Dungse Jampal Norbu is a dharma teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist sangha Mangala Shri Bhuti and the son and dharma heir of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. His mother, Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, is a teacher in the same lineage.
Where did you grow up? Crestone, a town in central Colorado.
When did you become a Buddhist, and why? I grew up in a Buddhist family, but I made the choice to study the dharma when I was 16. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew that working with my mind would be a great asset.
What’s your favorite breakfast on retreat? I’m usually on retreat in the winter, so I enjoy stir-fried vegetables with rosemary thyme hash browns or hot miso soup with rice and pickles.
What’s your daily practice? I travel a lot when I’m not in retreat, so a consistent schedule isn’t always possible. I aim for 42 minutes of vipassana meditation (42 is a significant number in the Nyingma tradition).
What’s the longest you’ve gone without meditating? Sometimes I go a couple of weeks without long meditation, but I never skip my evening prayers and daily offering, which makes it a bit easier to get back on track.
Favorite aphorism? “Don’t be a loyalist to ego”—a lojong [mind training] slogan.
Favorite musician? Arctic Monkeys and Sarah Jarosz.
Longest retreat? 108 days.
Book on your nightstand? I’m a bibliophile, so there are a few: my pecha [a book of Tibetan Buddhist texts]; The Lotus-Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava by Yeshe Tsogyal; Instructions by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Charles Vess; and 18 Buddha Hands Qigong by Larry Johnson.
What do you like to do in your free time? Hiking and cooking.
What non-Buddhist do you look to for guidance? Bruce Lee.
Coffee or tea? Pu’erh or chai tea.
What were you voted as in high school? My dorm had an incident the year they started the honor system, and everyone was suspended except me (I was asleep in my room). Later that month I got on honor roll. I didn’t get an explanation; I suspect it was connected.
Favorite subject in school? Philosophy and Shakespearean literature.
What was your first job? Shelving books in a local bookstore.
Join Dungse Jampal Norbu in March for his online teaching series “Compassion in Polarizing Times” at tricycle.org/dharmatalks.
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