Video Transcript


So my name is on Ani Palmo Lodro. I’m an ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun. I live here at the Vulture Vedere Retreat Center and monastery, which is from the college you lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and the head of that lineage is stronger and special. And he established this as the North America. Well, really the UT the seat for the USA, for himself. We have two resident lamas here, Champa Jigme Campo Lovesong, and I’m the manager of the center, so we have a retreat center with 20 guest rooms. We invite people to come and we are actually nondenominational. So if people come, they don’t have to be Tibetan Buddhist, they don’t have to be strong practitioners. Even they could even just come and feel, I don’t know anything about Tibetan Buddhism. I don’t know anything about Buddhism in general. I’m just here because I’m curious and I want to explore it. And we also have people that, you know, been on the path 40, 50 years.

 They’ve done very serious three year retreats, a lot of solitude, retreats and they come and do you know, seclusion retreats or retreats where they’re just doing a specific practice for themselves? And they may stay anywhere from a month to years, so it can is a wide gamut. We provide an opportunity for a very diverse number of guests to come and experience what there is here. And there’s a lot that’s offered in a monastic environment that is probably not offered in our busy worlds in the same way. So we do try to encourage people to really receive what’s here to be received. My journey kind of didn’t start till I was a little bit. I’ve been on the path about 25 to 30 years from somewhere in there because really kind of when you enter the path, you’re into the path. As a lay person, I did. Anyway, I would imagine playing this for everyone. And you know, you’re kind of serious, but you’re not really serious. You’re still I was still very kind of indulging in the world, even though I had a kind of a sense of, wow, you know, there must be something else. You know, I was in the world, I was in the corporate world. I had all the things that, you know, very like typical Western life, you know, all the things that you would expect Westerners to pursue. I was pursuing those same things career. And then at a certain point in around 30 years old, you know, I just was extremely unhappy and it seemed like I shouldn’t be because I had, you know, done all the schooling and then gotten these good jobs and then was, you know, making money, which was supposed to be a really important thing, you know, in acquiring the assets. And and I was looking at my life and it just dawned on me that, Wow, you know what? I have all these things and I am actually very empty inside. I don’t feel fulfilled. And I was I was kind of going through a period of like a depression. And I I I asked the question, What else is there? There must be something. What is this life for? You know, and kind of coupled with that my entire life, ever since I was as long as I could remember. I was very affected by the realization that I was going to die even as a young child like it was. My earliest memory is that realization that people don’t live forever, that you actually die. And it seemed to me that nobody really knew what happened after that. And to me, I, I was kind of became very obsessed with the question of the inquiry of, well, if all of this ends, you know, if if all of our senses end at some point because this body is going to end. What is all of this, what’s going on here? Why am I here? Where am I going? You know, all those big questions that people have.

Ani manages the
Vajra Vidya Retreat Center.

It just happened for me at a very, very early age and it stayed with me. And, you know, I made the choice to kind of acquire things and be in this kind of, you know, life that was very supportive is very supported by the Western culture. But in the back of my mind, I was always kind of looking at that as well as like, Wow, you know what, some day all of this is going to end. I’m not even happy with it all. So why do I? Why am I even pursuing this? And I decided to start practicing. I was very involved with a Hindu teacher for quite a long time. And she introduced me. That was really the start of my actual true spiritual path was I had a teacher that had more of an awakened mind, and she was able to help me see that really, the spiritual path is a path of giving and contribution, and I started doing what’s called in the Hindu tradition Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga, which is karma. Yoga is doing selfless service, and bhakti yoga is devotional path. I did that for a very long time with this teacher, and I was very, very serious about it. And I traveled around the world and I saw different things and met a lot of monastic people. I met people at all levels of their spiritual journey. Some, it was very obvious that they were very high, in my opinion. Very high beings, very, you know, open mind, very pure presence. And I was very impressed, inspired when I met people like that. And so I continued in this way doing, you know, working with this one Hindu teacher and then I worked with other teachers as well. I was at a certain point I was reaching out to other teachers. And then, after about ten years of practicing selfless service and back to yoga and, you know, inquiring and going to see different teachers, I had that realization of why two realizations one was I wasn’t my thought it was. It took a long time for me. I was a very slow learner. But after about ten years, I actually had the realization that my mind is thinking and I have all these thoughts. But that’s actually not who I am, and I was actually able to create in a very stable way space from the experience of who I was at that time and the thoughts and the emotions and the experiences of life. So that space that was created, that distance between me and the experience of the world and the thoughts about the experience of the world became a very serious inquiry because at that point that I saw, I’m not my thoughts. I’m not this body. I’m not even my emotions. It’s like a whole new world opened up. It was like, Well, if I’m not those things, but I’m here and I’m aware what is here and awareness, what is that? So a lot of my journey at that point started to become, you know, self inquiry, which really flows very well into Tibetan Buddhism. And I had started to read about Tibetan Buddhism, but not in a very, you know, certainly not in a way where I was just focused on that. It wasn’t one pointed concentration on Tibetan Buddhism. I was still kind of looking at other things and practicing other things and selfless service and karma yoga and karma yoga and as well as Dr. Yoga was still very prevalent. But is that still prevalent now? Actually, it’s just a different terminology in Tibetan Buddhism. So after that experience of, you know, it was a real turning point for me because along with that, it was also, well, if I’m not all these things and I don’t really know, you know, I know I’m I’m aware that I exist, but I don’t even know what that is. Am I as well? In the meantime, just be helping other people, and I kind of can figure all this out. So that kind of deepened my experience of wanting to care for and benefit other people. And then another clinic, ten years went by and I was I’d been on the path at this point for 20 years. I still had my Hindu teacher, which I was very close to, and she was still doing a lot of guidance and I was seeing other teachers as well. I just had just a profound transformation in me. I would say I can’t really explain it because it was so experiential and I have never really cognizant fully, I think. But it was almost like the person that I had been just was gone. You know, it just dissolved. It was like all the things I thought were important that I grew up with were just. Out there, and I felt like an enormous amount of love in my heart.

And although I had been on a spiritual path,
a monastic for so many years, I had actually
never ordained as anything.

It was like this flow of unconditional love that was coming into my heart and that I just felt that for all beings and that has never kind of left. There was just that turning point in that kind of 19th 20th year of my path where. I guess it was some type of realization, a deeper realization of the nonexistence of self, but also there is an awareness and something going on here, and it has a lot to do about love and unconditional love. And it’s actually a. I was almost residing in another reality, the reality I had before was very polluted. You know, contaminated with mind. But this reality seemed to be more clear. And I stopped having a lot of the old emotions I used to like. I mean, I wasn’t getting angry anymore and I wasn’t feeling jealous. You know, not in the same way. You know, there might have been some subtle remnants of these things or frustration, but not at all like I had. You know where those those emotions took up a lot of my day jealousy and envy. And, you know? Anger and all these kind of negative emotions, they just left, they just kind of dissolved. And what was left was just this scent of the world is an amazingly beautiful place and I want to appreciate it and give back for having this life. That is so amazing. And that was such a complete opposite of where I had been before. So it was almost like I was a different person. And I just was happy. But there was nothing on the outside that was there making me happy. It was almost like the realization of happiness as a birthright. And we were all innately happy and we can be that way. And all of this was very transformational. It was that point I decided to come and come into a monastic environment and explore living in a monastery. So I came here to down. I came to this monastery voucher video and I just immersed myself in the environment. I just had started. 

I came thinking I would just come for a few weeks or a month or two, and I actually never left. And there was such a connection to camp, a love song and camp with me and such a longing to want to help whatever they were doing here because I could see what they were doing was beautiful and helping so many people. People were, you know, experiencing a lot of transformation by being connected with them as teachers. With this with larger video, as a monastic environment where they could let go of a lot of the burdens and suffering they were experiencing and experiencing experience, something that was much closer to peace. And I just felt like maybe I could help here. So I went from, you know, living here as a retreat and then I, the cook job in the kitchen opened and I started, you know, I became part of the staff, so I was helping run the center. I was cooking. I was doing all the things that help run a center. And then after a few years, I supported this wing was not here, this new wing, and I said, Why don’t we build the new wing back? So I helped take on that project. So we, you know, completed this new wing in about two years. And at the end of that time, the previous manager was leaving and the Cambodia put on encouraging me asked me if I would want to take the position. I said yes. And although I had been on a spiritual path, a monastic for so many years, I had actually never ordained as anything. I wasn’t, you know, I wouldn’t consider myself a yogi, I wouldn’t consider myself a sadhu. And at that point, I knew I wanted to ordain, but I knew that my second year here and I was already asking the Campos. I would like to ordain and they so they started working with me to prepare for that, to make sure I really wanted to. Because in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, once you ordain and take on robes, it’s not a good idea to give back. It’s not a good idea to change your mind. You know, you really want to be sure. And by the time when I asked, I was pretty sure. But by the time I got ordained, I was absolutely positive.

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