The Ursuline Sisters received a lesson on kindness and compassion on March 23, 2023, from a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was visiting Owensboro for a week.
Venerable Tsering Phuntsok came to the Rainbow Room of Saint Joseph Villa to pray with the Sisters, explain some of his religion, and share his message of maintaining a good heart – known as “dharma.”
Tsering – it rhymes with “sharing” – is friends with Elaine Wright, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Brescia University. The two met a dozen years ago when Wright was at Tulane University, and since 2018, she has been his host and activity coordinator when he visits Owensboro. Wright has visited him at his home in Nepal.
Aside from his trip to Maple Mount, Tsering met with the graduate social work classes at Brescia, and was scheduled to give a presentation on world peace at Brescia, talk about compassion at Owensboro Community and Technical College, discuss happiness at the Daviess County Public Library and provide a workshop on tonglen meditation to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
At Maple Mount, after decorating a table with deep red and yellow colors, Tsering practiced Chod, which translates as “cut.”
“We need to cut our own ego,” he said. “It is one of the highest teachings of Buddha, so you are softer with yourself and others.”
“The Buddha says we are born with compassion and kindness,” Tsering said. “But we are blocked by destructive emotions, like hatred, anger, jealousy, pride and ignorance. Ego comes from ignorance and gives birth to many guests.”
The Buddha taught to focus on a good heart, on kindness, wisdom and compassion, Tsering said.
“Don’t focus on the guest of ignorance,” he said. “If you’re not a good host, the guest will move on.”
He chanted Buddhist scripture, then played instruments during his prayers, which included a damaru (drum), dilbu (bell) and kangling (flute). Then he played the dilbu slowly to lead the Sisters in the chant “Om mani padme hum.”
Tsering answered questions from the Sisters and staff, then presented a prayer shawl to Sister Sharon Sullivan on behalf of the community featuring different symbols that mean good luck.
Here are some pictures from his visit.
What a blessing to have heard his talk.
Wish I could have been there too.
I love what he said about compassion and kindness, our world would be so much better if everyone practiced compassion and kindness. I would have loved to have been there to hear him speak.