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Thomas Merton in the Himalayas; Interview with Harold Talbott

Father Thomas Merton and Chatral Rinpoche in Darjeeling, 1968
Thomas Merton in the Himalayas, An Interview with Harold Talbott
Excerpt from Tricycle: the Buddhist Review, Summer, 1992

In his best selling biography, the Seven Storey Mountain (published in 1948), Thomas Merton tells of his conversion to Catholicism and subsequent entry into Our Lady of Gehtsemani, A Cistercian abbey in Kentucky. to a world savaged by war, Merton’s embrace of a Christian life was made all the more authentic by his Cambridge-educated intellect, stunning candor, and the New York street humor he acquired while attending Columbia University.

Single handedly, he restored credibility to the very possibility of contemplative virtue which had long been denigrated by liberal intellectuals and traditional Christians alike. His was a voice of sanity, filled with sacred wonder, and replete with inquiry and contradiction.

Merton appreciated perspectives refined by their distance from the society and considered them essential to maintaining the health of the community.  Read More 
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Assassination attempt of the 13th Dalai Lama (part 2)


When the Dalai Lama was 24 years old, he began having recurring ominous dreams. He consulted Tertön Sogyal, who interpreted the dreams as life threatening and suggested antidotes and rituals to drive away the source of the aggression. The Nechung Oracle began to warn of similar dangers to the Dalai Lama’s life. A new menace had emerged. While the Oracle often gave cryptic allegories in his counsel, on this occasion he stated plainly that measures needed to be taken to protect the Dalai Lama.

The Nechung Oracle most often delivered his prophecies and advice to the Dalai Lama and government ministers in formal ceremonies. With the Dalai Lama presiding on a throne and the officials arranged by rank, the Oracle’s medium would enter the temple in a meditative state, waiting to become possessed. As the assembly chanted invocation verses, the medium’s ritual brocade robes and circular chest plate, weighing more than 100 pounds, were securely fastened. When Nechung entered the medium’s body, the monk stomped and jerked in wrathful dances as a massive helmet-crown that weighed more than 30 pounds was tied to his head. As he hissed and jumped,  Read More 
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Assassination attempt of the 13th Dalai Lama (part 1)

Extract from "Fearless in Tibet"

Lhasa, Central Tibet Year of the Earth Pig, 1899

In 1886, when the Thirteenth Dalai Lama was 11 years old, Demo became Tibet’s regent. Demo was the head of the Tengyeling Monastery, and its estate was the largest and most powerful in Lhasa at the time. Demo served the young Dalai Lama well, and thanks to his position, his monastery increased its already substantial wealth. In the Wood Sheep year (1895), Demo stepped aside and the Dalai Lama was enthroned as the spiritual and political ruler of Tibet. Many in Demo’s court were not pleased with their loss of power. In particular, Norbu Tsering, Demo’s nephew and manager of the Tengyeling estate, was distressed at the sudden reduction in Tengyeling’s political clout after the Dalai Lama ascended to the throne.

The wealth of Tengyeling in the late 1800s was a testament to Norbu Tsering’s proficiency in worldly ways. He not only employed  Read More 
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The 13th Dalai Lama and Tertön Sogyal

Extract from Chapter 8 of "Fearless in Tibet"

Drikok Encampment, Eastern Tibet
Year of the Earth Rat to the Earth Ox, 1888–1889

Accounts of Tertön Sogyal’s spiritual power spread throughout eastern Tibet to the marketplace and teahouses of Lhasa. Devout pilgrims arriving in central Tibet from Kham told of the emerging treasure revealer from Nyarong who was pulling termas out of granite and appearing in different villages at the same time. Traders brought stories of Tertön Sogyal’s blessed talismans that safeguarded them from the dangers of robbers and the punishing hailstorms. Even the monks and teachers in Lhasa at the great monastic universities of Sera, Drepung, and Ganden began hearing about Tertön Sogyal.

At the beginning of the Earth Rat year (1888), a messenger on horseback was dispatched from the Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace in Lhasa to eastern Tibet with a message for Tertön Sogyal. The horseman found  Read More 
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A few thoughts on The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

I first read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying in a library at Kopan monastery in Kathmandu. It was in 1994, a year before I met Sogyal Rinpoche. I literally could not put the already dog-eared book down and read it in a single day. The next days as I walked around Kathmandu, I repeatedly “saw” the enlightened potential—the Buddha nature—in taxi drivers, street sweepers, and shop owners—and in myself. The book changed me, forever.

What is the source of the wisdom in that book, I later asked myself? The transformational power it had on me was undeniable. I wanted to know  Read More 
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His Holiness the Dalai Lama on "In the Shadow of the Buddha"

I endeavored to tell two stories in “In the Shadow of the Buddha.” The first story is the mystical life of Tertön Sogyal, a tantric practioner from the 19th century who was called to assist the XIII Dalai Lama and the Tibetan nation in a time of great need. The second story was that of my own travels in the mystic's footsteps, as well as to shed light on the repressive circumstances that Tibetans find themselves living today under the Chinese government.

As I was finishing the writing of “In the Shadow of the Buddha” I respectfully requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama (the XIV) to write a word or two about the book. I sent the manuscript to Dharamsala. Some time later, I was honored and blessed to have His Holiness write the following:

“This story of Matteo Pistono’s quest to visit places in Tibet associated with Tertön Sogyal, the adept who was a companion of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, is revealing not only of the Tertön’s life but also  Read More 
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Krishna Das & Sharon Salzberg: Practicing Loving Kindness In The Capital

Practicing Loving Kindness In The Capital
The Huffington Post July 12, 2011
by Matteo Pistono

The historic synagogue at 6th and I Street near Chinatown was host Sunday night to Sharon Salzberg , renowned meditation teacher and NY Times best-selling author, and Krishna Das, often called the rock-star of the Western yoga scene for his captivating devotional chanting. Both have made significant contributions to the transmission of Indian spiritual traditions to the West by sharing their deep knowledge and experiences through music, meditation and teachings.

Sharon Salzberg started the evening by encouraging over a thousand people in the audience to "develop a mind so filled with love that it resembles space." Salzberg co-founded the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Massachusetts over 30 years ago with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield. The Center focuses on mindfulness meditation and methods of developing metta, a Pali term for "loving-kindness." Salzberg, like Krishna Das, has devoted years of her life to study and spiritual practice with great masters from India, Tibet, Burma and Thailand.  Read More 
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What is a Sand mandala?

What is a Sand Mandala?
The Washington Post July 9, 2011
by Matteo Pistono

The Dalai Lama has presided over three days of meditation, prayer, and rituals at the Verizon Center. This has included many hours of mantra recitation, complex visualization, intricate hand gestures, profound states of meditation, and ritual music and dance by monks in ceremonial costumes. These strenuous efforts by the Dalai Lama and the monks from Namgyal Monastery are believed to ritually cleanse the area of negativity while at the same time  Read More 
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Who Is The Dalai Lama?

Who Is The Dalai Lama?
The Washington Post July 8, 2011
by Matteo Pistono

There are up to 100,000 people expected to attend events with the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C., over the next ten days. If you were to ask each of them, “Who is the Dalai Lama?” you will likely receive different response from every individual. Most certainly deep respect and veneration would be expressed. The Dalai Lama describes himself as “a simple Buddhist monk,” while in Beijing, the Chinese government regularly vilifies him as “a wolf in monk’s robes.” The Dalai Lama strikes many different cords.  Read More 
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In the FOX News room

FOX News Channel 5

WASHINGTON - Celebration for His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues in DC.

Matteo Pistono, a Tibetan scholar and author of ‘In the Shadow of the Buddha’ and Mary Beth Markey, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, joined us for more insight into the significance of his visit.

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