Update: Forgot to mention that my friend Tana is continuing her guided compassion meditation marathons this weekend (don't be scared -- you're free to participate a little or a lot) at her spiffed-up Invite Love In site. She's set a wonderfully ambitious goal of encouraging a collective total of 1,000,000 hours of compassionate mind training! I love it! Festivities start at 10am, Sat. February 21.
Got your fill from the last post of Satan discussing the merits of Buddhism and monastic mummies sporting shades? Good. Onwards and upwards.
After a winter of frustrations and setbacks, a minor miracle has occurred, and I’m hoping DODR readers will help turn it into a major one.
A short while ago, I mentioned the conference to be hosted this March 27-9 at Smith College, “Buddhism in Mongolia: Rebirth and Transformation.” Seems it’s really turning into a thing, and I’ve been toiling behind the scenes to get two of my good Mongolian Buddhist friends, one a lama and one a translator, the highly-elusive Willy Wonka golden ticket: a US visa.
And darn if it didn’t work. As reported by the translator, most Mongolians left Ulaanbaatar’s US Embassy in disappointed tears Wednesday, but she was given a two-month visa, while the lama – get this – was issued one valid for the next ten years!
I was stunned, and then I was panicked. They can actually go! What on earth will they do?! The translator has never been in the States before, and while the lama has been once, honestly? He’s a bit scatterbrained. I feared a fiasco if I sent them on their own, and a clear thought arose: I need to go and help them. And then, within 24 hours, I was offered the funds for a ticket. So I’m going! Strange and unpredictable are the ways of karma.
The conference itself is a very rare opportunity for the lama to promote to an international audience the rebuilding of Danzan Ravjaa’s Khamar Monastery, of which he’s an integral part, and for me to broaden the support for our Mongolian Buddhism Revival Project.
That said, however, there’s much more to this trip than the conference and I want to have a heart-to-heart, kitchen table conversation with y’all. This trip is really about the translator, whose name I’m withholding to respect her privacy. For the past 12 years, she’s been dealing with a profound spiritual disorder that has been causing unceasing suffering both for herself and her family (aged mother and siblings). I hesitate to share details because you might find some of them hard to believe; I’ve become her confidante and the story as she’s gradually told it to me is bizarre and heartbreaking in the extreme. The net for her is a lovely combination of inner torment and a once-stable family that has degenerated into violent – sometimes actually life-threatening – alcoholism. Please understand this is not mental illness, but trouble of a different nature altogether.
A very faithful Buddhist, this woman has sought advice and rituals from every lama under the Mongolian sun and elsewhere and their best efforts have only occasionally resulted in temporary relief. I had an instinct about all this and shared her story and photo with my teacher. She confirmed the problem, said in fact it was a nasty one, but she thought if they could see each other, she might be able to help.
My teacher is being typically modest. I’ve been with her for nearly 19 years now, and have seen her clear people of far more difficult problems than this. I felt 100% confident that if my translator could get to my teacher, she could finally resume a normal life.
So, many months ago I set my bodhisattva jaw and determined to help as best I could. The most daunting hurdle has been overcome – procuring a visa – and now there’s just one more: funding. The lama and I have reliable sponsors we can go to for special events like this; my translator does not. So I’m appealing to the collective compassionate heart of the DODR community and asking for your help in getting my translator an air ticket and a bit more beyond; we’ll be in the States maybe three weeks. I hope by now I’ve built up enough trust that you know I wouldn’t ask unless the dilemma were real and a small funding boost would produce a truly worthwhile result.
A gift of frequent-flyer miles is possible, but perhaps not ideal as the three of us really should fly together. The best would be a financial contribution. Tickets are less expensive than this time last year – about $1450-1500 – and if that could be padded a bit for incidental expenses, that would be wonderful. Of course, all three of us are looking in every direction for other funding sources, but I know the kindness of all of you here, and hoped you might be moved to help.
Please note the deadline’s a little tight! We probably will fly around March 20, and should purchase tix a couple weeks ahead of that.
Secure online donations may be made by clicking the Magic Garuda Button below (tax benefits apply for US citizens) – please type “MBRP Conference Support” in whatever note box appears on the form. But if you have other bright ideas or want to discuss details with me, please don't hesitate to write to: mongoliamonk at yahoo dot com. It’s also possible to make a pledge to honor sometime in the near future.
Thank you, thank you!