Monday, December 03, 2012


Dilgo Khyentse is a towering figure in Buddhism.  He was the head of the Nyingma School from 1987-91.  In the Tibetan system, great spiritual masters' reincarnations are sought out and found, so that they can be trained up to the past incarnation's level.  He died 1991, and Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche was recognized as his reincarnation.  The new movie Yanghsi is about Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche.  You can like him on Facebook.

Go see Yanghsi at the Ruben Museum.  The movie is playing Dec. 8th., and 15th and more.  See press release below, starting in bold type.

I'm not expert on Tibetan Culture, but I respect it greatly and hope for a free Tibet.  I've read a lot of books about Tibetan culture (1, 2).

The movie covers many years, and as a human being, it's cool to see the evolution of a human being.  At one point he discovers the sunglasses, like all the Tibetans seem to like.

I feel ambivalent about the Tibetan tradition.  On the one hand it looks like an ideal spiritual setting.  There is a great investment in the spiritual life.  It seems to counteract the materialism of western society.

On the other hand, it seems like the old boys network, the tradition of patriarch and plutocracy, a kind of royalty, where you are born into goodness.  I know anyone can be good, and I prefer a meritocracy.  I'm sure that there are some aspects of that, and I'm not inside, so I can't really say what it's like, but that's my fear.

I have memorized the Heart Sutra, and other things, but I wish to memorize more texts of Buddhism.  They seems to educate the younger generation is a an amazing advantage It's interesting to see a young child taught so much Dharma at such an early age.  I feel jealousy.  He goofs off, they miss their parents because they are taken away at a young age.

I thought about the monastic tradition.  I've always thought "neither monastic nor lay", because in the west we resist this idea that the lay can't get enlightened, and the lay can just support the monastics.  But the idea that they pick a kid and then invest all kinds of resources in him to become a leader is quite sweet to me.  He is very very lucky from my point of view.  You can see him straining to learn to live up to expectations, which is what we all do, but his circumstances are quite unique.  His expectations are special, maybe like those of Lebron James in our society.  While in America we worship athletes a movie stars, the Tibetan culture in exile (Bhutan in this case), worships Buddhist spirituality.

I have 2 sons who are 7 and 9.  I'm going to show them Little Buddha and Yanghsi over the winter holiday.

The footage of the English teacher was very interesting.  Apparently they made fun of her and her methods but they admitted they worked.  Seeing him shoot a basketball (I can tell he's not the best basketball player) they chose to show where he made the shot.  There's lots of ritual, but they don't show him meditating, but I bet he meditated a lot.

You don't have to be a Nyingma to appreciate this movie.  Dilgo Khyentse Ringpoch is on the TBC refuge tree.  Kulananda has an essay on the refuge tree.  I have read The Hundred Verses of Advice: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on What Matters Most (Shambhala Pocket Classics).  It is a great book.  There is more I want to read.  Check out the wikipedia article for all his publications.  Here is the talk by Sangharakshita about him.  I feel like Yanghsi is too young to really lead.  Towards the end they show his first public teaching.  He seems casual and informal, repeating the formulas.

Some thoughts:  I love it that there's humility and compassion based on his life. You see Toy Story, which he watches.  You see Richard Gere at his enthronement.

Here is their press release:

Rubin Museum of Art to screen Yangsi – Providing a unique window into the world of Tibetan Buddhism, Yangsi is a coming of age story with universal themes, made over a fourteen year period by filmmaker Mark Elliott.

Narrated by Yangsi Rinpoche, the young teacher gives a first person account of his experience of growing up in, and coming to terms with, his unique inheritance. Beginning with his enthronement at age four before a crowd of fifteen thousand people in Kathmandu, Nepal, he is placed in the care of the previous Khyentse Rinpoche’s regent, Rabjam Rinpoche at Shechen monastery. With unprecedented access, the film chronicles his life during his training in Tibetan philosophy and various rituals, along with learning English, intimate family visits, and meetings with masters within (and without) his lineage.

Filmed largely in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and in Nepal, Yangsi presents everyday events in a reincarnation’s life, where a mother’s love plays as important a role as high tantric empowerments; where tradition is challenged by modernity; and where human relationships are as vital as study. And where doubt challenges devotion when having to live up to great expectations.

Yangsi follows this process up to the age of eighteen, when he for the first time assumes the role of the teacher, embarking on a world tour to continue the work of his predecessor, to be of service to sentient beings. Perhaps never before has this process been so openly and engagingly portrayed, sharing Yangsi’s aim of how Buddhism can be relevant in the modern world.

What:              Yangsi Documentary Screening

When:             December 8th: 12, 3, 6 p.m. (Q&A with Mark Elliott after each screening)
                        December 15, 22nd, and 28th: 1 p.m.
                        December 26th: 4 p.m.

Where:            Rubin Museum of Art
                        150 West 17th Street, New York City, 10011

Tickets:           For tickets and more information about Yangsi screenings at the Rubin Museum, visit

The Rubin Museum of Art provides an immersive environment for the exploration of Himalayan art and culture and its connections to contemporary life and ideas through innovative exhibitions, dynamic programs, and diverse educational opportunities. The only stand-alone institution in the U.S. dedicated to the art of Himalayan Asia, the museum holds one of the world’s most important collections of the paintings and sculptures of Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, and Bhutan, and provides a bridge between the cultures of the region and other cultures worldwide. In addition to exhibitions, the Rubin’s programming encompasses dialogues, films, performances, and more, offering multiple entry-points for understanding and enjoying the art of the Himalayas. The shop and café at the Rubin are also inspired by the varied cultures of the region, completing the visitors’ experience.  For more information, including hours and location, visit


You can see the move Brilliant Moon, about the previous reincarnation:

Brilliant Moon: Glimpses of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Part 1 from Alexander Mescheryakov on Vimeo.

Brilliant Moon: Glimpses of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Part 2 from Alexander Mescheryakov on Vimeo.

And if all that's not enough for you, then follow the Ruben on Facebook.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for your post including mention of 'Yangsi' and the Rubin screenings this month. I am traveling to New York with my father, Director Mark Elliott, to present the film and try to do outreach for it during these dates. I find your take on the material insightful, as a 'Westerner' there is some dilemma approaching Tibetan culture (certainly for myself). I feel both inspired and skeptical. Hopefully the film can serve to offer a window into that world.