SFR: What do you think of Santa Fe?
I love it. I love it for being very spacious, very spacious. That is one of the things I like about being here. The quietness is also one of the things I like about being here. Despite being a city, you don’t feel like you’re in a city. And then I think, the clear blue sky.
Can you tell me what Buddhism says about suffering?
Buddhism says suffering is a part of our lives, to accept, to acknowledge that. It is a part of our life and we have to learn how to adjust to it. Accept it as suffering. And then learn how to overcome the cause which leads to suffering.
Do you think Buddhism still applies to our modern time?
Absolutely. I think it’s just a misunderstanding for people who feel that it is irrelevant in this modern time. I think they do not understand the essence of the Buddhism. There is the spiritual path, and then when the spiritual path of that religion comes into a certain country or certain places, then somehow it gets—what do you call, the right word?—blended with the traditions, the culture of that place, that people. And so a lot of people have a misunderstanding of this culture and tradition as being the religion itself or the spiritual path itself. So of course, some of those cultural traditions, they might not be so relevant in modern time and in certain places. But the very essence of the Buddhism is even more relevant nowadays, in modern days.
I'm wondering if you have any sort of comment about what's going on in current affairs and how Buddhism might look at that. Like, for instance, the situation in Syria: what would Buddhism teach us about that, about how to approach that?
Buddhism is always trying to encourage the nonviolent actions, a way to find true diplomatic dialogue. Of course, sometimes it is not easy to come to that kind of conclusion. If you use violence to overcome one violence, it is never going to be stable. And I think that is what we’ve seen in the Middle East and in many parts of the world. Buddhism says that peace has to come from within—not being forced by outside. Then we can really find lasting peace. When it’s forced by external things, then the peace, it will not last forever, you know? It is not going to last forever because there is no peace within. When there is no peace within, it will explode—explode—one day, when there is so much anger and frustration and so forth.
I grew up in an age of the Internet and technology and television and movies and books and all forms of media. How do we find peace in a time of distraction like that?
By working with your mind, by meditation and so forth, I think we should be able to find balance. Finding the balance is most important. Definitely there is no doubt [about] the benefit of all these new technologies, all of this new development. But if we know how to use this properly, and don’t misuse it, and we balance our life properly, then I think it shouldn’t be a problem. But of course, if we misuse it—if we cannot know how to balance our life, then of course it can be very distracting. Geshe Shereb, a Buddhist monk from Nepal, is the newest arrival at the Thubten Norbu Ling Tibetan Buddhist Center [ 1807 Second Street, #35]. Dressed in a monk's robe, Shereb tells SFR he'll be in Santa Fe for three months as a teaching resident at the center, where the public is welcome to attend classes, meditations and other events [visit www.tnlsf.org]. The following interview was edited for clarity.