Message from Chief Abbot

There is a natural, interdependent connection between our inanimate environment and the animate beings of every kind, including ourselves, who inhabit our earth. That interconnection closely links human beings with every other sentient being who shares  our vast earthly home. Because of that link, our present generation of human beings  has a responsibility to make efforts towards the goal that all living beings share. That goal is to be free to live together in peace and harmony, for the sake of everyone’s happiness.

 Our generation has seen the results of the western world’s educational focus on the material world. This focus was established in the past as the right direction for education to take, in order to create a happier and better world,. If this educational focus had been placed within a more comprehensive vision of fulfilling all the needs of the world’s people, and not only their material needs, then by now, we could already be living in a peaceful, fulfilled world.

 This materially oriented education has, instead, succeeded in raising a generation of people whose lives have been overshadowed by the development and use of nuclear weapons. The whole generation, raised in the shadow of a threat to the continuity of life on earth itself, is socially complicated and deeply conflicted in its interactions with the material worlds of politics, economics and popular culture. What we see embodied in this generation is the outcome of their materialistic educational system. The world they inhabit is excessively complex, a distracted, outwardly focussed world, completely preoccupied with material gain. This leaves the door wide open for materialism to control and to devastate our whole planet.

 Technological developments that are now widespread throughout the world have brought people increasingly closer to becoming subservient to their own machines. This  artificial, unstable way of life has, in reality, begun to consume the earth. So it is high time that we redirected the values of the prevailing educational system away from the goals of becoming successful consumers and aim them instead, towards promoting our most fundamental human values.

 The upbringing of future generations will have to provide a balance, through two kinds of education: the kind that nurtures inner development through beneficial, traditional values, basic morality and ethics, together with what can be called modern education, which we require as a tool for the healthy development of our economy, in order to meet our material needs.

 If we were able to create a generation in whom both these educational elements have been combined, then those people with a balanced education would be able to function naturally, in a complete way: like birds who have two wings, instead of only one. These people would truly be able to make long term contributions to the healthy development of our world.

 If the purpose of education is to teach people how to become healthy in mind and body, and if this purpose is fulfilled in such a way that everyone who receives that education does become mentally and physically healthy, then we can say that we have been successful. The ultimate goal of helping individual people to become educated is to make a happier, healthier and more peaceful world, through their beneficial interactions with others.

Although modern education lacks health-giving qualities, we can’t really do without the practical, technical elements of modern education. We can, however, combine ethical, values-based education with modern education in a comprehensive program. Then perhaps we can achieve a beneficial balance, one that will support the development of healthier people who can actually contribute to making a better world, for themselves and everyone else.

Bio

Ven. Khenpo Tenzin Sangpo began his monastic studies near his birthplace in Mustang, Nepal, at age 7, in the ancient Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery, founded in 1429. He took his monk vows at 9 years old, at Ngor E-Wam Choden Monastery, Dehra Dun, India. During eight years of intensive study there, he mastered the arts of sacred music, mandala making, torma sculpture and puja performance as part of the complete range of monastic ritual arts. By the time he was fully ordained at age 30, Ven. Tenzin Sangpo had earned a monastic degree in philosophical and scriptural studies at the renowned Sakya College, Dehradun, India, where he also took English lessons and studied Tibetan Literature, Grammar and Poetics. He was very fortunate to receive extensive teachings and empowerments after his graduation, from the most profoundly realized Sakya Masters in the lineage and to undertake many meditational retreats. In 2001, His Holiness, the 41st Supreme head of the Sakya lineage bestowed on him the title of Khenpo ( Abbot) and appointed him to be the first fully qualified spiritual and administrative head of his home monastery, Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling. His responsibilities include giving spiritual guidance for the lay communities in his district, and, as the founder ( 2009 ) of the Kag Chode Monastic School, he is active internationally in raising funds for the basic living support and education of his 50 senior and student monks. He also teaches Buddhism in the USA, Europe, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia. His social work projects focus on improving the health and education of the people of Mustang and protecting their religious and cultural heritage.

Kagbeni & Monastery
Kagbeni, located at the entrance of Upper Mustang, just half an hour ride by jeep from Jomsom is an oasis with its apple and apricot orchards and barley fields, vibrant with color standing against the vast landscape of silver gray river, stones and stark, brown cliffs on the edge of the Kali Gandaki River. Here on the precipice of a steep cliff and bordered by the Kali Gandaki and the Dzong Khola rivers, sits the Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery founded by the renowned Sakya scholar, Tenpa Gyalsten of Tibet in 1429. The monastery being the center of spiritual life for the local community, who live here, has been well cared for during the past 570 years. Until the middle of the 18th century this monastery housed nearly 100 monks from twelve different surrounding villages practicing Dharma and keeping alive Tibetan Buddhism. Local economic condition and the lack of school and health care facilities have forced many village people to take their families and relocate to larger villages or eventually go to Pokhara, Kathmandu or India leaving the village and more importantly, the monastery with only a few senior monks, too old to leave.