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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
spring 2008| 56 |buddhadharma toward enemies, and with their second- class status in India. They are tired of making concessions and accommoda- tions, and have adopted a militancy that makes them kin to students in America or France in the 1960s. Everything changes, and sometimes switches sides. Here I am, an Ameri- can born in the Midwest, a journalist and dharma practitioner, and I’ve been hooked by the Dalai Lama’s indefatigable compassion. Now I practice nonviolence, decades after my own tear-gas-soaked encounters with American police. Two months before I came to Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama visited New York State, and a full double rainbow arched its brilliant translucent light over the lake outside Woodstock where he was due to speak. The next day he walked down an aisle two feet away from me. I felt him bend space just by the force of his joy. It was enough to change me for life. So when I learned in McLeod Ganj that he was giving five days of teachings at Namgyal, I changed my flight plan and stayed. My husband took the long road home. I wrapped myself in Tibetan shawls against the cold and joined an interna- tional assembly gathered on the concrete platform outside the Buddha Hall at Namgyal. In one zone huddled recently arrived Tibetan refugees, who get special access to the Dalai Lama. In another sec- tion sat an enclave of red-robed Tibetan monks and nuns from all over India. A hand-lettered sign told Westerners where to sit. There were people from Austra- lia, Israel, Canada, China, India, South America, Europe, and the U.S. We lis- tened to the teachings over cheap radios broadcasting a simultaneous translation. The Gyuto monks sang the sutras in their awesome overtone rumble. A ceaseless stream of Indian visitors circumambu- lated in the corridors. I marveled at the assembly, which could not have been more international. In the Buddha Hall around the Dalai Lama was a convergence of high Mongolian lamas, all of them draped in gold robes, heads topped with exotic conical gold hats. As the Dalai Lama conveyed the tantric practices with their focus on emptiness, relinquishing of attachment, and aware- ness of the selflessness of phenomena, the Mongolians offered mandalas and their own chants. It was hard to miss the paral- lels between Mongolians and Tibetans. a portrait of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Norbu Rinpoche with Bernardo Bertolucci, Gesar Mukpo, Steven Seagal music by Sting, Steve Tibbetts, Joydrop, u:man:tek, Ta raf de Haidouks & others www.festivalmedia.org a film by Lesley Ann Patten NOW ON DVD WORDS OF MY PERFECT TEACHER “funny, brave, illuminating, adventurous ...” – T H E CHRONICLE HERALD