Buddhist Master preaches peace and love at Wilkes

by CAMILLE FIOTI, Times Leader, Dec 10, 2007

WILKES-BARRE, PN (USA) -- A crowd of nearly 75 gathered at Wilkes University Saturday to hear the teachings of the Venerable Lama Rinchen Phuntsok. Treating others with love, kindness and compassion, was the general message in the “Eight Verses of Mind Training” seminar.

Born in Tibet, Lama Rinchen is a scholar and meditation master of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The meditation master teaches about Buddhism around the globe. “We are really lucky to have him here,” Shelley Pearce, chairperson of the Cultural Council of Luzerne County, which hosted the seminar, said. “To be fortunate enough to spend time with a real life master, such as Lama Rinchen is a profound inspiration, as he is a shining example of love, kindness and compassion that we all need to follow.”

Although Lama Rinchen’s accent was a bit of an obstacle, and he struggled with pronunciation of some English words, the audience was able to follow along using a handout. Les Wujcik, of Kingston, attended Lama Rinchen’s meditation seminar at Wilkes almost two years ago in the university’s Kirby Hall. He said he was glad the seminar was held in the Stark Learning Center’s auditorium this year because he was able to get a front row seat. “I was straining to hear at the last one.” Wujcik said he has read books on Zen meditation and the Buddhism way of life. “I am always trying to learn and better myself as a human being.”

One woman in the audience asked Lama Rinchen if he would perform a marriage ceremony for she and her fiance. She said that she was from Africa, and that her fiance didn’t trust organized religion nor the government. Surprised and amused, Lama Rinchen politely declined, pointing out that he was leaving the state the next day.

Jennifer Dressler, of Kingston, said she attended the seminar because she is interested in learning about different philosophies to relate to others in peaceful ways. “I am exploring different ways of looking at my life and finding peace. It’s about acceptance and having gratitude for what you have.”

One man in the audience summed up the lessons of mind training, pointing out the connection between the mind and the heart. “Mind training is designed to interrupt the mind so you can get to your heart. It is a form of prayer,” he said. “So if we can interrupt the mind, we can get to the heart.”