My experience with Tibetan Buddhism as both a student and teacher has been truly life changing. I have been drawn to the Himalayan region of the world since I was a small child, and realizing that the path I was on wasn’t working , more than 20 odd years ago,  I started to study the Buddhadharma in earnest. Having been both a student and teacher of the Dharma has led to many experiences on both a spiritual and personal level that I feel have helped me to incorporate the Dharma into my ” everyday ” life. As a lay practitioner and Lama ( Ngakpa or householder..) my “other” job is owning and running an Auto repair shop ;it is interesting to observe the changes in myself and how I deal with stressful and frustrating situations in both interpersonal relationships as well as my work with the cars, I think it is a great example of how the Dharma works when we are away from our cushion and practice space. 
Isn’t the effectiveness of how well your practice works shown when you are off of your cushion ? I have studied with many great masters , and as I tell everyone ,I am nothing special but what I teach is. My hope is that all of us get to experience a deep and meaningful connection with the Dharma and that connection remains unbroken throughout time. I continue to be a student of my dear teachers and wish that their feet remain firmly planted in this realm as long a possible to the Dharma to grow.


I’m. My name is Mark. My last name is Djokovic, which is Croatian. I was born in Vernal, Utah, and when growing up, I was predominantly of the LDS tradition. And so as I got into my formative years, 16, 17, 18, I discovered that didn’t work for me and sort of went off the deep end, so to speak, in the opposite way. And later on in life, in my my late twenties, I discovered that something was missing from my life. My whole entire life, I have been connected to, or at least had this sort of pull from the Mount Everest area of the world, had always been fascinated with Mount Everest, even since I was a small child. And the more books you read, the more you start saying, okay, here’s here’s the prayer flags. Then you start reading about that. And then, okay, here’s these people dressed in funny clothes. And I started to look into what that really was and found out that that was Buddhism toward that area. My life, my my son was born. I am married. I have three children. My oldest is 25, 18 and 14. So I’m running the gamut with the teenagers and all that. So I’m just like everyone else. I go through regular life. But anyway, so I noticed one day, as was my kid, he was about three or four. He was playing in like a ball pit at McDonald’s or something, and I noticed that he was playing with all the kids and it didn’t matter if they were black or white or anything. They all just got along. And I thought, you know, there’s there’s some connection be made there. So a little bit more about my life. Okay. So I graduated high school, got out of high school, went to went to college for a few years, got a degree and then went to work. I moved out of state, actually moved to Boulder, Colorado for for a while and learned I learned how to party in Colorado. And, you know, and, you know, you’re 18, 19 years old, of course, that’s what you’re going to do and probably get into it a little bit more than I should have. And eventually I end up moving back here to Utah. I had been through a bad marriage. Things sort of went south and I was like, okay, well, let’s try this again. And I and I think most people go through something like that. It’s really interesting because when you when you talk about your life, you have to look back and a lot of people say, Well, I’d do it all over again and I would change this, this and this. I wouldn’t change anything because I know that that is what has got me to this point right now. And going through all of those experiences. I mean, I saw I saw people overdose. I saw bad things. I also saw plenty of good things. I partied with rock stars, literally not going to go in and name dropping, but I did. And it was it was a really fun time of life, but it was a hollow time of life. I think that’s the best way to describe it. And so as I continue to on with my my regular career, I’ve been with the company that I own now for 26 years. So I’ve been there a long, long time before I bought it. And, you know, you go through that and things start to look just like Groundhog Day. Every day you wake up and you go wake up, drink coffee, you fix cars, go home, drink beer, watch the news, go to bed. And that gets to be really monotonous. And I woke up one day and realized I hadn’t seen the sunrise for a very, very long time and I needed to change something. And that’s really what sort of got me into looking at Buddhism further. When I was a kid, when I was 16, 17, I grew up in a little town in southern Utah and there was no one to teach Buddhism, much less meditation. So that, okay, I’m going to try meditation. Okay? And sit on your bed and sit on the floor. What am I doing? Spacing off? I think a lot of people think meditation is simply spacing off anyway. Going back, going back to now. I’ve studied Buddhism for a while on my own with some books and sort of getting the gist of what that stands for. That main primary teachings of the Buddha, I realized that there was a lot of things that those books were touching on but weren’t explaining. In October of 2005, I’d been studying Tibetan Buddhism off and on, on my own, and decided I needed a teacher. I’ve been doing that for probably five or six years, but by 2005 I decided it needed to find a teacher and to really do it seriously. I ran into a website. Google Search for Vajrayana. Buddhism. Salt Lake City. An urban center link came up. Interestingly enough, it came up because one of the song members had died and they were doing services for him and that pushed it to the top of the search engine because of that. Anyway, I attended course the introduction class, which which is really weird because I teach that class now at so and I swore I’d never be back because it hurt. It hurt too bad to sit like that. I hadn’t sit cross-legged in 20 years anyway, so I became a practitioner. And I think like everyone else, when you first get into Buddhism, you’re just putting your toe in the water, you’re seeing how it feels, seeing if something feels different, seeing something changes. I think the thing that resonated most with me is it was about you and you’re responsible for your own actions. And also to help you develop an open heart and an open mind and not be so closed off to the world as we know it. That really resonated with me and through the different practices, you know, the practice of of dirty, simple practice of Chen Rasi, you start to open up and start to let go of what I call our stuff. Each one of us has our own stuff that we sort of carry around with us, whether it’s psychological, emotional baggage that affects all aspects of our life, our marriages, our children, how we interact with people. Interestingly enough, my my profession, what I do for a living because I am I’m what’s known as a Nagpur or a slave lama is I am a mechanic and I own an automotive shop. Believe it or not, that helps in that aspect of that. Instead of getting so frustrated and angry and throwing wrenches and swearing, I still swear, but I don’t throw wrenches anymore. So they the aspect of that is learning to look at a situation and let go of it rather than be so clingy to what you think should happen. Of course, Buddhism teaches us that it’s that grasping that really causes the suffering. And so anyway, so I’ve done this practice since 2005, so that’s 17 years roughly in 2016. And I use I use the wrong word. I’m not actually ordained. I was recognized as a lama. There’s a difference. Ordained is ordained and recognized are pretty much the same. But recognized is when they recognize you on your own merits as being a lama. Traditional lamas go through a three year, three month, three day retreat where I have not done that. My my accumulated retreat, of course, is at least that long, but I don’t have three years in my life. I can just stop. One of the things and and this is an interesting question I get asked by a lot of people is how do you support yourself as a lama? That the answer is, I don’t. We’re in the West. We rely on our own income to support our Dharma habit. It’s what I call it. Whereas in the East, say Nepal and Tibet, they would support you here. That doesn’t happen. You go out on the street begging for alms. They look at you like you’re crazy big white guy dressed in these clothes. Right. So.

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