.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The Diamond Mountain Blog

This is an unofficial blog of news and info from Diamond Mountain University and Retreat Center which was founded by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Dalai Lamas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

     I just re-watched Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" video.  It took a long time to download so I kept rewinding the thing back to the beginning to watch what I could.  There is some sort of deeper message in that dance number.  I don't know what it is.  Something profound is being communicated.  I think that in the future there will be Tibetan style Thangka paintings depicting Angels and Dakini's as Beyonce and her dancer retinue.  It will be more relevant to American Buddhists.  The emotional response to these paintings will be strong.  
    Five more people got their Certificate of Occupancy the other day.  Five more to go.  When I heard this news a great weight lifted.  I knew that I would not be building anymore very soon.  What for me has been a two year project is a few weeks from completion.  Seeing the relief on the faces of my friends is wonderful.  I have also had the pleasure of being wrong about several cabins that I didn't think would make it.  I am, in part, a curmudgeonly old man who thought that some cabins would not make it.  I like it when the old man is wrong.  
    There are still some very stressed out people.  And when the stress is high we act just like everybody else.  There are freak outs, arguments, and rude behavior for sure.  There's a small crew still struggling to finish Geshe Michael's little straw bale.  If you're a builder with skills and can get here, say, tomorrow, do it.  
   My friends that are going into retreat are starting to say goodbye.  They are giving away their stuff.  I think it is getting very intense for them.  Now that their cabins are done, the three years is sitting large right next to them.  My man Earl has his parents here and they are helping him move things into his cabin.  His mom brought a bunch of home made preserved fruits in jars.  I think that a jar of my mothers preserves would sit on my alter for the whole retreat if I wasn't going to see her for three years.  It would be beyond precious.  A beacon from the person who loves you the most in this world.  It would remind me of what I want to become in retreat; a person who loves all people like a mother loves her child.  Why else would you do that to your Mom?  Leave her for three years for a silent retreat.  The strength of each retreater's intention is inspiring to me.  As is their belief in the practice.  It is a testament to the perfect transmission of the teachings of The Buddha.  A testament also to the Tibetans who kept the tradition alive and then gave it to the West.  My teacher's teacher almost did not make it out of Tibet.  It is the same story for many of the great Buddhist Lama's from Tibet.  DMU would not be here if one monk didn't make it out of Tibet.  He could have slipped on an icy rock in the Himalaya's while he was fleeing.  A bullet could have found him.  He could have dropped his blanket and froze to death over night.  It's a miracle he made it and then continued to live as a monk and teach Americans.  We could build three retreat valleys and it would still not equal the effort that Khen Rinpoche  made to bring the dharma to U.S.  Thank you, Rinpoche.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

There were ten people who took Bohdisattva vows tonight in the main temple. It was just plain beautiful. These people loved their teachers a lot, you could feel it. I've never seen people so thankful for one another. After the ceremony everyone went to the kitchen yurt for diner before the fire puja started. It was absolutely packed. Big crews came up today for Will Duncan and Anne. Also for Ven. Gyelse. So many young people. It was awsome. I love that about Diamond Mountain. There are a lot of people involved that are in their twenties and thirties. The energy is very high right now. People are laughing like maniacs. Some are crying as they realize how long their friends are going to be gone.
As we sat in the temple we were reminded of how many people have taken beautiful vows in that space. It's true. I have and I have witnessed so many holy events in that space. It's a special place for me. Then I thought about it more. I thought about all the "new" people that have come here and now feel connected to the place. Working on the land can really connect you to it. It struck me that there are no boundaries to Diamond Mountain. If you think of it right, you can be two thousand miles away and still be at Diamond Mountain. If this place is holy, then every place is holy. It's all touching. Where does a holy place end? The walls of the temple? The end of the driveway? The top of the closest mountain? It ends in New York City and Los Angeles. It ends at the table in your parents house. If you want to take it with you, you can. The ground under your feet is under the retreat home of your teacher. It's the same ground. You just need to put your mind on it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Short update on the Retreat Valley. Big Papa Brady's house is nearing completion. I'm doing interior paint touch up. Tomorrow, the kitchen floor and cabinets. Coco's impossible cabin is nearly done. I say impossible because she started so late and had no full time builder. Just my man, Johneo. Who never gave up on it. Who is breaking his body to build it. Who is skipping days off to work on it. Who is keeping his commitment to his employer and finishing those cabins as well. He has help now from a real builder, full time. The guy showed up at the 11th hour and took it over.

If you are going to clean something, clean it. I'm thirty four years old and I can say that, after all these years, I am good at cleaning things. I am not someone who obsessively cleans or even cleans with regularity. When I do clean I do it well. People who are close to me notice. I am placed in the category of people who keep things neat. I dust my car, yo. When I wash dishes I do not leave food on the dish. There is steel wool under the sink for difficult jobs. I believe that I am good at cleaning several reasons. Reason one: I am a professional house painter who was trained in the homes of the ultra rich. Not just wealthy homes but ultra rich. I was forced to take into consideration very small details of each room. To make a mistake with paint in a ten million dollar home is expensive. To summarize, I notice small messes. Reason two: I lived in a commune with shared public kitchens. An hour after you would clean a space it would be a mess again. One is utterly helpless in trying to keep a house with fifteen room- mates clean. I have seen the depths of human squalor in the midst of hippies. I will never return. Reason three: I believe that one can utilize the act of cleaning to clean out the mind. Once the mind is clean, the outer world shifts. I will not get into the logic behind this statement nor the progenitor of the faith that sustains my belief in it. If you are not already a person who prays for peace in the world whilst scrubbing hardened egg yolk off of a spatula, no amount of explanation here will make sense.

What do I think my spiritual path is in this life? One question comes to mind, “What is the story you tell yourself about your world?” I am, as of late, trying to change the story I tell myself about my reality. I do this by planting mental seeds in my mind. Seeds like the belief that washing dishes while praying for peace will create the peace. The next question is "How is this possible?" It's too big of a topic to get into here. Most of us have heard the quote "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Who said that? Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr.? What did they mean? How far do we take that worldview? What can we effect with that worldview? Just our world? Everyone's world? Did they know what they were talking about?