Rewiring the System

Rewiring Naming

Today’s warmth sun drenched spring afternoon brings back a swarm of thoughts from another sunny day in 1998. I feel the sun on my body now and it links me to the events at the University Center on Locust Walk on the University Of Pennsylvania campus. This stone building is one of the original structures. It has the grace and inside space of a long gone time. More than a century past when high ceilings allowed space for lofty ideas and discourse. You can feel the quiet reverence reaching out into your being from the Earth. There was no need of coats or jackets this day as a large group of various ages and stages of practice gathered to hear instruction from Venerable Losang Samten.

The large room was filled to capacity with eager students. H.H. The Kensure Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalia Lama’s senior teacher was arriving in the United States. He was ‘retiring’ if such a thing really happens to such an energy held in a human form! HH Kensure Rinpoche was no longer going to be responsible for the day to day running of the bustling bees nest of spiritual activities in India and around the world.

His first stop was for a review of the practice and teaching here in Losang Samten’s east coast sangha. Losang-la was the dance master of the Namghal Monastery. Losang-la had other responsibilities so numerous that when he saw a notice on the cork board of an opportunity to travel to the United States he jumped on it. Monastic work is the ultimate community where an individual’s thoughts and actions must bend to fit in with the entire group. Any creative urges are tested in the fire of co-measurement to the Common Good.

We gather to learn and try as well as we possibly can in the short time until HHKR arrives. Since it is an Honorific occasion there are special sutras and songs appropriate for this particular event. We all feel the importance of this reunion. It is very important to me to learn every word in Tibetan for the arrival of such a person. Hours of brain aching repetition drain all of our energy. The day was set aside so that we have all the time we needed to say them repeatedly, over and over, until we got them right!

After an arduous morning and afternoon, the large number of students filed out of the Hall as in a rush of thundering hoofs to get into the lingering sun. As Losang and I left the university theater, Losang faced me and said; “I want you to help many who do not believe in God. There are more than 6 billion people on the earth yet two thirds; almost 4 billion do not believe in a supreme being.” He took a deep breath as he became pensive, and said, “I have been thinking that they deserve a way to contact the immaterial in a fashion that suits their individual feeling and thoughts”. I want you to help them rewire their systems. You have studied, ruminated and turned your learning into your very own individual modern understanding of the texts. I want you to create a pamphlet to publicize this effort. I want you to get people to rewire their systems.”

I looked at him in astonishment and for a minute could not believe my ears or heart! Then in a second heartbeat, less than an instant, I replied that if we called it Institute for Rewiring the System, it would be the IRS of meditation. He immediately exploded into a laugh and said, “That’s it! That is right! Do It!”

This is how the Institute came about and got its name. Later Losang asked me to write a book about my practices and how my studies let me survive the many terrible trials as I climb the ladder of living in a body.


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