Saturday, February 3, 2007

Knowing your audience

Saturday we have a half-day of school, and after class I was invited for a teaching at the nearby White Monastery, another Tibetan institution just around the corner from where I'm studying. The Rinpoche, the head of the monastery, apparently gives semi-regular lectures in English on Saturday mornings.

There were perhaps 30-40 people in attendance, most Caucasian, and after entering with a hearty "good morning" and seating himself in front of the audience, he began:

Bullshit practice, bullshit patience, bullshit results.

Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche had our immediate attention and in charming idosyncratic English proceeded to discourse on learning to practice compassion. He asked for feedback from us to help find the right words, and sitting cross-legged on his raised chair, bent slightly forward, he would punctuate his statements with "hmm" and occasionally let loose with a cackling laugh, a living Yoda-like figure teaching here in Kathmandu.

After the talk there was an announcement of a short course beginning Monday and running for one month on a classic Buddhist text to be taught by a recent graduate of the monastery's school of philosophy. As the timing fits in perfectly with my art classes, I'm planning on showing up Monday for the first class and if all looks well signing on for the full course. For anyone that might be interested, the text we'll be studying is The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva.



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