...and as one friend put it, my Ma and I really chose the right days to be on retreat, avoiding yet another outsized American media orgy.
It was weirdly satisfying spending five days meditating in the sanctum sanctorum of the former Monastery of Mary Immaculate, now the stately Garrison Institute, high upon the eastern bank of the upper Hudson. The retreat was quite well-run, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche proved an unusually excellent and entertaining young teacher with very cool support staff, the veggie cuisine was eye-openingly scrumptious, and really the only jarring note was the sound of automatic gunfire and artillery that occasionally drifted across the river from West Point. Pretty sure they were aiming the other way, but it added a little urgency to our practice.
Between sessions (and in place of a couple, I confess) I devoured a large portion of The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech, the English translation of Khenpo Kunpel’s exquisitely detailed commentary on Shantideva’s nonpareil volume, The Way of the Bodhisattva. His many stories drawn from the sutras about negative karma and its effects is enough to really scare the pants off you. Fortunately I don’t wear pants, but still. It’s helping me with a cold-eyed assessment of the state of my path. Let’s just say there’s ample room for improvement.
OK, two mighty, mighty links:
So many of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist lamas of the 20th century cite one lama as the most significant inspiration in their spiritual lives: Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. The folks at Remembering the Masters (h/t Blazing Splendor) have put together a fantastic memorial video. One of the most personally satisfying aspects of it, as far as sharing it, is the presence of Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, so you can finally get a glimpse of why he made such a huge impression on me during his visit to Mongolia.
And via Shambhala SunSpace, I see that some good souls have expanded on the subject I was so taken with before, Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s 3000 remarkable nuns and yoginis in the Nangchen region of Tibet, in a longer documentary film simply called “Blessings.” Turns out Tsoknyi Rinpoche also happens to be Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s older brother. Their father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, also brought into this world Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Chokling Rinpoche. That’s called being seriously fruitful, man, and brings things nicely full circle.
Big announcement on Saturday, if the current deluge we're having here in Vermont doesn't somehow dislodge us from the mainland and float us off into the stormy North Atlantic.