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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — April 9, 2004


Yoga and meditation
mix to improve
business acumen

Visiting Tibetan Buddhist
monk offers lessons

Express Staff Writer

Ordained monk Geshe Michael Roach in the lineage of Tibetan Buddhist Dalai Lamas made a stop in the Wood River Valley this week.

Currently on a four-month tour promoting the book, "The Tibetan Book of Yoga" with 12 fellow authors, Roach and his spiritual partner Christie McNally are also on tour teaching Tibetan Buddhist meditation and yoga after completing a three-year silent retreat in June 2003.

Yoga practitioners gather with monk Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally for a Tibetan Buddhist meditation and yoga session at the Sacred Cow Yoga Studio in Ketchum Wednesday. Express photo by David N.Seelig

On Wednesday afternoon Roach gave a lecture titled "Enlightened Business," sponsored by the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber, which was followed by a "Tibetan Heart Yoga" lecture and practice session at the Sacred Cow Yoga Studio in Ketchum led by McNally.

Attendance at the events increased throughout the day as Buddhism and yoga practitioners joined curious visitors who finally filled St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum for an evening of teaching and Tibetan Buddhist meditation focused on healing that began with a sitar raga.

Originally from Arizona, Roach, a Princeton University graduate, was the first American to receive the Geshe degree in 1995. The degree is akin to a Doctorate of Divinity.

Geshe Michael Roach, a monk practicing Tibetan Buddhism is on a book tour after spending three years on silent meditation retreat.Express photo by David N.Seelig

During his 25 years of Tibetan Buddhism study, Roach also became a successful international businessman buying and selling diamonds. He helped grow a $50,000 loan into a $150 million company. He has divested himself of all his earnings and the proceeds of the company now worth $250 million go into several of Roach’s cultural preservation endeavors. His spiritual educational teachings will culminate in the opening of Diamond Mountain University in Arizona next fall. The curriculum is geared toward traditional Tibetan religious training.

At the "Enlightened Business" lecture Roach told the story of how his Buddhism study led him into the diamond business and provided lessons in how the principles of Tibetan Buddhism that can be used to heal mind and body can also be applied in the quest for financial security.

The basic principle is that people can change their perception of reality.

Roach used a clip from the movie "The Matrix" and a pen to help illustrate how perceptions rule our view of the world.

The movie clip begins with Steve McQueen in a shoot-out in the West, attempting to vanquish his adversary the old-fashioned way, ducking and shooting. It then jumps to a snip from "The Matrix," where Mr. Anderson and his many doubles are blasting at Neo.

The sequence ends as bullets fired stop just in front of Neo, who without ducking selects one from the air. The audience watches as the rest of the lethal discharge falls to the floor, harmless.

Roach’s point in using the clip is to show that if we can gain control over our perception of reality, then we can reach inside and change it in creative ways.

He said in the West there is typically a tension between business practices and having a spiritual life. Businesspeople compete and fight to get ahead like Steve McQueen, but Roach said there need not be a tension between being profitable in business and having an ethical and spiritual life.

He uses a pen to illustrate perception. A human may see it as something to write with. A dog may see it as a stick or a chew toy. The goal of the enlightened vision is to see the pen as nothing in particular and use creativity to turn it into what is needed.

The path to having this power is caring for those who are adversaries. It is a natural compulsion to want to be heroes and save the world like Neo, the main character in "The Matrix," Roach said.

"We don’t have to do the Steve McQueen thing," he said.

The question is what would happen if everyone did the Neo thing, Roach said. He said there are three principles that help increase the amount of wealth for all people.

One is to seek harmony with colleagues, a second is to be happy about the good activities of a perceived adversary and the third is to save some money to give away every six months.

"If you are in this country at this time you still have more than you need," he said. "Take 10 percent and every six months give it away."

Roach said the key is not simply to write a check to a random charity. The value comes from the time spent thinking about to whom to give the money.

"How much heart is in the giving plants seeds in your mind (about how) to have money forever," he said. "Being happy about someone who threatens you is the most powerful seed you can plant. Try it for two months. Reality will start to change and you’ll be ahead of everybody else."


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