Last weekend I went to Cleveland and held a workshop, entitled Subtle and Gross Impermanence, at the Jewel Heart Center there. Cleveland was one of my first stations when I came to the United States in the 1980’s. I was hired to work with Professor Melvyn Goldstein on the Tibetan political history and language. I even wrote the Tibetan phrasebook for tourists with him while I was there.
At that time there was only a small group of people, including Cliffe Barnes. It was in his apartment that I began to teach The Three Principles of the Path. Prof. Goldstein also asked me to give a series of lectures on Tibetan culture at Case Western University. This was my first talk on Tibetan culture in the United States, but I don’t think it was successful because he never asked me to continue the series again! Later, I remembered that my talk primarily consisted of saying , “at the monastery we have tea, we have tea, then we have tea.” I was remembering that the first meeting in the morning in the general monasteries, which is known as tsog chen, is held in the great assembly hall. They serve four cups of tea and maybe some soup. Then in the late morning we have a meeting at the dra tsang (which is like a college) and they serve four cups of tea. Then in the afternoon we go to the kham tsen (like a fraternity house), where they also have four cups of tea. So my lecture may have been, “we have tea, then we have tea, then we have tea!”
While I was working at Case Western, I used to come up on the weekends to give dharma teachings in a little apartment where Aura and Sandy used to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That was the beginning of establishing Jewel Heart in the United States.
And also I remembered that we had a group of monks (probably Loseling) who came to Cleveland and we arranged the performance in the chapel at Case Western free of charge. It was such bad weather - snowy, icy, and all that, but so many people showed up that the chapel was completely full and people were waiting outside in the snow and cold. This is the place where people had a great deal of interest in Tibetan Buddhism.
I was glad to be back. We still have about 80 – 100 people meeting at Jewel Heart, a rigorous, slightly traditionalist group of practitioners; wonderful men and women who use the Jewel Heart facilities which was provided by Marty and Anne Warren.