Almost two years ago I found myself unexpectedly in a hospital bed awaiting a common but serious medical procedure to unblock an artery. I had just returned from a trip to visit my daughter in the US, and could count a few mostly work-related flights in the five months prior to that, including a trip to a very remote part of northern India where for a month my days had begun with a mile-long walk up a very steep path for breakfast at 6 am. Over time I’d found myself getting more and more breathless, and put it down to lack of fitness but, back in Ireland, I decided to consult my GP who immediately referred me to the emergency chest pain unit. Within two hours I was sitting in front of a young hospital registrar, still expecting to be told to get out and exercise more. However what he said took what was left of my breath away: I had an eighty-percent blockage that was preventing oxygen (lifeblood) from flowing into my heart. Fortunately, he said, my heart was not damaged and could be fixed.
I meditate regularly, read and teach on matters of the heart, and have spent many years sitting with people as they explore mind-heart matters, struggling with their stuck places: creating the space for them to paint away the barriers to feelings with watery paint on paper, to help create a movement, a shift, a flow that would allow emotion to be felt. In the meantime, my own heart had been quietly shutting down. Continue reading →
Taming the Tiger by Akong Tulku Rinpoche
By taking these teachings to heart, we may re-educate ourselves to develop more compassion and understanding. Thus the value and usefulness of our lives will increase. (pp.84-5)
The first thing you see when you pick up a copy of Taming the Tiger is the cover. On the cover – as you might expect – is a tiger. And this is a very special tiger: not only is he a beautiful line drawing by Tai Situpa Rinpoche, he is also a very contented tiger, sitting calmly and with gentle dignity under a tree. He even seems to smile a bit in that way cats have. Continue reading →
‘Only the impossible is worth doing’.
Choje Akong Rinpoche was indeed, as described by Colum Kenny in the Irish Independent newspaper this week, a remarkable man: tulku, father, husband, lama, teacher, labourer, refugee, politician, healer, soothsayer, pure visionary, founder of Samye Ling and the Rokpa and Tara Trusts. A trusted guide to thousands of people in Europe and Asia, he had time for everyone and was utterly fearless. Everything Akong Rinpoche did appeared to have been accomplished effortlessly, and yet what he alone achieved through sheer doggedness in his lifetime was unimaginable in ordinary human terms. Apart from the dozens of schools, medical colleges, monasteries and nunneries he has built in Tibet, one little known project was to oversee the reconstruction of the mani wall, originally built with the stones that Dza Patrul Rinpoche had carved, that stretches for a mile across Dzachuka in eastern Tibet. All of that work has happened ‘under the radar’ mainly for political reasons, but also because he worked with a quiet determination that came of knowing what he had to do and just getting on with it. No fanfare, no accolade, just a relentless drive to benefit others, helping where help was needed, no matter what the personal risk.
This year in Samye Ling, the last stage of the monastery and shedra building has been completed, Continue reading →