Lama says many are searching for happiness

November 25, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The United States is the land of abundance, but many here are still searching for happiness.

"This is a beautiful nation, but a lot of people are not so happy," Lama Lhanang Rinpoche said.

Lama Lhanang is the founder of the non-profit Orgyen Rinchen Ling Tibetan Culture Center in El Centro. He is a Buddhist teacher, an artist and a doctor of medicine in Tibet.

"To be happy you have to love yourself. Many people don't love themselves," Lama Lhanang said.

Something negative can happen in a person's life that makes the person sad or angry, but the anger doesn't go anywhere. Unhappiness stays and causes problems, Lama Lhanang said.

We have the power to change ourselves but we have to learn to let go of the past, he said.

One way to do this is simply to love yourself, Lama Lhanang said. He suggests learning to love yourself by taking care of your mind and body via exercise, good food and mediation or prayers based on one's religion.


Although he is a doctor of medicine in Tibet, Lama Lhanang is not allowed to practice medicine in the U.S. Because of his background, he said he recognizes cancer and addiction are more common in America than in Tibet.

He believes stress and the busy American lifestyle are part of the reason he sees more cancer here.

In the U.S., many people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. It destroys their lives, Lama Lhanang said.

He believes when people don't always know how to deal with difficulties they face, they are carrying their problems inside until they get sick.

Lama Lhanang said cancer and addiction are problems of the mind.

"What's needed is not to spend so much time in the head but in the heart," he said.

He said he is aware a lot of people are worried after the Sept. 11 bombings and the anthrax scare.

Lama Lhanang is familiar with terror and violence. He was born in 1967 in Tibet, where he saw a lot of violence against his people from the Chinese. He said the current situation in Tibet is not as bad and Tibetans can now practice religion.

For people who are overly worried since Sept. 11, he suggests they get close to and talk more with others. He said try to keep positive and focus on what's important.

Better communication will help on a personal and global level, Lama Lhanang said. When people communicate, they can understand each other, which is better than judging each other, he said.

"We need to look at the long- term solutions, not short-term solutions, like bombing," he said. "I've never seen bombing and killing bring peace."

Lama Lhanang left Tibet in 1992 and settled in Los Angeles in 1994. He visits the Orgyen center in El Centro for extended periods of time at least twice a year.

Ben Walker, who runs the center in the Lama's absence, said there are certain things in Tibetan culture that no longer exist in Tibet. He said Tibetan culture, art and Buddhism are of value to the U.S. and he wants to bring them to the Valley.

Buddhism teaches not to harm others, unconditional love for others and working toward enlightenment, Lama Lhanang said. Always be kind to others; that's the basic foundation of Buddhism, he said.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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