Transforming Suffering into the Light Of Our True Nature with Lama Palden Drolma

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Even though we ultimately desire to be happy, most of us find ourselves taking in sorrow, pain and tragedy through everything we see, hear and feel both in our own experience and through the media. It’s like we are breathing in suffering and this suffering, both our own and that of others, can sit inside us, weighing us down and dampening our happiness and well-being. There is a Tibetan meditation practice called Tonglen that can allow that suffering to be transformed by the light of our true nature. It combines breath, awareness, imagination, and an energetic transformation process that opens our hearts to reveal and cultivate kindness, love, compassion, and wisdom. Lama Palden advises us to start from the center of ourselves and have the courage to face our own suffering. She says if we don’t allow it to be liberated “then we’re not really going to be able to go the distance with others. Because we are, in some ways, afraid of the suffering and that actually gives it power over us.” She also gives a description of how the practice of Tonglen can be used in our everyday life in an “on-the-spot” meditation and shares stories of her own teachers, Kalu Rinpoche and the 16th Karmapa. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Lama Palden Drolma is a licensed psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and coach. She has studied Buddhism in the Himalayas with some of the preeminent Tibetan masters of the twentieth century, including Kalu Rinpoche, who authorized her to become one of the first Western lamas. She is the founder of the Sukhasiddhi Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist center in Fairfax. California.

 Lama Palden Drolma is the author of: 

 To learn more about the work of Lama Palden go to

 Topics explored in this dialogue include

  • How she met her “root” teacher Kalu Rinpoche in Darjeeling, India
  • How she met the 16th Karmapa in Sikkim
  • How this form of Tonglen practice starts from the center of the self first
  • Why is it counter-intuitive to breathe in suffering and how does that get transformed
  • Why we need to face and liberate our own suffering
  • Who is the Bodhisattva Chenrezig
  • What is the “On-the-Spot” practice
  • Why it is important for activists to replenish their hearts with Tonglen practice
  • There is no separation between our consciousness, anyone else’s, and God’s consciousness
  • How do we tap into the noble sangha, others who are on the path with us and those who have gone before
  • Why it is important to know and understand our motivation for meditation
  • What is the Buddhist view of the Christian doctrine that we are born in sin
  • What was her spontaneous healing when she called on Jesus when was seven years old
  • How the Tonglen practice can be taught to a three-year old child
  • How can this meditation happen in an instant once you are familiar with it
  • What is the importance of mantra
  • How her bout with pneumonia helped her to allow the loving care of another into her being 

      Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 7/16/2019          Program Number: 3684

Music Playlist

From Album: Call of the Mystic
Artist: Karunesh

Opening Essay: Track 01 For the Joy of it All
Music Break 1: Track 01 For the Joy of it All (continued)
Music Break 2: Track 02 Hearing You Now
Music Break 3: Track 02 Hearing You Now (continued)