Whenever I am tired, I remember that this man and many others walked from Tibet to India.
He is tireless.
And out of all the energy he has, he devotes all of it to his students. To the world. To people, animals and dharma. All sentient beings benefit from the work he does day in and day out.
I had the chance to go with Namchag Khenpo and a friend to the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana to film a practice being done.
The sound of his voice and his drum, bell, and horn resonated off the giant rock walls that surrounded us. He only smiles, laughs, listens, and responds in broken English when I say things to him. He is cheerful, jubilant—grateful to be alive.
The colors of his saffron robes punctuated sheer faces of Montana rock and pure blue sky above. I was so happy to be standing there for hours in the below-freezing cold. I had to go stand in the sun to stop shivering, but this man stayed in the shadow where he practiced until the work was done.
He is strong in his mind, body and heart. If I could become half the human he is, I would be delighted. No, enlightened. And yet, Namchag Khenpo makes me aspire to become exactly that.
Birds sang louder when he started practicing. Chipmunks ran up to my feet and climbed on me.
And then I realized the solution to many world problems: effort. Love and effort. All we can do is try, with every waking moment.
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
And in deciding to benefit all beings with our efforts, we have already decided to make a step in the right direction. This Lama—Namchag Khenpo—and others serve as examples to lay practitioners. I am constantly humbled by the dedication and compassion of my teachers. They do not know anger. They do not know inconvenience.
They only know how to love.
Now go hike a mountain and do the work that needs to be done.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman