ACI-LA Hosts Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally
By Rick Blue
For the first time since its inception, ACI-LA and the Mahasukha Center had the great good fortune to host Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally for 2 sparkling evenings of teachings centered on spiritual partnership, and a party for the release of their new book, King of the Dharma .
Just having Geshe Michael and Lama Christie "schedule us in," on a calendar with teaching requests that span the globe was our first ripening of good karma. To have their talk coincide with a teaching on the vision behind their beautifully researched and designed book, King of the Dharma , was a great bonus.
The talks took place on the evenings of Feb 20 and 21st at the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester, CA., with the kind blessing of Father Peter Rood.
For many in the ACI-LA sangha it was the first time they had been able to receive live teachings from the lamas. The setting of the church reflected their inclusive style, welcoming an audience of diverse traditions to hear concise, gentle teachings on how to use the principles of karma and emptiness to not only find your "spiritual partner" but the way to view and hold all relationships. Their insights into "karmic engineering" as a way to literally change your world was very much at home in an Episcopal Church, where another Buddha, (which is certainly how we would see Jesus - an enlightened being, appearing to serve and teach all beings), also taught the karmic principles of "reaping what you sow," and "treating all others as you yourself would like to be treated."
The motif for these talks about partnership centered on the ideas surrounding the life of Je Tsongkapa, a towering figure of Tibetan Buddhism whose life is captured in their new book, King of the Dharma .
When Tibet was under siege from the Chinese invasion, members of the family of His Holiness, the 14 th Dalai Lama of Tibet, fled with what little they could take. One of the things that survived their flight to India was a series of 15 scroll paintings known as the" Tsongkapa Eighty." These works contained more than 200 scenes from the life of Je Tsongkapa, arguably the greatest figure of Tibetan Buddhism, and founder of the Gelukpa School of Buddhism - someone whom Geshe Michael referred to in the talk as being "as important as Jesus."
The paintings were donated by His Holiness to the Kalmyk Mongolian temple in New Jersey. Geshe Michael met and served his root lama, Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Lobsang Tharchin at the Kalmyk temple, Rashi Gempil Ling , in NJ and it was there that he, and later Lama Christie, began a journey that probed into all aspects of this work. The fruit of over 15 years of labor has resulted in an illustrated biography of both detailed scholarship, and great art.
King of the Dharma traces the evolution of these paintings, and the life and teachings they illustrate, including rare commentary. It blends original and archival photographs, as well as stunning modern illustrations by the artist, Ori Carin.
Another important accomplishment of the book were posters Geshe Michael and Lama Christie created which capture the different roles that Je Tsongkapa played in his life. As they said, he was more than a monk, he was a philosopher, master mediator, yogi, diplomat then some.
The posters circled the church sanctuary where the teachings were given, literally enveloping us in the dharma.
Taking turns, the lamas, wove their way through the themes of the posters, giving us a recipe on how to live a spiritual life, and in turn forge partnerships that nurture that path.
The universality of the teachings these posters impart become clear to us when Father Peter and some of his parishioners asked us if we could leave the posters on the wall for their Sunday service and for some time after!
The talks were attended by capacity audiences as well as online, where the teachings were streamed and will be available as an archive.
For those who had heard Geshe Michael and Lama Christie teach before, it was a chance to revisit their laser-like, yet humorous and loving style of teaching. For first-timers, you could sense they were learning what we had; that when in their presence you always feel you are being gently invited to come along on a significant journey.
Stations for purchasing books were set up at the Church, along with "lama boards" where you could purchase and send a book to a lama. Following the talks, the Geshe Michael and Lama Christie stayed to sign books and greet a long line of appreciative audience members. In addition to the book sale and signings, a prolific, (and delicious) bake sale was held the 1st evening to make it possible for young American students to go and study with the monks of Sera Mey Monastery in India.
All proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Kalmyk Temple, in Freewood Acres, New Jersey, to help them preserve their temple for many years into the future.
For ACI-LA, and those in Los Angeles, this was hopefully the beginning of more visits from these extraordinary lamas.
For more information in the book visit: http://www.jetsongkapathebook.org/book.html
For more information on ACI-LA visit: /