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Venerable Thubten Chodron 

Buddhist nunn and teacher

May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes.
May all sentient beings be free from suffering and its causes.
May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss.
May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from bias, attachment and anger.

This is the signature message at the end of Venerable Thubten Chodron's e-mail so lovely it transcends the electronic medium and reads in an imagined voice that sounds like a clear bell. When I finally reach Chodron, a Buddhist nun and teacher, her voice over the telephone is much like the one I imagined light and clear, with an upturned accent at the end of every sentence. A regular contributor to Tricycle magazine, Chodron is the author of three widely acclaimed books on Buddhism in everyday life: Open Heart Clear Mind, Buddhism for Beginners and Taming the Monkey Mind. Chodron will visit Colorado Springs next week as the guest of the Center for the Study of Buddhism and Tibetan Culture. Her three-day seminar, "Becoming Your Own Therapist," will be held on Feb. 12, 13 and 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Center at the Benet Hill Monastery, 2577 N. Chelton Road.

How does one become a Buddhist nun? As you can tell from my accent, I'm American; I grew up in California. I encountered Buddhism in the mid '70s, then in 1977 I was ordained as a Buddhist nun. I am a student of his holiness, the Dalai Lama. I lived in India for a long while, then I was sent by my teachers to teach and minister in Europe and in Southeast Asia. Now, I am the resident teacher at the Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle where we bring qualified teachers to the Seattle area to foster interreligious dialogue, and provide whatever service we can to the community.

In what ways does your group serve the community? We provide Buddhist teachings, meditation classes, retreats and counseling. We do prison work I visit the prison regularly and correspond with a number of prisoners. We sponsor a program called Teen Feed which feeds homeless teenagers. Sometimes I'm called in when people are dying to assist them. We're involved in hospice work too.

Tell me about "Becoming Your Own Therapist." I'm going to be talking a lot about using Buddhist techniques to deal with your own emotions. Even though the Buddha lived 25 centuries ago, many of his teachings have a direct application to the stresses and strains of modern life. We'll talk about how to transform jealousy and arrogance, how to free ourselves from guilt, ways to alleviate stress and anxiety, very practical things. My purpose is not to make people become Buddhists. I don't care what they call themselves. The purpose is to share techniques that can be useful to people in their daily lives.

What is the monkey mind? (Laughs.) It's the one that jumps from this to that to the other thing, always looking for happiness but always dissatisfied. It's our American state. I teach how to subdue it and how to focus more on what's important in our lives how to bring out our talents, our potential, rather than frittering away our energy, like a monkey does, swinging from branch to branch.

"Becoming Your Own Therapist," a three-evening seminar with Venerable Thubten Chodron will include a nightly relaxation meditation, a talk by Chodron, a question-and-answer session, and a final brief meditation. Suggested donation is $5 per night, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information, call the Center for the Study of Buddhism and Tibetan Culture at 635-7804.


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