More profound than meditation
On 16 October, the day before the lamas’ scheduled departure, Lama met with the Spanish organizers of the course at Fredi’s house. Now that they had sufficient funds they could begin to think about what kind of center they wanted to establish in Spain. Lama Yeshe had already allocated a name, Centro Nagarjuna. The meeting was conducted in English, which Paco did not speak. At the end of the meeting Lama asked each of those present what contribution they could make to the new center. “When it was my turn,” said Paco, “my hands seem to stretch out of their own accord. I said these were all I had to offer. Lama very sweetly placed them on his cheeks and his head and said, ‘Okay dear, very good, very good.’ The others laughed at this, but I entered some timeless state.”
Lama suggested they search for a site high in the mountains, far from the polluted air of the cities. He told François Camus to lead meditations and be the spiritual director. Maria Torres was to continue in her role as housekeeper. The Spanish students had funds and Lama Yeshe had given a name, but it took eighteen months, two false starts and half of the funds before Spain finally had its first FPMT center. To Lama Yeshe it was clear from the very beginning that hedonistic Ibiza was not suitable.
Maria Torres was twenty-five years old and heavily pregnant. After years at a convent school she didn’t want anything more to do with religion, especially chanting and prostrations. So she was surprised to find how touched she was by Lama Yeshe and never missed any of his talks. “I sensed that he was probably the most important man I would ever meet in my life, someone completely integrated and absolutely authentic. I thought that to work for this man was one way to ensure I would never make big mistakes in my life,” Maria later explained. “I was about to have a baby and asked Lama to name it. He did some mantras and puja over my stomach with water and some kind of grass and said, ‘His name is Yeshe Gyatso.’ Lama gave me a picture of Tara, one pill to take and a visualization of green light to do during labor. Lama also told me to find a man who would be a good father to the child. Yeshe was born two days after Lama Yeshe left Ibiza. Paco and I then began a relationship and about six months later I took Paco’s name.”
Xavi Alongina wanted to publish Dharma books in Spanish. “Lama told me to go very slowly, not to hurry at all,” said Xavi. “I got seriously involved in studying and teaching yoga, which brought in enough to support me, my wife and our son, while I dedicated myself to building Ediciones Dharma in Alicante.” By 2011 this company, still under Xavi’s direction, had become the world’s largest publisher of Dharma books in Spanish, having sold over 220,000 books in all and 90,000 copies of their magazine, Cuadernos de Budismo, since 1991.
One day Peter Kedge suddenly realized that Zong Rinpoche did not hold the appropriate papers to re-enter India. While the rest of the party went to Majorca for a little rest, Jacie Keeley went to Madrid to sort out his papers. “That was the turning point in my life,” Jacie recalled. “I had joined the tour at my own expense and was fast running out of money. I had also become conscious of the fact that my flower-child look was no longer appropriate. In Madrid, I swapped my long hippie skirts for a nice new dress, replaced my duffel bag with a proper suitcase and soon afterwards cut my waist-length hair. When I finished sorting out Zong Rinpoche’s papers I rejoined the others on Majorca.
“One day I was sitting on my bed bawling my eyes out because I only had $300 left. I didn’t know what to do, so I was making prayers to the only image I had, a line drawing of Tara I had cut out of a brochure. Peter Kedge walked in and said Lama wanted to sponsor me to go to Kopan. So that was that.”
From Spain, Yeshe Khadro escorted Zong Rinpoche to Switzerland by train. Rinpoche didn’t speak any English and she had never been to Switzerland before. “Some Tibetans met us at this tiny village and we stayed there the night,” said Yeshe Khadro. “Zong Rinpoche opened his suitcase and out tumbled all these electric wind-up toys that had been given to Lama Yeshe. He was taking them back to the monastery. There were police cars and dogs that jumped and all sorts of things. Rinpoche and the Tibetans had a great time playing with them.” Zong Rinpoche told Peter Kedge the toys were “for my next life.”
The 1978 tour was finally over and Lama Yeshe could go home. But where exactly did he belong, this Tibetan refugee who cheered the loneliest hearts wherever he went? In the United States he was an American, in Italy he became an Italian. Without exception he treated all who came to him for advice as if they were family. Maybe home was where his gurus were, in India.
From Lama Yeshe’s talks in Ibiza, Spain, in 1978:
The lam-rim actually teaches us that everything we see…on the television, the wind blowing, the movement of the ocean…all these are a teaching on karma. The lam-rim teaches reality. Time is changing. Summer changes to autumn, autumn changes to winter, and winter changes to spring. All these changes, all this movement shows the impermanent nature of reality. We should learn from these teachings that the world brings us constant change. In the same way that these things change, so do I. We haven’t yet understood this. We should understand that every movement that we see, every movement that exists in the entire world is showing you reality. When we watch something on television, we see it as a fantasy. Instead of seeing it as presenting the evolution of cause and effect, we are shaking with fantasy and become even more deluded. Are we communicating? But if we have Dharma wisdom, when we watch movies or television, we see that these are showing us cause and effect in the evolution of samsara. Unfortunately, we aren’t generally able to see actual reality. We only see things in a polluted way, and so we become more deluded.
Every movement of karma has a reason. Every movement of karma is connected, is an evolutionary link. So if you understand that, then you understand karma! Your mind transforms, your body transforms, your nervous system transforms; they are all changing, changing, changing. You can see karma. And when you can see karma, then you are aware of your actions—what you are supposed to do, what you shouldn’t do. You have some control of your own mind. You become more discriminating with regard to your own behavior. Then it becomes the practice of Dharma. If you are unconscious about your own actions, if you don’t know what you are doing, then there is no way you can see what action brings what result. Not being able to see clean clear which results come from which attitude or action is actually a cause of your continuing ignorance. This is not Dharma practice.
Being mindfully aware of all your own actions throughout all the hours of the day, from the time you get up in the morning until you go to sleep—that is even more profound than doing some kind of meditation in the morning. The reason I’m saying this is that Western people are so interested in meditation. They love meditation, love to talk about meditation, but they don’t love it when Lama explains karma. Karma is strong, strong. “Karma is… well…that’s too heavy for us !” But our body, speech and mind is heavy already. It’s not your lama who makes them heavy. They are already heavy. This is why understanding karma is very important. Meditation is okay. But even if you are unable to meditate it’s all right. My meditation is that as much as possible I try to be aware of my own actions. I dedicate my day as much as possible to other people. Whatever I am involved in I try to have loving kindness and be sympathetic to others and I try not to take advantage of others as much as possible. This is my meditation. I observe my own body and speech; this is my meditation. Actually that is more precise and realistic than, “Oh, I’m meditating on tantra…”
Actually this is a very simple thing. Today even though we are here, our mind is not actually living here. Already we are thinking, “After the course I’ll…bla, bla, da da da…” Our body is here but our mind is already in the future, after the course, not living in the present, not living in the moment. We never pay full attention to each other in this present moment. For example, while I’m talking to you people, my mind is thinking of Tibet. I’m not with you. This is wrong! Each day, when you get up in the morning, remember, “Today I am alive. How fortunate that I am alive today. I can do much better than dogs or chickens because I have the dignity of human power. I have better understanding. So as much as possible today I’ll be aware and keep my body, speech and mind clean clear. I will communicate a good vibration to sentient beings, and dedicate my life to reach the highest destination—enlightenment.” By generating this dedicated attitude in the morning, by the power of your mind you bring great space to your day. In this way the power of your mind keeps you from becoming angry. By living in an awareness of the present moment, it brings a kind of total relaxation, rather than fooling yourself.