Jampa Dorje, Ellensburg’s resident Tibetan Buddhist monk, leafed through one of his volumes in search of a poem.
He found one he wrote during a trip between his parents’ home in California’s Bay Area and his Buddhist retreat center in Colorado.
“I’ve already written my autobiography,” he said, rifling through one of the nine hand-illustrated and written volumes that comprise it.
Times have changed, he read, since people were out protesting China’s selection as host of the Olympics following outcry over its treatment of Tibet.
“I’m ordering a Grand Slam at Denny’s and the waiter says, ‘You guys are awesome.’ I’m checking into a Hotel 6 and the desk clerk asks, ‘Is there anything we can do for your people?”
Dorje, bespectacled and wearing his orange shirt and red robes, goes on:
“I’m taking a leak at a Shell station, the guy next to me goes ‘om.’ I mean, what is this? I’m only trying to relieve myself!”
He ended the poem laughing.
“As you can see, it’s not a totally serious religious path. I’m a bit of a renegade in a way,” he said. “I just feel that some of that seriousness is just so unnecessary. If you’re not having fun in your religion, I mean, why do it? … You’re burdening yourself with such unnecessary seriousness over things that should bring you joy and happiness.”
That’s part of Buddhism, he said, avoiding extremes in thought and action.
“It’s not as though people aren’t suffering, I mean they are! But part of it is, they’re not happy, and so much of that not-happiness is their own inability to be happy, and it’s the suffering on top of the suffering,” he said Monday in his small, simple house near Ninth Avenue and Water Street.
We all suffer, he said: It’s hot out; my butt itches; “I’d rather be fishing, but I can’t because I’m Buddhist.”
“Am I good enough? Will I have the security? I hate my boss. All of this is the unnecessary suffering that comes from attachments to ideas and forms and things that are impermanent, which in turn disappoint, fall apart, die.”
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