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Leslie Gabriel Mezei

 

A MODERN MONK

 

Leslie Gabriel Mezei, February 19, 2009

 

By Leslie Gabriel Mezei, March 19, 2009

"Give us that story of the old Monk, which you told last night to the youth," Fr. Terry Gallagher urged the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi at the Scarboro Missions interfaith gathering of over fifty people on Saturday, March 7.

The Dalai Lama was walking in the garden of the Dharamsala centre in India, when he came upon an old Monk trimming the trees. He asked the Monk about the many years he was jailed by the Chinese in Tibet.

"I was in great danger," the old Monk said.

"Your body was in danger? Your life?"

"Much bigger danger than that."
"What could that be?"

"I was in danger of losing my compassion for the Chinese."

Stunned, we retreated into silence, contemplating this great forbearance and wisdom. How to achieve and practice the compassion that is central to Buddhist faith? He led us in a guided meditation that demonstrates it. I hope he forgives me for recording it, so I can bring it to you.

Guided meditation of Ven. Priyadarshi:

BELLS RING

"Take a comfortable posture, let your body relax.

Become aware of the breath, in-breath and out-breath.

Still or quiet your mind.

 

Let give rise to a positive thought, or aspiration:

Such as love, kindness, or compassion.

They are innate qualities, not foreign to you.

Embody them.

Embody love, kindness, and compassion.

Imagine you are surrounded by individuals that you love and deeply care about, family and friends.

Recognize their faces and their names.

Sending forth a ray of light emerging from your heart,

carrying your positive aspirations,

imagine that it touches the heart of each one of them.

They are delighted to receive your well wishes,

In turn they send you theirs.

Accept them and simply rest your mind in the state of joy.

Imagine you are surrounded by strangers, people you are indifferent towards,

people you meet crossing the street, in a grocery stores, bus stop, airport, etc.

Perhaps at some time some of them have been kind to you.

Simply acknowledge their presence in your life.

Imagine that the positive aspirations from your heart touch each one of them.

Imagine that they are delighted to receive them,

and in turn send back to you well wishes. Accept them.

Simply rest your mind in this state of joy and delight.

Imagine being surrounded by individuals whom you dislike, or perhaps even hate, who may have caused you harm, or perhaps you may have harmed them.

Recognize their faces. Acknowledge their presence in your life.

If they have harmed you, imagine they are asking for your forgiveness.

If you have harmed them, ask that you be forgiven.

Imagine being forgiven, and forgive them.

Gently send forth a ray of light, carrying your positive aspirations and prayers.

Imagine that it touches the heart of each one of them.

Imagine that they are happy to receive it, and in turn, they send you their well wishes.

Accept them, and so rest your mind in the state of joy and equanimity.

 

Return to your breath once again.

When you are ready, simply open your eyes and become present."

BELLS RING

He also listened to us and answered many questions. When the conversation turned to interspirituality, he simply said that although he was born to a Hindu Brahman family, and became a Buddhist Monk, he never left Hinduism. In fact, his Buddhist mentors encouraged him to learn his own tradition, and he spent four years in a Rama Krishna Ashram, learning his Hindu heritage and the Sanskrit language so he could read the original texts. A brilliant student, he later studied philosophy and physics in the West, and became the Buddhist Chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the preeminent US school of technology.

And now he has established the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT, with satellite centres in Mexico, India and Italy. As he explained to us, it has three main themes:

  1. The ethics of responsibility
  2. Leadership, the training of global leaders
  3. Holistic education, of both heart and mind

Above all, he has been ordained a Buddhist Monk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is his spiritual mentor. It is all the more significant that he returns to the Toronto interfaith community from time to time, particularly to work with our young people, when you look at his far reaching international involvements, including being a Knight of the Order of Saint Francis of Assissi, at

www.imonk.org/index/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=16. He has also established a charitable organization: www.prajnopaya.org . And if you are, like me, a photography fan, you must look at the wonderful pictures he has taken at: www.throughamonkseye.com/TAME/Gallery/Gallery.html

 

Finally, he told us, "Like the Golden Rule, one of the core things is to look at the promotion of human values that may have their source in religion, but can be adapted by individuals who are not particularly religious….We are excluding huge segments of population if we speak only in the fervour of religiosity. We need to promote common human values, our common humanity, which is common to religions and transcends them. … We truly need to understand how to be inclusive, how to include people in this conversation and dialogue, in the spiritual journey together, regardless of what tradition, faith they adhere to, if any."

 

For more pictures of the Saturday afternoon session, see: http://picasaweb.google.com/LeslieMezei/TenzinPriyadarshiAtScarboroMissions#5311232951317579234

 

 

 

Rev. Leslie Gabriel Mezei (leslie@barberry.ca ) is a Minister of the Universal Worship and Founding Publisher (2002) of the Interfaith Unity e-mail newsletter and on-line Resource Centre (www.interfaithunity.ca)