“May I be a guard for those who are protectorless,
A guide for those who journey on the road.”
Chapter 3, Commitment, Verse 18
During this unsettling time, the worldwide Mindrolling sangha has been blessed in so many ways by H.E. Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche’s great generosity in providing frequent and wonderful remote teaching and practice opportunities. Through the increasing skill of a group of students working with Rinpoche, the sangha has been able to use the internet to stay connected and study together successfully during these past months.
Rinpoche has also made it possible for the Osel Ling Mindrolling sangha to enjoy the great good fortune of studying Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara (The Way of the Bodhisattva) through weekly video commentaries presented by Senior Dharma Instructor Steve Iverson. The half-hour videos are posted each week for Osel Ling students to review on their own and then discuss as a group during our ongoing Friday Night Meditation and Study classes. The benefit of working with a small number of verses each week encourages the class to explore the richness of what Shantideva’s text reveals.
There is perhaps no better text to contemplate at this challenging time than The Way of the Bodhisattva. It brightly illuminates the radical alternative path of the Bodhisattva – the path of selfless compassion for all sentient being s- and and lays out the means needed to travel that path with courage and skill. Dharma Instructor Steve’s teachings are easy to understand and his gentle approach to guiding students through the text has deepened their understanding and appreciation of Shantideva’s brilliance and generosity.
Each class includes an opportunity for sangha members check-in with and support one another, serving as a “life-line” for many. Others have mentioned that the meditation periods, which proceed and follow discussion of the teaching, have helped ground them at a time when the world seems to be spinning out-of-control. These opportunities for community, contemplation and study are precious to many students, who week after week, no matter what else might be happening in the world or in their lives, make it a point to be present.
How fortunate we are to have teachers like Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche and senior students like Dharma Instructor Steve Iverson, as well as the incomparable wisdom of Shantideva, to help us move through these difficult times in a way that opens our hearts and our minds. As has been so aptly said by one of the students:
“The Way of the Bodhisattva study group has been such a blessing; a place to discuss what truly matters. Coming together on zoom each week has been a profound support to my practice and brought me so much joy, clarity, and focus – an extraordinary gift in the midst of isolation and challenges related to the pandemic. My gratitude truly is beyond words.”