June 14, 2010
From left: Bodhi (Ven. Metteyya's attendant), Sharon Salzberg, Ven. Metteyya
Lumbini, Nepal, is the birthplace of the Buddha. It is also the birthplace of the Venerable Metteyya, an upper-caste Brahmin who chose to become a Buddhist monk in primarily Hindu Nepal. Metteyya, who recently appeared in the PBS program The Buddha, has committed his life to social work, serving as spiritual advisor to the Sakyadhita Nunnery, a "haven for Lumbini girls who would otherwise be married as young as 10 years and face a life of no education, poverty and labor," according to the organization's literature. It is also in good part because of Metteyya's tireless efforts at the Metta School, also in Lumbini, that many boys and girls who are otherwise too poor to buy the necessary supplies to attend school can receive an education for free.
Metteyya practices in the Vipassana tradition, although above, he wears robes that were a gift from a Tibetan monastery, where he is learning about the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I met Ven. Metteyya yesterday at New York Insight, where he will teach tomorrow evening. If you're in the area, here's more information.
The small gathering yesterday was organized so that American vipassana teacher Sharon Salzberg could have a chance to meet Metteyya. Metteyya referred to Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon, all co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, as a "trinity of Buddhism" in the United States. Afterwards he presented Sharon with a katha—a ceremonial scarf—and a statuette of the Buddha.
The Ven. Metteyya will visit Tricycle's offices today for a brief interview.