Khyentse Vision Project hosted a special event to celebrate the Birth of the Buddha on May 26, 2023: Approaching the View—A Discussion Between Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel & Jakob Leschly.
Jakob and Elizabeth based their discussion on Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s The Earring of the Definitive Meaning: The Speech that Classifies the Tenets, which was translated by our in-house translator and expert traditional scholar, Lopön Sonam Jamtsho.
Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel has studied and practiced the Buddhadharma for over 35 years under the guidance of her root teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is the author of two books, The Power of an Open Question and The Logic of Faith. After completing a six-year retreat, Kongtrul Rinpoche appointed her Retreat Master at the Samten Ling retreat center in Colorado. She holds degrees in Anthropology (BA) and Buddhist Studies (MA).
Elizabeth focuses on the Buddha’s “middle way” teachings on interdependence and emptiness. The middle way teachings are often referred to as the wisdom aspect in Mahāyāna Buddhism, which elucidates the essence or view that resides at the heart of the entire path. Her teaching style displays her enthusiasm for inquiry and contemplation, using contemporary language that preserves the authentic message and the transformative power of the Dharma. She asks audiences to engage in the practice of open questioning with her as she takes a fresh look at the assumptions and beliefs we have about spirituality. In 2019, Elizabeth founded a secular nonprofit organization called The Middle Way Initiative to offer teachings, retreats, and conversations with her and other teachers and guests. With Anam Thubten, she is a founding member and teacher of the Wilderness Dharma Movement. Elizabeth enjoys riding her horse through the vast landscape of the San Luis Valley in Colorado.
Jakob Leschly began studying and practicing Buddhism in 1974, and he became a student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche the following year. He completed a three-year retreat at Chanteloube in Dordogne, France between 1980 and 1984, and lived in Dordogne until 1990. He has collaborated on translations, including The Life of Shabkar and Wondrous Dance of Illusion: The Autobiography of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang. He has also served as interpreter for a number of lamas. Since 1993, he has primarily served and studied with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, and has translated various works on philosophy and practice instructions, including an early translation of Candrakīrti’s Madhyamakāvatāra.
Since 1998, Jakob has worked as an instructor in Buddhist theory and practice for Siddhartha’s Intent, and during this time he also completed a BA in Tibetology at the University of Copenhagen. Jakob seeks to present the profound theory and practice of Buddhism in a way that is accessible and applicable to a modern audience. He is one of Khyentse Vision Project’s main project consultants.