Hello everyone, I hope this letter finds you well. KMC CO students have seen a bit more of each other in person of late, which is so nice! Look out for your invite from Kate, our Admin Director, to another party in Cheeseman Park on June 17th.
On June 4th—so-called Turning the Wheel of Dharma Day—Venerable Geshe-la is about to be 90! There are celebrations and long-life retreats planned in hundreds of Centers all over the world, including here at KMC Colorado (Fri eve June 4th to Sat June 5th); and you are warmly invited to join in to help pray for his long life and good health. There are limited spaces for in-person attendance, and the whole event will be available online. Check out the details here!
This will include a short talk about Geshe-la based on observing him for the past 40 years And I thought I’d say a little bit now about that as well …
Buddha Shakyamuni was the first Buddhist teacher in our particular world to show us a doorway into ultimate truth, the illusory nature of all phenomena — knowledge of which frees our mind. He also explained our limitless potential and how we can grow our huge heart of compassion for all living beings. This is a person we can trust.
In the same way, a modern-day spiritual master is continuing to turn the Wheel of Dharma with his practical presentation of Kadampa Buddhism. Venerable Geshe-la is a reliable wealth of wisdom for how to solve our daily problems and find lasting peace and joy.
Geshe-la is exceedingly quiet and humble, he doesn’t really put himself forward, much less make himself the center of attention; but his wisdom is everywhere. He is in the 23 books covering all Buddha’s teachings of Sutra and Tantra. He is responsible for 1400+ Buddhist centers around the world, including KMC Colorado, and all their teachers who are his disciples. The five World Peace Temples, portals into the Pure Land, that are being plonked all over the world — Heruka’s mandala — all come from him. All of this comes from his heart of compassion and wisdom, his enlightenment. A truly inspiring visionary, he is showing his students what it means to think big—and how to correctly imagine a previously unbelievable reality of lasting happiness.
Geshe-la was already well into his forties by the time he first arrived in England from Tibet via India to bring us – total novices -- the entire modern Buddhism. There are now hundreds of thousands of Kadampa students all over the world and he is still going strong. That might be worth remembering next time you feel you’re too old and/or that you’ve left it too late to get anything meaningful done in your life, lol.
All schools of Buddhism agree that relying upon a Spiritual Guide is very important. To quote Gen Rabten at last year’s International Kadampa Summer Festival:
We are here because we want new ideas. We know that if we always think what we’ve always thought, we will always feel what we’ve always felt. We want different outcomes for ourself, for our family, for our communities. We look at the tarnished history of our world, and the suffering and the injustices, and we want something different. That is going to require different ideas, new ideas, new ways of thinking.
Every day seems to bring difficulties and pains individually and collectively — do you know anyone who is as happy as they’d like to be? Why not? It’s not through lack of trying. Maybe it is because we haven’t yet travelled the path to real happiness and freedom. And one reason we have not yet travelled that path is because we have not yet followed a trustworthy guide.
Without a Spiritual Guide to lead us, we have no idea where we are going, existentially speaking. No Google map can point us the way to mental freedom. No YouTube video can show us how to fix the endless pains of our samsara. No pilgrimage to Mecca or even Bodh Gaya can land us in the invisible destination of universal compassion and omniscient wisdom.
Our Spiritual Guide can be anyone. It doesn’t matter who they are as long as they are able to guide us along the spiritual path because they’ve been there themselves, always showing us an inspiring example of what is possible. That is our Spiritual Guide, that person. We have complete choice over that – everyone in Buddhism always chooses their own Spiritual Guide, that’s how it works.
Many people consider Geshe-la to be their Spiritual Guide because he has provided them with teachings, teachers, books, empowerments, centers, temples, and so on. Based on that faith they feel some connection with him in their hearts, and through that a connection with something very profound and peaceful.
What do you reckon, if a Buddha was to tap you on the shoulder right now, or appear in front of you and say “Hello!”, would you see him or her?
As with any deep relationship, we need to allow ourselves time to get to know our Spiritual Guide on different levels. We don’t need blind faith. As it says in Joyful Path of Good Fortune:
“We need to become acquainted with someone who has all the qualifications of a Spiritual Guide, and gradually gain confidence through their teaching and example so that we can rely completely on their guidance.”
Geshe-la has brought us centuries of wisdom, he has brought us unconditional love, he has brought us eternal hope. He is the real deal. I’ve never seen or experienced anything that indicates he is anything other than the real deal. And any of his numerous disciples would tell you the same thing. The more you get to know him and his teachings, the more you realize that this person is exceptional in so many ways. And utterly dedicated to us. He said not long ago “I am always with you.” And he really is.
While I am here, can I quickly remind you about the International Spring Festival happening this very weekend! Gen-la Khyenrab will grant the empowerment of Buddha Shakyamuni and give a commentary to the Lord of all Lineages prayer, which covers all the stages of the path to enlightenment! If these teachings are anywhere near as good as his teachings last year (which are still resonating with me a year later), I really hope a lot of Coloradans are able to join in. The Festival sessions will remain up for a while to make it even easier for people.
Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. You can always reach me on [email protected]