Well, it’s election morning here in Mongolia, and I’m doing what any prudent citizen would do – skedaddling. Polls open in 15 minutes, and I head to the airport in two hours to jet off and have a summertime squiz at my American motherland. I know that doesn’t exactly get me out of the Lunatic Election Zone, but I will be on retreat for half my stay, so. In Mongolia, hundreds of candidates from maybe a dozen parties are vying to occupy the nation’s 76 parliamentary seats. I haven’t written about this because, frankly, I can’t make heads nor tails of it. I know one candidate personally, and I’m rooting for him, but that’s it. Michael Kohn dropped by last night and said he’d be on the scene and filing reports for BBC and Agence France Presse, so watch the wires tomorrow.
I leave feeling that we had a really productive spring – publishing Jetsunma’s Stabilizing the Mind book in Mongolian, conducting four meditation workshops based on its teachings, translating and giving transmission for the Palyul Monastery protector prayers, translating a chunk of our Dzogchen preliminary practices which we’ll teach in the fall, getting a Palyul dharma throne built, offering several classes on bodhicitta, helping visiting luminaries like Alak Zenkar Rinpoche in their activity, preparing to write grants for two very worthy projects, setting in motion a possible lama tour in October...hey, not bad!
Last night, we had a lovely tsog for Dakini Day, a perfect wrap-up. It’s not a large group, but it’s dedicated. Here is Enkhtsetseg, the main student of 104-year old Amaa, leading the group in Jetsunma’s dedication prayer:
“By this effort, may all sentient beings be free of suffering.
May their minds be filled with the nectar of virtue.
In this way, may all causes resulting in suffering be extinguished,
And only the light of compassion shine throughout all realms.”
Afterward, several of the students surprised me with a tremendously generous offering that, with a little added on, will be used to purchase 1000 copies of Jetsunma’s book to distribute for free at the opening ceremony of Sakyadhita’s International Conference of Buddhist Women. Several others presented letters and small gifts for Jetsunma with heartfelt requests that she come to Mongolia and teach them. I can't wait to deliver these in person. This gave me such hopefulness about the future of our project here, and it was symbolized for me by the following image. When I returned from Australia in early March, my friend Saraa gave me a Chinese Tulip plant for my new apartment. It had one full bloom which soon fell off. No other blossoms appeared until just a few days ago. This bud, just ready to burst open in glorious crimson beauty, sums up perfectly how I feel just now.
Of course there’s one more reason I’m excited to be returning home. That’s right, North American birding. Internet reports indicate I have a healthy shot at four lifers: Henslow’s, Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed, and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrows, as well as my old nemesis, Mississippi Kite. Yowza!
More reports soon from the far side of the pond. I really should finish packing...