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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Lama to speak in Halifax

December 1, 2008

By Jon Tattrie
The Chronicle Herald (Canada)
November 24, 2008

Wandering through the market in Marrakech, Morocco, long after the
sun has set, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche says taking reality as real
will drive you mad. Speaking over a crackling line to his cellphone,
the Buddhist lama, filmmaker and author describes our ordinary lives
as a "big sleep" — we get scared by what we dream up.

"Reality is not what we think it is," he explains as vendors loudly
hawk snakes, carpets, oils and shoe polish. "We have to tran­scend it."

Our problem is that we imagine what we see is real and perma­nent, he
says. In fact, it is just a temporary illusion. There's noth­ing to
get stressed about; wait a minute (or a lifetime) and it will pass.

"When you dream you are fall­ing off a cliff, you are scared,"
Rinpoche says. "But when you realize you are dreaming -- and you
don't necessarily wake up — you can stop being scared."

You might even want to take time to explore the experience, he
suggests. After all, how often do you get a chance to fall to your
death from a cliff and live? Since you're falling, why not note how
the wind blows through your hair and take in your impressions as you
fly toward the ground? So it is with life: we are restless dream­ers,
twisting and turning in our beds, screaming into the empty darkness,
he says. We must wake up and see that what we thought was real and
frightening is just a passing misapprehension.

"Meditation is part of that wak­ing up," Rinpoche says.

Rinpoche will be in Halifax this weekend as a guest speaker for the
Shambhala Centre. He will be commenting on Chogyam Trung­pa's
Transcending Madness at Dalhousie today and tomorrow and will be
interviewed at a pub­lic Shambhala Sun Foundation fundraiser tonight.

Rinpoche, born in 1961 in Bhu­tan, was pronounced the third
re­incarnation of the founder of Ti­betan Buddhism's Khyentse line at
seven. He is known as a guru, but says "a guru is someone who eats
pizza," emphasizing his own ego-eradicating work is not com­plete. He
sees a guru as a sort-of spiritual hit man, a hired gun to murder your ego.

He has a disarming habit of tell­ing the truth. Amid a din of deals
being bartered at full throat, the laid-back lama slips into a car
for some quiet. Asked about his work as a filmmaker, he relays praise
and criticism in the same curious tone. He makes films under the name
Khyentse Norbu and is best known for his Buddhist monk soccer movie
The Cup (1999) and Travellers and Magicians (2003). He wrote What
Makes You Not a Buddhist last year.

The man who says pride is a synonym for ignorance admits he was lured
by the ego-stroking pro­cess. "I have not handled it very good," he
says. Making movies is an ego-driven venture: he did it because he
wanted to tell the sto­ry his way. He also had to sell the idea — and
himself — to others. Producers, directors, actors and, ultimately,
the audience had to be won. Rinpoche says he's not sure how he's
going to do this more humbly in the future, but he'll try.

"I'm teaching here. There's nothing special in that. That's what I
do," he says, before the con­nection breaks for the final time.
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