T.C., the Dalai Lama's brother, is
teaching “Sacred Times, Sacred Places” at USF this semester.
The Dalai Lama’s youngest brother, Tenzin Choegyal, or T.C.,
as students address him, recently returned to the University of San Francisco for a third teaching stint.
Choegyal first joined USF’s theology faculty part-time in 2003,
leading up to a visit by his brother, the 14th Dalai Lama, to
the university to accept an honorary doctorate degree. During his first term at
USF, Choegyal (a reincarnated spiritual leader in his own right, according to
Tibetan tradition) taught a class called “Spiritual Transformation.” He
followed that up in 2006 with “Pathways to Spiritual Wisdom.” This fall, he’s
teaching “Sacred Times, Sacred Places.”
In spite of the name, it’s nothing like a travel agency tour
itinerary, Choegyal joked. Instead, the class focuses on mind training.
“I cover the 37 steps to becoming a Buddhist bodhisattva, or
enlightened being,” Choegyal said.
That means teaching students how to cultivate virtues,
something our everyday world has in short supply, Choegyal said. The virtues he
teaches aren’t associated with any particular church or organized religion.
But, mastering them, at least in the bodhisattva tradition, offers the same
thing that most religions strive for – salvation.
“The less you think about yourself and the grasping of
yourself, you’ll find a tremendous release,” Choegyal said.
Think of it as a mental workout aimed at cultivating mental
and physical health.
“We are totally driven mad by being selfish and being driven
by our self interest, which stems from egocentricity,” Choegyal said.
“Individuality is superseding everything.”
By training the mind students are able to pursue
and find a balance between self-interest and self-sacrifice, Choegyal