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At work, Yeshe also goes by his pre-monk name, Ken Davidson. "I call it my Social Security name," he says. "It's for taxes and all my legal stuff. Right now, it's also my work persona."
Yet Yeshe realizes that Jasper is a small town, and that anyone who didn't already know he's a monk is likely to after this article. "Everything has to move slowly," he says. "I'm here to integrate with the people and culture. I'm not here to build a wall between me and the community."
So there is assimilation all around. Via e-mail, I asked Rinpoche's secretary and translator, Paloma Lopez Landry, to relay a few questions about that to him. What, for instance, has been the most difficult part of adapting to life in the U.S.?
"Too many concepts about everything," he responded via Landry. "This makes life overly complicated and takes a long time to do simple things."
And the easiest?
"There are so many things. But if I have to choose one, it's freedom." (In parentheses, Landry wrote "human rights.")
Finally, I asked what, if anything, Rinpoche would like for the people of Newton County to understand about him. He replied:
"I'm a lone Tibetan monk far from my homeland, monastery, family and friends. Since my arrival in Newton County, everyone who I have met I have felt has been welcoming, kind, friendly and helpful. I wish to thank everyone for this kindness."
On Wednesday, May 18, Khentrul Rinpoche will give a talk in Fayetteville. For the announcement, he wrote: "Consider how human desire turns into overwhelming greed, destroying in gradual stages the planet and our lives, in turn undoing the livelihood and sustenance of all future generations."
The question to be addressed, he says, is: "Within this infinite universe, how can we as humans abide without harming our small planet and ourselves?"
A current of excitement runs through the mountains here, like the buzz from the saws in the colorful new barn temple. Jim Westbrook, the architect, almost expresses it.
"I think I have the same feeling everyone here has," he calmly says. "We can't believe our good fortune. Rinpoche travels a lot, but he calls this place home."
Khentrul will teach a four-day retreat at Katog Katog Rit'hröd May 21-24, (Schedule and contact information at http://katogcholing.com/rinpoche.php.)
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