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Meditation 2 compressed

Students meditating at a Vajrapani retreat

“How do you reconcile the tension between making the Dharma truly accessible to all and covering the high operating costs of retreats? That tension brings up a scarcity mindset. From there it’s unlikely that everyone’s needs will be met. So what would happen if we trusted in the spirit of generosity instead?” asked Fabienne Pradelle, director of Vajrapani Institute in California. 


Stupa at Vajrapani

With the upcoming retreat “Kopan West: Buddhism 101, A Course on the Gradual Path to Enlightenment with Andy Wistreich,” Vajrapani decided to experiment with connecting generosity to helping students deepen their lam-rim practice. Kopan West starts on November 22 and is being sponsored by past retreatants and benefactors and is offered to anyone who participates.

Lam-rim, or stages of the path, study and meditation is central to the experience of FPMT students, both beginners and long-time practioners. The recent advice from FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche emphasizes gaining actual realizations of lam-rim through meditation and retreat. Like the November courses offered at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, Kopan West students receive instruction in lam-rim teachings. Andy Wistreich, who’s leading this year’s retreat, is a senior student of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche and has led many retreats with students of all levels around the world. 

“With Kopan West, someone else has paid for you to be on retreat, someone you don’t even know. How inspiring is that!” Fabienne told Mandala. “Would you want to donate forward to the next person? That’s completely up to you. Will this mindset of generosity be sustainable? How long will the chain last? We don’t know. But we believe in the power of generosity that exists in each and everyone of us.”

Fabienne and the team at Vajrapani have been inspired to try this experiment in generosity in part by Nipun Metha, who’s become an well known advocate in California’s Bay Area for radical generosity. Fabienne recommended a video of Nipun Metha, describing some of the work he’s been involved with, to further explain the thinking behind offering Kopan West as a “pay it forward” retreat.

“Truly amazing things can happen when we let go of the scarcity mindset and look at the world with a spirit of generosity,” Fabienne said.

Visit Vajrapani Institute’s website for more on the course and retreats they offer.

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