Song from Seven Circles

Seven Circles Retreat

Up early each day – meditation, chanting, Feldenkrais, and napping

Om Mani Padme Hung

Overcoming many obstacles, we gather here in Seven Circles for retreat

The gong is a tattle tale – it told on you

Oh, Ngondro, you cracked me wide open

The strong arms of the chant lift me, my sangha, brothers and sisters hold me

Buddha Nature prevails

Love, kindness, discipline, perseverance, awareness, and insight

Chanting and rolling dharma bundles

An oriole shoots by…enlightenment

Noble silence, noble speech

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ho

Sweat rolls down my back as I dive into the linoleum

Gasping for breath, walking among the giant trees with my friends

Making offerings at Big Baldy

Mt. Meru insight prayers

By the circle of tall trees

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, ribbit, ribbit

We grew like hairs on Big Baldy

Reversing time – finding the present moment – going backwards

High Ngondro, starring Cary Grant me your blessings

Trying hard not to break noble silence – epic fail

Who are the three families and do they have anything to do with the five families?

Fail, fail again, fail better

Hope you fail better soon!

Surrendering concepts in devotion, to the teacher who teaches devotion, to the teacher I take refuge

Beloved sons and daughters of the Kagyu lineage – nevertheless you might feel like a stepchild

Gurgle, gurgle, ribbit, ribbit

Rooster, cow, chicken

Om Svasti Shamar Rinpoche – we follow you

You are all masters, just open your eyes – I can’t – it’s too bright!

Would it help to put on sunglasses?

What are we supposed to be doing?

Just stay awake

A road to Badger, feeling anxious

Seeking Buddha – oh, he’s already here

Let the mantras roll

Now my life has become fruitful

I heard about the five colors of emanating light, I need four more flashlights

Breakfast, lunch, dinner – grateful for the earth, grateful for the hands

Nevertheless she cooks

My heart does a gentle dance with time – mine asks to cut in

From the country road, Maria brings wildflowers to the altar

Take me home country road……

Bodhi Path Poem – June 2017  Seven Circles Retreat Center – Composed by the refugees


A poem for the Vidhyadhara


Today marks the 30th anniversary of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s parinirvana.

Although I never formally met you or experienced you in your nirmanakaya form, I’ve been blessed to be under the guidance of one of your students. My teacher has shared many wonderful stories and it is quite clear to see that you are very much alive in her heart and every moment. I did had a wonderful, powerful dream with you many years ago, one that I still remember vividly. I was in a line, a procession, heading towards you. You were giving everyone a blessing. I remember you were dressed in white robes, and thought how odd? I was used to seeing Tibetan monks in their marooned robes, although you left your robes behind some time ago. Then as I arrived in front of you, you placed your hand on my head as I bowed. Then, like a rush of electricity, I felt an energy come from my feet, up through my body and out of the top of my head! At this precise moment, my eyes opened wide, I gasped, and woke up from the dream! It was an amazing experience. When I shared it with my teacher, she laughed and said,

“I see Rinpoche visited you.”


A poem for the Vidhyadhara,

In the dhatu of beginninglessness and endlessness

Thank goodness there is the death of concepts

And the deathlessness of basic goodness

Shamar Rinpoche saves the lobsters

A lama walks into a seafood store… The wise and beloved Tibetan Buddhist, Shamar Rinpoche (1952-2014), makes his first visit to a New England Seafood store (in 1999). Watch him interact with a veteran Massachusetts fishmonger.

Pushy-Crowdy-Karma – A conversation with Shamar Rinpoche by Lawrence Tung

Pool at Tokyo Summerland theme park Image courtesy David Pegg -

Pool at Tokyo Summerland theme park
Image courtesy David Pegg –

Shamar Rinpoche visited Pasadena recently and we had the fortunate opportunity to meet him in a small group last Friday evening. I was the first to arrive and had the rare chance to ask him a couple of questions. I didn’t record the conversation, so I am writing this while it is still fresh in my memory. Any mistakes are certainly mine, but I wanted to share Rinpoche’s answers with those who read this blog.

Lawrence & Rinpoche

Lawrence & Rinpoche

My first question was general and concerned karma. Rinpoche said that karma is a difficult concept. There are 3 aspects: the intention, the action and the result. We think there will be no karma if there is no action. However, there is still some karma created by intention. For instance, if I planned to rob a bank but decided to stop because either I was too scared of getting caught or I simply felt that I should not rob a bank (not stealing is one of the precepts) but I still had the desire to steal there would be “intention” karma even if there was no bank robbing, no “action” karma. Having the “intention” not to steal would result in good “intention” karma.


Then Rinpoche went on to explain a process he calls “pushy crowdy karma”. He said that we are here in this human life because a karmic seed to be born in a human form ripens. A mind carries many karmic seeds and any one of them can catch and manifest depending on the specific causes and conditions that are present during the process of rebirth. There are many examples of beings who have accumulated a great amount of good karma but who experience rebirth in an animal realm. King Ashoka, himself a great patron of Buddhism, was reborn as a python for a short while.

I then went on to ask Rinpoche about Buddha Nature. Recalling a statement in a text called, The Mulamadhyamakakarika, that things are non-existence, not non-existence, both, or neither, I asked if Buddha Nature is like that too. Rinpoche said that Buddha Nature is beyond concepts. We cannot conceive of what it is. I wondered if the idea of sentient beings having Buddha Nature makes sense even if I don’t have a clear picture of what it is. Rinpoche said that yes, we can make the statement, but to make concepts about it is of no use.

Train in India Image courtesy David Pegg -

Train in India
Image courtesy David Pegg –