Breakfast with Buddha: Geshe Thubten Phelgye

Breakfast with Buddha: Geshe Thubten Phelgye March 30, 2010
Names, left to right as well as I can remember them: Georgia Milan (Ewam), ?, Rich Bishop (Christ the King Church), David Curtis (Tibetan Language Institute), Terry Jimmerson, (Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church), Geshe Thubten Phelgye, Tom (Osel Shen Phen Ling), Donna ? (Catholic of Arlee and friend of Ewam), Me, Amy Carter (University Congregational Church),  Jacquie and Ken Lyons (Blackfeet Thunder pipe and Center for Spiritual Living), and Peter Shober (University Congregational Church)

Apparently that’s the name of a novel. It comes recommended from one a fellow guest at this morning’s interfaith breakfast, hosted by Ewam and Osel Shen Phen Ling, organized by Georgia Milan, and inspired by Geshe Thubten Phelgye, founder of H.H. the Dalai Lama’s Universal Compassion Movement.

In reading up on Geshe-la I was happy to find that my friend Danny Fisher has a particular interest in him and his movement to bring vegetarianism to the Tibetan community in exile.Geshe Thubten Phelgye is one of the many wonderful Tibetan teachers pushing the envelope in Buddhism and in the world. He openly says that Buddhism (like Christianity) has become watered down – yes, even in Tibet – and that we Westerners need to separate the good from the junk.
When a woman asked him last night, “what is the junk?” He laughed and said he needs to be diplomatic! But something like meat eating can be junk. He gave the example of some Buddhists who say that pork, fish and eggs are the worst, but eating other meat is more okay. “There’s no logic in that,” he said. In Tibetan culture pork is considered the heaviest karma, but only because there is the intention of the farmer, from the time the pig is just a piglet, to slaughter the animal.
But, he said, many Tibetans believe that if you are not killing the animal, then it’s okay to eat meat. “But who drives the killing?” he asked. “We do. The consumers.”
He said that as early as 1984, as a junior monk at Sera Monastery in India, he began asking that they move away from eating meat. Some of his own teachers suggested he just drop the issue. But he persevered and in the early 90s had an audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama to discuss just that issue. In 1997, with the Dalai Lama’s blessing, he founded the Universal Compassion Movement. Tonight he will lead Vipassana meditation at Ewam and has events scheduled for the weekend (see below).
My great thanks to Georgia for inviting me to this breakfast. I definitely felt like a bug in a room of giants as I listened to the many stories of these great Missoula interfaith pioneers.
Tuesday • March 30 • 7 pm

Vipassana Practice
At Ewam • Coyote Road, Arlee

Friday • April 2 • 7 pm
Public Talk: Universal Compassion Movement

At St. Anthony’s Catholic Church (UPDATED) • 217 Tremont St.
Suggested Donation $15Mind Transformation Workshop
Saturday • April 3 • 9:30 am – 4:00 pm
Vegetarian Pot Luck Lunch • Noon – 1:00 pm
Sunday • April 4 • 9:30 am – Noon
Geshe-la will teach from the Eight Verses of Mind Transformation, will lead guided meditations on Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Great Compassion, and tonglen, the practice of giving and taking.
Suggested Donation $60

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