Postcard 3 from Robina: Dharamsala, Wednesday April 13, 2011

Apr 13, 2011

I’m leaving Dharamsala today. It’s Wednesday April 13. I committed myself for a year, and now it’s over. Linda has kindly organized Tushita’s driver Binod to take me the forty-five minutes to what’s called Dharamsala airport, although it’s in Kangra. On the way I’ll pick up my air ticket from Vineet of Dream Travels, who’s taken care of all my travels throughout the year. The flight gets me to Delhi where I’ll meet another flight to Kuala Lumpur, then another to Melbourne. If you’re lucky you will be joined by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or His Holiness the Karmapa on the Dharamsala flight. The Karmapa was going up and down the aisle, chatting away, last week when I got back from Bangalore.

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I like moving about, I must say. Even though I was based here for a year, I still managed to go here and there. I went to Bangalore because an investment banker from there had been at the last course and invited me. Last April I had to go to Scotland, to Findhorn, where Thomas Warrior has been running Shambhala Centre for a few years. He’s the father of Thubten Dechen, a 12-year-old dakini who, since she was tiny, announced with confidence that she was the reincarnation of Kopan’s Geshe Lama Konchog – and she was born even before Geshe-la passed away! Even though there is the formally recognized reincarnation, Puntsog Rinpoche, at Kopan, this is not a contradiction. Even the lowest level bodhisattva has the capacity to manifest their mind in at least a hundred forms simultaneously. She’s an astonishing being: extremely calm and mature, and when she speaks you are compelled to listen. It has been agreed by the lamas that she is who she says, although she’s not formally known as “Rinpoche.”

In July I went to Dubai. An Indian resident there participated in one of the courses at Tushita and invited me. I’d never been before so I was delighted to go and discover the place. We had some teachings in his flat. In August I went to Israel, invited by Dharma Friends. They’re an amazing group: so dedicated, so sincere. They manage to have teachers coming all year. The Israelis are hungry for the Dharma, it seems to me. There’s an FPMT group there now, a mini monastery called by Rinpoche Shantideva Study Group: Ven. Thekchok, a dentist in Jerusalem in his spare time, a nun Ven. Choekyi and another monk Ven. Tingyel. They’ve moved into Thekchok’s family home in the suburbs of Tel Aviv. One more monastic and they have what Lord Buddha says is the required number in order to qualify as a place of Dharma! (Well, not quite: they’re not all fully ordained yet.)

Going from place to place is so good for the mind. It forces you to see that impermanence is the truth, not just some nice Buddhist philosophy. You know there is no point in getting too caught up in the things and events where you are now, because you’ll have to leave it soon. But if you’re just in one place all the time, you’re lulled into believing it’s all permanent; you forget it’ll be gone like a dream very soon.

The rain is pouring down here: not typical at all. It’s not monsoon season yet, but it feels like it, although it’s cold again. But it’ll be even colder where I’m going: Eaglehawk in Victoria, Australia, where it’s now autumn. Rinpoche is leading a month of teachings and initiations at Atisha Centre there. I’ll be there for just the last two weeks.

I’ll be getting back to the land of Australian Rules football, where the AFL teams are into their fouth round. I’ve never been much of a fan – I can’t stand the intensity of emotion – but several of my siblings, Jan in particular, are fanatic Sydney Swans barrackers. Recently she won a competition the Swans put on to find the most dedicated fan.

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A blog I like to follow is of former Swans captain Brett Kirk (brettkirk.com.au): he retired from an illustrious career last year and is on the road with his wife and three kids, bringing AFL football to the world. He’s famous for liking Buddhism and being incredibly upbeat and disciplined; everyone in football, regardless of their team, seemed to respect him. Last year Brett agreed to be an auction item – Breakfast with Brett – at an event we held to raise funds for Liberation Prison Project. Jan, of course, adores him. I felt like I’d stolen her boyfriend!

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I’m off to the airport in a moment. We’ve just finished a ten-day introductory course. The 75+ people are into the second day of the silent meditation retreat that always ends the courses, and I’ll be leaving them before they finish. I’ll say goodbye, and then I’ll be gone.

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