“We’re passionate about compassion.”
WANT TO DEVELOP A HEALTHY MIND?
Healthy Minds Inner Peace Guest Scholar:
Geshe Lobsang Nima
Geshe Lobsang Nima was born in Kham, Tibet. He started his Buddhist studies and practices at Gaden Dhondup Ling monastery when he was thirteen years old. In 1992, he escaped from Tibet and joined Drepung Loseling monastery in India to pursue his Buddhist studies.
In 2010, he joined Gelgupa University and underwent all examinations to achieve his Geshe Lharampa doctorate degree in Buddhist philosophy. He was awarded with a Geshe Lharampa degree by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Drepung Monastic University in 2015. He received his diploma in advanced tantric studies at Gyuto Tantric College in Dharamsala, India.
Besides his studies, Geshe Lobsang Nima has also served the monastic community in different positions including a secretary of Drepung Loseling Educational Fund for about nine years, and editor of Drepung Loseling Magazine (DRELOMA) for about four years. He has been teaching many undergraduate and graduate monk students at Drepung Loseling Monastic University.
Geshe Lobsang Nima will join the URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies from January through June 2018 as a visiting research scholar to assist with the center’s healthy minds inner peace research project.
Healthy Minds – Inner Peace
The Center is pleased to continue the second year of our Inner Peace Research Project. Our current focus is on the study of factors contributing to the development and practice of a healthy state of mind. “Healthy Minds” Research is a collaborative effort and open to all URI faculty, staff, and students whose teaching and research interests intersect with the exploration of various aspects of healthy minds specifically and inner peace broadly.
The initiative led by Buddhist Geshe, Thupten Tendhar, and Psychology Professor Paul Bueno de Mesquita with the College of Health Sciences has been regularly offering a number of activities, services, and programs that promote inner peace, compassion, psychological health and well being, and stress reduction. There is growing interest in and attention given to inner peace and peaceful states of mind as a means of responding to the face-paced pressures and stresses of modern high tech life styles. However few of these popular approaches have been tudied systematically to determine their effectiveness and overall benefits to participants.
Currently there are concerning levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other manifestations of outward and inner violence among college students. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported a rising number of mental health challenges experienced by students nationally on US campuses. The purpose of the Healthy Mind & Inner Peace Research Project will be to examine the positive impact of educational programs to reduce stress and increase students’ personal well being. This initiative hopes to gather information that will add to a growing body of research that seeks to find ways to reduce intrapersonal, as well as interpersonal violence on college campuses. Evidence has already been reported that documents the profound negative effect that emotional stress has on the physical health of students.
Planning is underway and all faculty, staff, and students who might be interested are welcome to join these efforts. But first, some definitions may be helpful to understand what we mean by Healthy Minds and Inner Peace.
Inner Peace is a mental disposition, free of negative thoughts & emotions, with internal strength, stability, and peacefulness regardless of adverse external conditions (Lama, 2012). (Ref: Lama, Dalai H.H. (2012). Beyond religion: Ethics for a whole world. Uttar Pradesh, India: HarperCollins Publishers.)
By Daniel G. Amen, MD
The brain is the organ of learning, loving, and behaving for every member of a family, school, church or business. When the brains in a family or organization work right, the family or organization tends to be positive and effective. When the brain of one or more family or organization members is troubled, the family or organization experiences increased stress and strain.
Your brain is the most complex, mind-blowing organ in the universe. It is only about 3 pounds, or about 2 percent of your body’s weight. Yet, it uses 20 to 30% of the calories you consume, 20% of the oxygen you breathe and 25% of the blood flow in your body. Unbelievably, given that it is the bedrock of your personality, some think even your soul, the brain is 85% water! It is estimated that the brain has 100 billion nerve cells and more connections in it than there are stars in the universe, which is about the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. There are also trillions of supportive cells in the brain called glia. Each neuron is connected to other neurons by up to 40,000 individual connections (called synapses) between cells. Multiplying 100 billion neurons times 40,000 synapses is equivalent to the brain having more connections in it than there are stars in the universe.
A piece of brain tissue the size of a grain of sand contains 100,000 neurons and 1 billion synapses, all “talking” to one another. Information in your brain travels at about 268 miles per hour, unless of course you are drunk, then things really slow down. If you don’t take care of your brain, you lose on average 85,000 brain cells a day. That is what causes aging. With appropriate forethought, however, you can reverse that trend and dramatically slow the aging process and increase your mental agility.
Knowing how to care for your brain and the brains in your family or organization is the first and most important step to success, in any thing you do. When the brain works right, you (or your family and organization) work right. When the brain is troubled you (or your family or organization) have trouble in your life.
Given the brain central role in success, I offer 12 prescriptions to optimize it for a better life in all you do.
1. Love Your Brain
Over the years I have personally had 10 SPECT scans to check on the health of my own brain. Looking back, my earliest scan, when I was 37, showed a toxic, bumpy appearance that was definitely not consistent with great brain function.
All of my life I have been someone who rarely drank alcohol, never smoked and never used an illegal drug. Then why did my brain look so bad? Before I understood about brain health, I had many bad brain habits. I ate lots of fast food, lived on diet sodas, would often get by on 4-5 hours of sleep at night, I worked like a nut and didn’t exercise much.
My last scan, at age 52, looks healthier and much younger than my first scan, even though brains typically become less active with age. Why? Seeing other people’s scans, I developed “brain envy” and wanted mine to be better. As I learned about brain health, I put into practice what I preached to my patients. Loving your brain is the first step toward creating a brain healthy life.
Recent research on compassion and compassion training suggests that if you have a wandering mind or an afflictive mind you may not be such a caring person towards yourself or towards others. Cultivating compassion may be a way to focus on your daily mental health and keep your mind from wandering into negative thoughts and patterns of thinking, therefore becoming a more caring, compassionate person. Read more about it!
Healthy Minds Guest Lecture Series
In 1982, Khenpo Pema Wangdak was sent to the west by His Holiness Sakya Trizin, as the first of the younger generation of Tibetan teachers in America from the Sakya School. In 1989 Lama Pema founded the Vikramasila Foundation, which encompasses several US Palden Sakya Centers. These Centers offer courses in Tibetan Buddhist studies and meditation. Lama Pema is the creator of “Bur Yig”–Tibetan Braille, and the founder of Pema Ts’al Schools in Mundgod, India (for Tibetan lay children); Pokara, Nepal (monastic schools for boys); and Pema Ts’al School in New York City, with curriculum modeled from Sakya College, India. He received the distinguished “Ellis Island Medal of Honor” award by the National Ethical Coalition of Organizations in 2009 at Ellis Island for his humanitarian work around the world, the first Tibetan ever to have received such an award. He has been guiding Western students for 35 years, and he continues to travel and teach extensively to Dharma centers around the world.
His Eminence Geshe Lobsang Yeshi is the 81st abbot of Drepung Loseling Monastic University established in AD 1416. Since appointed for the abbotship by H. H. the Dalai Lama in 2013, Geshe Yeshi has been spearheading spiritual, societal, and academic affairs of this esteemed institute. The abbot shared his compassion and wisdom on “Preserving Inner Peace Amid Outer Turmoil” based on personal experiences, Buddhist philosophy and psychology.
Mandala Sand Painting
Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery constructed an Avalokiteshvara Mandala Sand Painting for Compassion from September 18 through September 21, 2017 at the URI Memorial Union Main Lounge. Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning sacred cosmogram. The monks laid millions of sand grains on a ﬂat platform over a period of five days to form the image of the Compassion mandala. From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. Thousands of people from the URI and neighboring communities visited and enjoyed the sand mandala and its progresses from the Opening Ceremony to the Closing and Sand Dispersal Ceremony.
Venerable Ngawang Phende earned his Geshe Lharampa Degree from Drepung Loseling Monastic University in Kamataka, India. He served as the resident teacher of Lam Rim Buddhist Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. Currently, he is one of the resident teachers at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta, GA.
Geshe Phende addressed the mental sufferings and dissatisfactions in the world, and the way Buddhist teachings deal with them through a deeper understanding of our own mind. His talk incorporated the Buddhist psychology which attempts to address human problems through understanding and training the mind based on a merging of ancient wisdom traditions with modem psychological science.
Anyen Rinpoche is a tulku (reincarnated lama) from Amdo, Tibet, and is an esteemed scholar as well as a heart son of his root Lama, Minyak Tsara Khenchen Dharmakirti Rinpoche. He is the fifth in an unbroken lineage of heart sons who received their uncommon lineage of the Longchen Nyingthig and introduction to the Dzogchen teachings directly from the renowned Dzogchen master Patrul Rinpoche. Anyen Rinpoche’s training included many years of intensive study and periods of solitary retreat before he obtained the degree of khenpo and became the head scholar of his root Lama’s monastic university in Kham, Tibet.
Anyen Rinpoche lives in Denver, Colorado, where he founded the Orgyen Khamdroling sangha and a shedra for Westerners to support those who are interested in practicing the Longchen Nyingthig teachings authentically. His teachings focus on extracting the essence of the Secret Mantryana teachings and the precious human life, so that practitioners can become genuine embodiments of the profound lineage teachings.
Geshe Gelek Rabten (Gela) was born in Kham Drango (Sichuan). He entered the Drango monastery in Kham in the late 80s and then joined Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India where he received full ordination as a monk from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other esteemed lamas.
The University was fortunate to learn from Geshe Gelek during the Thursday event about the inter-relatedness of ancient wisdom traditions of Buddhism with the emerging research based perspectives of modern positive psychology. He explained how we can find the Inner Peace we all seek at this important intersection, the inner source from which we can draw our positive emotions – and in doing so develop the practices that reduce stress, allay our daily anxieties, doubts and worries, and lead us to healthier mental and physical well-being.
Tsepak Rigzin is a Lecturer & Coordinator for Tibetan Language at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. He authored numerous articles and books on Tibetan culture, Buddhism, education, and language.
Mr. Rigzin talked about significant aspects of peace & nonviolence ingrained in the lay Tibetan culture, society, and tradition, and the challenges Tibetan people in diaspora are currently facing, speculated future issues, and difficulties on preserving peace and nonviolence.