I don't want to see stores looted or buildings burned; but African- Americans have been living in burning buildings for years, choking on smoke as flames burn closer and closer.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.  – Malcolm X

"We must never, ever give up. We must be brave. We must be courageous." John Lewis, activist, congressman. 1940-2020 

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.” Nora Ephron

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

"We are more alike than we are different" ~ Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singe


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain


You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore


 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:


"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.


Venerable Trukshik Rinpoche (1924-2011), Nepal


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Trulshig Rinpoche (1924-2011), Nepal

Trulshik was the name given to the son of YumWangmo. He was recognized in his infancy as the incarnation of the Trukshik Yogin, his biological father, who had had a close association with the then abbot of a monastery in SW Tibet.

At the age of just 19, the young Trulshik was appointed assistant director of that monastery, Dza-Rong. He eventually inherited the leadership of the center, located above Dingri, in the northern shadow of Everest.

Trulshik Rinpoche, as he was known, eventually became one of the most revered and influential Tibetan religious figures in Nepal and beyond. Today, September 5, 2011, he is no more in the realm of we sentients.

I recall Trulshik so vividly today. Hearing his voice clearly in my memory, I feel a surge of grief along with warmth of the memory of times together. You see, I knew Trulshik well in the 1970s when I was a young anthropologist in Northeast Nepal and he a fast maturing, skilled monastic leader. He immediately rose to the challenge of piloting a disoriented refugee community of Tibetans, most of them from Dingri in Tibet. Together they had fled into nearby Nepal beginning in 1960 after the Chinese occupation of their land.

Tibetan Frontier Families, my first book, has just been released in a new edition. (Vajra Books, Kathmandu, 2011). Here, I update the history of Dingri Tibetans and Trulshik's rise to prominence. I also recall Trulshik’s youth in Tibet, his early years in Nepal, and our close association. He was a genuine and important friend of this single woman scholar with few friends in that distant, once-isolated valley. (That was the pre-road and pre-mobile phone era in Nepal’s interior.) Starting in 1970, Rinpoche and I discussed news headlines, the past, and his plans for his growing monastery. (I was not in a position to converse with him on Nyingma Buddhist philosophy, and he did not appear to mind that.)

I was based not far from his retreat –just 5 hours by footpath through the mountains of Solu-- and, when I visited the monastery we had lunch in his chamber, where he often tuned into his shortwave radio, where together we followed international news. He kept an atlas nearby whenever  we talked.

After knowing each other a year, seeing my curiosity in and my attraction to the 13th century yogin PhaDampa Sangyas, founder of the Zhijed Tibetan philosophical tradition, Trulshik shared with me a 5-volume manuscript he had secreted out of Tibet on the backs of his party of refugees. Moreover, he suggested I might photograph the more than 1,200 pages and he then made all facilities in the monastery available to me during the weeks of the project.

Those manuscript photographs I took to India; the film was printed, and eventually the entire 5 tomes were published for the first time. Recently I learned that Tibetans and other international scholars are engaged in work based on this text.) I need to mention the publication was arranged by another eminent figure of that era, Gene E Smith. A brilliant Tibetologist and a devotee, Smith was the US Library of Congress acquisitions officer in India those years. Many scholars like me owe much to Smith's support. He too recently escaped the wheel of sentient beings.

Last year, before his death, Gene and I reviewed my new introduction to Tibetan Frontier Families and we recalled the early years of Lama Trukshik’s career and his widening influence. Anthropologist Jane Goodall apparently became a devotee of Trulshik, along with other European Buddhist students. All followed the trail through the hills to his expanding monastery in northeast Nepal where my friendship with him had blossomed and where I spent many weeks at work on the manuscript and with the community of talented men and women who were part of the Rinpoche's center. (Consulting the web, I see that you can  learn about his foreign followers and Trulshik's international work there.)

In my new preface to Tibetan Frontier Families, you can find more about Trulshik’s life, and in the body of the original text , more details of his youth. I leave it to readers to consult my book, available on

I believe there is not much beyond this in English about the remarkable early career of Trulshik. Although there may be a biography in Tibetan language written some 30 or more years ago. Suffice to summarize here what a brilliant manager he was; he drew around him dedicated, talented people; he was extraordinarily compassionate in the simplest way, and above all, he was hardworking, ready to serve anyone who came to him for spiritual or other help.

 For the first 20 years of his residence outside Tibet, Trukshik focused his attention on building up his original monastic center Thupten Choeling in Nepal. Despite his youth and limited access to anyone of his rank who he could consult, he flourished intellectually and spiritually. He emerged as a wise man by the time he was 45. I am told that after 1990 he had become influential within the ranks of the Tibetan scholarly hierarchy; and I understand he travelled the world. Although unlike many others of his background, his base remained the immediate community of monks and nuns in his mountain retreat.

I can hear his voice still so clearly-- laughing over some curiosity, his head always tilted to one side to emphasize his attention, chuckling about contradictions in earthly matters, praying, rosary in hand, in reflection on the problem of a supplicant, and his discerning comments as he inspects a calligrapher’s work, a liturgical ritual process, or this anthropologist’s writing. I still have some of his letters, written in a beautiful, careful hand, with a spot of whiteout here and there.

There will be abundant prayers for Trulshik’s soul in the coming weeks as his spirit travels beyond the worldly realm into that of the angles and countless Buddhist spirits in paradise. As in the case of Gene E. Smith who left his sentient body barely a year ago, I feel they hardly need our prayers to assure them a safe and swift passage.

Footnote--I am often surprised when I meet someone whom I have known for the past two decades and they have no awareness whatsoever of my work in Tibet. Perhaps, had I not been on record as opposing Zionist policies against my own homeland, and known for my unshakable pride in my Arab peoples, this early history would not have been obscured. So I welcome this opportunity through the passing of my dear friend Trukshik, to show that these lives are not unconnected.

This is by way of sharing with those who have known this author only from her work in the Arab lands, of an earlier era in Nepal, India and Tibet, the foundation for my dedicated ongoing research and work in the Middle East.

Bibliography, By BN Aziz

2011 Tibetan Frontier Families, new edition. Published by Vajra Books, Kathmandu, Nepal.

1979 The Traditions of PhaDampa Sangyas, A Tibetan text in 5 volumes, edited from a manuscript in Nepal, with an English introduction by BN Aziz. Published by Druk Press, Thimbu, Bhutan.


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