Karmapa is teaching and giving empowerments (blessings related to specific deities) this week. Thus come the crowds. KIBI is hosting somewhere near three hundred people right now. The energy is giddy and exhausting. Each day has three sessions: morning teachings with Khenpo Tsering, the main teacher at KIBI, afternoon blessings, teachings, or ceremonies with Karmapa, and evening teachings with Professor Sempa Dorje, the president of the Institute. It’s a heady thing to have so much access to Dharma all at once.
In response to the addition of several hundred people to our midst, the community developing in the last couple months has pulled together. A loose group of friends has become a tight-knit band of gypsies. Irish James and Russian Katya pose beneath the archway erected for the celebration of the one-year anniversary of The Karmapa International Buddhist Society, the consolidated operating body of both the Institute and all of Karmapa’s cultural, educational, and philanthropic projects. Ten or so of us have naturally glommed together to have tea parties on the upstairs balcony, trundle into town for cake, and plan daydreamy reunions in sundry Europeans locations.
I got an e-mail from the center in France. Apparently I’ll be helping to cook and clean for the Lama House, the place where visiting teachers stay. I’m thrilled to get to spend time in a kitchen again, and I feel incredibly lucky to be working near to the teachers. It’s hard to believe that in two weeks I’ll be in France. I haven’t been back to France since I lived there when I was a teenager. I am both excited for new memories to be made and curious what specters of the past may raise their heads. Some of my gypsy friends will also be spending time nearby and there are new connections to be made. The loneliness of the Paris of my youth lingers in my mind, but I intend to discover a new France in the Dordogne. Until then, adventures remain to be lived in the East.