I remember Geshe Dorji Damdul’s words to me when I met him for the first time many years ago. I spoke to him about my unsuccessful forays into the world of meditation and how every time I closed my eyes, I was unable to ‘still’ my thoughts long enough to get into a meditative state. Even when it was peaceful and quiet around me, my thoughts were neither very peaceful nor ever quiet. In fact, the more I tried to quieten them, the louder the buzzing got.
Geshe la smiled, listened to me patiently, and said, “You are a mother of small children, and it comes with being a mother that no matter what you are doing, at a subconscious level there will always be thoughts about your children. So, let the thoughts come, just learn to work with the calmest you can feel.” It was my first learning of the Buddhist way of life with Geshe Dorji Damdul.
Geshe Dorji Damdul is one of the most renowned Buddhist scholars, a sought after speaker and teacher, and he travels the world extensively for talks. He’s been the Dalai Lama’s personal interpreter and is a well known author having worked on a number of acclaimed books with the Dalai Lama, and with Professor Howard Cutler and Dr Paul Eckman.
Brought up in the Tibetan Children’s Village school, Dhraramsala, Geshe Dorji Damdul went on to join the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamshala for his formal studies. He studied for his Geshe Lharampa Degree (the equivalent of a PhD in Tibetan Buddhist studies) from the Drepung Loseling Monastic University, specialising in Buddhist philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, and logic. It was followed by one year at the Gyudmed Tantric College for Tantric Studies, before going to Cambridge University to study the English language. A visiting Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge University for a number of years, presently, Geshe la is the Director of Tibet House where he gives weekly teachings of Buddhist philosophy and practice. Alongside, he writes his books and does translations of Buddhist texts.
A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune of running into Geshe la at the Pune airport, where he had come for a seminar. Ever gracious and kind, he patiently started to answer my query about a state of happiness being truly possible when the announcement for boarding came and cut our conversation short. However, it stayed on my mind as I waited for the opportunity to seek his thoughts on some of life’s questions. So, recently when I got the chance to meet him at Tibet House over a cup of the most divine Jasmine tea, I requested him for this exclusive Q&A for Coffee and Conversations magazine.
We are absolutely ecstatic to share some of the questions to the Buddhist way of life with Geshe Dorji Damdul with you. (Please click on the audio link for Geshe la’s response.)
1. While it is true that life is never without problems, how can we best deal with our day to day problems?
2. Recently, when I was undergoing therapy for my frozen shoulder, it was suggested that I should “embrace the pain”. If you could please share your thoughts on this.
3. We are hearing a lot about mindfulness these days. How can we learn to be mindful? And how does it help us in our daily lives?
4. The importance of the practice of meditation is acknowledged the world over. Speaking for myself, I have struggled to maintain the practice of meditation. Is there any way meditation can be integrated into one’s life?
5. Finding peace of mind is the ultimate goal for most of us. Is there any way we can train our minds for peace?
Picture Credit : Rashmi B. Nayar