I resonated with Buddhism because of its emphasis on silent meditation. I was always attracted to silent meditation, remembering the quiet time after Communion and silent prayer in Christian traditions. The old saying, “Be quiet and you will know God."


Lama Thupten Rinpoche

Lama Thupten was always drawn to meditative practices, even before they were formally defined as such. He lived in many places throughout his life, but one of the most significant was Selma, Alabama. Thupten witnessed the brutality of racism firsthand, but he also found solace in nature and solitude. Even as a child, he spent a lot of time alone, observing the world around him. 


David G

But same time they said, well, Shambala is having a level 1/2 Trump came up with the very. Yeah actually in retrospect a really clever way to to get past the overemphasis of the religion part of it and really just give us the tools to become own meditation instructor.



I’m the Buddhist chaplain at Syracuse University. Which is an amazing thing for me, because I came here as a student when I was 18, and this is where I learned about Buddhism and got interested in Buddhism. And then to come back much later in my life after I retired from a job teaching in the city schools here to to return to the very place that I used to hang out all the time.



And I met Allen Ginsberg there, and I met the Grateful Dead. Allen Ginsberg and, you know, Gregory Corso and he Wolfman a Bob Dylan. I just hung out there and Allen Ginsberg came up to me one day and he said, Do you look like you could try some meditation like Merton? And I said, Oh, okay. And so he brought me to a little room and there were other people there. And he said, You know, you just sit and breathe.



My wife had a little bookshelf there for books for sale, pulled out a copy of Awakening the Buddha Within My Love of Syria and said, You need to read this. Oh, okay. So I took it home and I did. I read it. In fact, I was I still had a studio up in New Mexico, had some property up there, and I'd built a studio up there. And so shortly after that, I went back up to spend some time in the studio up there, and I took the book with me where I ended up the whole time reading that book and learning to meditate. And there was a at the end of the book, there was a thing about who he was, whose emissary was, and and there was a name, you know, the Dzogchen Foundation.

Dottie on death

As Dottie approaches her 80th birthday in two years, she reflects on the topic of death, a subject often discussed in Buddhism. Despite potential discomfort, she appreciates the openness of Buddhism in addressing the impermanence of life. Dottie shares her initial interest in the concept of “phowa” within Buddhism, attending a teaching on phowa training. While it was a distinct experience, she realized it wasn’t the path she wanted to pursue, finding solace in the practices she’s engaged in, which she believes are preparing her for the inevitable event of her own death.

Dottie speaks about her calm acceptance of death and the significance of slowing down and being present. The teachings on impermanence resonate with her, emphasizing the importance of letting go of attachments. She grapples with the challenge of attachment, acknowledging that even with a small amount of possessions, the mental clutter poses its own dilemma. Dottie is slowly working through this process, recognizing the difficulty in letting go of labeled, yet insubstantial items laden with memories.

She touches on the concept of rebirth, a new idea for her, contrasting it with the eternal afterlife she was taught in her earlier religious upbringing. Dottie has taken the bodhichitta vow, expressing a desire to be reborn to benefit sentient beings rather than seeking eternal life in a specific realm. Despite uncertainties about the nature of rebirth, she feels compelled to prepare for an auspicious rebirth and reflects on the stories and concepts surrounding this aspect of Buddhist philosophy.

Kalpana on late discovery

Kalpana reflects on her spiritual journey with a sense of gentle acceptance and being present in the moment. She sees the struggles and suffering throughout her life as necessary steps that prepared the path for her current state of understanding. The soil of her being has become porous through experiences, allowing her to absorb teachings more deeply.

Having matured over time, Kalpana appreciates that the process couldn’t have been rushed. She values the freedom to approach each moment without forcing outcomes or setting rigid goals. Whether engaged in studies or daily activities like gardening, she views each moment as an opportunity for Zen practice.

Kalpana emphasizes the importance of being absorbed in the present, acknowledging that richness in practice comes from the degree of absorption. She doesn’t constrain herself with specific daily routines but rather allows flexibility, even when caring for her grandchild. The essence lies in being fully present and absorbed in whatever activity is at hand.

Facing the potential challenges of aging, Kalpana remains unafraid, recognizing it as part of the journey. She values her current state, acknowledging the importance of cultivating life in the present moment, drawing inspiration from the simple wisdom of her dog: wherever you are, that’s the place to cultivate.

Gareth on fruit of practice 

Gareth reflects on the profound personal transformation he experienced through his Buddhist practice. He openly acknowledges his past selfishness, lack of awareness in relationships, and struggles with alcoholism. The practice helped him develop self-awareness, interconnectedness, and the ability to step outside himself for self-reflection.

The practice led Gareth to quit drinking, a significant shift that he attributes to a growing level of self-awareness and interconnectedness. He describes a noticeable change in the pace of his life, embracing openness, acceptance, and humility. Gareth highlights a shift in his relationship with his wife, Beth, attributing the success of their partnership to intentional efforts, mindfulness, and the teachings of Buddhism. The practice has allowed them to navigate disagreements without arguments and foster a deeper understanding of each other’s triggers.

Gareth simplifies the core teachings of Buddhism as addressing suffering and the end of suffering. He emphasizes the Mahayana concept of superior skillful means, explaining that despite the intellectual complexity found in various Buddhist texts, the teachings are profoundly simple—encouraging individuals to be present, truly awake, and attentive to the present moment. Gareth concludes by stressing the transformative potential of these simple teachings, highlighting the virtuous cycle of calming, opening, and fostering mutual compassion through persistent effort.

Lama Thupten on wisdom

In contemplating the intricacies of motivation, Thupten explores the dynamics of intention and knowledge. Drawing parallels between motivation and the development of a community, he underscores the importance of skillful means and methods in achieving collective goals.

Delving into the realms of knowledge and wisdom, he highlights the nuanced difference between the two, emphasizing the necessity of wisdom in understanding the consequences of knowledge. Thupten eloquently equates enlightenment with being in the light, a concept rooted in various spiritual traditions.

Discussing the need for societal change, he emphasizes the importance of addressing issues at their root, likening it to pulling out weeds from the yard. Thupten encourages a shift in focus toward consciousness, emphasizing the unity of the mind and heart for clear perceptions and wisdom.

Reflecting on the challenges of effecting change, he acknowledges the profitability of negativity in media and stresses the need for constructive dialogue, recognizing the instrumental role of individuals like the interviewer in fostering positive discussions. Thupten advocates for hope, loving kindness, and compassion, urging individuals to pause, be present, and consider the impact of their actions on others.

In a profound moment, he brings attention to the misplaced priorities in society, urging a culture of caring and sharing. Thupten expresses concern about the conditioning effect of modern technology and encourages individuals to be mindful of their media consumption.

In conclusion, he emphasizes the transformative power of personal presence and leaves the interviewer with a message of gratitude and the acknowledgment that their presence, along with others, is the true message.