Kagyu Samye Ling Shedra Guidelines
Kagyu Samye Ling Shedra Guidelines
For gods and humans, the supreme and sacred field for the accumulation of merit is the sangha and they are the ones to whom we listen when desirous of using our intelligence to understand the way things really are. In general, when anyone of us attains this inestimably precious human existence, it should be used for the benefit of both oneself and others so as not to let it go to waste. The finest of all things able to accomplish every benefit and goodness without exception is the precious teaching of the buddhas and that teaching has two major aspects: its theoretical or scriptural content and the teachings dealing with actual realisation. The teachings concerning direct realisation require (meditation) practice for them to be apprehended properly and that, in its turn, is necessarily founded in the theoretical teachings. The theoretical content itself requires proper explanation and proper study. Thus, being the root of all, explanations and study are of great importance, however one considers the matter.
In India, the home of dharma, in former times, there were many great study institutions, veritable treasure-houses of learning, such as Sri Nalanda and others, some smaller, some larger. They gave rise to an uncountable number of scholars and siddhas. Within our own Kagyu tradition there arose five major places of learning such as Dagpo Lekshay Ling, Palpung Shedra and so forth, each giving rise to its own accomplished scholars and meditators. Each developed its own code of discipline and, as these were monastic institutions, that code was founded in the monastic rules. Our own present Shedra is comprised of both lay and monastic students and it therefore needs a code of discipline suited to the times and the country, forming a basis or reference concerning any harmful activities or conduct to be avoided.
The four sutra-level texts 'the Mahayana Uttara Tantra, the Prajnaparamita Ornament of Clear Realisations, the Root Verses on Wisdom and Penetrating the Middle Way' may be studied by Buddhists and non-Buddhists and by those attending the entire course (full-timers) as well as by those attending only some of the years (occasional participant). The distinction between these latter two types of student is as follows. The full-timers are those intending to study the entire six-year programme. The occasional participants are those intending to study the texts of one or more years.
The two tantric texts - Profound Inner Meaning and the Glorious Two Segments (H'vajra commentary) - are only open to study by committed Buddhists who, furthermore, must either:
- have a definite commitment to practise the Six Yogas of Naropa OR
- have already properly practised the Six Yogas OR
- have already satisfactorily completed all four of the sutra texts mentioned above.
These two tantric texts will be closed to anyone other than to these three suitable types of students.
If full-timers or occasional participants fall ill, have unexpected and very difficult circumstances to deal with in their lives or else have very important work that cannot be avoided, they will need to seek permission for absence at the time or beforehand, not in retrospect. If the request is seen as reasonable, permission for absence will be given. Otherwise, those who do not attend the entire curriculum each year, those who do not study diligently enough and those whose attendance is haphazard or who have been absent without permission will not be allowed to continue with the Shedra. New students will be allowed to attend the first day of teachings as a trial (to see if they want to commit). Those who wish to join this Shedra, having already studied the relevant texts (years 1 - 3, as appropriate) in other institutions may join by sitting an exam and proving their good understanding to a satisfactory pass-mark.
Full-timers are required to learn prescribed verses by heart and to do satisfactorily in exams and so forth. Certificates will be given on request to those who have adequately studied one year's course, all the sutra-level courses, all the sutra and tantra courses etc.
This was decided and written under the overall auspices of Khyabje Akong Rinpoche by Karma Lhabu in Buddhist year 2552. May there be virtue! May there be auspiciousness!
13 June 2009
Six-Year Course Programme
Study Year Shastra Author
First Madhyamakavatara Chandrakirti
Entering the Middle Way
Second Mulamadhyamakakarika Arya Nagarjuna
Root Verses of the Middle Way
Third Abhisamalamkara Arya Maitreya
Ornament of Clear Realisation of Prajnaparamita
Fourth Mahayanottaratantrashastra Arya Maitreya
Mahayana Treatise on the Ultimate Continuum
Fifth Profound Inner Meaning Gyalwa Karmapa
Sixth The Twofold Analysis Sakyamuni Buddha