I attended Nitartha Institute in the summer of 2016 for Mind and Its World 1 (taught by Stephanie and Scott) and 2 (Jirka) and Clear Thinking (Sandra and Stephanie); I also attended Acharya Lama Tenpa’s teachings on Lama Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty in addition to Ponlop Rinpoche’s opening and closing sessions. Initially, I only planned to take MW1 and Clear Thinking, but at the end of those first two weeks, I knew that I needed to take advantage of this precious opportunity. I was very impressed with the compassion and support from my teachers, as well as their breadth of knowledge and understanding of how to teach a curriculum that can be challenging for novices like me!
While I was attending classes, I was simply trying to keep up with the rigors of comprehending the dharma concepts and nomenclature. The first two Mind and Its World courses provide an excellent foundation for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, and really helped to clarify many ideas that I struggled with through the Nalandabodhi Hinayana study curriculum. Nitartha fleshes out and illuminates the material in those courses in a way that I found immensely helpful.
Now, looking back, I get the sense that the mandala of Nitartha was working its magic on me all along, strengthening my confidence and allowing me to become more discerning – to be less reactive and more compassionate, caring and loving.
In my practice, I continue to cultivate a “mindful gap” in my interactions with people and with life in general. This is the space to consider my response and to avoid rushing into situations leading to conflict/anger, and to let go of attachment to things going my way and people acting the way I want. This space naturally allows me room to increase a sense of both self-respect and respect for others, to adopt a stance of non-violence and equanimity – especially when regarding those who “make me mad,” whether it’s Donald Trump or the person beside me on the bus.
I’m much more aware now of the six root and 20 secondary afflictions, and the ones that arise most frequently in me. Desire. Anger. Pride (self-satisfaction). Envy. Laziness. Distraction. Regarding those last two, I’m happy to report that since Nitartha, I’ve really improved my meditation practice, which was previously pretty hit-and-miss. I feel that, thanks to the Nitartha Institute, I am on the path with some key dharmic tools.
Thank you Nitartha!