Buddhist Monk Gen Kelsang Rigpa to speak in Idyllwild. Photo by Kathia Rabel

Balance is often a nebulous goal, even for those blessed with a seemingly prescribed life. But its attainment becomes nearly impossible to manage during discordant times for an untrained mind.

Stirring experiences such as wildfire evacuations lift personal issues like a river flooding a lake that causes sediment to churn imperceptibly within, inevitably rising visibly to break the surface.

One scientifically verifiable solution to absolving unforeseen change is afforded those who practice the simple act of daily meditation.

It was just over a year ago that Gen Kelsang Rigpa visited a friend living in Idyllwild. Together, they identified a suitable location for a public speaking engagement and the topic “Choose Happiness” was subsequently selected.

Rigpa is an American Buddhist monk, Western U.S. National spiritual director, and the resident teacher at Kadampa Meditation Center, KMC-Hollywood. He is a close disciple of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, having received lineage blessings and oral transmissions directly from him.

Rigpa’s heartfelt and practical teachings are presented with warmth and humor. Remarkably accessible, he outlines a practice that enables anyone to discover for themselves how to integrate these timeless teachings into our modern world, making everyday life joyful and meaningful. Rigpa demonstrates the joy of living an inspiring spiritual life.

When asked, “Why did you personally find yourself moving toward a Buddhist practice?” Rigpa responded, “People turn to Buddhism through suffering in one way or another, and I am no different. I became more interested in the mind because I had all the elements defined by western standards as the ‘happiness solution’ and I wasn’t happy. Not only was this problem interesting, but it became a call to seek the deep elements of happiness, and this call led me to the practice of Buddhism. I came to the conclusion that by developing from the inside out, meant I’d be able to help others and be of more radical service.

“Buddhist practices teach: If I purify my mind I can purify my experience of the world. How we look at a thing matters. We can then ask why is it appearing in the first place. And how can I evoke a shift in this appearance?” said Rigpa.

The name of the talk is “Choose Happiness.” Is embedded in this title the insinuation that our state of mind is a choice? “We choose happiness or suffering,” he said. “We can also gradually recognize that the ways we think and the ways we respond to situations impact our state of mind. Alternatively, we can also respond to the discordant, as meaningful and positive,” he added.

Will he speak to the illusionary aspects of physical life? “My talk is largely about transporting difficulty in the spiritual path through patient acceptance and learning to transform.”

What message does he have for fire refugees on this mountain and elsewhere? “This is such an opportunity for rebirth; to arise anew with fresh perspectives. Understanding what we can control and what we can’t control provides a critical clue. When the winds of karma blow, everyone is charged with enduring and accepting and transforming the appearance of their karma in a way that is most helpful and meaningful,” he added.

For classes and study programs visit Dharmachakra Kadampa Buddhist Center in Palm Springs at www.meditationinpalmsprings.org.

Rigpa’s public talk in Idyllwild is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 54390 Double View Drive. A meet and greet with refreshments will follow from 8 to 8:30 p.m. There is a cost. Pre-register at www.meditateinhollywood.org/choosehappiness.