In this post: an update about my life, a description of an ordinary day with Tibetan Lamas and info about Dharma teachings in Charlottesville.
So the past two weeks have been a whirlwind! I can barely remember what I did two days ago, let alone last week, as the days have been so full and I have been carrying loads of responsibility. Two weeks ago, I returned from the Tibetan Meditation Spring Retreat with the mission to get the ball rolling for Khenchen Rinpoche, Konchog Gyaltsen’s teachings to occur in Charlottesville. This was on top of preparing to take courses in the immersion-filled, Tibetan Summer Language programs.
Thankfully, as I now have quality support around me and as I rest in that, I can glance back and observe how much we as a Sangha (and I) have accomplished. I do not mean to sound arrogant or self-aggrandizing – but seriously I got a lot done, stretched myself and sat in the discomfort of growing pains (not so bad once you get used to them). We have probably reached a thousand people to let them know about the teachings – via posters, email, advertising, etc.
Three Tibetan Lamas went down to Virginia Beach with Rinpoche and then they all came up to C’ville on Monday. After running numerous errands on a hot day, I greeted the Lamas upon their return. Then I was asked shortly thereafter, “Hey, you are no longer in the Summer Program and you are not working… Wanna drive two of them back to Maryland?” And because I wanted a break, and the chance to practice Tibetan, I jumped at the opportunity! So I got to spend a day with Lama Gyaltsen and Khenpo (Umze) Chophel.
We had some great laughs on the way up to the Lama House. They asked to stop a couple times, which I was happy to support, purposely not rushing and taking our time. They had been given bus money in case someone like me did not step forward, so they used a little of that money to pay for my gas and to buy me a little food – it is always curious seeing people who are authentically hyper-generous – they competed to see who could pay first on several stops.
Once we arrived back at their home, I was instructed to rest and relax. Just drink some tea and “hlueh hlueh chai” (relax!). I was amazed at the Lamas productivity – they made momo’s (Tibetan dumplings) from scratch, stuffed them with meat and veggies and had them cooked within 45 minutes. Yummy! I love momos! We continued to speak Tibetan – or actually I got to practice my comprehension as Khenpo Chophel speaks very clear Central Dialect (U-Tsang). My speaking is out of practice and rusty but I am very happy with my listening and comprehension skills.
I helped them out a little with some English questions and then we went to bed. I got to stay in the guest room, which for me was a first. I also explored a little – Khenpo Chophel is staying in Khenchen’s room, and there is a room upstairs for His Holiness, the Drikung Kyabgon (who will be coming in August). This is in addition to the Drupon’s room and Lamas Gyaltsen’s room (five bedrooms in the house). It is a large house, with a semi finished basement, where the large shrine room is for PDL retreats. In this house, I think I counted six or seven shrines – depending on your definition.
I awoke at 4 am. I don’t know why – perhaps it was the Lama House energy (many shrines), or the fact that I was in a new bed, or none of the above, but I could not go back to sleep. Instead I chanted mantras – a cloudy, afflicted mind attempting to have faith and devotion. I did a few prostrations (bows) until my elbow started aching and then I went back to mantras – refuge, Achi, and the Four Thoughts. It was very nice having completed a fair amount of practice before 6 am! <grin grin> Then I ate breakfast at 7. Lama Gyaltsen was up by 5 or 6, I know because he went for an early morning walk plus I heard the dishes being put away before I came downstairs.
He completed some more chores and then was out the door to meet a friend for some errands around town by 8 am. Khenpo Chophel was up soon thereafter (or he emerged after his personal practice). He is so kind – he showed me some Dharma (literary) Tibetan words, like Samten – concentration / meditation / clear, focused mind; Shinay – similar to calm abiding or clear insight; Tharchin – perfection; Tsultrim – ethics / moral conduct; etc etc. It was great! He saw that I knew how to write in Tibetan block print and cursive (U-chen and Kyook) and he gave me some much needed pointers.
I asked Khenpo why they had to come back early, as we had been ready to put them up in Charlottesville. He said that he had many consecrations to do – people had been bringing statues by off and on for the past few weeks. It probably did not help that I also asked him to fill and consecrate a statue of mine. He taught me the word for consecrate – it means to bless permanently. I love how Tibetan is full of compound words – if you know say a thousand root Tibetan words, I bet you can make ten thousand “new” words.
Then I rested, had lunch with Khenpo and then was on my way home. A 24 hour blip to Maryland and back. Lovely indeed.
Khenchen Rinpoche, Konchog Gyaltsen will be teaching this weekend (June 26th and 27th) at the Charlottesville Unity Church – both afternoons from 2 to 5 pm. He is teaching on his text entitled, “Prescriptions and Proscriptions” – formerly known as Permissions and Prohibitions. It should be a fantastic weekend.