| Why does the Buddha wear lipstick? This is the
sort of thing you can learn by leading a school visit, writes Brian
in his contribution to Gentle
Voice. Jamyang has been very lucky to have a team of
volunteers who, over the years, have facilitated groups of 20-30
students visiting the centre. Both children and teachers get a tour
of the building and an explanation of some of the ways Buddha taught
on how to live life with a good heart. This way, Jamyang not only
contributes to a school's curriculum, but also offers a positive
experience for both kids and teachers, who often speak of the peace
and happiness they experience after the meditation session in the
By teaching children to have a good heart and be
kind to others, they grow up to be good human beings, explains Lama
Zopa Rinpoche. In this edition of Gentle Voice you will find some
articles on this topic: Lama Yeshe's teaching on education, the
school visits, the Summer School at Jamyang and the 16 Guidelines
training for people working with children.
writes in his column about some of the up and coming events and
Sally shares the kind response of students to her "Gentle Request for Help" email
sent two weeks ago. She also introduces Ven. Rita, an energetic
Swiss nun who will be teaching at Jamyang in August.
Lastly, don't miss the opportunity to attend the "Buddhist Way of
Living and Dying" weekend, the last set of teachings with Geshe
Tashi in London this term!
children- by Lama Yeshe
On Lama Yeshe's 1975 visit to
Australia, one of his students, a trainee teacher, invited Lama to
his college to talk to some of the other student
of education is to benefit people. We all know this. However,
different countries have their own ideas of what constitutes benefit
according to their individual inclinations. What some countries
consider to be bad education other countries consider good. In other
words, what makes education good or bad depends on how one
interprets good and bad.
When it comes to teaching others, we
have to take into account and foster our students' abilities and
interests and try to develop those qualities in the classroom; if we
don't, the students just get bored or upset. Especially at this
time, it's not wise to teach in an authoritarian, dogmatic way: "Sit
there! Learn this!" Children nowadays are very intellectually free
and don't respond well to force. So we have to arouse their
interest. Skillful teachers know how to make their students
interested in the subject being taught, whatever it is; that's a
uniquely human ability. Simply pushing students isn't just unwise;
it doesn't work.
Being a teacher is a big responsibility. But
learning alone doesn't make a teacher; we have to know how to
interest our students in what we want them to learn. If we don't,
it's impossible to teach. A good teacher should know each student's
individual character and temperament and how to work with that. If
the teacher's attitude is "My way is the only way" and the student's
is different, it becomes a problem.
Another quality that a
good teacher should have is equanimity. Good teachers don't favor
those students who make them happy and forget about or reject those
who are slow, temperamental or difficult to communicate with. That's
not right. If the teacher gives off a good vibration, has a good
relationship with all of his or her students, makes them interested
in the subject and benefits their life, that's
Also, we all
have different aptitudes. We learn some things quickly and others
slowly; we understand some things the instant we hear them but find
others incredibly difficult to grasp and to integrate with our own
experience. Therefore we have to expect that because everybody's
mind is different, some students will find certain subjects
difficult and others easy. But, given time, most students can learn
most things and we shouldn't give up on or denigrate those who don't
get something the first or second time.
So teachers should
have the skill to treat students as individuals and not generalise
them. No two personalities are identical; each person's ability to
learn is different. Also, some people have a tendency to judge
others on superficialities without knowing what they're like inside,
but others' inner abilities can be very difficult to comprehend;
most of the time we don't even know our own abilities.
your own educational experiences. You probably found some subjects
unbelievably easy to understand while others were still
incomprehensible even after repeated study. Why was that? Your own
experience should help you have patience when you teach.
especially important to explain to children why they should get an
education; as I mentioned before, you can't force them to learn. If
they understand the reasons they'll take more of an interest in
their studies and be much easier to teach. They don't necessarily
have to understand all the logic for and benefits of learning, just
some. Anyway, if you simply tell them they have to study: "because
it's the law" or "because I want you to", they'll just ask
That's true. Kids today aren't easy. They always want
to know why. It's not like it used to be in the old days. Think of
the traditional English methods of education. Children had no
choice; they had to do as they were told. Teachers didn't have to
explain anything; they had all the power and used it. But that was
in the past. These days children are more intelligent and sceptical
and teachers seem to have lost the power they used to have - it's
moved a little more to the students' side. Perhaps they've
unionized! Anyway, the conclusion is to give students logical
reasons for why they should get educated.
It's not easy to be
a teacher. Good teachers take responsibility for their students'
lives. Perhaps this doesn't happen so much in the West but that's
how it was in Tibet. Our teachers felt very responsible for they way
their students thought and behaved and in general tried to ensure
that their lives were constructive and uncomplicated. But even
though Western teachers today have less influence over students than
they used to, they still have some.
Therefore, as much as
you can, give off good vibrations and come from a place of sound
philosophy rather than misconception. Many teachers' ideas are total
misconceptions and when this is reflected in their unconscious
behavior it adversely affects their students: they adopt their
teachers' erroneous ideas and copy their bad behaviour. I'm not just
being negative; it happens. So be careful how you think and
Lama Yeshe gave this talk at
Kedron Park Teachers College, Queensland, on April 29, 1975. Edited
from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive by Nicholas Ribush. To read the
whole text click on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom
Archive E-letter- September 2006
For advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche on
educating children, visit the School-Age Children
section of the
online Advice Book.
information on Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Schedule and for advice visit
his official website.
| I would like to say hello to all the readers and share two
things with you connected with Jamyang's upcoming
I am sure you will
see more details in the future programme but I would like to share
with you why I have put that programme together. For a year,
starting in September, I am going to do the Foundation of Buddhist
Thought course as a campus course. It will be different from the
previous campus courses we have done here at Jamyang: instead of
doing it at the weekends the teachings will be on a weekday. Also,
instead of running for two years, it will last one year. I will be
using the new books published by Wisdom Publications (with the
exception of the last module).
One of my aims is to
really give a structured course so that people living in London who
maybe could not come previously, but are able to commit for one
year, can do this course.
Although the course
is already available as a correspondence course, I have not taught
it as a campus course for several years. So if you want to learn
Buddhism in a more structured course, and would like to have an
overview of Buddhist theories and practices, this course will give
you some helpful understanding and knowledge. If you are interested
in this, please think about enrolling (click here for more
information about this course).
The second thing I
want to say is that once more we are very fortunate to bring Khensur
Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche to the UK and to Jamyang to give us
important and amazing teachings. This time he will be staying here
longer than before, and the schedule will include weekday and
In terms of subjects
he will cover, Khensur Rinpoche will give some Lam Rim teachings and
also a Vajrayana initiation and commentary. As I always say, there
are very few great teachers like Rinpoche, and it is extremely
useful to take the opportunity when they come to our doorstep, and I
would like to encourage you to try to come to his teachings if you
Overall, what I am
saying is to look at the programme and to try to participate in the
discussions and the activities as much as you can. This way it will
help you to get inspiration and encouragement for your practice and
you will be supporting the continuity of the centre.
Thank you very
School visits at Jamyang- by Brian
'Why does the Buddha wear
lipstick?' This is the sort of thing you can learn by leading a
school visit. This school year we have had
visits from ten primary schools and one teacher training college.
Altogether, about 350 primary school children have visited the
In previous years there have been as many as 1,400
children visiting. On a visit, they get a tour of the building and
some time in each of the shrine rooms. We can briefly cover the
history of the centre and how it was founded by Lama Yeshe and Lama
Zopa Rinpoche, and then go through the panels of the life story of
Fortunately, no-one has asked what
enlightenment is. Having enjoyed a jammy dodger and an apple juice,
we do a short non-religious meditation, which the children love.
They also love waiting for the note of the bell to fade away before
they can open their eyes. You get comments like 'My memories all
disappeared and my mind became fresh'.
At the moment,
Cynthia and Brian are doing the primary school visits and Ros is
doing older students' visits. We have taken over from David and
Lynne. If you are free at all during the day, why not join us for a
visit? They are usually from about 10am for an hour and a bit.
We are planning to put some web pages on the
Jamyang site with details of how to book, along with other pages for
children to learn about dharma. We also want to develop some
teaching materials, and to visit schools. And it would be nice to
get Jamyang Junior going again, possibly during the daytime. If you
would like to help with any of this, please tell Anil.
Oh yes, why does the Buddha have red lips? Because it
symbolises his sacred speech. One final story. When Cynthia did the
equanimity meditation, one child said afterwards: 'I felt like my
head and my heart changed places'.
|Some THANK YOU
|Summer school in
|Jamyang will be running a summer school for
one week this coming summer!|
The summer school will be an opportunity for
children to participate in arts and crafts work and to play together
in the friendly environment of Jamyang Buddhist centre. There will
be no specifically Buddhist teaching but there will be an
emphasis on learning to appreciate and value each other in all the
unique offering there will also be a crèche facility for parents
during this time. Activities for parents will include discussion,
meditation and some free time.
The summer school is open to all children
between the ages of four and 12. The school will be run by Cynthia
Bonell who has many years experience as a junior teacher in London
and has recently returned from teaching Tibetan children at the
refugee reception centres in Kathmandu and
If you are
interested in participating, please download and complete the
booking form and return it to Jamyang. We will get in touch with you
|The 16 Guidelines for a happy
life for children|
|Istituto Lama Tsong Khapa,
Pomaia, Italy, 18 - 23 July 2008 |
You are warmly invited to attend an
Essential Education training course for people currently working
with (or intending to work with) children, young people and
families, using The 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life. The course will
include the first European presentation of 'Ready Set Happy', a new
16 Guidelines resource for children aged eight to 11 years.
The Guidelines are a
practical tool for helping people everywhere to be kind and wise in
daily life, inspired by a set of ethical principles drawn up by King
Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said: "Wherever you
start Essential Education, this should be the
is being offered by the Foundation for Developing Compassion and
Wisdom, an education non-profit organisation set up in January 2005
to take forward the late Lama Thubten Yeshe's vision for 'a new kind
of universal education.' The Dalai Lama is the patron of the
Foundation, and Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the Honorary President. It is
part of the FPMT.
course is designed for teachers, trainers and parents who have a
personal interest in the 16 Guidelines and the philosophy behind
them, and who want to share them with children and young people.
For more information please visit the
warm July hello to everyone.|
This is the perfect
opportunity to begin by offering heartfelt thanks to all who
responded so kindly to my recent "Gentle Request" e-group message.
We received the following response:
One-off donations = £2,125.
Three new members paying one year
membership immediately = £360.
12 New members = £120 extra per
Two new members
waiting for our online payment facility to be activated to sign up
(this will be active very soon) = £20 extra per
Five people offered
to increase their existing membership.
Several people offered non-financial help
to raise funds for Jamyang via running Yoga workshops, professional
musicians offering to play and so on.
I felt so happy with this
response! I also had a lot of positive feedback from people
reiterating how much Jamyang means to them, which is most inspiring
too. Thank you again to everyone who responded - your help really
With excited anticipation, I hope to soon
welcome a long-term friend and dharma sister, and one of my main
dharma inspirations, to Jamyang! Her name is Venerable Rita Riniker,
who has been ordained for over 17 years now.
She was resident
teacher at Tushita Centre, Dharamsala while I worked there.
Ven. Rita has led and guided many retreats including five
three-month Vajrasattva retreats, Green Tara retreats and a two
month Lam Rim Chen Mo retreat with teachings by Yangsi Rinpoche in
2000. Ven Rita is especially well known for leading Nyung Naes,
having completed more than 80 consecutive Nyung Naes over a period
of six months in 1998.
Ven Rita is a fantastic teacher - very
down to earth, practical, wise, knowledgeable and
compassionate. She "cut her teaching teeth" in Dharmasala,
teaching to very sceptical, often argumentative and critical
students arriving in D'sala for their very first taste of Buddhism!
She quickly won their approval and respect. I highly recommend her
Take care everyone, enjoy the
needed to publicise Jamyang's activities|
|It is one of Geshe Tashi's
wishes that Jamyang become better known in the local area and also
in other parts of London. For this, a communal effort is needed. We
have prepared fliers/postcards that publicise the full range of
services offered by Jamyang. Where should we put them? If you can
help in any of the following ways please contact me:
We need to compile a list of free notice
boards in London. Any ideas? Maybe health food shops, anything to do
with alternative medicine/treatments, clinics, doctor surgeries,
community centres and even supermarkets. Please send names and
Could you "adopt" one or more notice
boards near where you live or work? This would involve putting up
our flier, then keeping an eye on it and replacing it when
necessary. Fliers can be picked up in the office or we can post them
If you can help in this way, please let us
have your contact details.
Notice boards apart, does anyone have
info/ideas about other forms of free publicity? All ideas
Mary Curtin and
|What do you
want to see in Gentle Voice? We would love to hear
your ideas and comments about Gentle Voice, please
contact Esther at: [email protected]|