Postcard 64 from Robina: Amman, December 3, 2015

2015-12-03 11:00:00

On Monday November 23, from Vajrapani, where I’d spent a week, Fabienne the director drove me to Santa Cruz, to the Staffords: Mer and Troy and their three daughters, Maddy, Mia and Maude. They moved here from Raleigh a year ago. And then Mer drove me to San Jose from where I flew to Orange County, south of Los Angeles.

With the Staffords in Santa Cruz. Photo Fabienne Pradelle.

I stayed with Kate Macdonald and gave another talk at her new study group, Medicine Buddha Orange County:; I was there for her opening talk in September.

One thing she has established, which I really admire, is a shop, Bodhichitta Boutique. So many centers don’t have this, and I think they are missing a great opportunity to bring in funds. All centers are desperate for money to run their center so ending up having to beg. But if you have a shop, a commercial activity, that sells lovely things that people want such as gifts, they give you money, which, of course, includes a bit of profit: that is, funds for running your center. How sensible! And the funds from the Dharma books can be used for the altar, new statues, texts etc.

Medicine Buddha Orange County. The beautiful Bodhcihitta Boutique, as well as calligraphy by a local Tibetan artist, Tamding, who’s also a tattooist.

I read two articles recently about earthquakes and tsunamis along the West Coast of the United States. One in the New Yorker called “The Really Big One” – that says that “an earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.” An article in July in the British Daily Mail – quotes Nasa as saying “there is a 99.9% chance of a 5.0 earthquake in the next three years” in Los Angeles.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has urged people to recite Kstigharba mantras to help alleviate the terrible damage that is likely to occur to sentient beings; Rinpoche says it’ll be in January or February. Here’s a link to 6-year-old Dechen Bloom reciting it by heart:

In a 2012 interview in Mandala, Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drolma, a lama who is based at His Holiness’s place in Dharamsala and a student of Rinpoche’s, was asked what could be done about the earthquakes.

Khadro-la talked about how to help lessen the effects of the earthquakes.

“I heard through Lama Zopa Rinpoche that some scientists were forecasting that there could be a huge earthquake and possible tsumanis on the West Coast of the United States some time in the future. Rinpoche asked me what would be beneficial to do before this event took place. I mentioned to Rinpoche that the problems caused by nature and the various natural elements are hard to eliminate completely. At that same time, I had a kind of sense or vision of a particular landscape and different shapes of stupas. I felt if we could do something around that area, maybe it could be a little beneficial. I mentioned to Rinpoche that building some stupas along the West Coast might help. The forces of nature may still occur, but maybe there will be less destruction of lives and property. Or maybe it can postpone the occurrence of such events.

“While I was flying to the United States, before the airplane touched down in California I fell asleep. Then all of the sudden I woke up and looked through the airplane window and saw the area that I had had a vision of before when I was in India. Later on, we investigated that area and found that it is on government land, like in a park. One other area that I had a vision of seems like it is in Washington State. I haven’t found the exact location yet, but that’s where we are going next.

“To be clear, the building of the stupas will not stop the earthquakes and tsumanis. They are just to benefit sentient beings a little bit. It’s not to fight against the forces of nature or eliminate all those things. Rinpoche asked me to help. Since Rinpoche is always thinking about benefiting others at all times, it is all being done in this light. I had these kinds of visions or ideas and told them to Rinpoche, but this could be because of previous karma and dependent arising and so many other causes. I’m not anything special.

From Los Angeles I flew to Toronto for Lama Yeshe Ling. I visited Dekyi Lee in her old people’s home. She’s not there because she’s old but because she had a catastrophic car accident eighteen months ago and gets around-the-clock care here. She worked for years for Universal Education. She’s doing incredibly well. The accident happened when she pulled off to the side of a road and some poor guy going 100 miles an hour had a heart attack and smashed into her and six other cars.

She says she’s using art therapy to help rehabilitate. She chose for one painting the topic, as she calls it, the paradox of perfection. The process she uses is a layered process. First she paints a picture, then wiping it off, which leaves a stain. Then she paints another layer on top, etc. The first layer of the one pictured here explores the Hinayana enlightenment, the bliss of liberation, and represents the king who’s out of samsara first and encourages others to do what he did. The next one represents fully enlightened Buddha, tapping the king on the should saying, okay, time to get on to the Mahayana path, develop compassion and buddhahood. Geshe Tashi Tsering said that this is the greatest sufferings possible, having to give up this level of bliss. The final layer represents the lack of inherent existence that is realized in the great scope, based on compassion.

Dekyi Lee (above) survived the crash below: hers is the red car. Photo Andrew Collins.

Also in Toronto I gave a talk at Upper Canada College, invited by a woman called Shelina, who happens to be an Ismaili Muslim, whose son is educated there. Very special! We had a moving conversation about the mind, attachment, and helping others; they asked amazing questions.

I took this photo of the boys at Upper Canada College in Toronto.

I stayed the night with Shelina. I didn’t know anything about Ismailis before. Their spiritual teacher, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. They have much devotion to him, it seems, and he seems to take care of them like a father. Shelina agreed it’s like guru devotion –


Then to New York where I got my flight to Amman, in Jordan, where I begin and end my round-the-world tickets. It’s my fifth year of homelessness – literally. I have an address in Sydney, one in London, and one in the US, and in the US there are some things of mine in a friend’s house: books, my old handwritten notes from my studies, and a couple of tangkas. I joke these days that I sleep around! It’s true. And it suits me.

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