Buddhists turn their minds to happiness

by MEAGAN ROOTH, The Warrnambool Standard, Feb 11, 2010

Warrnambool, Australia -- THE Warrnambool Buddhist community will welcome a revered monk this weekend for a two-day seminar on tranquility.

Australian-b orn Thubten Gyatso (Dr Adrian Feldmann) has been a Buddhist monk and teacher for 35 years and is leading the workshop on the workings of the mind.

Three local Buddhists gathered earlier this week to prepare for the seminar, by reading Gyatso's book A Leaf in the Wind.

Marie Cook, who invited Gyatso to the region, said the classes would enlighten participants on the path towards happiness.

"The seminar will be about how the mind works," she said of the event.

"The gist will be: If you want to lead a happy life, you have to understand how the mind works."

Gyatso trained as a medical doctor at the University of Melbourne as a young adult before heading abroad to discover the world.

It was in Nepal that he first met refugee Tibetan monks and felt an instant connection with their peaceful religion.

"It is quite an unusual story in that he could have had a very good career as a doctor," Ms Cook explained.

"But he chose to become a monk and has probably done more than he could have ever imagined."

Most recently, Gyatso spent three years in solitude at a Buddhist retreat on Kangaroo Island.

The only contact with humans came when he saw a dentist and had to evacuate because of fire threat.

Ms Cook said the retreat, which concluded in 2008, refined Gyatso's appreciation of the mind.

She said his newfound wisdom would be passed on in the workshops.

"Some people think emotions come from the outside world, but really, emotions come from the mind," she said.

"We can work on training the mind, and through habitual behaviour we can change our emotions."

The seminar will be held at The Archie Graham Community Centre from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 1pm on Sunday.

Ms Cook said anyone was welcome to attend.