Sunday, September 27, 2009

I skipped out on Izzi's birthday party yesterday so I could see Genla teach in Chinatown and then come home to do my own studies for school. These kinds of decisions are really hard for me. Who wouldn't rather be hanging out with their good friends? But I have this idea that by studying well, I can help a lot of people, including all those same friends. So I have been curtailing my extracurricular activities and hitting the books as much as I can.

I won't lie - it's hard!

As my friend Jeremy said, "I don't actually like reading. It's just I like ideas, and they happen to be in books." He's a PhD student.

Actually, I do like reading. All of the Tibetan scriptures we get to read are amazing. And FWIW I love love loved reading Roger Haight's Dynamics of Theology over the summer.

Roger Haight is scholar-in-residence at my school. He used to be a professor there, but the Vatican banned him from teaching. How exciting! (not for him). You can read a bit about it at this Union alum's blog.

After the teaching, I overhead Genla speaking to one of the students.

"When I started studying, I did not think I could learn Sanskrit. At that time I did not even have the thought of English," he said. "I thought, 'If I can just learn enough Hindi to read the newspaper, that will be something.'" Now he is a scholar of the classical Tibetan language, fluent in his native Ladakhi dialect as well as cenrtal Tibetan, Hindi, Sanskrit, and highly proficient in English and Pali.

We tend to think of scholars of his caliber as sort of springing up out of the muck fully formed. But he is fond of quoting Sakya Pandita: "Drop by drop you fill an ocean."

Friday, September 25, 2009

We counted. Genla has received 100 mail solicitations this week.

He gives to an unthinkable - sometimes even apparently contradictory - variety of causes: [list]

Different organizations call on the phone. Yesterday is was the National Parks. They asked for $70. Genla said he would send ten, if they put a letter in the mail.

"So may letters," he said, pointing at the stack. "I think all are good. Who is not good?"

"I think if you give to Dharma, you make more people like you. Then more people will give."

He shook his head.

"Who's Dharma?" he said.

I saw the Burmese monks of the Saffron Revolution speak at Columbia last semester. They were totally inspiring. They're standing up for human rights in the face of unbelievable oppression. At the end of their talk they chanted in Pali, a prayer of loving-kindness for the whole world. What kind of beings can have such compassion for others--including their opponents--after being horribly beaten, abused, jailed and run out of their own country? Believe it or not, human beings.

Of course I have to include a Times link . . . above photo by photo Chang W. Lee/NY Times

support their cause any way can

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If you're like me, and sometimes take your extraordinary educational opportunities for granted, read this wonderful article from the Times magazine about the education of Afgan girls. The most inspiring back-to-school article ever.

Monday, September 07, 2009

more flowers, different altar