The Buddha Within

Geshe Michael Roach is the founder and spiritual director of Diamond Mountain, a community of spiritual practitioners in Bowie devoted to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1952 and raised in Phoenix, Roach graduated from Princeton University and went on to study in Indian and Tibetan monasteries for 20 years. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1983 and received the Geshe degree in 1995--the first American to do so. Roach will be one of the presenters of Uttara Tantra, Teachings of the Future Buddha on Oct. 9-13 at the Muse.

What will you be teaching this weekend?

The teaching will from a book written 16 centuries ago. The author is called Maitreya, who we believe will be the next Buddha to come in this world. On Thursday night, there will be a talk at the UA called "The Buddha Inside of You." And then (there will be) a very intensive four days on the contents of this ancient book. ... All of our teachings are free.

Why don't you charge for teachings?

If you are a young person, and you decide to study in a monastery, you just go and ask sincerely, "Will you teach me?" If they decide you are a worthy student, they never charge you. And so we have kept up that tradition. The joke that they say is that it's so priceless that no one could pay that much anyway, so why bother to charge them? It's somehow sweeter and more powerful and more beautiful if you give it for free.

Tell me about Diamond Mountain.

I think of it as a cross between a Tibetan monastery and an ancient Greek academy. We very much emphasize the ancient classics of Buddhism. And there will be 10 different schools. ... (Diamond Mountain) will have a business school based on The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Strategies for Managing Your Business and Your Life. (Roach authored the book, released in 2000.)

What is the book about?

It's about how to apply ancient wisdom in your normal, everyday career. ... My lama forced me to go to work. ... I was in the wholesale diamond business in New York City. We started with nothing. We had a loan from someone. From using the principles of abundance, that company grew to $150 million a year. It's about how to make money by being generous and honest.

What did you learn at work?

Work and family are the perfect place to explore your jealousy and anger. For me, it was those two, but one thing more: If you are educated thoroughly in the idea of universal balance, you can use your career as a vehicle to explore that. What I mean is, if it's true that all the money in the world has come from giving to others, let's see if it works. That's what I did in my business.

Are you working on another book?

The Tibetan Book of Yoga will come out in February 2004. This book is about a style of yoga that came to Tibet about 1,000 years ago, and it's a primer of how a person could learn how to do a half-hour a day in that system.

What does it entail?

It's a program of meditation and yoga that you do every morning. The goal is to teach mainstream people a half-hour program that they can do that satisfies your spiritual needs and keeps you healthy when you go to work.

Tell me more about the program.

There's a five-minute meditation that you do every morning, and you use your breath. You pretend that you are taking away trouble from someone you know. Let's say you have a friend at work who is stressed. Before you leave for the office, you do a breath meditation. Basically, you breathe in very slowly and imagine that you are taking away their stress. You see a light in your heart, and the stress comes in as black smoke, and it touches the light and it is destroyed. ... It's like you are taking it in, so you destroy it. And then a strange thing happens when you go to work: The first time you see this person, they sense you have been thinking about them, and they feel better. Incidentally, you don't feel stress, because you have been concerned about someone else and not yourself.

Is that the secret to relieving stress?

According to our philosophy, that's the only way to stop your own stress. There is no other way. Anything that you do selfishly to take care of your stress will make you more stressed. Anything you do to take care of someone else's stress, because of that karma balance of the universe, you find yourself getting more happy and relaxed. But you have to have a program. If you are dimly aware that if you help others, you'll have less stress, it doesn't work. You have to have something you do every morning.

Any other secrets to blissful living?

Take care of other people. I enjoy serving other people. I find that to be the most satisfying thing, and I would like to learn how to do it more and more. I really think it makes you happy.

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