2015 Autumn

I have been having a totally blessed time since leaving the States in early September. I flew first to Guadalajara, Mexico. Our center there, Khamlungpa Center hosted a week-long retreat with Lama Zopa Rinpoche. It was held at a lovely retreat center (that was formerly a Catholic monastery) outside the city. More than 300 people attended.

Had a day after the retreat to explore with a nun friend the downtown and see some of the cathedrals and powerful mural paintings. The Sangha were treated to a sumptuous lunch at a beautiful restaurant in a lovely area with beautiful hand-crafted gifts.

Thank you to Dunia, Ramon and the entire community at Khamlungpa Center for hosting this fantastic week of retreat with Rinpoche and for making my stay so comfortable.

On September 16, I flew to Bogota, Colombia. Our center there, Centro Yamantaka invited Rinpoche for tea at the center, then a public talk followed by a weekend retreat. It was lovely and also very nice to meet their resident geshe. I was hosted for a few days by a lovely woman, Patricia, and her son until the weekend retreat started. She took me to downtown Bogota one day to show me the Museo del Oro (the Gold Museum) which has some amazing gold artifacts from pre-Colombian times. She then treated me to a tasty lunch at Crepes and Waffles, a downtown eatery that trains and employs poor women or those who have escaped domestic abuse.

The weekend retreat was held at a rural YMCA that was very peaceful. The 4 nuns there shared a quaint cottage and really enjoyed our time together.

No, they are not shooting each other in the streets in Bogota due to drug cartels. In fact, it has gotten safer of late with more issues happening now in Mexico. However, I did notice women with their bags crossed over their bodies so they are harder to remove. I asked some of them and they said yes, it was a safety precaution. So nice to live in a culture, at times, where this is not the case.

Traffic is staggering in Bogota. It starts at 5am and can have you sitting for hours to go a short distance. Patricia pointed out the poor areas on our way out of the city.

On September 22, I continued to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lovely people, warm and affectionate. Rinpoche did a public talk at the Botanical Garden in Rio and then led a weekend retreat at which I led some of the sessions. It was great! I was fortunate to be taken around Rio by some very kind people, Beatrice and a dear nun friend, Ven. Tenzin Namdrol. I kept looking for the “Girl from Ipanema,” but never really found her. The center in Rio, Centro Shiwa Lha, got me a pair of flips flops (it’s all they wear) with hearts all over them so I was a little like the “nun from Ipanema!”

Following the weekend retreat, Rinpoche offered a water blessing at the beach with a mantra board the center had created. We then went to the building the center purchased that is currently under renovation and Rinpoche did a blessing there.

On October 4, I started a 30-hour trip from Rio to Dharamsala, India that took me through Sao Paulo, Brazil, Doha, Qatar, and Delhi, India before reaching my destination, Tushita Meditation Centre in Dharamsala, India (northwest India). Fortunately everything went well except for an intense Qatar Airlines agent who hounded me about a yellow fever vaccine (none of my Brazilian friends who travel to India regularly had ever heard of this). Upon arrival at immigration in Delhi, however, all the official wanted to talk with me about was Buddhism (not yellow fever fortunately as there could have been a 6-day quarantine!).

So here I am in a lovely retreat cabin in a pine forest with monkeys all around and stunning sunsets, brisk clear mornings and a vast array of Holy Beings in town including His Holiness the Dalai Lama (who was supposed to be in Philadelphia, my home town at the end of October, but instead is doing retreat in His current hometown – McLeod Ganj which is just down the hill). Saw His Holiness at a long life puja at the temple on Lha Bab Duchen, the major Buddhist holiday on November 3. In addition, have visited some other amazing teachers such as His Holiness Ling Rinpoche, Khandrola, Pari (Dagri) Rinpoche, and Khylongla Rato Rinpoche who recently gave a beautiful teaching at Tushita on equanimity.

Feeling incredibly fortunate and grateful.

At Tushita, I have taught one 10-day introductory course with 80 people from all over the world and a week-long intermediate course on Death and Dying. I start one more introductory course tomorrow. On November 18, I head down the mountain to our center in Delhi where I teach for a night, then hopefully Nepal for 10 days to attend more teachings with Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Kopan Monastery. I then lead a week-long course at Root Institute in Bodh Gaya that combines an overview of Buddhism with pilgrimage to local holy sites. There’s nothing more moving than reading the Heart Sutra on Vulture’s Peak.

I then give a talk on Countering Stress and Anxiety at our Bangalore center Choe Khor Sum Ling Centre before sharing a taxi with 3 other nuns for the 6-hour ride west to Sera Monastery for teachings with the Dalai Lama through New Year’s.

Winter will find me on a month-long teaching tour in the UK before heading back to Philly to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my dad.

November, 2015

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