"It is in the shelter of each other that people live."
- Irish Proverb
Former Buddhist monk Lobsang Phunstok, after studying with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and teaching Buddhist philosophy in the United States and Canada, returned home to India to establish Jhamtse Gatsal (Tibetan for "The Garden of Love and Compassion") as a home and school for 85 orphaned and neglected children. Having been abandoned by his mother at an early age and having grown up without a father, Lobsang has a deep sensitivity toward the traumas, loneliness, and tribulations these children have already faced in their short lives. His spiritual vision enables him and those in his care to "serve as a shelter for each other."
"An inhospitable space is one where people 'feel invisible -- or visible but on trial. A hospitable space is alive with trust and good will, rooted in a sense of our common humanity."
- Parker J. Palmer
As a youngster, Lobsang was always in trouble. That is why he easily identifies with five-year-old Tashi who was abandoned by her alcoholic father after her mother died. As the youngest member of this community, she fights with everyone, disobeys teachers, has crying fits, and wets her bed. Lobsang encourages an older boy to serve as her elder brother and keep an eye on her. He tells him, "You must help her understand … what is right and wrong." By giving Tashi a milieu that is "alive with trust and good will," we see her character slowly turning around.
"Home is not where you live, but where they understand you."
- Christian Morganstern
Directors Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke do a marvelous job conveying Lobsang's personal warmth and tenderness as he interacts with these children in private and public sessions with them. We also witness the pain he experiences visiting villages and having to turn down parents and relatives who want him to take their sons or daughters to his community of love and compassion. But he knows in his heart that he is doing the best he can. It is easy to talk about these virtues but Lobsang embodies them in every scene. He is a monk who truly walks his talk.
"We must make our homes centers of compassion and forgive endlessly."
- Mother Teresa
Tashi and The Monk debuts exclusively on HBO on August 17, 8 – 8:45 pm ET/PT.
Other HBO playdates: August 18 (11:15 am.), 19 (3 pm), 20 (4:45 pm), 22 (2:30 pm.), and 30 (7:30 am.)