Learning Classical Tibetan



Benefits of Learning Classical Tibetan

Even though classical Tibetan is considered to be a different language than modern, colloquial Tibetan, learning it has many benefits. There are many texts that still have no translation into English and having the ability to read Tibetan gives access to these texts. If one has practice texts in Tibetan, its my experience that they come more alive in the original language.

Learning Tibetan also can given deeper insight Buddhist philosophy because English can sometimes be a difficult language for getting a precise translation of technical philosophical term, while Tibetan gives a fairly precise translation of Sanskrit terms. Tibetan also preserves the beautiful poetic meter found in texts translated from Sanskrit, something that is extremely difficult to reproduce in English.

One great resource for learning classical Tibetan is through Ranjung Yeshe Institute. They provide two online courses that are supported by reference tables and exercises, unique ways to learn new concepts and words using Quizlet, and video instructions.

Tibetan Alphabet

As a preparation, one can read here about their online course in the Tibetan Alphabet. 

It aims at allowing a beginner to spell, read and pronounce Tibetan words.

Introduction to Classical Tibetan

Once someone has the basics of the Tibetan alphabet, the next step is to learn the grammar. One can click here to read more about their course in Classical Tibetan.

The course builds up a beginners vocabulary while learning to be able to read and write classical Tibetan. Its a great resource so that someone can get the basics and begin to practice translating of texts

Dalai Lamas Advice on Getting Through the next 4 years

While many people in both the United States and across the world are visibly upset about the political activity in the United States, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives advice on how to get through this period.

Using logic to create optimism, he states:

The “president, of course, (is a) very important individual, but basically I (am) always telling (people), the world belongs to humanity,” said the Dalai Lama during the Emory-Tibet symposium of Scholars and Scientists held at the Drepung Monastic University in India in December. “Each nation belongs to the people,” he said.

Click here to read from the article

First 40 Years of Tsongkhapa’s Life

Venerable Tsenphel of Sravasti Abbey, as part of preparation for doing a Lama Tsongkhapa retreat during Sravasti Abbey’s winer retreat this year, explains the first 40 years of Lama Tsongkhapa.

Lama Tsongkhapa was a scholar saint who established the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism, which is also the order of the Dalai Lama.

For those interested in joining the Abbey in doing the retreat from distance, one can still register to do the retreat from afar. Click here to learn more

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More Thubten Chodron & Sravasti Abbey Videos…

16 aspects of the Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths were the first teachings given by the Buddha, and form the very basis of Buddhist philosophy because it explains how to gain freedom from the influence of disturbing emotions and karma.

Below is a short teaching given by Ringu Tulku, explaining the Four Noble Truths:

A way to get a deeper understanding of the Four Noble Truths is to study the sixteen aspects, which are four aspects for all of the four noble truths. This is a way to enrich ones understanding of the Four Noble Truths and to help one understand why and how liberation is actually possible.

Each of the sixteen aspects are meant to counteract a misunderstanding of the Four Noble Truths. Here is a link from a teaching by Alex Berzin, explaining the 16 misunderstandings that are being counteracted.

And here is a helpful link explaining the actual sixteen aspects of the Four Noble Truths, also from a teaching by Alex Berzin

Resolved Spiritual Practice and Gracefulness

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, in this interesting article, explains how a resolved practitioner naturally has a sense of gracefulness. He mentions:

A practitioner who is truly resolved of all conflict–inner and outer, self and other; ultimately, of life and death–appears simply ordinary, simply authentic. The reason grace and elegance comes through is because there is no clumsiness. Clumsiness can only reside in an unresolved mind–when you are resolved, awkwardness, the source of the clumsiness, is no longer present.

Click here to read more from this article.

Buddhist Perspective on Becoming Vegan

Dr. Nicholas Ribush, founder of Wisdom Publications and former monk, talks about his journey of becoming a vegan in this interesting article. From the article:

And I think the reason that the Buddha, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Rinpoche can’t just come out and tell their followers to be vegetarian, much less vegan, is that not everybody can do it from the start, and to do so would be to drive many potential students away. Like me, we have to be brought along gradually.

The reaction many people have when you tell them you’re a vegan is funny. Right away they become defensive, as if you’re judging them. Even Buddhists; perhaps especially Buddhists. You’re immediately labeled pious or militant or self-righteous or something like that. I would have thought that living in a way that clearly decreases animal suffering is the most Buddhist thing you can do. But people do seem threatened by it. It’s that attachment at play again.


Click here to read more.