Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment
Tenzin Palmo was raised in London, England where she became a Buddhist and then later left for India in 1964. There she became a Buddhist nun and underwent many years of intensive practice, at one time going into strict retreat for three years. In the 1990’s she was asked to start a nunnery and, quoting from her website, “In January 2000 the first nuns arrived and in 2001 the construction of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery began and is now, with the ongoing construction of the traditional Temple, nearing completion.” In February 2008 she was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master.
On January 5, 2015 Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo gave a talk at the Florida Atlantic University on how to make the mind a good companion in life. I found her words to be particularly encouraging as they reinforced my own understanding as well as opening up new avenues of thought and practice. Here is some of her talk but if you are interested in hearing her words first hand please use this link.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo began by speaking on the need to heal the mind. She said that while Buddhism seeks to demolish the ego before this could be done it must first be made healthy and balanced.
An unhealthy ego, said Palmo, is like an injured arm. When we injure our arm we keep it close to the body for protection. We think about it all the time because it hurts and if anyone touches it we feel pain. But if our arm is healthy we don’t think about it and we move it about freely. In the same way, if our sense of self is injured we think of it all the time and withdraw to protect it. But if our sense of self is healthy we are free to be open and think of others.
Palmo also spoke of the importance of just seeing and observing our thoughts without becoming immersed in them. To see thoughts as just thoughts, “This is a very important thing,” said she and, as we do, awareness becomes stronger.
She said that as we learn to observe our thoughts we could then begin to select the useful ones and exchange negative thoughts for positive ones. This ability is enhanced by the gap that develops between what we think and how we react to those thoughts. As that gap gets larger we have more time to choose are actions, rather than just impulsively react to whatever arises in life.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo went on to say more but I find it encouraging that she affirms the direction of my own practice that also emphasizes the importance of seeing thought as just thought. And that this leads to self-healing as we become increasingly aware that our thoughts are not reality.