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Anam Thubten Rinpoche – After the July 2007 Retreat

August 2nd, 2007 · 3 Comments · Filed under: Events

Anam Thubten Rinpoche in Austin July 2007Well, the retreat is over. As with all retreats, you only know afterwards how it was, as you see the ways you seem to have changed. I feel changed, very much.

Anam Thubten Rinpoche is a maverick: despite his robes he discourages much ceremony, and goes straight to the teachings of Lord Buddha. He is relentless. He doesn’t stop expounding the teachings, gently hammering home the key point of the Dharma, which is to drop attachment.

He seems almost to be repeating himself, but actually he spent a whole weekend saying different things, and they were all the same thing, again and again. And this was because this is the Dharma, and though vast and profound it’s also really simple, so simple that it takes constant repetition to get through to us.

He explained that he himself was being very disciplined, in a practice mode of speaking only the Buddha’s message to us, he himself getting out of the way.

He doesn’t seem to tire, especially. I was greatly tired by the constant stripping away of my accumulated beliefs, those “cosy” beliefs, as he called them, rightly. In the end, I was worn down, and in the blessing line at the end of the retreat I told him, “I’ll do everything you said.”

I’m pretty new to this game, less than two years before the mast as a practitioner on the path, and yet I could survey quite a tidy inventory of thoughts that were already congealing into patterns and maybe habitual judgments – storylines. Rinpoche tore them away, gently, gradually, irresistibly.

So all that’s left really is the message of the Buddha, the Heart Sutra transmitted orally to us by Rinpoche, the prajnaparamita teaching that formed the theme of the retreat. We sang again and again:

om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha


And now the weekend has passed away, and I am left changed.

I thought he said the same thing endlessly, and yet I have over two dozen points I noted down, each one a teaching, each one to be practiced, to be learned continually, each a way to keep my head up and stay clearly on the path.

I am deep in Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva, for the first time, working my way to chapter nine, the Wisdom chapter that Rinpoche recommended we study. Shantideva, too, I find, has a way of hammering home certain points relentlessly, tirelessly, inescapably. Thank goodness.

Obviously this text must be my lifetime companion.


There are also pictures of the retreat – my picture here is hotlinked from the flickr set, please and thank you 🙂

July Retreat:

So now it’s on with life then, and he’ll be coming back in half a year or so.

Meanwhile there is much practice and study to perform, as I said I would.

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 LazyBuddhist // Jan 21, 2008 at 1:14 am

    I’ve been to three of Anam Thubten Rimpoche’s teachings at his temple in Point Richmond, CA. After being a dharma student for a decade now in a different tradition, I can’t quite figure him out. But, I like what I hear. I like it a lot. I hope to have an interview with him soon. Thank you for this post. I hope you have been able to continue to practice what he has taught you.

  • 2 SacredWest // Jan 23, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    well, I still have the notes, and I haven’t done all that he encouraged, but he’s coming again in June and I’ll renew the connection. I’ve taken on a lot of teachings that I’m gradually integrating into my life and practice.

    I spoke too soon, but not untruly, and in the fullness of time I’ll do all he advised to be a diligent bodhisattva. It was good advice. He has a good heart. And how he loves the Dharma 🙂

  • 3 Sradha // Aug 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I just completed the July retreat in Rochester (22-29 July 2010). How dense the teachings are, yet Anam Thubten makes them sound so simple, easy to practice, gives us ALL so very generously. He says: ‘Drop the mind, have a child’s mind and vow to sit like a rabbit with a deep intention to be enlightened’.
    Beautiful and doable for sure, once we let go of the thought-patterns that veil our Buddha mind!
    His deep unflinching trust in us motivates me to practice with diligence and confidence. The thought that enlightenment is here and not there carries such great power!
    Great practice to everyone!

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