Students hope Bon lama’s lecture will expand their minds

By MORGAN MECHLENBURG
Contributing Writer
[email protected]

Many Allegheny students searching for spiritual meaningfulness look forward to this weekend’s talk and overnight retreat which will be led by Tempa Dukte Lama, a Tibetan Bon lama. Tempa Lama follows Bon, a branching-off of Vajrayana (also known as Tantric Buddhism).

“Throughout my college experience I’ve had this push to try to find something that could connect me to something more than the physical world,” said Lauren Harewood, ’12. “I’ve been trying to find out what God looks like for me.”

Harewood was initially intrigued by the title of tonight’s free lecture: “The Preciousness of our Life.”

“It caught me off guard in a good way,” she said.

According to Tempa Lama, the title is derived from his belief that the impermanence of life is what makes it so precious.

“So if [life] isn’t permanent, we have to live it fully,” said Tempa Lama. “First thing is to embrace it, which means we have to be mindful of each moment. So when you become mindful of each moment, you are living it fully.”

From the age of six, Tempa Lama trained in the Menri monastery in Doljani, India, under the Bon tradition’s current spiritual leader. His extensive knowledge of the Bon tradition caught the attention of Joan Halifax Roshi, who invited him to teach at Upaya Zen Center in Santé Fe, New Mexico.

A couple years later he moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he created the Olmo Ling Bon Center. He currently serves as its spiritual head.

Within the past couple years Tempa Lama has written two books: The Intimate Mind: Illuminating Emotion and Inexhaustible Miracles. Both of the books will be available for purchase at both events this weekend.

Tempa Lama described The Intimate Mind: Illuminating Emotion.

“[It’s] about the emotional transformation of a lot of the pain and suffering in our lives, and the causes, and the way to free ourselves from them,” he said. “It discusses the best way to face any given situation that we encounter.”

Brynya Bowden, ‘14, first heard about Tempa Lama’s lecture from Professor James Reedy in her yoga class.

“Last semester, I took my first yoga course and fell in love with it. It’s helped me gain a greater awareness as to what is most important in life,” Bowden said. She hopes that Tempa Lama will be able to teach her how to further this spiritual awareness.

Bowden had never heard of Tempa Lama before the advertising of his coming to campus, but she has attended similar events previously, both in college and during high school.

“I think [the talk] will be about how our life truly matters and as a result, we need to strive to be the fullest human beings possible,” she said. Bowden noted that she feels privileged to have the chance to meet someone so highly regarded within his own culture.

Harewood decided to sign up for the lama’s overnight retreat (called “Open Presence”), which will take place tomorrow at the McKeever Environmental Learning Center in Sandy Lake.

“[The title of the talk] suggests to me that there’s something tangible, something understandable about life,” said Harewood, who was raised in a Baptist environment. She was also taught that spirituality is a personal journey that everyone should embark upon.

Harewood said she is excited to see what she gains from the retreat. She believes that youth is the most opportune period of life in which one can expand his/her knowledge of different beliefs and ideas.

Tempa Lama said he believes that people should strive to be compassionate beings. He elaborates this feature of people, saying that it gives us the power to make decisions.

“We have the ability of making decisions because we have something very unique…a heart and a mind,” he said. “People do have the ability to discern between what is holy and unwholesome.”

Tempa Lama hopes that students who come to listen walk away having gained an understanding of how important it is to embrace the life they are living.

“We have to preserve it and do our best to live it to the fullest extent,” he said.