Postcard 44 from Robina: Wodonga, Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014-08-31 11:00:00

After sleepy Hobart it was on to busy, loud Sydney, which, of course, I like a lot. I was based there for the month of August, coming and going.

First it was Vajrayana Institute itself, the Sydney centre (photo Vajrayana Institute)…

… and then to their satellite group in Sutherland county, south of the city, which Aleta runs. Photo Sutherland Shire Meditation Group.

Then to the Blue Mountains for a week, to Kunsang Yeshe Centre. Here the course was based on guru devotion. I couldn’t do an entire weekend on this – too difficult! The essence of it is, of course, the cultivation of what the holy beings refer to as “pure view”: seeing whatever the lama says or does as the action of a buddha, and therefore necessarily perfect. And what’s the advantage of that? It’s pretty obvious. If seeing everything through the filter of my own delusions, and believing in their stories, is the cause of my own suffering and therefore why I harm others, which perpetuates my suffering longterm, then it’s clear that practicing not believing in them is the path. But so difficult!

The Three Sisters, a rock formation in the Blue Mountains about 15 minutes south of Kunsang Yeshe Centre.

If my lama teaches until three in the morning, forget about pure view! All I can think of is my tiredness and aching legs. And, just naturally, when delusions arise we tend to believe the person or event in front onf us is the cause of the problem: so instinctive, so primordial. But if I’m practicing pure view, which is my commitment, what I want to do, then instead it’s: “Thank you, Lama, for showing me my mind!”

Who’s the beneficiary of this? Me, of course.

Actually, if we’re really practicing every moment, this is the attitude we should have towards whatever anyone says or does. As the Tibetans say, “You don’t know who anyone is, so don’t judge.” A perfect way to help get past our own deluded interpretations of the world around us. Our instinctive and natural response to what people say or do is to interpret it according to whatever’s in our mind at the time. If what the person does or says suits my attachment, I’ll call it good, if it doesn’t, I’ll call it bad. This is how the world lives life!

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, our main practice is to “not believe in our karmic appearances.” Oh my goodness, so hard. But so, so worthwhile.


I spent at least ten days of August with my friend Yantra de Vilder in Avoca Beach, continuing our project of recording prayers. We started last year. I love some of the unusual, medieval – if not even earlier – Tibetan tunes. Yantra’s a composer. She’s been coming up with tunes for parts, basically, which is not what Tibetans do, but it’s a very pleasing sound. The aim is to produce a CD, so let’s see how it goes.

Yantra in her recording studio in Avoca Beach.

I went to Port Macquarie, same as last year.

Port Macquarie.

Krissa invited me again, one of the women I was involved with in Melbourne in the mid-seventies when I was a radical feminist.

September 1976, at the end of my feminist days and the beginning of my Buddhist ones, soon after I’d done my first courses with Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, at Chenrezig Institute. A year later, I went to Kopan – I even wore this dress in Hong Kong on the way, I remember!

Several of the women from then, in fact, are there now: Kerryn, Trish, and Skye.

Old mates Trish from the 1970s…

… and Kerryn.

Skye was in hospital and died when I was there. Interestingly, she’d had a Buddhist practice but has lost track of it. We had a wonderful meeting, and she reconnected with her lama, who gave her advice on the phone not long before she died.

I had a motorbike back then in Melbourne, a big old Honda. I’d borrow Trish’s sometimes: hers was even bigger. Trouble was, though, I couldn’t put both feet on the ground when I stopped. Thirty years later in San Francisco I bought myself a little red motor scooter – humble in comparison with those Hondas! Initially I wanted to buy a Vespa, a classic, but they refused to sell me one because I was less than 5ft 2 tall!


I went to prison a couple of times again this year: with Anna to Long Bay in Sydney and with Libby to Junee, in the bush.

Long Bay Correctional Facility in Sydney.

Apparently, these lucky Junee guys got a visit back in April from Khandrola: wow! One even if that good fortune to take Refuge.

Khandrola at Wagga Wagga Airport, when she flew in to visit the guys at Junee in April. The portrait was painted by one of the inmates. Photo Libby Mowlam.

Then it was to on to Wagga Wagga, to a new group, who also had had a teaching from Khandrola, and to Wodonga with the Shen Phen Ling Study Group for the last weekend of August.

Wagga Wagga.

Wodonga.

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