half-year solitary retreat at Oseling Retreat Center in Spain. Since then, he has spent half of his time teaching and leading retreats in Dharma centers around Europe and the United States, and half of his time doing solitary retreats. He was the resident teacher at Vajrapani institute in the Santa Cruz mountains from 2001 to 2007. Now he does solitary retreat in Tonasket, Washington.

Tenzin Gendun

Ven. Gendun became ordained in 1992. Born in Sri Lanka and growing up in England, he studied in art school and did a degree in illustration before meeting Buddhism. He practiced in various traditions until he did a lam rim course in Kopan monastery, Nepal. By his own account lam rim gave his practice and life focus. He joined Nalanda Monastery in 1999 and is presently the most senior monk here. Ven. Gendun has completed the five years Basic program and is half-way through the seven years Master's program. Last summer he guided a one month lam rim retreat at Nalanda together with two other monks, and he has taught and guided retreats in other centers.

Gyaltsen

Ven. Gyaltsen grew up in Paris and gave up his job as a bookkeeper in 2007 when he moved to Nalanda to study and practice Buddhism full-time. He became ordained in 2010. Since then he has completed the five years Basic program and is half-way through the seven years Master's program. For four years he has had the big responsibility of being the director of Nalanda. Last summer Ven. Gyaltsen was also one of the teachers of the one month lam rim retreat. Besides his work as director and his studies, he regularly teaches in a center in Toulouse and guides an annual lam rim retreat in Kalachakra center, Paris.

General information

The retreat will start on Thursday the 13th of July in the evening and end on Wednesday the 9th of August at noon. The day you start the retreat you will have to 'check in' at Nalanda. We will welcome you in the community building from the morning. You will be shown your accomodation and assigned a karma yoga task.

You don't have to do the entire retreat. It will be possible to participate in just one cycle or just one part of the second cycle. However, it will not be possible to drop into the middle of an ongoing cycle. Although we can leave whenever we want, we do a cycle or part of a cycle from the beginning.

The retreat will predominantly be in silence. Talking will only be allowed for a few hours per day.

During the retreat we will take the eight Mahayana precepts and do the purification practice of prostrations to the 35 Buddhas of Confession every morning.

About the practices

The eight Mahayana precepts are taken for one day. They are vows of not killing, stealing, lying, engaging in sexual activity, taking intoxicants, lying on high beds, playing music and wearing ornaments, and eating after midday. The prostrations to the 35 Confession Buddhas is a purification practice that involves doing prostrations and reciting names of buddhas.

Please note that these practices are a mandatory part of the retreat. We do them in order to accumulate positive energy and to dispell obstacles from the mind so that our mind will be more calm and pliant in meditation. 

If you are interested, please also read a summary of a talk that a visiting monk, Ven. Jesus, gave at Nalanda about doing retreat, or watch the video on Nalanda's website. Ven. Jesus spoke from his own, long experience on how to make retreat most useful.

Translations

Ven. Rene will guide the retreat in English and it will be translated into French and Spanish.

The second cycle will also be guided in English and will be translated into French (but probably not Spanish).

The first cycle

The first cycle begins the 13th of July in the evening and ends the 23rd of July at noon.

It will be led by Ven. Rene Feusi, based on his book "The Beautiful Way Of Life". Nalanda will provide all the participants with the book at no extra cost. The book is only available in English. If you want you can bring the root text by Shantideva in your own language.

The second cycle

The second cycle will be led by Ven. Tenzin Gendun and Ven. Gyaltsen, two senior monks of Nalanda. The first part begins in the evening of the 23rd July and ends the 1st of August at noon. The second part begins the 1st of August in the evening and ends the 9th of August at noon.

The second cycle will be based on Lama Tsongkhapa's classical lam rim texts and will follow a more traditional sequence of meditations. In each part we will go through all the topics, from guru devotion to the wisdom analyzing the final reality, and thus deepening our understanding and experience through repetition.

In addition to the mornings practices the meditation sessions will usually begin with the practice Ganden La Gyema, which is a guru devotion practice to Lama Tsongkhapa.

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