January’s Learning Resources

January Theme: Bodhicitta


Reflect and discuss: 🧐

  • What are the components of a meaningful life?
  • What might engaged bodhicitta look like in your relationships and community?
  • Can you identify any barriers to developing aspirational bodhicitta? Or engaged bodhicitta?

Watch & Listen: 📖

This month’s book recommendation: 📚

    Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha by Thich Nhat Hanh.* From Lama Tsomo: “This is a beautiful telling of the Buddha’s life, told as a story. This belies the fact that he based it on the sutras of his life. I read it just before bed, a little bit at a time, transported back to that magical time and life, before sleep. Even though it was long, I was sad when it was over.

    * Namchak Foundation and Lama Tsomo do not receive any monetary or other benefit from the purchase of this book.

Learning Circle Spotlight ☸️

This month we hear from one of our Compassion in Action Fellows, Isabeau Burnette.

Isabeau is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, double majoring in biology and psychology, focusing on using biotech for sustainability. Outside of the classroom, she loves to read, write poetry, cook, and crochet.

Isabeau grew up meditating, but she felt her practice was missing a key component – Sangha, or community. The Compassion in Action program drew her in because of the community aspect.

In her words: “I was stoked to not only find people who were like-minded, but also to learn what makes everyone unique and how we are still able to set aside these differences and come together in the name of compassion.”

When asked: “How do you see your inner work and outer work connecting?” Isabeau answered:

“As I’ve begun to make peace with myself, I find more peace in the world around me. As I give myself more compassion, I find myself giving more compassion to those around me. It is as if I am a machine – the kindness and passion I give myself fuel the kindness and passion I give the world, and as I do so, I find more beauty in the world around me, which in turn fuels me to continue to see beauty in myself.”

We also asked: “What does a more compassionate world look like to you?” 

“A world in which everyone has peace with themselves, and are able to embark on whatever journey they need to get there. A world in which every action and interaction is made with love, peace, and kindness in mind.”

We have to agree, Isabeau. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

One Community Activities

💫 Opening, Community Commitments, Check-Ins (15-20 min)

  • Invite a moment of silence and give rise to bodhicitta. 
  • Read Community Commitments.
  • Check-in question: What does giving rise to bodhicitta mean to you?

🎥 Watch Video of Justin's Talk on Seeing Clearly (30-40 min)

  • Lama Tsomo is an American lama, author, and co-founder of the Namchak Retreat Ranch. Born into a Midwestern Jewish household, she followed a path of spiritual inquiry and study that ultimately led to her ordination as one of the few American lamas in Tibetan Buddhism. After a decade of practice and studying closely with Tulku Sangak Rinpoche, she became fluent in Tibetan and now teaches students in the U.S. and abroad. She is particularly passionate about reaching young people and supporting those working for positive social change. Fascinated by science from an early age, Lama Tsomo often weaves research findings into her candid and humorous teachings. She holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Jungian studies. She is the author of Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?,the Ancient Wisdom For Our Times series, an exploration of Tibetan Buddhism meditation that includes: Why Bother? An Introduction; Wisdom & Compassion (Starting with Yourself)and book three of the series, Deepening Wisdom, Deepening Connection just released this October 2022. Along with the Namchak Community, she created Taking a Breath: A Meditation and Reflection Journala hands-on guide for developing and improving meditation practice.
  • This videoincludes Lama Tsomo’s talk on bodhicitta. The recording was paused during sections of student discussion. 
  • The full video is 56 min. We recommend that you watch this video over the course of two Learning Circles, so that you have time to pause with the video to engage in the journal prompts that Lama Tsomo shares and to discuss with your Learning Circle members. 

🗣️ Discussion (15 min)

  • After watching 30 minutes of the video, discuss with your Learning Circle anything that stood out to you from the teaching. What are some questions, curiosities, insights or reflections you have about the teachings? 

💜 Meditation and Reflection (15 minutes)

  • You can practice this 15-minute Round Robin: Shamata and Tonglento help cultivate bodhicitta. 
  • After the session is finished, reflect with your Learning Circle members on how that meditation was for you. What happened? How do you feel afterwards? Do you have any insights, curiosities or questions about the practice and ‘bodhicitta’?

🙏 Dedicate the merit (1 min)

By the power of this compassionate practice,
may suffering be transformed into peace.
May the hearts of all beings be open,
and their wisdom radiate from within.

📚 Recommended Resources

  • Lama Tsomo’s newest book: Deepening Wisdom, Deepening Compassion
    • In this book Lama Tsomo explores all the topics she discussed with us in her talk including bodhicitta, The Four Immeasurables, and the Six Paramitas or Perfections.
  • Namchak Blog: Bodhi What?
    • This blog discusses the difference between bodhicitta and bodhisattvas.

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