Undergrad summer learning supported by Weiner Family Fellowship

This summer, with support from the Weiner Family Summer Fellowship, given in honor of Gelek Rimpoche, undergrad Emma Plowe '23 was able to spend time at the Jewel Heart Tibetan Learning Center, founded by Gelek Rimpoche. "My week at Jewel Heart Tibetan Learning Center was like coming home to a home I did not know I had," says Emma of her time spent at the center.  In her own words, Plowe reflects on her time at Jewel Heart. 

Emma Plowe '23

The summer retreat spotlighted the text The Wheel of Sharp Weapons, composed in the 9th century CE, whose verses tackle the elusive force of karma. Every day we sat for four hour-and-a-half sessions of teachings, with plenty of time to discuss the lesson between sessions. 

The lessons from the teacher Demo Rinpoche, Gelek Rimpoche’s nephew and successor (identified as the spiritual reincarnation of Gelek’s father) were incredibly practical and addressed the social complexities of today. 

When I applied for the Weiner Fellowship, I included some questions which I will work on over the next few months using data from my lesson and interpersonal notes, as well as further research. After experiencing directly an American Buddhist community (with international connection), I will adjust some perspectives with which I began my project. 

This Fellowship helped me understand the Buddhist American world in a way I never could have read about. In addition to taking notes on the daily teachings, I participated in the social climate. Jewel Heart is supported by wealth and historical prestige; the chairman of the board is Philip Glass, and Allen Ginsberg, enamored of Gelek Rimpoche’s message, translated the community’s version of the Heart Sutra used daily, for example. This Fellowship helped me realize that a creative piece, inspired by my experiences, with a heavier body of analytical/theoretical support in the realm of identity, Buddhism, and philosophy of self/mind, will respectfully accommodate this complex qualitative information.

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Emma Plowe smiling in front of the Jewel Heart entrance sign