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Ani Lobsang Dreulkar

December 5, 2009

Dreulkar and I met in Milan, Italy at a Buddhist convention where the Dalai Lama was speaking.  I accosted her for an interview as she was heading to lunch with a group of fellow monks who hailed from nations around the world.  Apprehensive and shy at first, Dreulkar was clearly intrigued by the questions posed to her.  Given her unique background – she is from France and was born into a caucasian Buddhist family – and given her own life-choice to be a practicing Buddhist monk, I myself was very intrigued to hear what she might have to say.  So we agreed to meet up after we had filled our bellies with dal and rice for an intimate chat between strangers on the status and future of our world.

Seated in front of a wrought-iron fence, with the sun sparkling in her eyes, Dreulkar spoke of her sadness and also of her hope.  She shared with me the struggles she faces trying to maintain hope despite not really seeing much reason to have any hope at all.

“For me, I don’t really have hope for human civilization – so I try to develop inside me this hope” she says.  The juxtaposition of her shaven head and red robes – symbols of her sacrifice and her passion – combined with her nihilistic undertones, took me by surprise.  Upon further reflection I wondered if perhaps this may in fact have been what compelled her toward a life of spirituality.

Dreulkar speaks of the need to “let go” and to “live in the present” as being keys to personal and global peace-building.  Memories of past conflicts, while powerful and important to acknowledge, must be released for a purer present to emerge.  She does not claim it to be an easy task however, and stresses that this will require a major transformation of our mental and material views, but she maintains that this must occur for any future peacebuilding and change to occur.

“We have the power to transform, but we need to be careful of the time – because sometimes it’s too late”.

It was getting too late for us too – the afternoon session was about to begin, so we kept our conversation brief.  I left that evening with her words resounding in my mind and in my heart.  Like myself, she sees little reason to believe.  And yet she continues to struggle, she continues to transform herself, and she continues to seek a more pure present and future.

And in truth that is all we have – we cannot dwell on the fact that we’ve destroyed the majority of our rainforest, or that we’ve historically oppressed the poorer and the darker – we need to cut the chains that these realities hold us in and dream a purer world for today and for tomorrow.  We must learn from these past mistakes, but not allow them to discourage us from looking forward – for if we waste too much time wallowing in the pessimism that the realities of yesterday conjure, then we will surely never find a brighter reality for the future – or at least not before we run out of time.

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