Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Two Stories from Geshe Kalsang

These stuck with me, although he really only mentioned them in passing:

1. In the course of teaching Point 1 of the Seven Point Mind Training, which says, "First, train in the preliminaries," he told us this story. One of the preliminaries is basically to learn the proper sitting position for meditation. The vajra posture, or full lotus...This is the posture you see the Buddha sitting in. But, Geshe Kalsang said, we should notice that all the representations of the future Buddha, Maitreya, show him sitting in a chair with both feet on the ground. (I think this is called the Royal posture.) But anyway, he laughed and said, "Maybe he knows something about the West..."

This is significant, really. It may be that the next wave of Buddhist practitioners will be Westerners. The Chinese forced the Tibetans out of their isolation, and now the Tibetans are spreading the Dharma to a West starved for spiritual knowledge. Everybody has trouble with that meditation posture though...

2. While teaching part of Point 2, which says "Meditate on the great kindness of all" he recounted a story of his childhood. Geshe Kalsang is a refugee, as are all of the Tibetans in India and around the world. When he arrived in India with his family, they were in a camp. In this camp were bunk beds, he said. Not only double bunks, but some triple. And he said he remembers clearly that stamped on the side of the beds was the word CARE. To him, this was a symbol of immense generosity, that people from the other side of the world "cared" enough to send beds and other supplies, to come and work, just to help poor refugees from a snowbound land. Part of his teaching that everything we have comes through the generosity of others.

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