Maitripa College is the first Tibetan Buddhist college in the pacific northwest, and was the host of the Dalai Lama Environmental Summit in May 2013. Maitripa College is based on the conviction that Buddhist thought and practice have significant contributions to make to American society and culture. Led by Geshe Lharampa, Yangsi Rinpoche, Maitripa’s educational model is based on the three pillars of Scholarship, Meditation, and Service, providing a contemplative and transformative educational experience. Scholarships and ordained sangha fellowships, flexible schedule, and the attractions of Portland, Oregon, put your affordable graduate degree or continuing education within reach. Maitripa is both a college and Buddhist Meditation Center.
Our Philosophy of Education: The Three Pillars
We believe in the power of education to cultivate our potential to create a meaningful life. At the core of the Maitripa College education are the three pillars of Scholarship, Meditation, and Service.
Three Pillars of Education at Maitripa College
For both the Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies and the Master of Divinity degrees, the three pillars of Scholarship, Meditation, and Service are foundational. We realize that any one of these three pillars is available in a number of different ways in our lives—mindfulness trainings, dharma centers, colleges, and non-profits are everywhere. Only at Maitripa College are they combined to create a transformative and integrated education, which is grounded in tradition.
Unique to Maitripa College is the fact that our meditation and philosophy courses are taught both by trained western scholars and traditionally trained Tibetan masters, including the core of our faculty at present, Geshe Lharampa Yangsi Rinpoche, who speaks fluent English and gives instruction in a manner that is relaxed, loving, and directly from his own experience.
Through rigorous academic investigation, including courses on the Lamrim, Madhyamaka, Engaged Buddhism, History of Buddhist Philosophy, Theories and Methods, and more, we have access to both the breadth of scholarship available in the western academy and the depth of knowledge and wisdom transmitted through the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Through open dialogue and seminar-style classes, our faculty and students make Buddhist scholarship come alive.
Unlike many places where one can practice mindfulness or meditate today, our meditation courses are combined with study and offer a clear and direct pathway to familiarize oneself with one’s mind. Through initial exposure to the path through classical and modern literature, followed immediately by sitting practice on the same, we create a map for understanding our experiences in meditation. As a result of the meditation pillar, we learn the antidotes to an anxious or dull mind—both in theory and practice. Our classes are at once modern, focused on common issues and misconceptions of contemporary practice, and ancient, tapping into traditional and time-tested methods for familiarizing oneself with the mind.
The service pillar is where the “rubber meets the road” within the Maitripa College education. Exploring relationships outside of College grounds, students are paired with a community partner with whom they dedicate their time and effort in service. Working in hospice, in prisons, at schools, with the homeless community, in interfaith environments, or in any number of other volunteer capacities in and around Portland, students are guided to develop personal spiritual formation as a basis from which to take their study and practice off the cushion and into the world to benefit others.
In their first semester of Service Learning education, students focus on a needs-analysis study of targeted social service groups in Portland. In the following semesters, students train and eventually serve with selected partner organizations, and participate in regular sessions of structured reflection and analysis in small groups with Yangsi Rinpoche and other Maitripa staff. Simultaneously, students benefit from the experience of a number of guest speakers from local service organizations, who will join the class to share their knowledge and inspiration.
The Service Learning program culminates at the end of two years with oral and written presentations which seek to integrate the students’ internal and external experiences in service, as well as contextualize their service experience within the larger paradigm of their education at Maitripa.
It is not enough to become passionate. You must act. There are two aspects to action. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefiting others, one needs to be engaged, involved. —His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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