Serving a Larger Vision in Nepal

By Franka Cordua-von Specht • 4 min read

Joy of Living

When Arun Poudel met Mingyur Rinpoche at Osel Ling monastery in 2017, he was immediately captivated.

“It was extraordinary,” he said. “The humility and compassion with which he taught was nothing I had ever experienced before.”

 It was Arun’s introduction to Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Though there were hundreds in the audience, he felt a direct transmission of the teachings. 

An academic who teaches a survey course of Buddhist philosophy at Lumbini Buddhist University in Nepal, Arun instantly recognized the profundity of the Joy of Living teachings.

“It is full of wisdom and the practice tools that give us a better understanding of ourselves and others,” Arun said in an interview from his Kathmandu home, where he lives with his wife, twin sons, and a golden retriever.

Arun instantly took to Rinpoche, started to attend all of his teachings, and became involved in the local Tergar practice groups, later founding the Anamnagar group in Kathmandu.

Over the years, Arun’s offer to be of service to Rinpoche has not wavered. He now works as the executive director of Buddha Prakash, a Nepalese foundation started two years ago.

The foundation is dedicated to bringing out the teachings of the two brothers, Mingyur Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche, to the Buddhist communities in Nepal, India, and Bhutan. Currently, there are 15 khenpos and lopons taking out the teachings. Additionally, the foundation interacts with academic institutions, non-Buddhist communities, and secular audiences to clarify the Buddhist view and make meditation accessible.

One might assume that the teachings would be ubiquitous in Nepal, the birthplace of the Buddha.  “The people have all the religious and devotional aspects in the culture, but somehow the chain of the wisdom teachings is somewhat broken,” said Arun, speaking with his characteristic warmth.

“Both Rinpoches realized this and wanted to take the teachings out to the communities and make them easily accessible,” he said.

He finds the work for Buddha Prakash fulfilling and congruent with what he had been seeking: a life of meaningful service. In past years, Arun has worked in media and public relations in Nepal. Although it was a successful career that enabled him to support his family, it did not fulfill a deeper spiritual calling.

GROWING UP HINDU

Arun was not raised in a Buddhist home. His was a traditional Hindu family, with his mother a particularly devoted practitioner. His father, however, held more moderate views.

A highly educated man who worked at the highest level of civil service for the Government of Nepal, his father greatly loved learning. 

In his childhood home, without cell phones, a landline, or television, Arun was surrounded by books on Hindu meditation, yoga, and philosophy. He fondly recalled his father recounting stories of saints, yogis, and miracles. “You can imagine a 10 or 11-year-old listening to these stories very closely!” said Arun. 

His path would take him on a rich study that would include kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, Jain systems of meditation, as well as teachings from S.N. Goenka, Ravi Shankar and Paramahansa Yogananda and then the Buddhist teacher of Chan master Venerable Hin Hung. Indeed, Arun left  Nepal in 2013 and completed a Master’s in Buddhist Studies founded by Venerable Hin Hung in Hong Kong.

It was Venerable Hin Hung’s visit to Nepal that prompted Arun’s first visit to Osel Ling. Although Rinpoche was not present, Arun became curious and bought three of Rinpoche’s books. A year later, when he returned to the 2017 teachings and met Mingyur Rinpoche, the door to Vajrayana Buddhism via the Joy of Living teachings opened.

“Rinpoche has so beautifully given the essence in such a simple and accessible manner that other masters would hesitate to give until the student has spent maybe twenty years with them.”  

MEDITATION TEACHER PROGRAM

Last September, Arun enrolled in the Tergar Meditation Teacher program. “It’s so wonderful. It’s profound. I’m talking to everyone about the Meditation Teacher Program.”

“Even though we may not have full realization or perfect practice, there are many things that can help to make you a teacher.”

“When people train in an authentic system with a direct connection to Mingyur Rinpoche, there is little chance of deviating from the real practice,” he said. “The students that graduate will be deeply rooted in practice, tradition, and pedagogy!”

He is looking forward to graduating and sharing the teachings — the Anytime Anywhere Meditation curriculum — in Nepal. 

Why is this important to him? “I see myself as a small component of the bigger goal that both Rinpoches have for humanity.”

May 2024

About the Author

Franka Cordua-von Specht, co-founder of the Tergar Vancouver Practice Group and Tergar Canada, works for Tergar International’s marketing and communication team. She is a Tergar Guide and facilitates Joy of Living workshops.

 

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