Let Girls Be Boys


The current debate on transgender rights seems to have gone from, “let’s take transgender issues seriously” to “let boys be girls”.  Grace Dent in her article of the same name (Independent 14.11.17) gives some of the breezy reasons about why the Church of England, the government and the entertainment industry is obsessed with gender.  This debate, it seems to me, is going from promoting more tolerance, to promoting more guilt and shame.  The argument goes that those of us born with a penis ought to be ashamed of that fact. Men are the world’s problem.  We men should seriously consider getting in touch with our feminine side – whatever that means – and taking the process to its logical solution.

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Rinpoche’s Teaching Schedule 2018

Photo taken at Tso Pema, November 2017 by Tsunma Karma Wangmo.

Below is the Latest Travel Schedule for Ringu Tulku Rinpoche. If you have any questions about any of the events listed, please contact each group/venue directly using the contact details below.

Please note that Rinpoche’s programme may be changed at any stage, but we will do our best to keep the schedule here up to date. More announcements may be made on the Home page.

All teachings will be given in English and translated into the language of the country.


contact each group/venue directly using the contact details below.

Please note that Rinpoche’s programme may be changed at any stage, but we will do our best to keep the schedule here up to date. More announcements may be made on the Home page.

All teachings will be given in English and translated into the language of the country.



  • June 11, 2018 – June 12, 2018
    Norway – Oslo
    Location: Karma Tashi Ling, Bjørnåsveien 124, 1272 Oslo, Norway
  • August 8, 2018 – August 12, 2018
    Spain – Huesca
    Location: Dag Shang Kagyu Buddhist Center, Calle Única, s/n, 22430 Panillo, Huesca, Spain
  • August 17, 2018 – August 19, 2018
    Austria – Gutenstein
    Location: Maitreya Institut, Blättertal 9, 2770 Gutenstein, Austria
  • August 29, 2018 – August 29, 2018
    Holland – Hantum
    Location: Karma Deleg Chö Phel Ling, Stoepawei 4, 9147 BG Hantum, Netherlands


  • September 3, 2018 – September 5, 2018
    Slovenia – Ljubljana
    Location: Parinama center, Cesta na Brdo 85, 1000 Ljubljana Organizer: Palpung Yeše Chöling Slovenia

The Main of Light

Dónal Creedon, The Main of Light: Common Ground and Dividing Lines in the Teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Buddhism. 2017, Dónal Creedon, 143 p. Printed in Poland by Amazon Fulfilment, Poland Sp. z o.o, Wroclav

This work is the fruit of Dónal Creedon’s many years of study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism, and of his long-standing engagement with the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. He has spent many years in intensive retreat, and currently leads retreats in Europe and South Africa as well as India. He was also resident Buddhist scholar at the Krishnamurti Centre in Varanasi for a number of years, and it was during this period that the present work was conceived and executed in draft. Many readers will know him personally through these retreats, and The Main of Light will focus and give added depth to their experience of his methods.

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by on MARCH 3, 2017 in NEWS, PUBLICATIONS.

In this seventh booklet in the Lazy Lama series, Ringu Tulku looks at how we all need love and asks us to consider the benefits of generating loving kindness for each other. Rinpoche shares with us an Indian saying;

‘ When the trees support each other then we have houses and cities, when human beings support each other we have society, we have civilization.’

So, the whole of society, of civilization, survives by supporting and helping each other. But how can we, as imperfect human beings, offer even an ‘imperfect’ love, and is that enough? Yes, says Rinpoche, we can and should start from where we are. We can offer loving kindness, help and support for each other now, while aspiring towards an ideal unconditional love. Rinpoche encourages us, in these seemingly simple and concise teachings, to develop the courage of a hero dedicated to love, and to find our true brave heart.

It is available to pre-order now in the Book Shop


The following is an excerpt from Elisabeth Mattis Namgyel’s book The Power of an Open Question 



“With All Our Might”
Chapter 12

Surely, if the human condition could be fixed, the Buddha would have fixed it long ago. I’m sure Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi would have cracked the code. And certainly the Dalai Lama would see to it that something was done. The staggering beauty of the efforts of history’s great luminaries, both past and present, is that despite knowing the unfixable nature of things, they did everything thing they could to serve others. In fact, they tried with all their might.

Temple Grandin is an expert in animal behavior and has deep insight into animal mind. She attributes this understanding to having been born severely autistic. She has observed that some patterns of animal behavior resemble the mental, emotional, and physical patterns she and others with autism experience. She is well known for having designed stockyard and slaughterhouse facilities that reduce fear and stress in cattle. A radio interviewer recently asked her, “Why bother creating more humane conditions for animals that are about to be slaughtered anyway?” Ms. Grandin replied, “Why else, but to reduce their suffering.”

Whatever we can do to serve others, at any moment, in any situation, is the practice of bodhi, or awakening. Service awakens in us a natural generosity, not a calculated response that weighs the pros and cons and decides whether it’s worth the effort. It is a matter of the heart. We see a need and naturally move toward it. Shantideva, in The Way of the Bodhisattva, says that if our hair were on fire we would be obsessed with putting it out. In the same way, the process of awakening through service is the obsession of a bodhisattva.

Big Aspirations

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Beyond Mindfulness 

[Alba Publishing, 2015, 236pp ISBN: 978-1-910185-15-5 5 ¾”x 8 ¼” paperback £10/US$15/€14]

I met Ken Jones, and his wife Noragh, on a number of occasions over the last fifteen years or so, at Haiku Ireland and other haiku-related events in Dublin. He was an acquaintance whose talent and wisdom I admired greatly, and, like many others, I miss not having both on stream anymore. However, we are fortunate that he did write and publish so prolifically and this final book, along with his posthumous collection of haibun, Gone Away (also from Alba), are his parting gifts to us.


In some ways, Jones acts as devil’s advocate in the eleven talks and essays on Buddhism which comprise the majority of this volume, a number of which can be found on his website Starting with the book’s title, he challenges our preconceptions about Buddhism in a way that shows a typically fierce and independent intelligence. This sandal-on-the-cheek approach makes us sit up and listen. The first section, How to Do Everyday Buddhism, ‘provides a foundation and introduction for other essays and papers’ and summarises many of Jones’s thoughts on matters such as spiritual materialism, suchness, the practice of emotional awareness and kindness, also the sometimes controversial area of Buddhist ethics and morals. He expands on these topics (and more) in the eight talks which follow and which form the bulk of the book.

The effectiveness in Jones’s arguments partly lies in the fact that they are informed by a deep and wide knowledge of spiritual literature in general, and Buddhist texts and teachers in particular. Ample, relevant quotes punctuate and contextualise his observations in every chapter, from 13th Century Zen Master Dogen (about whose teachings the tenth section of the book is devoted) to contemporary Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön who has popularised dharma-related teachings in recent years. One of his key opinions, that mindfulness – while worthwhile as a practice is itself – is ‘Buddhism lite’, is well-argued and convincing. His assertion that mindfulness is ‘a technique, devoid of the profound ethical concerns of authentic Buddhism’ is hard to refute.

There are times, however, when Jones’s bias as a socially engaged Buddhist is evident, for example when he claims that Buddhism has ‘traditionally been confined to individual existential concerns’ rather than exercising itself in opposing authority (later in the book he describes himself as a ‘Buddhist Bolshevik’). While I admire his desire to marry life as a meditator with life as an activist in the pursuit of equality, I would argue that the latter is not necessarily the main role or function of a Buddhist. Furthermore, the former premise is suspect in that the Buddhist tradition of the sangha, or community of practitioners, is strong and ancient, as is the importance of its role in supporting individual dharma practice. Indeed, the Sangha is one of the ‘three jewels of refuge’ in Buddhism, along with the Buddha and the Dharma. However, the valuable insights Jones provides throughout the book more than compensate for this inclination.

Of course the principles of impermanence and acceptance are also prominent in Buddhist philosophy. Jones embraces these with dignity and humour, no more so than in his writings about ageing (‘the supreme challenge of our life…it is our self-identity which is challenged’) and dying. And so he offers us Ageing, The Great AdventureA Buddhist Guide which forms the eleventh section of this book. What Jones describes as ‘the existential option’, the alternative to either railing against old age or wallowing in its vicissitudes, is to practise awareness, to examine all pains, thoughts and emotions as they arise, and to learn from them. This is best achieved, he argues, through meditation. He also encourages us to both embody and celebrate older age. In relation to death itself, Jones argues that how we have lived is more important than how we die, ‘over which we may very well have little or no control’.

And finally, the haibun. Jones became an early champion of this form, which combines prose and haiku, and he also put his own distinctive stamp on it, calling his haibun ‘haiku stories’. The selection here, in Literary Zen: Haiku and Haibun, the twelfth and final section of the book, includes nine in which Zen retreats are the subjects, and ten inspired by his experience of prostate cancer, the illness that eventually took his life in August 2015. These are mostly taken from five previous collections of haibun, with a few others previously unpublished. The retreat haibun are divided into those written on solitary retreats and those on group retreats, some of which were led by Jones. My own preference is for those from the solitary retreats. There is something pure about his engagement with the natural world, and with the everyday indoor tasks of washing, dining and, in this case, reading and meditating, all conducted alone. But the group retreats also yield clear and contemplative prose, haiku and senryu. And so, Jones gives us this:

Later, in fading light, I wander up onto the hill. Shoulders hunched, searching as usual for something too shy to show itself. Hands tighten on the rust of an iron gate.

Warmed by the setting sun

my skinny shadow

stretching across a field

from The Grey Stone (2002)


On this black robe

the dust of incense

silent thunder

from Here Now (2013)

From the group retreats, we get

Hazy moon

the rusty weathervane

clanks and groans

A brief, broken sleep, spilling vivid dreams, and leaving a metallic taste beneath the tongue. The hour before dawn, lit by one large candle. One by one the black robed figures file in.

from Putting Legs on a Snake (2004)


Thunder and lightning at dawn

the light within the dark

of the Great Way

from Hard Up (2014)

In the final ten poignant haibun, severally entitled Ageing towards Death, Jones writes with wry humour and a lack of sentimentality about his ‘long drawn out’ illness and approach to death. Though the initial diagnosis of cancer was made in 2001, it only becomes imminently terminal in early 2015. At the early diagnosis stage, Jones writes:

Home for more tests. The radiology unit has an air of carnival. What shall we play for you?

Bone scan

the length

of a Brandenburg Concerto

from The Spirit Level, 2001

Some years later and the disease is taking hold. Yet Jones takes time to immerse himself in the natural world, and to practise the general and emotional awareness that he has advocated in the earlier sections of the book.


for the blackbird

singing his love

from Going Nowhere, 2006

His love for his wife is evident in some of the haibun:

‘A better place to die’, she says, turning her face away. And so, day by day and arm in arm, we promenade our love, as wave follows wave.

A red fishing boat

cutting its white wake

through our winter morning

and later:

Each in our so-called easy chair, we enjoy the magnificent sunsets.

Some day

I’ll await a sunset such as this

and share its graceful exit

from A Change of Address (2014)

In the haibun Ready to Cast Off (2014), Jones tackles the indisputable yet unpredictable end which lies ahead for all of us, and how lucky we are to have Jones to blaze such a trail for us:

My Death

my unfamiliar

feral beast

In this and other haikai in the final section of the book, he continues the time-honoured Asian tradition in which both haiku poets and Zen monks have penned their own jisei, or death poem. This provides an appropriate end to a volume which addresses the two components of Zen Buddhism and haibun.

This book is for Buddhists and non-Buddhists, haijin and non-haijin alike, any reader should be enriched by Jones’s erudition and literary talent.



Maeve O’Sullivan (@writefromwithin)

 This review was first published in the quarterly (hard copy) journal of the British Haiku Society,

Blithe Spirit, Volume 26, No. 2 (May 2016).

In early August 2015, I got the news of Ken Jones’ death while sitting in the tea room of Casa da Campo, the Portuguese venue for the Bodhicharya Summercamp. He and I, though different in many ways, shared a publisher, a passion for haiku & its related forms and a commitment to the Dharma, quite a lot to have in common! I was naturally saddened by the news.

Later that year, the then editor of Blithe Spirit, the journal of the British Haiku Society, David  Serjeant, knowing of my interest in Buddhism, asked me to write an extended review of Ken’s last book, Beyond Mindfulness, which he had held in his hand and approved not long before his death. I agreed. It was a strange experience to critique a book whose author wouldn’t get to read the review! It appeared in the journal in May 2016.

Earlier this month, sitting at the same table in the same tea room at Casa da Campo at the start of this year’s Summercamp, Albert Harris told me that Many Roads might be moving towards being review-based. I mentioned the recent one I’d written and he expressed an interest in republishing it on the site. I emailed David Serjeant straight away to ask his permission and he granted it by return. Later I realised that these conversations, and the agreement to republish the review, had all taken place on the day before Ken’s first anniversary on Tuesday 2ndAugust 2016. Coincidence?  Perhaps but I prefer to think that the wily old pilgrim fox had a hand in it!

Maeve O’Sullivan, 12th August 2016

Bodhicharya Publications Update


Bodhicharya Publications are very happy to let the wider Bodhicharya community know about our latest developments, following our AGM last month:

  • We have sold around 4000 books in the last two years. These are sales of all Rinpoche’s books that we publish, which are currently: 6 Lazy Lama Series books; 7 Heart Wisdom Series books; 1 book of stories.

  • Our largest investment of profits, made this year, has gone into creating a new online web archive which will give members access to all Rinpoche’s teachings in recorded format. This large scale project is very much still in progress but you will be the first to hear when it is ready….

  • We also made a donation to Rigul Trust of £1500 from profits made.

  • We published two new titles over the last 12 months: “Parables from the Heart,” a collection of Rinpoche’s stories, edited by Patricia Little, with Mary Heneghan. And “Being Pure: The Practice of Vajrasattva,” compiled and edited by Mary Heneghan.

  • All our titles remain on sale from the Bodhicharya website Book Shop and Amazon.

Thank you for supporting this work through buying Rinpoche’s books – we hope you enjoy them.


by on JULY 29, 2016 in NEWS, PUBLICATIONS.

Being Pure

Being pure

We are very happy to announce the publication of Ringu Tulku’s latest Heart Wisdom book:

Being Pure: The Practice of Vajrasattva.

This book contains his teachings on the practice of Vajrasattva, including first Taking Refuge; and explores in some depth what it means to ‘be pure,’ to ‘purify’ or to ‘realise Vajrasattva.’ These teachings were originally given at Bodhicharya Meditation Centre in Sikkim, so contain some of the essence of how these concepts can be explored more deeply in the spaciousness of retreat.

The book also presents the root text by His Holiness 17th Karmapa, which Rinpoche’s teaching is a commentary on. And incorporates calligraphies of Vajrasattva’s mantras byTashi Mannox and an image of Vajrasattva by Salga. Compiled and edited by Mary Heneghan, with layout and design by Paul O’Connor.

It is available now to pre-order in the Book Shop.

All of Rinpoche’s other books published by Bodhicharya Publications, can also be ordered from the Bodhicharya Publications Book Shop.

The Saffron Road: A Journey with Buddha’s Daughters


Buddhism developed varying traditions as it took root in different cultures around the world. In some of those cultures, the role of women in Buddhism – as nuns and as lay practitioners – has been minimised or even subsumed entirely under that of monks. Even though the Buddha himself, when asked by his student Ananda, said “Yes of course women could become enlightened”,  these ongoing cultural traditions can make it very difficult for women to progress along the path and, crucially for practitioners looking for real inspiration, this also makes it very difficult to find out anything about them.

Any book focusing on Buddhist nuns would necessarily have to at least touch on this issue, and The Saffron Road: A Journey with Buddha’s Daughters does it very well. But this is not a political text. It is really more of an adventure. Toomey travels the world and talks to dozens of Buddhist nuns – women of all ages, from all walks of life, and from countries with long-standing Buddhist traditions as well as countries where Buddhism has been more recently established, e.g. England, France, and America. Her main aim is to get an idea of what motivated each of them to become a nun and what keeps them going, and their reasons are as varied as their dress. She interviews nuns from the Vajrayana, Theravada, and Zen traditions, giving the reader a real feel for each one, and an understanding of the cultures where they thrive.

You get some idea of the scale of this project when Toomey explains here and there about making appointments months in advance, being asked to attend week-long courses so that she might better understand a tradition, and taking part in the daily schedule of prayers and meditation. She finds herself slightly lost in an untended wood looking for an unmarked, isolated retreat, wandering through the oldest part of San Francisco, driving through the rolling hills of the Dumfries countryside, and practising zazen in Japan – where, by the way, the first ordained Buddhist was a young woman. The Saffron Road is very much like a travel narrative: once you’re finished, you not only feel you know more about Buddhist nuns, and Buddhism, but more about the world.

Toomey, as an experienced international journalist, has the perfect touch when it comes to knowing how long to spend with each person, and – critically – what kinds of questions to ask. Some nuns have had difficult experiences in their lives, and Toomey is very careful not to pry. But she brings out their excitement and devotion, and as stories of Buddhist women are still relatively thin on the ground, this makes The Saffron Road an invaluable contribution to the Buddhist experience. You don’t have to be a woman to enjoy this book – you could argue, in fact, that missing half of humanity’s experience with Buddhism doesn’t do anyone any favours, male or female. Like the wings of a bird, Wisdom and Compassion need each other to really fly.


Dr Gwen Enstam is Project Developer for The Association for Scottish Literary Studies. She is the editor of the online magazine The Bottle Imp.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Gwen has made her home in Edinburgh.  An interesting interview of Dr Gwen Enstam can be found on Books From Scotland.



Summer Camp: Portugal



This was my first Summer camp with Ringu Tulku and I chose to attend for two reasons. The first was the wish to learn how to practice the Ngondro properly and the second because Ringu Tulku has proven to be a good teacher on other Dharma topics. The experience was amazing. The clarity of Rinpoche’s teaching from the powers of the Refuge Prayer to the line by line explanation of Guru Yoga has certainly given me a good understanding and I have confidence to continue the practice that my own teacher has asked me to practice. As part of the Retreat the aim was to reach 100,000 of each of the four parts of the Ngondro and I can still hear the sound of rice as it formed many Mandalas and as a group we achieved our blessings. The empowerment that drew the teaching to a close was exactly that – very powerful and ended with us all joining katas while holding candles as brothers and sisters in the Dharma. Add to that the beautiful Portuguese sunshine and the opportunity to practice in the sun, something those of us from Scotland have seen little of this year, a very busy and deeply meaningful retreat.                                                                                         Jenni Campbell


Ten days after the event my response to this year’s summercamp is mainly one of gratitude. Immense gratitude to Rinpoche, to Tsering and to Lama Tsultrim for facilitating a complete short Ngondro practice in one week and also indebtedness to the young, strong and energetic members of the group who managed to carry along with them those of us who are somewhat older and could only do our best. Back in London my wish is to stabilise all that I have received, integrate it into my practice, but first to learn off by heart the 100 syllable mantra that I had not come across before.                                                                            

Thus, I am to be seen on tubes and buses muttering mantras to myself, hoping other people think I am talking into an invisible mobile phone. This task seems to me to be of the utmost importance and serves to help me to stay in touch with the benefits of the Ngondro practices for all of Rinpoche’s sangha, both those who were at summer camp and everyone else too. Lynda Miller



You couldn’t say there was a best part of the Ngondro because the practice was so well delivered by Rinpoche La and so well paced and every part complemented the whole experience: a valuable practice of the interconnectedness of  Buddhist philosophy. Wandering through and around the grapevines reciting the vajrasattva 100-syllable mantra, the mandala offering, the prostrations and doing Guru Yoga all contributed to this unique experience.  On the last evening, the sangha consolidated the experience by joining katas and lighting candles.  

Thank you to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Lama Tsultrim and Tsering Paldron for planning and facilitating this event.


My Experience of the Summer Camp

About the People…

I thought a week of closer proximity to Ringu Tulku might help me understand why he calls himself ‘the lazy lama’. It didn’t. Relaxed, yes, but lazy? Most important to me, he seemed congruent: what he taught, he embodied. His teaching was clear and accessible, presented with both strength and modesty. He revealed glimpses of his profound knowledge and awareness, and more than once I thought how tolerant he must be of the comparative ignorance of the rest of us. It was of enormous help to me that Rinpoche gave Ngondro teachings in a way that they were practical and relevant to our lives and our concerns. His humour helped: I found it healing to laugh with him and everyone else.

The ‘everyone else’ is significant, too. Not surprising, the robed and lay people who cherish Ringu Tulku seem refreshingly balanced. While the wide-ranging conversations I enjoyed with the ones I met were distracting because they evoked in me much reflection, they mostly were heart-warming and inspiring.

About the Practice…

For years I have found reasons and excuses to evade Ngondro practice – despite having attended teachings on Ngondro given by HE Tai Situpa at Samye Ling who taught that Ngondro practice is the portal to Mahamudra and despite knowing that positive repetition engenders positive change in the mind.

I registered for the 2015 summer camp with now-or-never resolve and with considerable trepidation. As the result of an ongoing family ordeal, I arrived at the camp too tired to ‘struggle’. “Don’t think about it, just do it,” I told myself. For the first couple of days, I could barely keep awake during the teachings and was glad for the helpful physical component of the practices. Being new among a diverse collection of people gave my sleepy mind abundant material for judgement, analysis, fantasy; and I observed it sluggishly moving in habitual ways, attempting to organise the sensory information I encountered in order to help me feel comfortable.

Gradually, I woke up a little and settled into the practice with genuine appreciation. I was able to notice the care with which the organisers had worked with Rinpoche in arranging for the texts, the translations, the structure. I felt the strong support of the practice of the ‘everyone else’. The mantra music in my head greeted me when I woke each morning and stayed with me throughout the day, and I welcomed stirrings of devotion. I felt an inner release when Ringu Tullku included the name of Akong Rinpoche, whom I had followed since the 1980’s, when he led us in singing the hauntingly lovely ‘Calling the Guru from Afar’ prayer.

I returned home less weary, and with the realisation that while a part of my mind had focused on the practice of Ngondro, something more subtle had taken place of which I had been unaware at the time. For example, I was astonished that the anxiety I had felt about a particular distressing situation somehow had evaporated. This reminded me that a most effective inspiration for more Dharma practice is practice!

See also Remembering Harry.



Haiku Book Review and Author Interview

Outside my window is a sweet pea plant.  Today, suddenly it seems, there are only seven flowers, the rest having turned into pods.  Maeve expresses this process of change in one of her Summer haiku:

cloudy afternoon

my sweet pea flowers

becoming peas

In these few lines there is a dynamism that paradoxically captures a frozen moment, a reciprocal dance of time and motion.  Maeve explains it concisely in her blog:

Many haiku practitioners say that writing haiku helps to keep them anchored in the present moment…

In her latest edition of poetry, A Train Hurtles West, Maeve has captured moments in her life and with imagery invested with tenderness, painted a world consisting of the memories of her mother and father, the seasons and the power of inevitable change, intimate moments in her life and contrasting settings.

Maeve’s mastery of the Haiku form is evident in this collection of verse. Read the words slowly and mindfully; they are a gentle reminder that we are all on that train.

Q1:      What’s the significance of the title of your latest collection of poetry?

A1:       A Train Hurtles West comes from the title haiku which is also part of the title sequence of the book. The full haiku is a short one-liner: ‘mother dying   a train hurtles west’, and the sequence contains haiku I wrote in the few months before and after her death in October 2014. I live in Dublin, in an apartment over the train line heading south and west towards Cork, Limerick and Galway, so I can literally see and hear all the trains as they go by.

I also like the open-ness of the idea of heading west which could have as many interpretations as readers. Traditionally it means dying or being destroyed or lost, which chimes with my mother’s passing away, but in Ireland everyone loves heading west of the Shannon, so it’s probably got more positive connotations here, as I’m sure it has in other countries also. Of course the gold rush in the US also involved people heading west.

Q2:      How does “death” affect your writing?

I guess bereavement is an experience to draw from in relation to poems and haiku. Of course it is more intense (at times) than other experiences, so possibly more dramatic and more ‘inspirational’. I’ve heard quite a few stories about poets who only started to write after the death of a parent. I had been writing for fifteen years before the death of my father, the first person I lost who was very close to me. There is a sequence called Father’s Death Day in my first collection of haiku, Initial Response (2011, Alba Publishing) which has haiku written around the time of my Dad’s death in 2010. That book is out of print but now available to read or download free in the Haiku Foundation’s Digital Library.

 Q3:      What brought you to Buddhism?

I had an interest in Buddhism as a young woman, but it was many more years before I became one. I suppose, like lots of others, I was searching for answers. I liked the fact that Buddhism was a non-theistic faith, also the notion of Buddha-nature, which is pretty much the opposite of the Catholic doctrine of original sin (I was raised a Catholic).

I took refuge five years ago, in the Kagyu tradition. It coincided with my mother’s dementia diagnosis, and I found my dharma very helpful in dealing with that process, with its emphasis on impermanence and acceptance. I also like its stress on pacifism and welcome having an ethical code by which to live my life, one which values compassion above success or materialism.

I’ve aimed to explore the dharma gradually, at my own pace, and that has worked for me so far. I enjoy attending talks and pujas, and am a member of a dharma book club. I’m lucky enough to live near the Kagyu centre in Dublin. I’ve also attended Ringu Tulku’s Summercamp in Portugal for the last three summers, and love connecting with teachings, practices and other sangha members in that way. He is a very wise and inspiring teacher, with a great sense of humour.

Q4:      In your sequence Portugal and Galicia, as elsewhere, you have captured the essence of an experience.  Does meditation help you formulate ideas about experiences?

A2:       I would say that meditation and mindfulness practices help to keep me in the moment (or yank me back there). Haiku are more about sensations than ideas, so being in the moment helps you to increase awareness and concentrate on the senses, resulting in what we call ‘haiku moments’, some of which result in haiku. It’s no accident that the tradition of haiku poetry is partly rooted in Zen Buddhism, or that many of the old Japanese haiku masters were also Buddhist monks and nuns, or practitioners at least.

Q5:      Your haiku is not in the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic structure.  Does it matter?

Since English is a very different language to Japanese, the 5-7-5 structure does not have to be adhered to. I’m told the English syllable packs more in than the Japanese onji, or word section, so 10-14 syllables are considered the equivalent in English-language haiku to the Japanese 17.

Q6:      Does the Irish tradition of poetry – Yeats, Heaney, Colum – influence you at all?

It probably influences my longer-form poetry more than my shorter-form poetry (O’Sullivan’s first longer-form poetry collection, Vocal Chords, was published by Alba Publishing in 2014). No Irish poet can avoid the shadows of Yeats, Kavanagh, Hartnett, Heaney et al, or the influences of the living greats such as Longley, Mahon, Boland, Kinsella, Montague, Ní Dhomhnaill and others. We’re a nation of poets who have to find our own individual voices while embracing those wonderful influences.


Maeve O’Sullivan’s new collection of haiku poetry, A Train Hurtles West, is available from the publisher, Alba Publishing ( 30% of profits go to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s charity Rigul Trust ( You can find Maeve on Twitter (@maeveos). Her blog post Why Haiku? is available here: bogmanscannon







Bodhicharya Summer Camp

Bodhicharya Summer Camp

14-20 July 2014

Casa da Torre, Braga, Portugal



The Camp was hosted for the third year running by Bodhicharya Portugal at Casa da Torre, near Braga, from 14 to 21 July. With around 110 participants from 20 different countries, mainly European, the atmosphere was lively, the discussion animated, a chance to renew old friendships and make new ones.

Ringu Tulku’s teachings continued and concluded the study of Dakpo Tashi Namgyal’s magisterial text, Mahᾱmudrᾱ, The Moonlight: Quintessence of Mind and Meditation, which he had started four years previously in Lusse, France. He made it clear from the outset, however, that study of a text is only the beginning: we must use this study to work on ourselves, which is the main meditation. Ultimately it is our practice and we must integrate the teaching at the level on which we find ourselves. Throughout the week’s teachings, he stressed the Dharma as a living reality, and this somewhat forbidding text was made accessible to us by our knowledge that our teacher had been there himself and was reporting back from the land of realisation for samsaric beings at an earlier stage on the Path. And yet he managed, consistently, but without any diminution of the text’s austere wisdom, to open it up to our understanding.

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