“Genuine Peace In Troubled Times”

In Human Interest, Non-fiction on July 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Lakshey Zangpo is a subtle man.

It is his peaceful nature—almost as still and tranquil as the snowfall outside—that seems to grasp the attention of the modest group of about 40, gathered in the auditorium of the Colville Community College.  Zangpo is a Tibetan Lama, and he is here to speak.

Centered on the dimly lit stage, he sits in a chair, lingering calmly over his microphone.  Before him, an interesting audience awaits his comments; his listeners are young and old, husbands and wives, parents and children.  Some are prepared to take notes, others sipping their morning coffee, but many are just watching and listening.

Zangpo, 37, was invited to speak Sunday, November 15th, at the college.  His lecture began at 10:00 a.m. and lasted until 12:00 noon, with a short break in between.  During which time, the Lama led a discussion bearing the theme: “Genuine Peace in Troubled Times.” Included in his talk were comments pertaining to Tibetan Buddhism, or Lamaism, the pursuit and possession of peace, and the betterment of our communities through personal development.  Zangpo also addressed questions concerning the political situation in his home in Tibet, a hotbed in the world arena.  “We lost our country,” says Zangpo, referring to the Chinese conquest over his fatherland.    “But we understand the situation to be impermanent.  Our protest is calm.”

However, his deep and unyielding love for the expression of peace and compassion is manifested, not only in his willingness to share his experiences and understanding with others—indeed, a little piece of himself—but in his opening himself to the many avenues of goodwill available to him.

For example, Zangpo is one of five to help found the Joru Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting quality education inside Tibet.  The foundation transcends impediments of compassion in our modern era, which so often bottleneck the flow of genuine peace.  Lakshey Zangpo may be just one “soldier” in the uphill battle to improve the lives of the Tibetan people, but having such an involvement with the Joru Foundation has enabled him to do just that.  Together, they have been able to transform the lives of hundreds, literally renovated the standard of living for many in Tibet, especially the elders and children—those commonly overlooked in these critical times hard to deal with.

The Joru Foundation is also responsible for the Sengdruk Taktse school, located in the small village of Dari, in the Golok region of Tibet—Zangpo’s birthplace—which borders Sichuan.  At this school, Zangpo has had the opportunity to serve as assistant principal, during which time he instituted the English program and taught Philosophy and Computer Science.  “Many of the children come to the Sengdruk Taktse school at a young age,” Zangpo commented.  “And so they grow up there.  It becomes their home, a place where the teachers become parents and the students, children.  They learn to respect and to love each other.” The result? “Girls become good women,” he continues, “and boys become gentlemen.” At the heart of the Joru Foundation and the Sengdruk Taktse school is the belief that every person has something valuable to offer the world around them.  The objective of the school is to help these children to embrace their own value and use it to the advantage of themselves and others.  Though the school is only going on its 11th birthday, the shadow cast by its myriads of accomplishments is already too great to mention in full.  The list of goals for the future is every bit as extensive, including plans to send a graduating student to the United States to study at a college, and even to fund the construction of a full-scale traditional Tibetan Medical College.  Indeed, these endeavors—both the foundation and school—have proven to be an amazing vehicle for the children of Tibet to develop and utilize the better of themselves.

Zangpo’s motivation to visit local communities here in Eastern Washington state has been a similar one.  Put simply: to benefit people.  “When I speak to a group of people as I did today,” he said, referring to his speech at the Community College, “it may not be that every person present benefits from being there.  But perhaps two or three will benefit, and that is why I am here.” Indeed, what effect has his visit had on our community? Colville local Greg Busch, who hosted Zangpo and arranged Sunday’s event, says the result was certainly gratifying.  “I hope it gives people a way to hold these troubling times,” he commented.  Busch holds a regular meditation group at his home, and plans on arranging an event similar to Sunday’s sometime in December.

Lama Lakshey Zangpo’s visit—which, judging by the delighted applause of the attendees at Sunday’s event, was much appreciated—is not limited only to our town of Colville.  His plans for the immediate and distant future all include the Spokane area.  Why? “Many are interested in Buddhist teachings,” he explains.  “But so many are not educated.  I plan on remaining here to cultivate that interest, and also to educate.” Too, Zangpo plans on continuing his studies in English, an endeavor he hopes will help him to benefit the Tibetan people when he returns home.  He also explained that the people in the communities he has visited have received him kindly, opening their hearts to learn.  “He hopes he returns [to Colville], and I hope he returns too,” said Zangpo’s assistant, Spokane resident Gaela Baker, who sponsors the Lama during his time in America.  “And if people take away anything from this experience, hopefully it will be a consciousness for the need for peace.”

Lama Lakshey Zangpo’s schedule is indeed busy, but he has plans to return to Colville on the 20th of December at the invitation of Greg Busch, who hopes the next event will have as positive an effect as the one held Sunday morning.  Questions regarding the Lama’s schedule can be answered at his website:

In the meantime? “Let’s open our hearts for all cultures and people,” said Zangpo.  “This earth may be our home, but it is very small.  We can’t afford to separate ourselves from each other.  If we learn to embrace one another, then we can find peace, even in these troubled times.”

{Published, Statesman-Examiner, 2009}

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