JULY 2007

ACI LA Newsletter


n last month’s newsletter, Venerable Marut reminded us that we must let go of our attachments to suffering and its causes in order to allow for the possibility of something higher to emerge. He acknowledged that it is hard to let go, but reminded us that we must cultivate an even stronger desire for rebirth into happiness. It is from this true happiness that that we will overcome the attachments we have to the very things that are causing our suffering.

This month, Venerable Marut reminds us that the Buddhist path has “two wings” – compassion and wisdom. And just as a bird cannot fly without both its wings, both of these dimensions of the path must be equally cultivated in order to reach the goal.

We hope this month’s newsletter supports your spiritual practice and provides you resources to continue developing the two wings of your spiritual practice.


  This Month
  A Message from Brian (Venerable Marut)
  Student Contributions
  Retreat Reflections
  Dharma Flicks
  Dharma Website of the Month
  Dharma Book of the Month
  Dharma Podcasts: Recent Audio Uploads
  Current ACI-LA Classes
  Thank You
  ACI LA Home


ACI LA Newsletter


A Message From Brian (Venerable Marut)


It is often said that the Buddhist path has “two wings” – compassion and wisdom. And just as a bird cannot fly without both its wings, both of these dimensions of the path must be equally cultivated in order to reach the goal.

“Wisdom” means the development of an understanding of karma (or dependent origination) and emptiness. In our immediate lineage we are inexpressibly blessed to have had many clear, authentic, and authoritative teachings on this subject, thanks to the kindness of our precious Teachers. The ACI courses on emptiness (e.g., courses VI, on the Diamond Cutter Sutra, and XII, on the classic presentation of emptiness in the ninth chapter of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life) provide detailed, uncompromising, and accurate (if sometimes mind bending) teachings on the highest philosophy of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. More recently, Lama Christie McNally has been teaching from the root text from which all emptiness philosophy derives, written by the greatest of all Buddhist philosophers, Arya Nagarjuna.

And in all these cases, the strong emphasis in our lineage on karma and ethics as the driving force behind why we impute what we do on empty things and beings is, I think, virtually unparalleled in the contemporary Buddhist world.

To have such profound expositions of wisdom readily available to us and presented in our own language and in (relatively) simple terms is an unbelievable gift. If we truly appreciated this, we would be studying these teachings over and over again and meditating daily on what we have learned. It is a deep intellectual understanding of emptiness that will one day trigger the transformative experience of the direct perception of ultimate reality which, in turn, will put us irrevocably on the path to the final goal.

But the other “wing” must not be ignored either. Developing the “good heart” of loving-kindness, compassion, and altruism undercuts the self-cherishing that complements the ignorant belief in self-existence that is eroded by wisdom. Compassion is not optional for someone pursuing the extinguishing of suffering; it is, in fact, the true cause of all happiness.

I think, however, that sometimes we are mistaken about what compassion really is and entails. Sometimes, it seems, we think compassion is some sort of simple “nice guy-ism.” True compassion does not, of course, exclude these sorts of acts of thoughtfulness and kindness toward others. But neither are they sufficient.

As Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche writes in his classic book, “Spiritual Materialism,”

“To the conventional way of thinking, compassion simply means being kind and warm. This sort of compassion is described in the scriptures as ‘grandmother love.’ You would expect the practitioner of this type of compassion to be extremely kind and gentle: he would not harm a flea.”

While is it is nice (and necessary) to develop this “grandmother love” for other beings, it is not enough. We must push ourselves to go beyond this elementary form of compassion to higher and deeper evolutions of this virtue. We make ourselves to do what is much harder to do – to overcome the ego’s constant and insatiable demands for reassurance and comfort.

True compassion doesn’t mean always just stroking the ego of the recipient of your compassion. As Rinpoche writes, the person who ONLY practices “grandmother love” will never push the other person to uncover the true sources of their suffering. Rather, “If you need another mask, another blanket to warm yourself, he will provide it.” This will not, ultimately, do. It is not truly compassionate to simply reinforce the causes of suffering.

The masks must sometimes be ripped off. We sometimes must be more vigorous in our compassion and force the person we love and care about to give up the scissors they are running with and with which they are cutting themselves. Sometimes we need to exercise “tough love” with those we are trying to help. We must be “ruthless” and even a little “crazy,” as Rinpoche observes:

“But true compassion is ruthless, from ego’s point of view, because it does not consider ego’s drive to maintain itself. It is ‘crazy wisdom.’ It is totally wise, but it is crazy as well, because it does not relate to ego’s literal and simple-minded attempts to secure its own comfort.”

This kind of compassion requires us BOTH to be ruthless about the OTHER’S ego and its needs, AND to overcome OUR OWN ego’s needs – the need, for example, to always be liked by others, to always be stroked ourselves and never have anyone be upset with us. People you are trying to help in these deeper ways will sometimes become upset with you. . . because it hurts to have the scissors that are cutting them ripped out their hands. A true bodhisattva must be a warrior when it comes to their own ego as well as the ego of others:

“Compassion contains fundamental fearlessness, fearlessness without hesitation. This fearlessness is marked by tremendous generosity, in contrast to the fearlessness of exerting one’s power over others. This ‘generous fearlessness’ is the fundamental nature of compassion and transcends the animal instinct of ego.”

So “grandmother love” must evolve into “ruthless compassion.” And true compassion must also always be informed by the wisdom that recognizes that there are no self-existent beings in need of my compassion. There is no one or nothing which exists in any other way than as a projection coming from me due to my karma.

The ultimate form of caring for others is what we might call “diamond compassion” where we understand the emptiness of the object of our compassion. Recall the famous mantra from the “Thousand Angels of the Heaven of Bliss” (ganden hla gyama), where we invoke Chenresik or Avalokiteshavara, “Loving Eyes, treasure of love, with no one it loves.”

We must continually be alternating between developing the two wings of our practice. When we find ourselves feeling our compassion as just pity or “nice guy-ism,” for example, we must balance it with the courage that comes from wisdom. And when the wisdom threatens to dry up the compassionate feeling in our hearts, we must go back and shore that up.

Compassion and wisdom are not ultimately different; they inform and interpenetrate one another. And both are ultimately focused on the same objective: to force us to give up our own egoistical sense of self.

With all good wishes,






ACI LA Newsletter

  tudent Contributions

A Heartfelt Salute to Lama Marut

By Duncan Nelson

When in our woulda’-coulda’-shoulda’
World is unfurled the word of the Buddha;
Yea, when Lama Marut, aka Brian Smith,
Day after day is the one we’ve been with –
Hour after hour, without pause,
Hitting us over the head with “Cause,”
And wittily, pitilessly, drumming
Into our brains ways of overcoming
Obstacles to obtaining dharma,
Ways to garden with seeds of karma,
We can hope to break free of the gerbil cage
Of our misery, of our lust and our rage
And our endless, friendless litany
Of “What about me?! What about me?!”

Loosely robed and somewhat pajama-
clad, our radical, magical lama,
With an aura that shrouds his head like a halo
Dispels with his light the clouds of lelo
That lull us – putting to rout that voracious,
Contumacious collection of kleshas
That beleaguer us, a fearsome armada.
He does this by arming us with Shraddhā
That works its way up from faith to trust
Until we attain (as attain we must
If we are to reach Nirvana!) our goal
Of becoming – how neat! – “in complete control”!

Well, we’ll wear that Precious Garland soona’
If we hearken to Arya Nagarjuna,
And exchange our system of “tit-for-tat” fa’
The compassionate ways of bodhisattva –
Thus learning the truth that by being meek
We inherit a world as much less bleak
As our present state of hassle is
To the blessing of being a “vessel of bliss”!
Hey, wouldn’t you love it if you lost ya’
Evil mind – your daurmanasya --
So that every time something got your goat
You would have in hand the antidote?
Well, this is exactly what Lama Marut
Has handled for us -- has handled “sans doute” –
By revealing to us the “raison d’etre”
Of our every shackle, chain, and fetter,
So we see, without a shadow of doubt,
The way to rout ill is to “Chill Out!”
To achieve all this, it’s pretty clear ya’
Need a healthy dose of virya
And helpings of smirti on the side:
Let effort and mindfulness abide,
And keep us living our lives in the clover
Long after we’ve left the grounds of Windhover!

So, thank you, Brian! For your handwrit
Magic marker scrawls in Sanskrit.
And most of all for never buffering
The unAdvillable sources of suffering;
For showing us an alternative
To the chain of pain, a way to live
In such a manner as can rid ya’
Of all the horrors of avidya --
Boundlessly free, euphorious,
“O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious!” –
Brian, to be with you has been glorious!

Ama et Fac Quod Vis: Love and Do Whatever You Wish

By Irma Gomés

What exactly is it to make an enlightened wish? Is it to just say “how wonderful it would be to live in a world of peace”? Where does just repeating this in your head get you? How useful is it?

The teachings state that Bodhiccita is what differentiates the “greater vehicle” from the “small vehicle”. So it must be a very strong sentiment that changes the Buddhist path all the way to enlightenment. This Sanskrit term is sometimes translated as loving-kindness. So perhaps it is just enough to “love and do whatever you wish” as St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote. So, is a daughter caring for her dying mother generating Bodhiccita? If a man spares some change, is this kindness the one we talk about when we say loving kindness?

The first Dharma Rumor I have encountered is the mistranslation of Bodhiccita into “Loving-Kindness” which is better translated from Sanskrit as Maitri, Maitri is the first of the four “immeasurables” which is the wish that all sentient beings around us be happy permanently, and without exception. The second immeasurable is Karuna, which is translated as compassion, wishing that everybody’s sufferings come to an end. The third immeasurable is Mudita. It refers to rejoicing in the virtues and qualities of everybody around us. Upeksha, or equanimity is the fourth immeasurable and it refers to regarding every sentient being as equal. It does not mean that we all melt into one wholeness or that when we reach equanimity all beings seem to be one. Upeksha is wishing that all sentient beings have happiness and are free of suffering, equally. Not just those who we like or those who have been kind to us in the past.

These four immeasurables are in the heart of every teaching on Bodhiccita and thus are intrinsically related to it. In most teachings and prayers these are included, as they bring enormous benefits to our minds. Just by repeating in the morning “I wish all beings to be happy and free from suffering” changes your energy; and its continuous repetition day after day sinks in deeper until one day you don’t get irritated at the person in front of the line of the coffee shop, asking the one only barista to prepare the longest time consuming drink that could possibly exist. Sometimes, instead of thinking “can’t that person just order a regular coffee so that I can get in time for work?” we realize that we are smiling, thinking what a great thing it is that they enjoy such drink every morning and delight on following their eyes as they stare at the chocolate sprinkles being powdered perfectly on top of the caramel whipped cream.

But these four immeasurables are not themselves the mind of Enlightenment; they are at its core. They are the seeds that will ripen our minds and what will protect us from doing bad deeds during the day. Generating Bodhiccita means to develop the wish to achieve Buddhahood, or complete enlightenment; a state where we are completely in bliss, because we are at all times thinking of serving others. So when we generate Bodhiccita in our hearts, we are thinking of reaching a platform from which we can really help others. At the moment we have limited capabilities to know how exactly we can serve each person differently. However, once you have wished to help them, you have to start by trying in your everyday life to actually help others, it is taking personal responsibility. It is the difference between “I wish that all beings were happy” and “I will lead them to happiness myself”.
The repetition of the four immeasurables in union with the commitment to doing it myself opens the door. Then all we need to do is pay attention to our motivation and how we conduct ourselves; anything we do or anywhere we go we are aware that we are doing it for other people; suddenly the relief of not thinking always of “me, myself” starts to turn into a pleasure of well-being and it gets better and better; we start to realize that doing things for others is so much more meaningful and it brings so much enjoyment. “How can I help you?” replaces “how can you help me?”. We start doing things with karuna, and caring more for others with mudita. The more we work the more Bodhiccita develops in our heart. And then, as St Thomas Aquinas suggested, we Love others, and with this motivating our every action, we can then do whatever we want. “Ama et fac quod vis”




  etreat Relfections

Arizona Retreat Reflection

Standing at the silent ridge, watching the steaming sun rise over the mountains beyond, I thought of our great fortune of not needing to be in Tibet to hear and practice the Holy Dharma. Here, in Oracle, Arizona, we had our own ‘Roof of the World’.

Our Holy Lama Marut bought us into this divine Mandala -- of quiet desert twilight and raging monsoon rains, of nectar-sipping butterflies and grumbling skunks and offerings-eating pigs. A Pure Land we were so fortunate to enter into, become silent within, and let life settle a little.

One of the main issues I kept coming back to on my personal retreat was the question of doubt… the dark cloud that can destroy our ability to dive head-first and warrior-like into practice. Fundamentally, for me, it is one of the main obstacles to happiness.

We must keep reinvesting in, tending to, and taking care of our precious faith – in the Guru, the teachings and ourselves. We must take time to remember how much has changed as a result of our practice, how much better we can cope with life, how much more compassion we may now have for others. We must be constantly grateful for the rare teachings the Guru has generously given to us, and know how much they have helped.

There are so many ways we sabotage our own practice and I notice that one of my tendencies is to conveniently forget the hundred things that are going “right” and cling obsessively to the one thing that is going “wrong.” Instead of concentrating on gratitude for the multitude of blessings and miracles (and thereby creating the karma for more), we obsess over the one thing we want to change… thinking “and then I’ll be happy!”

Faith in our Holy Teacher will help us when these upheavals come. Guru Yoga invites us to see the Guru in all things, which includes seeing the seemingly problematic people and events in our lives as perfect – perfect reflections of our past, and perfect opportunities for purification and practice.

We must have faith that the Guru knows exactly what we need to hold us up, even when we feel as though we are drowning. Ani Pema Chodron says this of her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, in her inspiring practice of Guru Yoga:

“It wasn't trust that he would be predictable or follow some kind of reliable code. It was trust that his only motivation was to help people. His whole teaching was about leading people away from holding on to some kind of security. And I wanted my foundations rocked. I wanted to actually be free of habitual patterns which keep the ground under my feet and maintain that false security which denies death. Things are not permanent, they don't last, there is no final security. He was always trying to teach us to relax into the insecurity, into the groundlessness. He taught me about how to live.”

We must have complete faith that the Guru is only ever helping us drop the burning coals we are clinging onto. If He or She is the Buddha then there is no doubt, actually, that whatever they are doing, and whatever they are asking you to do, is a perfect teaching or test designed to get you enlightened as quickly as possible. Faith in yourself is therefore paramount in having the confidence to stay when the ground begins to shake.

Confidence is a helpful antidote to doubt, but we also need a deep sense of humility to both surrender to and serve the Lama. We have to get our small selves out of the way; the self that coddles the mental afflictions that keep us suffering and running back to our safe, habitual patterns that hold us in samsara.

Particularly in retreat, we are asking specifically for these afflictions to show themselves so that we can do battle with them, destroy them, transform them. Even so, it is difficult to not be surprised when they come! And even more difficult to stay and work with what they are showing you. Yet after the habitual, samsaric patterns don’t work, with faith we must take ourselves over and over again back to the three principal paths, back to the first steps of Buddhism 101, and back to our perfect Guru – He will be there, happily waiting for us.

With highest gratitude to our Holy Lama Marut, for always being there for us during retreat; for watching over us, performing perfect and magical ceremonies tirelessly and offering His Diamond words of Dharma we could wear like jewels on our ears.

Please stay, Lama Marut, thank You for all You do for us, and all living beings


Arizona Retreat Reflection

By Julie Upton

Mission: Possible
The place was Oracle, Arizona. The mission if they chose to accept it was individual silent meditation for the month of July. Fifteen of Lama Marut’s tantric students accepted the mission. Some stayed in for a few days, some for one week, others for two weeks; the rest took the whole month.

Silent meditation retreats in our immediate Buddhist lineage are not uncommon. Lama Marut’s teachers and the founders of Diamond Mountain University, Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally, completed a great retreat of 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days in 2003.

This retreat was held at the C.O.D. Ranch in Oracle, Arizona. Oracle is only 35 miles north of Tucson and yet very different. It sits at an elevation of 4500 feet on the northeastern slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado National forest. Mesquite trees and cactus of all varieties surround the property, which is also home to amazing creatures such as bobcats (Lama Marut saw one during an early morning jog), cardinals (of the red variety!), hummingbirds, deer, butterflies, and rabbits. The winner of the most talked about creatures were the scorpions which had the biggest effect on the retreat as many of us encountered them daily, some of the group even getting stung. It was good for us to know that scorpion stings from this region would not cause death.

I have to admit I was a little hesitant about doing this retreat at first, not about being silent or alone for a month, but about being in Arizona during one of the hottest months of the year. We must have all done some real nice things for others in the past because as it turned out the first 10 days or so were very, very hot but, after that, the monsoon rains came and never left. I would say it rained almost every day from then on cooling off the place immensely. I saw rainbows and double rainbows; Ernie says he saw a triple rainbow (oh the karma). It was perfect (to me).

Ernie Jones was the angel who prepared food for us every day. A pastry chef by trade, he made us amazing vegetarian meals so we did not have to use our mind’s energy thinking about food. After Ernie made the meals fellow student, Morgan Williams delivered them to each of our rooms like clockwork everyday at 1pm. The two of them truly made it possible for us to be there, as they were our go-to people for anything we needed.

Retreats can be intense, especially for people who are used to being busy all the time. All of a sudden you are alone with nothing but your mind, prayers, and time. But, retreat is also a time of magic. A time to practice everything you have been taught by your holy Lama and make strides in your practice. The biggest benefit I got out of my retreat was putting into practice what I have been taught over the past year. Through time spent in retreat my practice is now truly a part of my being inside and out. Other benefits I have received are the ability to sit longer and go deeper into my meditations, and to see old patterns in myself that I feel I need to change.

Being alone with my mind for a month was hard at times, but the thing that really pulled me through was something Lama Marut has taught me over and over again…REJOICING. Every time I got upset or freaked out I would rejoice for being there, because I know that there is nothing else more important than changing my mind into an enlightened one. The funny thing is that since I have been out, my mind has been afflicted, and I am realizing right now while writing this article that I need to rejoice more. It is such a huge karma to be able to study Buddhism with so many great teachers that unless I keep rejoicing, the karma could shift and go away. So please rejoice with me now for every good thing in our lives so we can all perpetuate the seed that will eventually flower into Ultimate Happiness. Mission accomplished.

Massachussetts Retreat Reflection

By Lauren Benjamin

Learning How to be Happy at Windhover

So – say one morning you wake up feeling unhappy. What do you do? Look around for the person or situation that is making you unhappy to see if you can change it or them, right? “Absolutely wrong” says Venerable Sumati Marut, “and the precise way to perpetuate my unhappiness.” How to get to ultimate happiness was the topic of this year’s teachings at the third annual Windhover Retreat held in Rockport, Massachusetts August 20 -26th. Lama Marut came to Windhover, in all his monastic glory, to teach us the real source of true happiness and give us practical advices on how to achieve it.

Apparently anyone who saw the flyer for this retreat couldn’t resist coming. There were people from as far away as Connecticut and Maine, as well as a strong LA/Tucson contingent of Lama Marut’s long time students. So many people, in fact, that we outgrew two different meeting halls and Lindsay Crouse, Master of Ceremonies, had to rent a tent to comfortably accommodate the crowd. At some points we were over 200 people!

Besides the idyllic setting that is the Windhover Performing Arts Center, with its beautiful chapel, rustic cabins and sloping meadow – is this paradise? – there were myriad events that attracted people. Zorie Barber and Rob Haggerty taught Tibetan Heart Yoga Series One every morning, to rave reviews. This is the practice that links the meditation of taking away pain and giving happiness to breathing and asana practice, the key being that we are doing our yoga for the benefit of someone else. World renowned yoga teacher, Kelly Morris, stepped in one morning to bring her unique style, and Julie Upton taught over the weekend.

On the fourth night there was a beautiful vow ceremony during which 11 people took various kinds of vows. This included two students from LA – further forging the bond between ACI-LA and the radiant, open-hearted and devoted folks who make up the Cape Ann Sangha, taught by LA’s Rick Blue and Lindsay Crouse, and nurtured by Cape Ann’s Phil Salzman.

Everyone ate like kings and queens, dining on catered vegetarian meals. Attendees were constantly lending a hand, showing the true bodhisattva spirit. Rick and Lindsay conducted daily Q&As and people talking everywhere about how to stay happy in the face of whatever vicissitudes life appears to bring. Oh, and lets not forget the ocean swims some of us took when the days got nice and hot.

Then there was the main attraction: Lama Marut. With his audacious irreverence and western perspective and metaphors – from Star Trek to rap music – this Holy Lama has everyone laughing sometimes before, sometimes after, and usually simultaneous with, delivering the most profound and heart-felt teachings of the spiritual tradition that is called Buddhism. Always making the point that not only do all spiritual traditions teach how to be happy, they have the monopoly on teaching it accurately, and unabashedly stating that “if we’re not gettin’ it, we’re not doin’ it right.” No one who listened could mistake his irreverence for anything other than the best way to get our attention, as well as the deepest respect and love he has for the teachings, for his own Teachers and for us.

Imagine coming to believe that the steady awareness of death is the first step to achieving true happiness. How counter-intuitive, how perfect! Imagine becoming convinced – or even opening your mind enough to consider the possibility – that true happiness is possible! Happiness not tied to the boat, the bigger boat, the girl/boyfriend, the job and the other things you will eventually lose but is, rather, a steady, calm and perpetual joy that comes from within, arising from how you’ve treated others in the past. Imagine, even more radically, becoming convinced to “kill your television” (complete with sound effects of rifle shot) because, unless you see what you are watching as something that will take you to enlightenment, they are worse than time-wasters; they are toxic. Or being convinced to be grateful to those who annoy you, or to believe in the mantra “Om, I have enough, ah hum” (which, to his surprise, appeared emblazoned on tee-shirts the second day.) And imagine having the chance to hear frank responses – filled with the deepest compassion of hard truth – to questions about caring for the dying and preparing for it yourself. And these were just the afternoon teachings!!

The evening teachings were filled with advices on how to “work hard and ‘chillax’” (you kinda; have to say it out loud to get its meaning) and to “relax into the insecurity” (from Pema Chodron.) And especially, realizing that if you’re unhappy or suffering because you don’t have enough money, enough love, enough joy, it’s because you live by the mantra: “what about me?” (credited to Mipham.) So stop that! And if you’re happily floating on the Annisquam river with a cold one in your hand, it’s because you made sure everyone else got a cold one first. So keep doing that, and dedicate it to floating your way to Buddha paradise!

It was truly a joy to see, and participate with, everyone as we shared experiences and understandings, questions and possible answers, struggles and laughter. It was an amazing time in an amazing place with amazing company. So is this paradise? Decidedly so – according to the teachings – paradise that we created with our good actions towards others. Now the trick is to create it to last forever!!!





ACI LA Newsletter

  Dharma Flicks

Implicit Dharma - Waking Life

As summer winds down and we return to life at work or school, we may find ourselves with the thought, wasn’t that retreat/vacation/get-a-away the way it should be all the time? Shouldn’t our “normal” lives be the exception? Well, if we work hard enough, and stay focused on the right endeavors, of course, all suffering will fall away and bliss will be ours. First though, we have to be sure which is which. Which is suffering and which is pleasure. It may not be as easy a question as it seems. On the way to figuring it all out, Richard Linklater’s Waking Life is a great, diversion… begins with the question: What are dreams? Are they an escape from reality or are they reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dream world. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life's mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves


Explicit Dharma - Amongst White Clouds

American director Edward A. Burger takes us on his unforgettable journey into the hidden lives of China's forgotten Zen Buddhist hermit tradition. Amongst White Clouds is a look at the lives of zealous students, gaunt ascetics and wise masters living in isolated hermitages dotting the peaks and valleys of China's Zhongnan Mountain range. As we learn, the Zhongnan Mountains have been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor, some five thousand years ago. It is widely thought though, that this tradition was wiped out by the events of the last century in China. Amongst White Clouds shows us this is not the case. One of only a few foreigners to have lived and studied with these hidden sages, Burger reveals to us their tradition, their wisdom, and the hardship and joy of their everyday lives. With both humor and compassion, these inspiring and warm-hearted characters challenge us to join them in an exploration of our own suffering and enlightenment in this modern world.





ACI LA Newsletter

  Dharma Website of the Month

We thought it might be useful to bring to your attention a valuable dharma-oriented website each month. There are so many great dharma sites on the web…

Web Site of the month:

The founder of Shambhala, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (1939-1987) was the 11th descendent in the line of Trungpa tulkus, important teachers of the Kagyu lineage, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism and renowned for its strong emphasis on meditation practice. Visit the Shambala site to learn more about meditation, Shambala, the lineage, the programs and the centers.




If you come across a site that you’d like others to know about, please email Shannon and contribute to this part of the newsletter.





  Dharma Book of the Month

Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

byChogyam Trungpa

In “The Sacred Path of the Warrior”, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche explains step by step how to develop the courage to live with a true heart, and to have peace in a chaotic world.  The warrior not being one of war, and violence, but instead one of goodness and gentleness. One who walks into this world not afraid to see life as an opportunity to learn and evolve. Through this book we become the sacred warrior that we carry in the depths of our selves, inspiring us to act with courage, when we are lost and confused about our purpose.

Through the synchronization of mind and body, we can overcome habitual patterns with the help and love of discipline.  With these teachings, we are taught how allow ourselves to open up to the world, and find messages in our most troubling obstacles.

Chogyam Trungpa leads us through this teaching with so much love and understanding, it’s as if he was whispering them in our ears.

“The basic message of the Shambhala teachings is that the best of human life can be realized under ordinary circumstances. That is the basic wisdom of Shambhala: that in this world, as it is, we can find a good and meaningful life that will also serve others.”

Click to purchase from Amazon:





  Dharma Podcasts: Recent Audio Uploads

Dharma Poscast

You can watch Dharma flicks, read Dharma books and now you can hear Dharma pod casts. Life in the modern world certainly makes life easy for a practitioner to get wonderful access to teachings! Don’t miss our new weekly podcasts at

This month’s Dharma Podcast: The Magic of Empty Teachers

The guru is empty, a projection or mirror of your own good qualities. In order to perfect oneself, one must first practice seeing perfection in another – in the first place, in the guru, and eventually in every other being.

This podcast is taken from a teaching given to a small group in Kinvara, Ireland, on
June 14, 2006.

If you enjoy having access to these wonderful Dharma podcasts, please make sure to comment in the comments section on iTunes.

Also, make sure to subscribe to keep up to date on the digital downloads! Click on the subscription button at and/or and enter your email address to receive podcast updates. You’ll receive an email announcement when new podcasts of teachings are uploaded to either site.



Recent Audio Uploads

Teachings on the Bhagavad Gita

Teaching on the Wheel of Life

Teaching on How and Why to be Happy

Teaching on Living Your Yoga

Windhover Retreat Teachings





ACI LA Newsletter


Current ACI-LA Classes

ACI classes are free and open to the public.


Lam Rim Meditation
Taught by Stéphane Dreyfus
Ongoing Tuesday Evenings
Hill Street Center
237 Hill Street
Santa Monica, CA

>> See the flier for more info!

pcoming Teachings

ACI Formal Study Course 7: Vows of the Bodhisattva
Taught by Lauren Benjamin and Catherine Eaton
Thursday nights
7:00pm – 9:30pm
Starting September 27th
Venice, CA

>> See the flier for more info!


Death Meditation Retreat
Taught by Stéphane Dreyfus
Using Awareness of Death to Create Happiness
September 28th – 30th
Riverside, CA

>> See the flier for more info!


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ACI LA Newsletter

Thank You


Thank you to Venerable Marut for his kindness in coming to teach the Dharma here in Los Angeles and around the world. Thank you to Lauren Benjamin, Cliff Spencer, Rick Blue, Lindsay Crouse, Summer Moore, and Stéphane Dreyfus for their kindness in continuing to teach here in Los Angeles.

Thank you to Stéphane Dreyfus for maintaining the ACI-LA website. All suggestions and updates for the website can be sent to Stephane. Shannon Parry will be producing the newsletters and would appreciate submissions. Please email your contributions to Shannon by the 25th of the month.