Meena with her son
Many of our readers will know Minna from her work on Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s teachings on the The Way of the Bodhisattva (Bodhicharyavatara) by Shantideva, the eighth century Buddhist monk and scholar.
We are sitting on the bus taking us from the Bodhicharya Summer Camp in Casa da Torre to Braga in northern Portugal. All around us is chatter and laughter and the sound of children having a wonderful time.
Minna says that in her home town in Helsinki, Finland, there is a Bodhicharya Study Group which has been running for about 6-years. There is also a Palpung Centre to which Rinpoche attends when he is invited. Besides these, there is a Samye Dzong and a Nyingma Centre. In the Study Group, there are only five-people, but maybe this is because there are also so many other Buddhist activities in the city, she tells me.
When the conversation turns to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Minna says, There was a time in my life when everything was quite sorted out and everything was going nicely and I had moved from another town to Helsinki. My son was about seven-years old and he went to his first class in school and we had a nice place to live and I had nice work. Everything was there.
What was it that brought a change to her life? Continue reading
Ani Wangmo at the Summer Camp at Casa da Torre in Portugal
Ani Wangmo’s story is similar to Tanya’s (see Conversation with Tatjana Popovic), except that Tanya had decided that after the three-year retreat she preferred not to return to monastic life, for the time-being at least. Ani Wangmo, on the other hand, took the robes and for the past 8-years she has been a nun. Every story about becoming a monk or a nun is different, and Ani Wangmo’s is no less engaging for being a personal account of the events in her life that brought her to a resolution to dedicate her life to the dharma.
Ani recalls her early experiences of becoming aware of eastern culture: I was going to university for some time and then, after I went to India for the first time, I never went back to university. When I heard that the Tibetans were actually in India, I decided I wanted to learn about Tibetan Buddhism. I knew they were in Tibet, but Tibet was a difficult place to reach from Slovenia. I didn’t know anyone who had been to Tibet but I knew quite a few people who had been to India as tourists…I decided to go to India to see for myself.
We are sitting in the quiet quadrangle of Casa da Torre. There is the sound of birds in the distance. In the centre of the square is a white statue of Saint Mary, mother of Jesus. The Casa da Torre is situated four miles north of Braga in Portugal and is a Jesuit centre for Spirituality and Culture. We are attending Ringu Tulku’s summer camp and people from many different countries have arrived to listen to the teachings on Mahamudra – The Moonlight by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal.
On the bench beside me is Tanya: born in Croatia, having been brought up in Bosnia before moving to Serbia, she speaks to me in perfect English and in a pleasing Eastern European accent, I like to say I’m from Yugoslavia.
I met Ringu Tulku Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado where I lived for about eight-years or so. I met him in 1998. Tanya was there with her husband who wanted to study at Naropa University. Not being interested in Buddhism at that time, although she was interested in studying dharma while he studied, Tanya worked as a nurse in a hospital. However, she did meet some of the senior students of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche while she was in Boulder, but because of her lack of English at that time, her understanding of Buddhism was limited.