First, at the beginning of October, many of the 'whose who' of the Buddhist world (in the Tibetan tradition) came to Ulaanbaatar for a conference on the future direction of Buddhism. Many high Lamas came but His Holiness the Dalai Lama was unable to attend. Other notables included Richard Gere whom I got to meet. (He mistook me for someone else he knew but was a nice guy when he discovered his error.) And Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual director of the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) was also here for the conference.
Lama Zopa decided to clear his schedule and stayed in Mongolia for almost a month, giving teachings and meeting people. Definitely a surreal experience when you know his in the room across the hall. We had a full house, with Rinpoche, Ven. Roger - the CEO of FPMT and Lama Zopa's long-time assistant, Ven. Sangpo - Rinpoche's personal attendant, Ven. Khedup - media expert in charge of recording the whole month including teachings, and Ani Sarah - who will be teaching in Darkhan.
While other activities at the center were put on hold during Lama Zopa's visit, Tsetsgee and I continued with our English classes. This visit seemed very different than the one in 2008 when I met him for the first time in Mongolia, just a week after I too had arrived. I never really got a chance to talk to him but whenever he saw me, he would have this huge smile and laugh. Later his attendants told me that there was someone who looked just like me at Kopan Monastery in Nepal and that was why LZR laughed so much.
I'm told my others who have know Lama Zopa a long time, that when he is residence, there is always 'changes'. Two big changes for us was the announcement of a new COO, Dr Dolma, and that Boloroo, our director's assistant would now take over as center director. While Rinpoche was here, the President of Mongolia awarded him the Polar Star, one of the countries highest honors, after which there was a huge banquet with several parliament members, other leaders and influential businessmen in attendance.
At the end, before he left, Lama Zopa took the staff out to thank everyone for their hard work. We took over one section of Dos Hombres Restaurant feasting on Indian food (go figure at a Mexican restaurant in Mongolia). Here are a few pictures.
Lama Zopa talking with one of our sponsors
Wonderful food, wonderful conversation
Some of the staff: Oyunbataar, Tsetsgee, Enkhmaa
Ven. Roger and Lama Zopa Rinpoche
PS: Photos taken by my iPod Touch 4G.