Those of you who have reading DODR for a while may have noticed that the Mongolian Buddhism Revival Project that is our purported bailiwick, and this blog, have both been kind of treading water of late. A few of you have sniffed out what’s doing, and for the rest of you I’ve been turning over and over in my mind how to relay the latest news. As an American, I guess I always feel direct is best – KPC, the temple that sent me here, has decided to withdraw me from Mongolia and suspend in-country operations. I’ll be heading home to the States in about 10 days, with no plans to return.
For a number of reasons, many of which I just can’t discuss in a public forum like this, I have deeply conflicted feelings about this and how it came about. This will need some serious sorting this summer. There is so much beneficial work that could be done here to cooperate with Mongolian Buddhists’ sincere and courageous efforts in bringing their spiritual culture into the 21st century. But as we know, for anything to arise, there must be the proper causes and conditions. Should those arise again in the future, it would be my honor to return and be among these wonderful people. Should they not, what can one do? Something cannot arise from nothing.
This summer will be time for retreat and reflection. First I will attend a five-day retreat with my mother, led by our fave young lama Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (my mother’s study group is reading his fantastic book The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, which he has just followed up with Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom), on “The Heart of Meditation”. Soon after I will go to Palyul Retreat Center for the annual 30-day summer course. Then some of my family is taking a vacation on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia (home to Ven. Pema Chodron’s Gampo Abbey) and after that is a big, fat, neon question mark.
I feel I have very little to show for living here in Mongolia for four years. Nonetheless, I’m really pleased about our last act – tomorrow or the next day, we will finally take to the printer the first-ever translation into the Mongolian language of Patrul Rinpoche’s indispensable teaching treasury, The Words of My Perfect Teacher. Due to the generosity of the Khyentse Foundation in underwriting the printing, about half of the first batch will be given away for free, with the rest available at a very affordable price.
And, given my somewhat tilted sense of humor, I will surely miss exchanges like the following, which I swear occurred verbatim two days ago:
Me: “There are hardly any dogs here in the city. They killed so many this winter. It’s such a shame, but if you go to the East Gobi capital, Sainshand, there are lots of dogs running around. I don’t think they kill them, and they don’t seem to bother anyone.”
Sara: “They kill the street dogs where I’m from.”
Me: “Yeah? Where’s that?”
Sara: “Sukhbaatar province. It was the same, they’d do it every winter.”
Me: “Poor babies. I wonder what they do with them.”
Sara: “Well, when I was a child, during the socialist time, they would take their fat and make soap.”
Me: “They made soup? You had dog fat soup?”
Sara: “No no. Soap. The soap we used, they made it from that.”
Me: “Oh. Dog fat soap. Well, honestly, that’s not much better, is it?”
Mongolia’s been an education, man.
My only real dilemma now is that I have not found a suitable home for Moojie and Nita and my anxiety level is rising each day about that. It’s just impossible to bring them home, especially since, you know, I have no home. The Lord will provide, I suppose, but I sure will miss their furry little faces.
OK, well, that’s it. Once again, impermanence is the permanent rule.