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27august201022Interview: Geshe Ngagrampa Lobsang Dawa, acting director of the Snowland School of Tibetan Studies

Hunsur: From August 22-26, the Snowland School of Tibetan Studies at Gyudmed monastery in South India held a series of teachings and debates on Buddhist Philosophy. The programme was conducted by eleven teaching masters and attended by 114 students from seven schools, including the Tibetan Children's Village and the Central School for Tibetans.

The teachers included: Jangtse Choeje Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tenzin, former abbot Geshe Lobsang Delek, present abbot Alak Youngzin Rinpoche Tenpai Gyaltsen, vice-abbot Geshe Tashi Tsering and other Geshe masters.

The Tibet Post International (TPI) met with the school's acting director, Geshe Ngagrampa Lobsang Dawa, to discuss the school's activities.

TPI: What is the aim of this school?

Geshe Ngagrampa Lobsang Dawa: There were two main reasons for starting the school. First, many people of different nationalities from around the world wanted to learn and practice Buddhism, and Tibetan tradition, history, culture and language. Secondly, our new school is committed to working to alleviate the suffering, violence and conflict plaguing our world. Through education and compassion, we work to create peaceful minds and a peaceful world.

27august201021TPI: What is the aim of the Buddhist philosophical debates?

Geshe Ngagrampa Lobsang Dawa: The main aim of our debate programme is to introduce Buddhist debate to students, not in the traditional style taught in monasteries, but in a modern classroom style - demonstrating the usefulness of this uniquely Tibetan educational tool. Young students today learn many subjects, including science. Our programme shows the parallels between science and the ancient wisdom and science of Buddhism, whilst also teaching valuable lessons in ethics, morality and how to live peaceful and happy lives.

Education and science based on ethics and morality provide new generations with the tools they need to create a world free of violence, hatred and suffering. Buddhists believe that 'inner' sciences have a much greater ability to change the world than 'outer' science. When we learn about ourselves we can grow beyond the troubles we cause to the world and find lasting peace and happiness for ourselves and future generations. Students learn the value of being a person of character and finding the respect and valued friendships that come from it.

TPI: What was the inspiration behind your new school?

Geshe Ngagrampa Lobsang Dawa: In January 2007, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited and advised us to begin a new institution which anyone, irrespective of caste, creed, gender or nationality, could attend. Construction was started in October 2007 and completed in April 2010. His Holiness gave his blessing, and the name School of Snowland Tibetan Studies.

In April 2010, teachings began after a brief Rabney ceremony. For three days great Buddhist masters - Geshe Ngarampa Tenzin Sangay, Geshe Ngarampa Tsering Tashi and Geshe Ngarampa Yeshi Wangzin - taught 170 students from Bylakuppe and Gurupura schools and 85 lay people from Rabgayling settlement.

In May 2010, a month-long Buddhism and Tibetan-language teaching was given to Central School for Tibetans and Gurupura students, with prizes awarded to rank holders. In June 2010, lay people from local settlements attended teachings in two groups - each group representing six villages. In July and August 2010, classes where held for local lay people every Sunday.

The interview article and photos sent by Thupten Lobsang from South India on 27 August 2010.

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