Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Decent Human Being - A subject of field trip

A field trip to Palri Buddha Park is in line with Education statement made by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, in facilitating necessary conditions for students to grow into being a decent and an elegant being outwardly and inwardly.
“I want to teach children how to make a fire, and that the source of water does not come from the tap. The aim of this education is to refine ourselves so that we will see the world in a different way so that we can help others, and through helping others make ourselves happy and content. Therefore, what we are learning is not to get jobs, but to refine and make ourselves elegant both outwardly and inwardly… To do that, I would like to create an atmosphere at the school, so that classes can be taught under a big tree, by the bank of a river, or in the paddy field, and so that lessons could involve getting up at three in the morning and watching the colour of the sky and listening to the sound of silence.” Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Thus, various activities were incorporated in the trip such as stories, meditation practice, the offering of prayer, smoke offering and karma yoga practice.
As a pre-activity, a story was shared about the importance of refining one’s motivation and aspiration in doing any task. It is about a woman beggar… ‘‘There lived an old woman, who was a beggar. She offered a tiny bowl of butter lamp, which she begged from her community. Her offering accumulated a great deal of merit as she did with pure devotion and positive intention.’’… Hence, through story students were made to reflect the prime importance of one’s own mind and motivation, be it simple offering of feast or time or service.
The Karma yoga practice was included in the trip as an important endeavor to carry out social service. This was to create an opportunity for students to accumulate merit and to learn to be socially responsible individuals. The garbage collection along the pilgrim sites was considered not as a labor-intensive social work, but it was deemed as a contemplative practice that has an environment, health, social and emotional causes. Again here, students were briefed, that their intention is so important in determining the impact of work they do, despite the nature of work. To add-on, another story was narrated about Yogi Milarepa’s first meet with his master Marpa in the field, where Milarepa was assigned to plough the field and that eventually turned into an auspicious meet for his great enlightenment.
We strongly believe that these are necessary conditions we educators must facilitate and help guide students to become a decent human being and contributing member of the society. These contemplation practices of cherishing the importance of MIND are incorporated in almost all LME activities, to nurture young people to be kind, compassionate and helpful beings.

To Experience Inexperience

How do we facilitate more interconnected, actively-involved, and life-long learning opportunities for students? 
One such opportunity is to take a field study tour. The tour has to offer wide ranges of experiences that are often memorable, fun and remain intact in one's memory. LME students and teachers took a field visit to Palri Buddha Park, Mukazor, Wamrong to learn about the Twelve Great Deeds of the Buddha. The trip is to facilitate to learn through various experiences such as travel, explore, listen, participate, observe and interact. It is also to help develop the values, knowledge, competencies, and practical life skills that will enable to live full and satisfying lives and to become contributing members of the society.  


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

What is a Simple Choice?

A simple and wise choice in food offering can make a big difference to our environment, health, community, and world at large.
What do we mean by a simple offering and its choice?
It means offering what you eat at home, what you grow in your garden; and what you can effort as simple as a leaf of spinach and a finger of banana. 
Here is a list of simple but eco-friendly and sustainable feast offering items that you may offer next time when you visit the temple or at your home. 

  1. Cooked rice
  2. Boiled potatoes 
  3. Cooked vegetables
  4. Egg
  5. Dried spinach 
  6. Cooked pumpkin
  7. Boiled maize
  8. Butter
  9. Cooked Mushroom
  10. Cheese
  11. Milk
  12. Broccoli
  13. Bamboo shoot
  14. Pea
  15. Tea momo (dumpling)
  16. Soya beans
  17. Tapioca 
  18. Apple
  19. Guava
  20. Sugar cane
  21. Pineapple
  22. Banana
  23. Pears
  24. Oranges etc....
This list is just a suggestion based on what we have seen people offer at Chokyi Gyatso Institute, Dewathang during various ritual ceremonies. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Guest Speaker

Khenpo Pema explaining to students 
Khenpo Pema Longdro talked to LME students about different categories of vehicles in Buddhism. Khenpo said, depending on the spiritual capacities of the practitioner, Buddhism can be divided into three categories: The Theravada, the Mahayana, and the Vajrayana. The Theravada is a Buddhist practice with the ultimate goal to achieve self-liberation. The main Mahayana motivation is to lead all sentient beings to Buddhahood. And Tantric practice is very profound techniques to quickly achieve Enlightenment.  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mini-Research - Eco-Friendly Feast at CGI

Teachers taking an interview with two local elders 
The education of teachers in the Lhomon Education (LME) approach is fundamental to its success. It is recognized that research and teacher education are complementary activities, and documentation and research need to be part and parcel of LME’s on-going activities. As a part of professional development, LME teachers (Researcher) carried out mini action research about zero waste feast offering practices at Chokyi Gyatso Institute (CGI). Through the research, the team intended to find statistics that will show the impacts of eco-friendly feast offering practices at CGI in the reduction of mass plastics. It was also to educate researchers about how a simple and wise choice can make a big difference to our environment, health, community, and world at large.
The researcher took into account the feast offering composition for three middle days (28th, 29th, and 30th of September, 2018) of 5 days of Phama Nyingtik Drubchen ceremony (Heart drop of White Tara, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's terma). We listed 58 different kinds of feast offerings made during the Drubchen including foods, fruits, dairy products, vegetables, Indian sweets, and others. Out of 58 total feasts, 50 are categorized under the homemade offering, 7 of them under the fruit category and 1 item under the plastic packaged category. When these figures are converted into percentage we have 86% of the homemade feast, 12 % of fruits and 2 % of Plastic Packaged offerings.
Taking down feast offering list by the teacher
The homemade food included cooked rice, boiled potatoes, egg, dried spinach, cooked pumpkin, boiled maize, butter, mushroom, cheese, milk, broccoli, bamboo shoot, pea, tea momo (dumpling), soya beans, tapioca etc; the fruit included apple, guava, sugar cane, pineapple, banana, pears etc. and plastic packaged food included a bread.
Further, these three food categories are divided into two groups, Non-Plastic Items, and Plastic Items. The homemade foods and fruits, in general, are non-plastic items and the plastic packaged items are categorized under Plastic Items. Therefore, 98% of the feast offerings did not produce plastics while 2% offering has some plastics. The 2% plastic came from bread offering.  
The team also looked into how many numbers of plastic plates and cups are reduced in 5 days of Phagma Nyingtik Drubchen. This is done considering the average counting of devotees (248) present during the feast offering session, the number of banana leaves (247) distributed and also the number of cups (231) distributed to the devotees. Further, the average of all these three average countings was considered as a final average figure (that is 242), that represents the number of plastics plates and cups reduced in a day. Therefore, we have concluded that the number of plastic plates reduced in one day of feast offering is 242. Similarly, the number of plastic cups reduced is also 242.  The total plastic plates and plastic cups reduced in five consecutive days of Phagma Nyingtik Drubchen are 1,210 plastic plates and 1,210 plastic cups. So, we have found that the total plastic reduced in 5 days of Drubchen is 2,420 plastics.
The team also found that the CGI administration has spent 54% of its total budget on feast offering in this particular Drubchen and this entire amount is invested in 100% plastic free feasts offering. The feast included Rice 20%, vegetables 21%, Fruits 17%, and India Sweets 42%.
The eco-friendly feast offering is H.E. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision initiated several years ago at Chokyi Gyatso Institute, Dewathang and today this sustainable practice of beautiful feast offering continues to be a living example of Rinpoche’s vision.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Your mask is not your boss; You are your mask's boss!

Mask project is a part of LME curriculum unit to help students to ignite individual creativity, art skills, and social skills. Hence this short video clip is a project of projects in its aims to offer holistic education for students. 

Your Mask is not your boss; you are your mask's boss!
In fact, we wear many layers of masks.
Do you wear one or many?
Let us put it this way: Have you blamed someone for your fault?
Have you felt slightly uneasy to expose your true imperfect self? 
If so, these are symptoms that you are wearing masks! YOU MUST KNOW THAT
our mask is a sign of our weakness. Mask paralyze us from being authentic us. It shadows us from admitting our perfectly imperfect us. So, know that our mask is not us.  
Therefore, at the least let us consistently Remember that we manifest our masks on daily basis, if not unmask our masks immediately!
Do you want to be a mask-less? It is your choice! 
Your mask is not your boss; You are your mask's boss!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Mask Project

Mask making process is creative adventures for students. It provides them to undertake a rigorous process of thoughts to craft their architecture in their own imaginative shape, size, design, colour and their interpretations. The mask making was one of the exciting projects that LME students have carried out as a part of Buddhist Art and Culture unit. The aim of the project was to augment their creative imaginations, give them hands-on experiences, and enhance social interactions. More importantly, the project was to emphasize the importance of process-oriented learning and encourage them to take responsibility in their quest for learning. It was also to make them realize the magic of interdependent reality about how simple process can unfold into their desired product.

The tactile process to select primary materials out of clay, flour, soils, and other possible materials need careful diligence and decision. To carefully pick one, students need to weigh the pros and cons, analyze the best material and take the right decision to choose the right one. It is a lot of thought process for young students. If a student is doing for the first time, the process is research in itself and full of enrichment. 

Moulding clay with hands, fingers, and palms can offer a powerful hands-on experience for students to feel through their senses, nonverbal experiences of working physically with the clay. The whole process is about questioning oneself and discovering a satisfactory solution to come up with one’s own creative shape by the end of their project.

Once all the materials are ready students need to think about how to design their masks, to put on creative shape, to make eyes, nose and mouth designs. This painstaking process needs artistic eyes for students to shape, reshape and refine their creation to the best of their motor skills, mathematic sense, visual and other senses. 

The mask making process is a craft that requires drying in the sun. As a result, it makes students wait. It is a great way for students to show self-control and patience.  It also helps them develop flexibility as they show patience.

Writing reflection about the mask is another activity integrated into the project to give students the opportunity to say and think about their projects. Students were asked to write about their procedure for making their masks; what did their masks represent and what they learned in the process of the project.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Rainy Season Retreat (Dathün)

As part of Personal and Professional Development, a group consisting of 5 members—2 from Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative and 3 from Lho Mon Education took part in a two-week summer retreat (Dathun) from 15th to 28th, August 2018 at Deer Park Institute, Bir, Himachal Pradesh.  This program was led by a team of Buddhist instructors under Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
The Dathun provided the unique opportunity to practice sitting meditation including morning and evening chants, walking meditation, silent meals, silent periods, functional talking, meetings with senior meditation instructors, and dharma talks. It was a special opportunity to explore and understand our own minds and the world around us without pressure or distraction. As intended, the Dathun provided that space of simplicity and clarity, which is rarely manageable in our day-to-day work place and mundane lives. This indeed was our main purpose of this Dathun participation to have that personal space. For much of the day the participants were together in complete silence. There was also unscheduled open times for us to read, take walks or just sit and relax. There were also some household chores or kitchen work at regular intervals as a part of practice.
The program was designed to follow the traditional program guidelines: that there be no music, no drinking of alcohol or taking non-prescription drugs, that reading materials are dharma books only, and that we take part fully in the schedule.
Although we were not able to continue the month-long Dathun because of time constraint, the first two weeks of participation gave us the taste of what it is like to watch our mind and body with total focus and discipline.  

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Birthday Tribute to H. E. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche!

To celebrate the 58th Birth Anniversary of H.E. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, students and teachers of Lhomon Education at Chokyi Gyatso Institute organized few activities such as planting fruit saplings, reciting long life prayer for Rinpoche, practicing meditation, reciting sutra in English translated by 84000 project, offering butter lamps, and offering prostration. It is a humble tribute that equals to a firefly amongst the sun, the moon, the stars, and metropolitan lights to cherish and to celebrate Rinpoche.
The celebration is a time for students and teachers alike to reflect on how we celebrate Rinpoche’s profound vision and aspiration in small ways, yet in holistic manner. Sowe had a good discussion about how we generally celebrate birth day, normally with cutting cake, blowing off a candle, and bursting of balloons, etc. we questioned on how this practice helps environment, oneself and others in deeper level. After weighing all the pros and cons we concluded that we need to celebrate the birthday in holistic manner. We did some brainstorm on holistic celebration and came up with this list: tree planting, butter lamp offering, saying prayer, practicing meditation, reading sutra, offering prostration, offering flower, cleaning environment, cutting cake, dancing, also bursting balloons, etc.

Our approach is to celebrate the day by contributing few trees to the mother Earth; reading the words of the Buddha; being generous to self by contemplating; and saying long life prayer for Rinpoche. 
This short video is a tribute to honour Rinpoche! We dedicate our merit to all sentient beings. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tshering Chenmo cover song - Music Video as a fun part of learning and educating!

The lyric of the song goes ‘‘…Any thought in my mind, reminds me of dharma practice…’’and it ends ‘‘…I have equity in human birth, but not in fortune and merit, as I have to leave my own birth place and linger in others places...’’

This song is a melodious in tune and good in its message, that reflects the singer’s urge of wanting to visit the sacred place of dharma and the land of Guru Padma Jungney, to practice the Dharma. However, she/he is being in the Samsara has the responsibility to take care of her/his son and old parents and that makes her/his wish of Dharma practice impossible.
As the song melodiously ends, she/he complains, that it is unfortunate and less in merit of her/him not being able to use the fortunate human birth for Dharma practice. 

As we have shared in our last post, the singing of song and playing music are fun part of study and it is considered as an offering. We hope to use music as a medium to educate our students and other people through composition and music videos. The profound concepts such as interdependence, inclusiveness, karma, kindness, etc. can be taught through the music. 

Music is a social art. It enhances team work, cooperation, and brings people together. Today’s social media are filled with music and videos. Many young people love singing and listening to music. It is a trend! Why we educators don't take advantage of it? 

With this we would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Simon Thomas for your time and effort in raising funds to buy some instruments for LME students. We also sincerely thank the individual donor for your generous contribution.

Let us not forget the team Misty Terrace. This music video is outcome of inspiration from the team (Tshering Chenmo music video). Thank you Mr. Tandin Wangchuk (Misty Terrace) and your wonderful team mates.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mindfulness Camp Participants (Teachers), Making differences in their Schools!

Students practicing sitting meditation, Gomdar Central School 
The 4th Annual Mindfulness camp was held at Chokyi Gyatso Institute in Dewathang from 7th to 13th January 2018.

As a result of the camp, teacher participants actively initiated various mindfulness activities for teachers and students in their respective schools through establishing mindfulness club and School Based In-service Programme (SBIP). 

The mindfulness practice is integrated in a week long value orientation programme in few schools including Karmaling Higher Secondary School and Pemathang Lower Secondary School at the beginning of their academic session (2018). On a regular basis, all the teachers who took part in the camp do few minutes of practice with the students every day before they begin their lessons in the class.
Mindfulness program at Pemathang Lower Secondary School

A participant from Arekha Middle Secondary School, Chukha district integrated the mindfulness practice during their lunch time to encourage students to eat mindfully, to make meal offerings, and to sit for few minutes of practice. The mindful walk is another practice Madam Dechen of the school encourages her students to do every morning after the assembly as they walk back to their class rooms.  For teachers of the school, Dechen was successful in initiating a 5 minute practice every before and after the staff meeting.
Students of Ura Central School practicing Karma yoga

Another participant, Madam Tenzin Dema of Ura Central School, Bumthang integrated the mindfulness practice in doing community services through the practice of karma yoga (work as practice). The Karma Yoga is a practice to apply the supreme methods for refining ones intention and motivation to carry out any service selflessly for the greater benefit of all sentient beings. With the help of Dema the peer helper club members did a mass cleaning in one of the local temples in Ura. On the other hand Dema also led the scout club members of the school to clean a local stream coinciding with the world water day.
LME students attending one day mindfulness camp
Recently, Ms. Sangay Wangmo, one of the past camp participants from Karmaling Higher Secondary School, Phuntshothang wrote a proposal to her school administration requesting to permit her to carry out Mindfulness training as a strategy for the disciplinary issues in the school. The school administration wholeheartedly accepted her proposal and she is now ready to commence her plan.
SBIP for teacher at Ura CS

Back at Chokyi Gyatso Institute a daylong mindfulness camp was organized for LME students, teachers and CGI lopons. More than 60 participants took part in the program. The program was organized to continue and emphasize the importance of mindfulness practice. It was to deepen their understandings of practice and to appreciate it as a part of themselves. It was also to introduce the existence of mind and the mindfulness techniques to newly enrolled students.
The mindfulness practice of 3-5 minutes is maintained on daily basis in the class. Besides daily practice, once a week students practice karma yoga as they do their social work in the Institute. The karma yoga practice is also integrated when the students are involved in volunteer works and social services in their community.

Students practicing walking meditation at Karmaling Higher S School

SBIP for Karmaling HSS Teachers
Karma Yoga at Local temple, Ura, Bumathang

Ura CSS, Photo session after the community services 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Appearance is not the conclusion - A short film

A man smiles and puts his hand on a door frame to balance himself. He is unsteady on his feet. As he smiles, he shows a set of dark, stained teeth. It looks like he has never brushed his teeth. He is wearing a black gho and a pair of old leather shoes with no socks and he looks like he has never washed.
"I am here to meet…" he says. As he speaks, his breath smells foul of alcohol…

To such an encounter if many of us don’t raise our eyebrows and prejudice, we should be proud of ourselves!

A short film acted by the students of Lhomon Education to convey a message that appearance can be deceiving.