Friday, November 20, 2009

october brings change

The month of October brought many shifts to the quiet routine that had been established in our monastic community. I returned from my long stay in the States, PhD at long last complete and very much ready to move forward to life beside my Dharma sisters in India. The four of us renewed the bonds of affection that connect us, exchanging tales of our time apart and drinking deeply of the joy of the spiritual life that we share as women on this monastic path.

Here are a few snippets from our community blog, which henceforth will be the main site for new updates...

Within days of returning, any hopes of resting after the long and intense period of writing and defending my dissertation were dashed, as a series of translation jobs came tumbling in, one after the other. While I stayed at home working on texts to be used during the upcoming Kagyu Monlam prayer festival in Bodhgaya, the other nuns had the great privilege of attending teaching after teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in his home monastery in Dharamsala...

This month we also had the opportunity to meet privately with the Gyalwang Karmapa, our spiritual guide, reporting to him on our activities over the past months, and seeking his counsel for what lies ahead. In particular, we presented our aspirations for a study program that would meet our needs as Westerners in whom Buddhism needs to be actively inculcated. As we articulated our wish for a program that could combine the best of Western pedagogy and more traditional Tibetan methods of transmitting knowledge. His Holiness responded to our request by expressing his own strong interest in developing such a program, and we now plan to work to have a working curriculum in place for when Dapel, Nangpel and Drolma return from their study program in Nepal.

Later in the month, a solemn ceremony was held down the road from our house to formally release a biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that had been long in the making. With HHDL himself in attendance, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa officiated at the proceedings, with a multitude of Tibetans gathering to express their deep appreciation for the Dalai Lama’s extensive activities. The ceremony took place close on the heels of a series of executions of Tibetan protesters by the Chinese government, and at the close of the ceremony, His Holiness the Dalai Lama commented that prayers are stronger when made on the basis of a shared relationship with the one for whom we are praying – such as family relationships, relationships that come from sharing experiences or belongings, or the relationships that link spiritual teachers and disciples. Therefore, His Holiness said, it would be good for us to pray together for those who have been executed, and for happiness and peace throughout the world. Seated before these two exceptional beings, joining them and the rest of the Tibetan community in prayers, it hit home just how exceptional it is to have a culture fundamentally saturated with the wish to ease the suffering of others, and headed by leaders whose own commitment to the well-being of others is unequivocal. Even if those aspirations prove challenging to implement or even sustain, simply setting them at the notional center of a society is already a great deal.

Read more on our activities for this month here.