For those who have a knack for climbing things, be it a ceiling-high cupboard, a tree, or wrought iron gate, you might wa
A Guru leading
Bodhisattvas In Action (BIA) Foundation, though new, has its heed set on uplifting the lifestyle of the underprivileged. With prompt and effective execution, the Guru –Chogyal Rinpoche and his followers have pranced their way towards aiding the needier.
Tales of good deeds of the great Bodhisattvas from the past keep the glory of Nepal and countries with Buddhism as a key way of living intact even to the present day. The simple living high thinking approach they caress, preaches for a lifestyle dedicated towards the service of every living being. The noble acts nevertheless have not come to a halt, rather they are being conducted in a more disciplined and well-planned manner. Through various veins of network, an international reach is summoned to actively engage the Bodhis as well as individuals and organizations willing to participate in reaching a common goal. Among such, BIA Foundation looks all geared up towards reaching each nook and cranny possible.
Founded very recently, in September 2014, by Guru Chogyal Rinpoche, BIA Foundation works for the differently abled and the underprivileged since its advent. The prominence that the foundation has shown by helping the differently abled is commendable. Through its method of compassion, meditation and wisdom, BIA has been able to influence foreigners and Nepalese alike to engage in acts of helping the needy.
Before BIA’s establishment, Chogyal Rinpoche ran various projects in different countries. One of his projects includes an orphanage established 12 years ago in Chabahil, which is currently being run atSwoyambhu. Also, a music institute for underprivileged children in Kalimpong, India, and a Tibetan medicine institute in Tibet, are running separately. The organization supports ideas of taking actions to help those in need and at the same time dynamically boosts up the will to do something for others.
BIA in Action
BIA Foundation is based on three plinths in order to accomplish its goals: Compassion, Meditation, and Wisdom. The intricacy between these three is such that one is incomplete without the others.
Compassion is the humanitarian activity which at present at BIA Foundation includes helping underprivileged people. Such is being performed at The Sertshang Orphanage Home in Nepal, My Peace Music Institute in India, Yushu Tibetan Medicine Institute in Tibet and diverse institutes in Nepal. In these institutions, differently abled and under-privileged are trained and taught to work with an aim to sustain their own living.
Volunteers from all over aid financially and are also directly involved in the training and other processes. Anyone who joins and helps is given a great opportunity to truly develop compassion!
Meditation is based on experimentation and research of meditation methods. This aims at providing the best environment and ways to develop one’s meditation. Meditation heightens the awareness and consciousness of individuals. To assess the progress and level of the students, modern means are used that measure the activity level of the brain.
Wisdom extends to bringing and developing the necessary knowledge to reach the highest spiritual level. Teachings are offered for a better knowledge on Buddhism and spirituality in general. The aim is to teach different ways to become better individuals creating inspiration and motivation in them.
Currently BIA has 12 branches in Kathmandu. Many among these branches were created only a short time back. Below are some prominent ones:
1. BIA Thangka Painting Institute: It is located in Chabahil, Kathmandu. Here, trained wheelchair users, suffering from spinal injury are learning how to paint thangkas.
2. BIA Appliqué Thangka Institute: Products prepared here are stitched with a special blend of patchwork, appliqué and embroidery techniques unique to the Himalayan region. These artworks are a rare form of thangka. In this institute, located in Jorpati, people on wheelchairs are learning all the skills of this special art.
3. BIA Statue Institute: It is located in Jawalakhel. Differently abled people in this institute are learning how to make statues, both in traditional Nepali and modern ways, using different techniques and different materials.
4. BIA Bamboo Institute: This institute is on the creating phase. Differently abled people went to Chitwan and are now learning there how to work with bamboo.
5. BIA Mobile Repairing: This institute is in Jorpati with differently abled students who are receiving training free of cost in two sessions a day.
6. BIA Tailoring Institute: Located in BattisPutali, the tailoring institute is now a working place for people on wheelchairs. They are training on different techniques and making Tibetan traditional decorations out of brocade, bags, meditation cushions, and thangka frames among others for the BIA Thangka Institute.
7. BIA Pashmina Institute: Located in the same house as the Tailoring Institute in BattisPutali, this branch of BIA Foundation currently houses differently abled ladies who have been selected for the pashmina training.
The Compassionate Rinpoche
Chogyal Rinpoche was born in Nepal in 1985. He entered monastic life at the age of five in Rumtek and Zurmang Monastery, Sikkim where he spent 10 years practicing meditation and Vajrayana ritual practice. He then studied Buddhist philosophy for ten years in Dzongsar and Shri Diwakar Buddhist Institute and in 2010 graduated with a Khenpo degree in Buddhist Philosophy.
From 2010 to 2013 Rinpoche went to Tibet and different areas in China. He was around Mount Kailash and Tibet to meditate with Ripas and Yogis for some time. He visited many countries and studied different religions such as Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam for a better understanding of global interfaith dialogue. He also studied psychology in Zurich, Switzerland.
He is actively involved in spiritual as well as social activities with the hope to help create a better world.
The following are excerpts from the interview of the Rinpoche with Hope’s Editor, NasibMalakar
What does it mean to be a Rinpoche?
Rinpoche simply means reincarnation “avatari”.My last life was in Tibet. Rinpoches are reincarnations from the past life. They have spiritual wisdom, the knowledge from the past life continues. So in this life, we have to just touch or see or remind the spiritual side, and all the knowledge comes by.
What difference do you see between you and the other Rinpoches?
There are Rinpoches who build big monasteries and look after monks. I am more inclined to serving other people and helping them as this contributes to uplift the living standard of needy people. The basic things that humans are looking for are food and shelter. BIA tries to focus every level - BIA compassion starts from food and shelter and goes all the way up to meditation which is the spiritual level. It is rare that Rinpoches go to the field and do social work. I am just more into action and serving people.
Could you tell something about BIA itself, how it started, where it is going?
I started an orphanage about 14 years back with my father, I was very young then, and later we went on to establish many of such social organizations dedicated towards the needy people. Besides, I’ve volunteered for many other purposes. Being a Nepali, I wanted to do something for Nepal. Despite Nepal being a small country, the problems here are countless. I always had a passion towards serving Nepal and after research I felt the disabled needed much attention and help here.
There are many bodhisattvas, some are beginners and some advanced, but they don’t have a platform. So I thought BIA could be the platform for all the bodhisattvas to come and do something together. I started BIA and spread word to friends and they have come here from different countries to help. They have knowledge and are seeking a platform, and have come here to apply the whole philosophy of bodhisattvas.
At present, we have children studying abroad. We send them abroad to obtain a wider scope and vision for life. We have other children of our foundation going to colleges. They have plans of their own. BIA Foundation, as an organization has a lot to do in future.
BIA is running 12 different projects including tailoring, thangka painting and sculpture. What do you further plan to do?
To make it simple, I would say I feel that differently abled people who live in the far west or south eastern border of Nepal and India, in Terai need more help. Sometimes I feel sad that we are living in Kathmandu where everything is very comfortable and people are suffering in these rural locations. INGOs base their workstation in Kathmandu. There are orphanage homes, old age homes, disability homes and hospitals in Kathmandu. 95 % of the people who really need help are blind, differently abled, orphaned or poor and live in rural locations. The same question can be projected as to why BIA is also starting in Kathmandu. I always remind the BIA institutes, that we are preparing them to go to the far-west. I also tell them there are more people who really need help. We are preparing for a bigger work. In the event of some years, these people learning in the institutes would become masters in whatever they are doing. We can use the teachers developed by us to be sent to 75 districts. This is what we are planning. It’s more like we are planting seeds which will spread. It’s a big challenge but probably in 30 years or so, Nepal can become an example of a strategic end to physical disability and hardships.
Would you like to give some message to the people who think they are helpless or in some state of distress?
I don’t think there is a set meaning to life. It is all waiting to be, like a blank paper in which you can draw anything. We give a meaning to our lives. I am living my life peacefully in harmony and sharing what I have and giving more color to the lives of more people.
People are much concerned about their name, their fame, their money and future. Most people worry about the future which is very uncertain. When you reach a place, you begin to think where to go next. Even when you are in your home after a tiring day, you are still thinking where to go tomorrow. The future never comes. The past, future and this moment is in this moment right now. And if we accept this, we get to know the art of living.
BIA has helped many differently abled people in changing their perspectives toward the living. It has even made the helpless feel that they can help others towards living a self reliant life. Here are some experiences shared by BIA trainers and trainees:
Ngawang Chhiri Sherpa (Trainer, Thangka Painting Institute)
Thangka painting is not a laborious work and doesn’t require much moving around or lifting heavy objects. It is easy to send finished goods to the international market which are well
appreciated by collectors. I was training some friends at KhagendraNavajeevan Kendra. I had initially collected about eight students but the discomfort due to disability and their disinterest compelled them on dropping out. In the end, three of the determined participants remained.
During training, I met Chogyal Rinpoche. My vision was to have a thangka institute in the future where friends like me could make a team and work as a model for all others. When I shared my ideas with the Rinpoche, his views also matched. The same day that we met and talked, we searched for a house in the evening. After one month, we brought in our friends and started to stay in this shelter.
After all these years, I am happy to have a team of friends and work together. Before starting with BIA, I personally made many changes in my life. I feel happy that I can help many other friends, so that they can live independently.
I incurred a spinal cord injury at my work place which has no cure at all. I am half paralyzed – from below the waist and wheelchair is the only option for me to move around. I stayed in the hospital for over a year in the course of treatment. There were no rehab centers back then. I came to Kathmandu in 2059, Bhadra for a treatment regarding urine infection and stayed in Jorpati.
I went through a moral boost upon joining BIA. Prior to BIA I was at home alone and depressed. Now, we are in a big mass where we engage ourselves keeping us busy in groups. I used to regret on having to do nothing. Now, I am getting to do what I want.
There are many out there like me, who have nothing but just the bed to support them. Lacks of wheelchairs have made traveling impossible for them. I find myself fortunate to be getting to do everything within my powers. Getting these opportunities with BIA is something far stretched than what we had ever thought of.
Juni Shahi (Kailali)
It has been six months here. I have gained confidence to learn the skill and further use it to run my life. I got into depression for some years. Also, we couldn’t see people with similar problems in Kailali. We could not get out of our house as basically toilets and other facilities were not available. So I stayed in the same room for almost three years.
My life has seen a drastic change before and after joining BIA. The institution has made me feel complete again. I met more people like me, and because I was feeling really bored and restless at home, I began to look for work. BIA was introduced to me as a place where people like me were living independently doing their daily chores without help from anyone else. All the facilities at BIA are constructed to provide us optimum comfort.
There’s nothing surprising with the involvement of foreign volunteers, inspired by the work initiated by the Rinpoche, devoting their time at BIA. The motivation and courage they help the needy harvest take a turn towards them helping themselves develop the principles of Bodhisattva. We met Sascha and Agi at BIA and here’s what they have to say:
When I met Rinpoche, I was very inspired by his approach towards others. I was working for 20 years in one of the biggest TV companies in Europe and was traveling in more than 50 countries. I was living a very good life but it was all for me, all for myself. And when I met Rinpoche, I could feel this change, which made a lot of sense. My health condition is not so good and Kathmandu is actually very polluted. But I can see that one day here makes more sense than any time at home.
The Rinpoche has inspired my thought process! His mind is very compassionate, very kind. All the time that I have observed him, he has never given up to anyone. People came and complained and complained. He wouldn’t tell them to just go, never. His activities, mind and compassionate heart is what has kept me inspired and that’s what I want to become.
I met the Rinpoche in 2009. We were talking about his ideas which turned as BIA in 2013. So I asked him what I could do and he mentioned about the orphanage home, and I went back and tried to do things from there, but the distance thing really made my efforts less effective. In 2014 I came back again. I asked the Rinpoche, what I could do. Last December, we started to prepare a small booklet about BIA and its projects. This time, I thought I would give up my job to come and join in. So when I went home in the beginning of the year, I apologized to my boss for deciding to quit the job and informed him that I needed to move on with something more precious. I thought I would give up my previous life and help the people in ways that I can.
I worked 20 years in a multinational company as a human resource manager. It was precious what I did before but I saw that the Rinpoche was doing something more precious, more meaningful and more sensible in life. That’s really simple, I saw something that was an example, and I saw that he initiated and launched lots of projects and my idea was that maybe I could do something. This was the first moment in my life when I followed my heart. It’s not so complicated or a huge idea.
There are changes in me, but changes really take time. It’s really a short period that I have been actively involved. Among the first things I learnt was that everybody has ideas, and mine may not be the best ones. It’s nice to help or follow other people’s ideas. For me it’s also a nice message and somehow I understand and help those people who have their ideas to understand and complete their ideas.
Relief work from BIA
On April 25, after the disastrous earthquake hit Nepal, thousands lost lives leaving many more helpless - both physically and financially. At the moment of tragedy, BIA Foundation and members formed a relief team in order to help and distribute relief materials. It mobilized volunteers from different countries such as Germany, Russia, Poland, Hong Kong, Nepal, China and USA.
In the initial days BIA concentrated on providing basic relief materials. BIA Foundation helped the needy ones in different affected areas such as Kathmandu, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Nuwakot, Dhading and Gorkha. It helped people in various ways such as sanitary and health facility, child care, distribution of relief materials and temporary shelter. Firstly a health team was created from local and international volunteers (medical personals) to provide health care facility and distribution of medicines, sanitary materials and hygiene pack to women.
In addition, BIA relief team conducted child care session in those affected areas. In this session, experts conducted art therapy to children which helped in analysis of psychological condition of children. They distributed chocolates, biscuits, copies, pencils, juice etc. Relief team tried to bring joy and happiness to terrified children. Furthermore BIA distributed relief ration and basic shelter materials. BIA is now set on building temporary shelters with priority given to people with disability.
“B.I.A. foundation will be helping to rebuild schools in rural earthquake affected areas”, says President and Founder Chogyal Rinpoche. BIA is also extending awareness raising campaigns and is working to create hope for those who have become disabled after the earthquake through inclusions in various programs. BIA will also help people who became disabled due to earthquake. Different empowerment skills will be provided to interested people. Further, Sertshang Orphanage Home has started adopting children who lost their parents in earthquake. BIA is committed to help people in such devastating situation despite limited resources.
Help BIA Foundation by volunteering and sharing knowledge, skills, ideas and labor in the field of your expertise. For more info, contact:
Swyambhu – 15, Kathmandu, Nepal
Office (opening hours): 10 A.M. To 5 P.M.
Phone: +977-1-4671014 (landline)
Support BIA through action or donation!
Account name: BIA Foundation
Account no: 02401030255301
Bank name: Nepal Investment Bank Ltd.
Swift code: NIBLNPKT
Bank address: Durbar Marga, Kathmandu, Nepal