SMD Branch School For Young Monks at Namo Buddha
A Request from Thrangu Rinpoche
Rinpoche strongly requests support for his school-going monks, in particular for the monks at SMD Branch School. He points out that the more monks who get a secular as well as the traditional monastic education, the more they will be able to benefit Dharma activities and all sentient beings.
In 2000, Rinpoche opened SMD Branch School for young monks at Namo Buddha (about 2 hours away from the main school). There are usually 70 to 100 monks at SMD Branch School for young monks. The Branch School was established to relieve overcrowding in the main school, and to give the young monks a wholesome atmosphere in which to live. The Branch School runs from Nursery up to Class 9. Rinpoche sends his more able monks down to the main school from Classes 6 to 10, with the intent that, when they graduate, they can become junior 'gegens' (teachers) at SMDBS. The reason for sending these monks to the main school is because the secular curriculum is more advanced, and so future gegens can be exposed to modern teaching methods.
All the children who are put into Thrangu Rinpoche's care are given a secular education whether they are nuns, monks or lay children. When the monks and nuns reach the age of consent, the can then take full ordination if it is their wish. If not, they can leave the monastery or nunnery. With a secular education they are able to make their ways in life and the choice of full ordination thus remains a fairly pure choice.
The monks at the Branch School follow a modified curriculum with a heavier emphasis on Tibetan language, calligraphy and grammar, along with practice in ritual. However, their days are a little more rigorous than kids' at the main school; the Branch School monks have classes 6 days a week. Class times are from 8:30 AM until 3 PM, but they also study in the morning before classes start and they study Dharma texts in the late afternoons. They do a cycle of pujas, one a day. (Chenrezig, Green Tara, Mahakala, Guru Rinpoche, Medicine Buddha, White Tara and on special <auspicious days, like Guru Rinpoche Day> they also do pujas). They dedicate the merit to all sentient beings, especially to their sponsors.
Thinking about sponsoring a monk or nun?
Thrangu Rinpoche points out that the monastics' lives are not as settled as the lay childrens'. Monastics are moved around more. After they finish Class 6, Rinpoche moves them to the nunnery or monastery to study texts and learn rituals. Generally they are in their early teens by the time they get to Class 6. It is a delicate time, when worldly temptations (fashion! technology! etc.) are particularly attractive to youngsters. Rinpoche has found that it is better to move them into a monastic setting and give them some training along those lines. They don’t drift away so easily.
After a year of refreshing their motivation, Rinpoche may send them back into school, or if they show no interest or ability in their studies, Rinpoche may give them some job to do, like working in one of the offices, working on a construction or publishing project, or driving. After they've finished that work for some years, they will be moved on to another job or another learning situation.
Those who have shown exceptional ability may go into “shedra”, a monastic college of higher Buddhist study where they study the sutras, commentaries, logic, rhetoric and where they take part in lively debates. Upon successful graduation from shedra, and at Rinpoche’s discretion and wisdom, a shedra graduate may win the title “khenpo”, which is akin to a Master’s degree in advanced philosophy. Rinpoche’s nuns have the same education opportunities as the monks.
After many years of service, a nun or monk may go into the traditional 3-year, 3-month, 3-week retreat. This is seen as a great reward. One who has successfully completed the 3 year retreat (again at Rinpoche’s discretion) may be awarded the title “lama”.
As you can understand, this training is also a form of education, and it is very important for the future of Rinpoche's activities. The more monks and nuns who are trained in western education and in life skills, the more benefit will come to all beings.
Lives of the Young Monks
SPONSOR A YOUNG MONK'S EDUCATION
M619 Pema Tsering 12 year Class:1
M618 Lekshay Wangchuck 13 years Class:1
M617 Karma Chokyoung 10 years Class:1