Robbery at a Buddhist center is a horrible thing, and it just happened at ours.    A few weeks ago someone stole three thangka paintings from Sacred Studies (a building that houses many paintings, a beautiful shrine room with lots of light, and our library).  Thangka means “record;” the thief took two thangkas of Padmasambava, and one of a Buddha, I forget which Buddha.  One was worth ten thousand dollars, the others were several thousand apiece.  Padmasambava is the bodhisattva who brought Buddhism to Tibet and Afghanistan.   We only discovered the thangkas were missing a few days ago; sometimes they get moved for different events and ceremonies.  Dorje Kasang called the local sheriff’s office, after a few days of internal investigation.  The Kasang is our protection force, something like a neighborhood watch group with medical training, that also meditates together.  The Rusung (the head of the Kasang) called the Larimer County Sheriff with an idea of who took them; yesterday we heard they caught the guy.  He had come here on some meditation retreat two weeks ago; the paintings were found hanging in his house.   We haven’t gotten them back yet, and there is the fear they might come back mangled in some way.  When they do come home, we’ll probably do a lasang (a Tibetan purification sort of ritual) to cleanse them.

A few weeks before this happened, almost a month ago, someone stole my coworker’s new coat from a mud room, with his brand new camera inside.  The person rifled through his things, leaving them thrown across the floor.  Whoever took the winter coat and camera is long gone, and the whole situation is very crummy.  Not even a dharma center is safe from theft and violation.  We invite people to come here for retreats and programs, and trust they’ll respect us—lately this isn’t happening.  I used to keep my ipod in our work office, but now it doesn’t feel so safe in there, so I take it home at night.  It didn’t use to be like this here, from everyone I’ve talked to.  I think maybe the bad elements are here because we’re too corporate, not discriminating enough in who comes to stay.  Anyone who can pay can rent a building here (the guy who stole the paintings was here on a rental program), and these people generally don’t take their shoes off inside, despite repeated signs and pleading.  Not only is this how it’s done in Eastern traditions, walking around at 9,000 feet tracks a lot of mud, rocks, and pine needles inside when you don’t take your boots off—and my department gets to clean it up, over and over.

Not sure how to tie this up, except to say I’m slightly jaded but still believe humans are basically good, which is a guiding tenet of Shambhala Buddhism.

About emvlovely

Oh, I live in an RV. I write poems, essays and prose. Thanks for reading my blog, good health to you!
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5 Responses to theft

  1. Paul says:

    Very, very sorry to hear this. We had a break-in at our cottage a week ago Sunday, within a few hours after we closed up for the season. It was our own fault — we had left a door unlocked. But fortunately the alarm system scared the guy off before he came inside, so nothing was lost and no harm done. But it’s very creepy to think there are people continually casing the area for closed-up homes and just waiting to pounce.

  2. Joan Virgil says:

    Hi Erin,

    Sorry we missed your phone call on Monday. Dad and I went to Lake Placid for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary. Had a nice trip, although it was very cold there (and quite a contrast to last year’s anniversary trip to sunny Hawaii). We had a beautiful suite (complete with a king size bed and fireplace) overlooking Mirror Lake, which was definitely a good thing considering the weather. Other than going out for meals and visiting the Olympic Center, we didn’t venture outdoors much.

    We were sad to read your blog about the thefts. It’s very disconcerting, and hard to believe this would occur at the Buddhist Center. Glad they appear to have caught the culprit, at least for the painting thefts. Too bad about your co-worker, though. You’re wise to protect your ipod, as well as anything else of value.

    Any thoughts about the holidays? If you’d like to come home, Dad will look into airfares. That said, we’ll probably have to act soon to ensure we can get you a flight.

    Auntie Jane has been persistent about our joining them for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. Dad is going to call her tonight to discuss, although our preference is to stay home and have a quiet day. What will you and Steve be doing on Thanksgiving? Hope there’s nothing going on at the Center that would require you to work.

    It’s almost time for dinner, so I’d better sign off.

    Love, Mom

  3. Diane says:

    Dearest emvlovely, It warms my heart to read your writings, as I know it brings you pleasure, too. As Joanie said ^^, it’s disheartening to think about protecting yourself and belongings from intrusion where you are; a sacred, peaceful place of trust and belonging. My view on theft is that this action, too, is positively motivated. By that I mean that the thief must have been driven to take something, either to give away, filling a need, or to sell, also filling a need. Perhaps they have a drug problem and feel a need to sustain it. Perhaps they have a sick family member and have no medical insurance and need medication. If $20 drops from my pocket and another person picks it up, it was meant to be in their hands/pocket ;>).

    Peace to you and Steve at this bright time of year. Sending you love and light! xoxo

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