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I recently had the pleasure of hanging out with Shyalpa (pronounced Shal-pa — the y is silent) Tenzin Rinpoche, the author of Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath. In my early twenties I spent almost four years in a full-time study of Tibetan Buddhism, and came to realize that it was a long way from being effectively adapted to Western culture. There is obviously great wisdom in it, but so many of us have struggled to find how to understand it in a way that has powerful, noticeable effects in our lives. Now Shyalpa Rinpoche has come along and managed to translate to the West the wonderful, profound essence of Buddha’s teachings in a way that we can finally hear, understand, and embrace.
I interviewed him and asked this: “You come from a wonderful culture that’s imbued with the teachings of Buddha. And you come to the West, which must seem crazy and materialistic — we’re rushing around, always feeling this is not enough; we’re needing something more. Do you think there’s any hope for us Westerners?”
His answer was delightful, and insightful:
“I feel not only hopeful for Westerners, but there is a great possibility that every Westerner will someday embody the essence of these teachings….
“Tibetan culture is great; Tibetan tradition is great. But, then, American culture is great; American tradition is great. Now what we need here is the essence of Tibetan Buddhism, the essence of Buddha’s enlightenment, the essence of unconditional mind — this is what we need to inject into the Western way of living.
“I feel a sense of responsibility; I’m here to help bring about the most sophisticated Western culture, Western tradition — a soulful Western culture and tradition. I brought this book out for that purpose only.
“It’s not so much that I try to teach Tibetan Buddhism, but I try to encourage every human being to relate in the most spiritual way humanly possible. If that is possible anywhere in the world, it’s only possible in America first, in the Western world first, because of the sophistication of modern education, and activeness of mind, and sensitivity, and openness in the West.
“What we need to bring to this is the essence of the spiritual teachings of the East.”
I’ve edited his words slightly or you can watch the video and hear him for yourself. His enthusiasm is wonderful and inspiring — and shows that there’s hope for all of us!
To read more about the book Living Fully, please click here.