It was inspiring and delightful to hear Tenzin Palmo in Mumbai thanks to Aspi Mistry at the Dharma Rain centre and the Piramals, the wonderful folk who made the Lotus Lounge, a serene, green, silent space in the heart of the city available to dhamma seekers.
Jetsunma’s story is well known and documented ( check the book Cave in the Snow by Vicky Mckenzie ). Born in the UK she traveled to India to meet and study with Khamtrul Rimpoche, her lama or teacher. As part of her Buddhist retreat practice, she lived for three years in solitary isolation in a cave in Lahaul /Spiti and then having spent twelve years in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition embarked on teaching and raising funds to start and head a Bhikuni sangha /nunnery , DGL in Himachal Pradesh.
She, like Ayya Khema, Pema Chodron and many Western Buddhist nuns has raised questions on the status of nuns in Buddhism .
I had read excerpts of her talks earlier but seeing her in person and feeling her energies was an entirely different experience. Her eyes are the most striking feature – full of joy and sparkling with life. This is something I have seen in many evolved people – the Dalai Lama and the late Goenkaji come to mind. Their eyes are full of life and joy and loving kindness, no grim spirituality, arrogance or false power about them. (I feel blessed to have met them in person)
The group went through Atisha’s Bodhisattvamanveli – the Bodhisattva’s jewel Garland, which is a very accessible text on daily practice and living and made even more accessible in her witty style. Discussions ranged from mindfulness and meditation (not the same thing), Bodhichitta, cultivating a ‘cave and forest’ mind, non-attachment vs. indifference and fearless compassion.
I have spent time studying the Mahasatipathansutta but am not personally very familiar with the texts in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Atisha’s text is an exploration into daily living and seems simple but as every Buddhist tradition reminds us getting back to the basics is a good thing and in truth a difficult thing to do. The Buddha said several times in his lifetime and as his parting advice on his deathbed “Practice diligently” and you will find all the answers are within.
Tenzin Palmo reminds us that the essence of good practice is habit – “you cannot tame the mind until you have trained the mind” and being aware of laziness. “Being busy is also a form of laziness. Giving up is also a form of laziness. Believing you can’t do it is also a form of laziness. Believing you are not good enough is also a form of laziness “