For Episode 84 of the Metta Hour Podcast, Sharon speaks with Lama Tsomo, an American lama, author, and co-founder of the Namchak Foundation.
Lama Tsomo has followed a path of spiritual inquiry and study that ultimately led to her ordination as one of the few American lamas in Tibetan Buddhism. Lama learned Tibetan to study with her teacher Tulku Sangak Rinpoche, and now shares the teachings of the Namchak lineage in the US and abroad. Lama holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and is the author of the award winning “Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?”
In this conversation, Lama speaks with Sharon about her personal story of why she came to study Tibetan Buddhism, how her path has evolved through the course of her life, and how she has balanced family life, work life, and deep practice. The episode closes with Lama leading a guided meditation. For more information about Lama Tsomo, visit: namchak.org
Links from this episode: Namchak | Who Is Lama Tsomo?
Coming to Sit (Opening) – Lama Tsomo shares her path to contemplative practice and the commitment that she made to herself to practice daily and connect more deeply with her inner world. She reflects on changing her assumptions and accepting her teacher, Tulku Sangak Rinpoche. Tsomo speaks with Sharon about balancing her life as a mother, a teacher and as a practitioner.
“I was trying to meditate daily and figured that I was not doing a good job at it and was wasting my time, so I gave up. Then I spent five years not doing daily meditation practice and discovered that even my pitiful attempt had been helping me. There are thousands of tiny decisions we make in a day; if we keep coming to ourselves once a day we tend to make those decisions coming from who we truly are.” – Lama Tsomo
Combining the Best of the East & West (15:55) – We hear of Tsomo’s first experience of being asked to teach Buddhism in Taiwan. Tsomo describes her slow realization of the unique set of the skills and perspectives that she had to offer to the Buddhist community in Taiwan. She and Sharon talk about the insight gained when we bring an outside perspective into our world.
Tools of Compassion (30:50) – How does Lama Tsomo’s background in psychology and experience as a mother inform the way that she teaches Buddhism?
“We do sometimes have to take a firm stance and act in a fierce way, but while are doing that are we pissed or feeling love and compassion and feeling connected to that person – even as we are taking that fierce stance – that’s my litmus test.” – Lama Tsomo
Responsibilities to our Greater Community (45:00) – Sharon and Tsomo talk about social activism and the importance of participating in the political process by voting.
Sending and Receiving (48:10) – Tsomo closes by leading a Tonglen meditation, a foundational practice in her Tibetan lineage.