Meet The Tibetan Monks
A lotus emerges from the mud.
I was fourteen years old when I first discovered Buddhist texts in a book store. The ideas presented made such clear sense to me and seemed like such a logical way to ease a suffering world.
I read many books on spirituality and philosophy from all different cultures but still had this strong sense that there was something I was missing.
In August of 1999 in Bloomington, Indiana, I took part in something that changed my whole world and opened the door for me to find what I was missing. The event was the Kalachakra for World Peace at the Tibetan Cultural Center.
H.H. The Dalai Lama of Tibet presided over this Buddhist Tantra Ceremony and my life has not been the same since. I found a focus and purpose in the Tibetan lineage of Buddhism and through a unique and fortunate set of circumstances over the years, I have been able to do a small part in helping the touring Tibetan Monks from several monasteries while they visit the south Florida area. There is such joy in this effort and I am grateful for these opportunities to spend time with the Tibetan monks.
Please spare some moments to travel through the many photos and memories of time spent with the monk tours and other Tibetan events in my following web pages. Through this doorway may more sentient beings come to discover the Dharma.
photo by Larry Sanborn
Kalachakra For World Peace - No photos were permitted during teachings but I managed to take these few after the event.Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Kalachakra For World Peace
August 1999 Tibetan Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana
I attended the 12 day Kalachakra event during a time of great upheaval in my life. I intended to sit alone in the back rows and just listen to H.H. The Dalai Lama give his teachings but by the first afternoon I felt compelled to volunteer for one of the many jobs that needed filling. I signed up for garbage duty and was told to meet the work coordinator in the teaching tent later that afternoon for my job assignment. To my great surprise they assigned me to help guests find their seats and then stand in the aisle as added security. I was happy to comply. By the next morning I was pulled aside and asked if I would be willing to be part of the stage crew that tended to the Dalai Lama's monks and helped with anything the Dalai Lama may need. Once the DSS agents checked my background I was absolutely delighted to take my place in such an honored position. I kept a journal of my Kalachakra experience and I am glad I did as there were so many unusual events that took place during my 12 days at TCC. Many of these events I still cannot explain with simple logic.
photo by Larry Sanborn
H. H. The Dalai Lama and Volunteer Group
H.H. Dalai Lama surrounded by a few of the volunteers at the 1999 Kalachakra in Bloomington, Indiana. (I am the lucky lady on the left holding his hand with his arm around my shoulder!)
The Drepung-Loseling Monks MYSTICAL ARTS OF TIBET World Tour 2000
Drepung Loseling monks at the Lyric Theatre in Stuart, Florida.
Having worked with senior, Namgyal, monks in August 1999 I was understandably nervous about protocols for a six day event in Stuart with the famous Drepung-Loseling monks. I called my friend, Mary, and asked her the best way to address each monk properly if I did not know individual names.
Her answer gave me my first clue as to the good nature of Tibetan monks. "Ask their name," she advised.
"They will tell you a name you will no doubt have difficulty pronouncing let alone remembering, so in a pinch I would just say, excuse me, monk in red robe, then you will have everyone's attention and you can talk to the monk you want."
The following are just a small taste of events that occurred during my time with the visiting monks.
photo by Risha
The Mystical Arts Of Tibet - Photos courtesy of Drepung-LoselingClick thumbnail to view full-size
Monk Planning - The Opening Ceremony.
Wishing to follow protocols as much as possible in my blundering way, I brought a kata (greeting scarf) on the day the monks arrived. The hellos went rather smoothly but we were running late, so back in the van they packed and off we drove to The Treasure Coast Mall. Things were moving along only slightly behind schedule when their spokesman, Tenzin, approached me saying they needed fresh fruit and flowers for the opening offering in 5 minutes. Off I dashed in my not so trusty Volvo to the nearest quickie stop across U.S.#1, and with amazing luck they carried flowers and fresh fruit. Back I flew in just under 7 minutes, with no casualties along the way.
Throughout the next six days I learned to think fast on my feet as the monks are on "monk time" and do not plan too far ahead.
A valuable lesson on living in the moment, and truly "being in the here and now".
photo by Risha
Drepung-Loseling Monks - photos by Risha, Alesia Peirson and Dr. Dao LeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Smell for the camera & Waste not, want not.- Geshe's big fish.
SMELL FOR THE CAMERA.
During dinner on the first night my tea cup never once got below two thirds full. The Monks, it seems, are very fond of filling up tea cups. About the time I was on my fourteenth cup of tea, the young monk across the table from me began playing around with my camera, jokingly pointing it around the room saying "sea-mell". I figured I was learning the Tibetan word for smile. Suddenly, another monk responded, "You dumb monk, it is smile, you saying smell", and he laughed and mockingly held his nose. Dinners were always a time to test their English skills and we had a lot of laughs with some of the results.
I even tried to learn a little of the Tibetan language, but clearly, the young monks were far more skilled than I at learning quickly.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT- GESHE'S BIG FISH
One evening at dinner, Geshe-la decided to have "Just a little fish" instead of the usual bowl of noodle soup. As the rest of us were finishing our meals, Geshe-la's fish was just arriving. It was the size of "Shamu" topped with a mountain of vegetables. The shocked look on Geshe-la's face was priceless. About that time, Tenzin chirps in with "Check please, we'll pick him up in the morning."
Not only did Geshe-la take the big fish back to his hotel room in a box that night, but he carried it with him most of the next day, and ate it for breakfast and lunch.
Naturally, we all teased him and who could resist asking him if he wanted fish for dinner again that night.
The good humor and kind hearts of these young monks are remarkable. I enjoyed every single minute I spent with them and felt a huge hole in my heart on the day they departed. I am ever grateful for this rare and wonderful opportunity.
For more information and a tour schedule visit: www.mysticalartsoftibet.org
Drepung-Loseling Monks In Washington D.C. - Smithsonian Folklife Festival - June 30 through July 4, 2000
I joined the Drepung-Loseling Monks Tour in Washington D.C. to enjoy the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2000 and witness a speech by H.H. The Dalai Lama on the National Mall. While in D.C. I had the very great honor of meeting The Dalai Lama's teacher, H.H. Ganden Tri Rinpoche and being invited to a special dinner given for the monks and Tibetan singing talent, Ani Choying Drolma. I also joined the March to Free Tibet through the streets of D.C. and around the World Bank and ending at the Chinese embassy.
Drepung-Loseling Monks In Washington D.C. - Photos by Risha, Dr.Dao Le and Vicky CaulfieldClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Drepung-Tehor Monks Tour 2000 - August 2000 and October 2000
Acharya Pasang Gelek, Geshe Tsepak Dorjee, Tulku Jampa Rinpoche, Geshe Pema Norbu, Lobsang Thenley, Mr.Lobsang Ngodup ( tour driver ) not available for photo: Geshe Sonam Thonndup
North Palm Beach, FL August 2000..photo by Risha
The first thing that comes to mind when I am asked about Tibetan monks is gentleness. Never have I encountered such an abundance of this quality in any single group of people. Yet, they are able to withstand great hardships. With a grueling schedule, the Drepung-Tehor Monks Tour will travel across America for six months before this tour ends.
The Geshe's (doctorate of divinity) all have air mattresses for those times when a bed is just not available.
They are in town to teach and to create a sand mandala, an intricate piece of spiritual art made with very fine colored sand sifted through special pointed tubes (chakpu's). It's beauty is always cause for amazement from onlookers, especially when it becomes known that no sooner is the mandala complete it will be ceremoniously destroyed.....a lesson on impermanence.
Their goal in this endeavor is to raise funds for their monastery through donations they collect while on tour, but also to raise awareness of their culture....
The Tibetan culture, which continues to be under threat of annihilation from communist Chinese occupation over 40 years ago.
Tibet is one of the most ancient and splendorous cultures on earth. Countless tales have emerged through the centuries of this Shangri-La nestled high in the most remote regions of the Himalayan mountains.
We may be the last generation to witness this culture in it's full glory, as those who hold the memories of their once free homeland pass on to the Buddha fields.
DONATIONS MAY BE SENT TO:
Lama Camp 2
P.O. Tibetan Colony 581411
Photo by Risha
Drepung-Tehor Monks Tour - Photos by Risha and Dr.Dao LeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Incident In The Lake
One of the most humorous moments with the Drepung-Tehor Monks Tour was when Tulku Jampa Rinpoche, Acharya Pasang Gelek, Mrs. Anh Tuyet Le and I went out in a little peddle boat in the lake behind the shrine. Mrs. Le and I were at the helm of the boat and unable to effectively steer or peddle once we left shore due to the fact that we were lighter than our passengers and their collective weight in the rear of the boat caused the rudder and paddle mechanism to rise out of the water. This also caused the rear of the boat to take on water, resulting in our two monk passengers getting a little wet and nervously voicing encouragement for our return to shore. Mrs. Le and I were laughing so hard at our futile attempts that we couldn't coordinate our efforts. Poor Passang and Rinpoche were nearly climbing over the seats trying to keep from sinking with the rear of the little vessel. This only caused us to laugh even more. After several strenuous efforts we finally made it back to the shore. I don't think Rinpoche started laughing until he was safely back on dry land.
I sure wish I could have gotten a photo!
October 2000..photo by Risha
TASHI LHUNPO 2002 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR - December 1 & 2, 2002
Seven monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery came for their first tour of south Florida to do a "Cham" performance.
(pictured left to right) Venerable Dorjee, Venerable Dawa, Nguchul Rinpoche, Ali Rinpoche, Kachen Lobzang, Venerable Sogyal, Venerable Palden, (not in photo: Translator, Lobsang and driver, Raymond)
Tashi Lhunpo Tour - photos by RishaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Saying good-bye (kah-leh-phe) to the Tashi Lhunpo monks.
Too quickly our time had passed with the kind and gentle monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.
We are grateful to have shared some time with them.
(also pictured with the monks is (left) Raymond the driver, (center) Lobsang the translator and (right) Risha & Alejandro
The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is the seat of the Panchen Lama who is presently being held as the youngest political prisoner by communist China.
The monastery is in much need of our support for such basic needs as school construction projects, food, a prayer hall and access road.
Donations may be sent to:
TASHI LHUNPO MONASTERY
Bank account # C&1/6, Code # 4545
State Bank of Mysore, L.S.T.S. Branch Bylakuppe
For more information and tour schedule visit: www.tashilhunpo.org
Drepung Gomang MonksTour - January 5,6,7,8, 2004
I was honored to host the Drepung-Gomang monks in our home as they awaited their performance at Piper High School in Sunrise, Florida. I drove them in their van to have a day of fun and recreation at Ocean Ridge Hammock, Boynton Beach and later we returned to the house to have dinner, watch movies and relax.
For more information and tour schedule visit:
Drepung-Gomang Monks Tour 2004 - Photos by Risha with two final interior group shots by Piper studentClick thumbnail to view full-size
Drepung-Loseling Mystical Arts Of Tibet Tour - March 2006 in Stuart, Florida
I was asked by John, the executive director of the Lyric Theatre, if I would host another tour of the Drepung-Loseling Monks. This time they would be creating a sand mandala at The Blake Library as well as performing at The Lyric Theatre. The monks and I were given rooms at a nearby motel and I spent six wonderful days enjoying their company as I took them to breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Best of all, my children were able to join us on many days and had a lot of fun with the monks.
Drepung-Loseling Tour 2006 - Photos by Risha and group shot with kids by Drepung-Loseling monkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Walk For A Free Tibet 2004
The I.T.I.M. "Free Tibet" walk from Delray Beach to Miami Beach. September 20 through 22, 2004
Coinciding with H.H. The Dalai Lama's visit to south Florida, The International Tibet Independence Movement hosted " A March for Tibet's Independence".
Led by the Dalai Lama's nephew Jigme Norbu, Ani Kelsang Palmo, Yeshi Gyatlsen, Tenzin Dranyl and Doug Herman as driver/coordinator.
The group walked 55+ miles in the wet, windy weather left by hurricanes Ivan and Frances to foster an awareness of the human rights abuses and atrocities occurring in Tibet.
Sadly on February 2011 during another walk about 25 miles south of St. Augustine, Fl on State Highway A1A the Dalai Lama's nephew, Jigme Norbu, was killed when he was struck by a car. We have lost a true champion for A Free Tibet.
(Jigme holds the yellow sign on the right side of the photo)
photo by Risha
My Local Dharma Centers and Precious Teachers
I am lucky to have two nearby Dharma Centers with some outstanding Tibetan monk teachers.
Padmasambhava Palm Beach Dharma Center in Lake Worth (Nyingma tradition) - www.pbdc.net
Tubten Kunga Center in Deerfield Beach (Gelugpa tradition) - www.tubtenkunga.org
Lama Chimed Namgyal and his son and our precious teacher, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche.
I wish to thank all the good people who helped make these events possible, your hard work and loving kindness will always be remembered.
After working with a number of tours, the Tibetan monks have become like family to me and I continue to correspond with many of them. If you or anyone you know would like to host the monks, please contact me at :
THANK YOU FOR VISITING MY WEB SITE. MAY YOU HAVE GOOD HEALTH AND HAPPINESS ALWAYS.
With Joyful Effort and Love in Dharma,
Risha Linda Mateos
( Pema Kunsal )
Information about Tibet
A wonderful movie that will give you an idea of Tibet before Chinese invasion. Based on the book and true life story of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer. A must see!
Amazing depiction of the life of the Dalai Lama. Beautiful and thought provoking. A must see!
A view of the current situation in Tibet. For anyone interested in the struggle for human rights that still continues today this is an eye opener.
Good source for getting to know about the Dalai Lama of Tibet
The Author of "Seven Years in Tibet" returns to Tibet after the Chinese invasion.
Tibetan Buddhism - A List Of Good Books on Tibetan Buddhism
More Information on Tibetan Buddhism - Kalachakra
For those of you who might want to learn more about the Kalachakra.