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Take It From A Lady Who Spent 12 Years Meditating In A Cave

February 25, 2010

Some of you have probably heard of Ani Tenzin Palmo — a Britisher who left home at age 20 to spend the next quarter-century practicing Tibetan Buddhism as a nun in India.  Twelve of those years she spent living in a cave, with walls and a door built onto it, in the valley of Lahoul in northern India.  Kind of her bad-ass claim to faim — though the way she tells it, she just wanted some real solitude and was tremendously happy there: plus the cave was actually warmer than the traditional mud-wall houses everyone else lived in.

Anyhow, this paragraph from one of her books, Reflections On A Mountain Lake, caught my eye:

Many people ask how to get rid of anger, because it is an uncomfortable feeling.  We don’t like feeling angry.  We don’t like feeling hatred.  But nobody has ever asked me, “How can I deal with my desire and my greed?”  Yet greed and desire, along with ignorance, keep us trapped in samsara.  But greed and desire are not really regarded as negative emotions in the West.  After all, what would our consumer society be if we didn’t have desire?  On the whole, desire is regarded as a positive thing, especially if you can satisfy it.  Desire is seen as a motivating force.  It propels people to go out and buy more and more and more, and that keeps the economy churning.  This is the idea behind all this.

Imagine living in an economy based on contentment, compassion, and generosity, rather than desire.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. jennifer hirshhorn permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:40 pm

    hi katie, yours is the first (and only at this time) blog that i read and plan to read regularly. thank you for your wisdom and beauty. this quote, by ani tenzin palmo, speaks to a matter which is central to me and a subject about which i had a two hour discussion a couple of days ago, with a friend who en route to becoming a rabbi.
    more to say on this. for now, thank you and good night brilliant being.

  2. February 26, 2010 12:51 pm

    Oh jennifer! Haha, at first I couldn’t place your last name, and I was like, Jesus that name sounds familiar — is it someone very famous?! But I’m even happier that it’s you. I would LOVE to hear more of your thoughts and insights on this, and about your discussion with your pre-rabbinical friend. Whenever you have time to write out a comment, or we could email or even phone. I hope your semester is going well so far, and would love to hear what you’ve been thinking and feeling and creating in your studio.

    Thank you for your inspiration and loving encouragement — it really means more than I can say, especially as I attempt to figure out just what I think I’m doing on this blog thing. :)

    Be well; many hugs.

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