Home Author A Buddhist monk, author of a new book, finds his home in the Ozarks

A Buddhist monk, author of a new book, finds his home in the Ozarks

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Buddhist monk Khentrul Lodro T’haye Rinpoche grew up in the mountains of Tibet in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, when China destroyed its monasteries and desecrated its shrines.

These days, he lives in the hills of northern Arkansas, freely teaching the tenets of Tibetan Buddhism at the Katog Choling Mountain Retreat Center near Jasper, and sharing his wisdom with visitors from around the world.

Last month, Shambhala Publications, based in Boulder, Colorado, released his book, “The Power of the Mind: A Tibetan Monk’s Guide to Finding Freedom in Every Challenge.”

Rinpoche emphasizes lojong – the training of the mind – as the path to serenity and contentment.

“Peace and happiness can be achieved, but not by seeking something in the outer world. Peace and happiness are found within ourselves,” he writes in the introduction. “If our minds are disturbed, we can never find lasting peace and happiness.”

The book offers Buddhist teachings, meditation techniques, and “21 actions to take that support mind training.”

Actor Michael Imperioli, who won an Emmy for his portrayal of Christopher Moltisanti in HBO’s “The Sopranos,” says “The Power of the Mind” contains wisdom that “can benefit us all, from absolute beginners to most seasoned dharma practitioner”.

Psychologist Tara Brach calls the book “a deep well of wisdom that is both timeless and practical.”

The monk’s followers call him Rinpoche, an honorary title given to highly respected lamas. Born in 1965, he is considered a reincarnated master or tulkou.

As a child, the formal Buddhist teaching “was very underground”, but the principles were instilled in him nonetheless by his mother and others, he said.

He was taught “to do no harm and to truly give love, compassion and kindness” because “every living being was worthy of compassion”, he said.

As restrictions on Buddhism eased, he was able to receive formal instruction.

Today, he holds three kenpo degrees – the equivalent of a doctorate – in Buddhist philosophy and speaks two languages ​​besides English: Tibetan and Chinese.

He is also abbot of Mardo Tashi Choling in eastern Tibet, notes his biography.

Since arriving in the United States two decades ago to teach at a Buddhist center, he has developed a national following.

CULTURE SHOCK

Initially, however, he suffered culture shock.

“I didn’t speak a word of English when I arrived in this country. Not even ‘Hello’,” he said Wednesday, through an interpreter.

“It was quite an experience to land in this country and not know anything. I didn’t know anyone personally,” he said.

Before boarding the plane that would take him to America, his friends handed him a piece of paper and encouraged him to share it with those he met.

“Please help this man because he doesn’t speak English,” he said.

The travelers Rinpoche met at San Francisco International Airport pointed him in the right direction, allowing him to arrive on time for his connecting flight to Redding, California.

He was met at the airport by Paloma Lopez Landry, a woman who had studied Tibetan in Nepal.

Since then, she has translated her teachings – and this book – into English – for audiences around the world.

After two decades in the United States, Rinpoche’s oral comprehension skills are considerable; he can answer questions in his most recently acquired language, but generally prefers to answer them in Tibetan.

NEWTON COUNTY HOUSE

He teaches on both coasts and in between, his home base is in Newton County.

The property was purchased in 2007.

“I was looking for a place in the United States to have a retreat center…and we were looking everywhere,” he said.

“One of the issues, for example, on the east coast or the west coast is that it’s very expensive,” he said.

There’s also more red tape there, he noted.

“We were looking for somewhere we could afford that didn’t have very strict zoning laws,” he said.

He was looking for “a natural environment with trees, water and mountains, and ideally, beautiful,” he said. Somewhere rural but not “so remote that we couldn’t get there from anywhere”.

“I had several friends and students looking around and a few of them took a trip to the Ozark Mountains, and we got way more than we could have ever wanted. We love this place,” did he declare.

Early on, he and his followers built a temple on the property, not far from the Buffalo River, incorporating a grotto into the design.

Soon cabins were added. A barn has been restored and transformed into a gathering place. It is now planned to become a kitchen and a dining room.

A new temple was built on a hill.

A WIDER AUDIENCE

Now that he is a published author, Rinpoche’s message is gaining an even wider audience and he oversees meditation groups on four continents.

In recent weeks, he’s been on a promotional tour that’s taken him across the country, including New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Salt Lake City and even Fairbanks, Alaska.

He will return to Arkansas next week for the Six Bridges Book Festival in Little Rock, followed by a November 1 appearance at the Meteor Guitar Gallery in Bentonville, then on to Miami, Oxford University in England and London.

Rinpoche emphasizes the importance of “taming the mind” to cultivate positive rather than negative thoughts and emotions, portraying it as the key to peace of mind.

“External circumstances can only rid us of so much suffering and can only give us so much happiness, and that is very limited,” he said. “We actually have the ability to work with our mind to free ourselves from suffering and find true happiness.”