Awakin Calls » Tashi Nyima
Tashi Nyima: Buddhist monk, animal rights advocate
Dec 7, 2019: The Means Are The End: Compassion Through Compassionate Action
Read: Summary By Nil Zacharias
The Venerable Tashi Nyima is a monk in the Jonang lineage of Vajrayana, one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, and a longstanding animal rights advocate. Known for his directness, clarity of expression, and sense of humor, he leads the Universal Compassion Buddhist Congregation, which has Sanghas in Texas and Mexico, and which presents the teachings of the Dharma in a form designed for the needs and conditions of the contemporary world. For more than three decades Lama Tashi has shared the Dharma in North and South America, Europe and Asia, in fluent English as well as Spanish. He is also a practitioner of Indo-Tibetan Yoga and Ayurveda for more than thirty years.
Lama Tashi has been an animal rights advocate since 1968, promoting the need for compassion for all animals. He leads twice-yearly meditation retreats for full-time vegan activists. He is the author of The Dharma Handbook, and The Buddha’s Bowl, a collection of Buddhist instructions on radical compassion for animals. In it he expounds on the concept that “What we do unto non-human animals, we do unto ourselves” and discusses what the Buddha really said regarding our relationship with non-human animals. He has a unique ability to communicate on very deep topics in simple ways. In conversations he is articulate and concise, a listener who guides the thinking of others on a topic, rather than providing all the answers.
Lama Tashi’s writings and teachings point out two fundamental wrong views, the view of separation (seeing ourselves as abstracted and different from other beings), and the view of supremacy (with our interests taking priority so that we act in ways that are inconsistent with the needs of other beings). He discusses two natural laws, the law of interconnectedness and the law of totality, how everyone and everything is affected by what happens to everyone else. He is a realist, recognizing that all changes of a great magnitude, like those required to change food systems in order to recognize and respect the interconnectedness of all beings, are by necessity, gradual. Lasting change requires that going vegan be founded on an appreciation of interdependence, otherwise the problems that got us where we are now will be repeated. He speaks of the urgency of the situation while cautioning about the danger of becoming angry, because anger can have a negative effect.
His ever-present focus on compassion is evident in how he points out the need for balancing the sense of urgency with compassion for where people are at a given time. He urges meditation to cultivate our own peace as a first step in cultivating peace among others, because a more compassionate world cannot be built on violence, with peaceful speech and peaceful conduct both being required. He describes meditation as “resting in the empty luminosity”.
Lama Tashi recognizes that many people live in a food desert, with greater access to fast foods than to fruits, vegetables and grains. He has worked with a program that started making vegan sandwiches accessible to homeless people, who chose them when they were given the option. He urges food banks to carry vegan products, making them accessible to their customers.
He is a self-described Dharma student who aspires to be a companion on the path. He is the heart-son of Kyabje Tashi Norbu Rinpoche, from whom he received the full transmission of the Great Middle Way. He has studied extensively under eminent Lamas of various lineages, including HH Tashi Norbu Rinpoche (Jonang lineage), Lama Tsering Ngodup (Kagyu), HH the XIV Dalai Lama (Geluk), Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche (Kagyu), Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche (Nyingma), HH the Sakya Trizin (Sakya), and HH Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche (Jonang).
Born and raised in the West Indies, Lama Tashi pursued his early education with Dominican and Jesuit priests of the Roman Catholic Church, and began training as a Catholic priest before pursuing the Buddhist path. Prior to becoming a Buddhist monk, he practiced and taught medicine and Public Health as a naturopathic doctor in Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and Massachusetts. He has traveled extensively in North, Central and South America, as well as in Europe and Asia. His interests include animals, walking for health, spirituality, and meditation. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas, from where he continues to share Dharma teachings, transmits traditional Buddhist texts and practices, and offers individual mentoring to seekers on four continents.
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