Lama Tsomo at her home in rural Montana. Photos courtesy of Lama Tsomo.
Lama Tsomo is one of the first American women ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist lama (2005). A student of Gochen Tulku Sangak Rinpoche, she managed to pick up the Tibetan language to converse directly with her teacher using concepts not readily expressed in English. Living a quiet life up until recently in the mountains of Montana, Lama Tsomo is building a Buddhist retreat center there and developing a plan to teach Tibetan Buddhism via a network of living-room learning and practice circles. She is the new face of Tibetan Buddhism in America with her 2014 book release Why Is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? A Westerner’s Introduction and Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Practice.
To those feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed by the immense suffering in the world, particularly following a natural disaster, Lama Tsomo offers this insight: “…to exercise the compassion muscle, there are practices, such as tonglen, where you visualize people who are caught up in a disaster or a difficult situation, breathing in the suffering to relieve them of it and giving back happiness. The breath and visualization help you to make your natural compassionate response more vivid and visceral. It then helps to take you out of the I-can't-do-anything paralysis mode into action mode. Over the years I've found that the exercising of this ‘compassion muscle’ has increased my capacity for compassion tremendously.”
— Source: YESMagazine.org