Phackchok Rinpoche presented a well-known orientation in Buddhist social engagement: that by developing the self, one can develop society. Helping others begins by developing a self endowed with 7 good qualities, including compassion, meditation, intelligence, diligence, generosity, and patience. Those familiar with Buddhist thought found Rinpoche’s lists familiar, as he drew from the 4 divine abidings and 6 perfections for a modern audience.

Phakchok Rinpoche has taken his humor and insight to audiences around the world. He is the head of the Taklung Kagyu lineage and, like many well-known Tibetan leaders today, has kinship ties to many of the 20th century’s most influential Tibetan Buddhist teachers and families. These ties are strengthened by Buddhist rituals of empowerment and ordination—rituals which also provide foundation for an individual’s practice and learning.

In addition to his individual training and his studies of Buddhist philosophy, Phakchok Rinpoche, is involved in his local community (and in communities around the world, such as Cooperstown, Toronto, and Vancouver). He works and lives in Nepal, sustaining a variety of projects in the Kathmandu Valley area—including several monasteries, a nunnery, a clinic, and a monastic welfare program, and boarding school. He also heads a Buddhist NGO that organizes volunteer labor to aid the impoverished in the areas of health, education, vocational training, and in finding homes. He spoke about the relationship of Buddhist philosophy and practice to contemporary society, specifically, to social development.

Jessica L. Main leads the Tung Lin Kok Yuen Canada Foundation Chair on Buddhism and Contemporary Society (UBC Buddhism and Contemporary Society Program). Her research includes modern Buddhist ethics, and social action. She worked with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), investigating possible contributions of Buddhism to a physician’s ethic. Her posts here:

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