A LETTER FROM PEMA KHANDRO – SILENCE AS A BATTLEGROUND
In our current ngondro group, the Water Tigers, we are meditating on the purification of speech and part of the power of speech is also the power of silence, right silence. It reminds me of the debates I have had over the last few years about the proper role of silence in times of war, injustice and oppression. There are my friends who say, “if you aren’t mad then you are enabling,” (but what about grief!! Anger is not the only right response!) and that stunning saying “silence is violence.” That last one really strikes me because silence can be so many things.
For the brave voices of the #metoo movement, breaking the silence healed, transformed and protected. There are times when silence is understandable and necessary. It can be a trauma response – and in that case, it is ok to be silent and care for your mental health. Silence can also reinforce trauma too, prolonging that sense of being haunted by unprocessed material. Something I learned as a person of color is that silence can also be a way of getting to safety. There are times when silence is necessary in order to pick one’s battles and, once again, take care of one’s mental health or the safety of one’s friends.
Silence can be a posture of the deep listening that is needed for genuine transformation. Without that silence there may only be aggression and escalation. Silence can be the silent meditation that we so desperately need in order to be sane and clear through tough times.
And, indeed, silence can enable violence as well. It can be a matter of privilege and denial that allows oppression and violence to continue to take place. Thus, it seems that silence arises in so many ways.
One of the most powerful things I have seen about silence is when someone is healing from past trauma and learns, for the first time, that they can be safe in a group. There is some somatic knowing that awakens or is restored, the realization that it is safe to be calm together with others. Psychologically speaking, it is a profound experience that involves attachment and attunement, where one can get in sync with one’s environment and people around them, self-regulating but at the same time, co-regulating together. This is one thing that is so powerful about group meditation practice. Healing happens so quietly, in simple silence, with no one naming it or orchestrating it. I often think about that before teaching meditation, this may be the only time someone here has ever been peaceful and safe in a group.
So for this reason, and so many others, I still believe in the power of silence. And, of course, I know that my friends do too. It is just hard to make a one-size fits all slogan that works as a response to dangerous times, hard to find a slogan that covers it all, is fair to the situation and accommodates the range of possible appropriate responses to difficult situations. They were talking about one kind of silence, a silence that enables violence and oppression to continue. I am also talking about other kinds, trauma, meditation, healing, transmission. It is hard to say in a short slogan that we need silence and talking, all at the right times. Maybe we could say something more rigorous, like “Learn how to use silence properly,” or “Silence, can be dangerous or liberating, healing or harming.” And here we see that in these statements about silence, we all are agreeing to an implicit acknowledgement that silence, in its vast openness, and dare I say, emptiness, is also interwoven with ethics, morality, identity, individual and society.
Silence is a serious thing indeed, one that, from the Tibetan Buddhist point of view, takes serious training to learn how to skillfully engage with.
My very best to you always,
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Dakini Day Chod
Letting Go of Illusions
Saturday Feb 26 – 1pm PT | 4pm ET
Meditation and Instructions on compassionate letting go through Tibetan Chod meditation.
Chod is a meditation method through meeting fear and affliction with compassion. Rather than renounce these mind states, in Chod, they are allowed to transform and be reintegrated as keys to innate wisdom. Chod is an intermediate to advanced level Tibetan meditation practice. It involves, chanting, meditation, rehearsing dying and working directly with emotions and experiences. All are welcome. By Donation. This class is led by Pema Khandro, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and scholar.
Dakini Day Chod returns. This class will focus on the Laughter of the Dakinis, the Chod from Longchen Nyingthig.
Wednesday Feb 23
6pm PT | 9pm ET
Buddhist Philosophy Online ~ Open Teaching Webcast
30 minute teaching and short meditation with Pema Khandro
Free and open to the public.
This is a monthly class to support your study of Buddhist philosophy and meet the challenge of integrating Buddhism into a full, dynamic life. This class includes meditation instruction, Buddhist teachings, and remedies for navigating through challenges to practice.
Losar Celebration for Members!
Celebrate the Tibetan New Year!
The Year of the Water Tiger
with Pema Khandro and Wonderful Sangha and Friends
Friday March 4
San Francisco 5:30-7pm
New York 8:30-10pm
London March 5 – 1:30am
Australia March 5 – 12:30pm
Nepal March 5 – 7:15am
All members are welcomed to join our annual Tibetan New Year Celebration – Online!
There is so much to look forward to:
- The Member of the year celebration.
- Celebration of Iron Mice who finished Ngondro last year!
- Celebration of those who finished 108 Chod!
- Conversations about what you learned from the pandemic.
- Celebration of accomplishments of the sangha members.
- Buddhist jokes!
- And so much more!!
Iron Mice, please wear black!
Water Tigers, please wear blue!
Members at large, please where maroon or red!
If you can dress festively, please do so!
If you forget and wear random clothing, no problem!
Registration for the annual Losar celebration is limited to members only, but it is open to all members, new and long time members. This is a time for the members from all the various programs to reunite and celebrate together. To find out more about member levels and benefits, or to become a member, visit Become a Member
Considered the practice most similar to our experience at death, Dream Yoga is about navigating in the real and unreal aspects of our experience without falling asleep to awareness. It is a practice of recognizing the nature of our minds.
This Teaching focuses on the Tibetan Buddhist methods for navigating Dream, Waking Life, and Sleep.
Waking, dreaming, and deep sleep present transformations of perception and they highlight the continuity and discontinuity of experience. Through recognizing the opportunities for meditative awareness in these states, we can understand our own minds and face all our experiences with greater presence. A teaching based on the Six Yogas of Naropa – which is a system of harnessing ordinary experience for awakening.
PEMA KHANDRO IN LION’S ROAR!!!
Upcoming Calendar at a Glance
Monthly Programs at 6pm PT / 9pm ET
Every Monday – Ngondro Practice with Tsalgyur
3rd Weds – Ngakpa Training
4th Weds – Excellent Path
Every Day at 12pm PT/3pm ET
Feb 21 – Ngondro: Refuge & Bodhichitta Live Class w/Pema Khandro
Feb 26 – Dakini Day Chod w/Pema Khandro
Mar 28 – Dakini Day Chod w/Pema Khandro