An interview with Rose Taylor Goldfield, by Jane Brunette
Rose Taylor Goldfield is a Buddhist teacher and the author of Training the Wisdom Body: Buddhist Yogic Exercise. With more than 30 years meditation experience, she holds an MA in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies from Naropa University. Rose trained as a dancer from a young age, then in martial arts, yoga and bodywork. She studied closely with Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche and spent many years meditating and teaching in nunneries and monasteries in Nepal and Bhutan. She and her husband, Ari Goldfield, are co-directors of Wisdom Sun in San Francisco.
Rose will be teaching an in-depth weekend on lujong practice at Sukhasiddhi October 10-11. I recently spoke with her about her first encounter with Khenpo Tsultrim and the power of the lujong teachings to help us integrate our spiritual practice deeply into our bodies and daily lives.
– Jane BrunetteQ: How did you first learn about lujong?
Rose Taylor Goldfied: I grew up in the Shambhala sangha. My mother was a student of Trungpa Rinpoche. I was living in Boulder and going to Naropa when I heard about Khenpo Tsultrum, and he seemed an intriguing figure to me. One summer, I was in London helping to coordinate a program he was giving and that’s how I first met him. On the first morning of teachings, he had the entire audience stand for the whole teaching as he stood on his throne. The audience was getting fidgety. He said, “If you get tired, you can stand on one foot,” and he demonstrated, right there on the throne. He was in his late 60s and it made people nervous.
It was a powerful transmission on an earthy, body level. He was really inviting our participation and engagement with the weekend – we weren’t just a passive audience. We were undergoing this physical exertion and it had an interesting quality of offering. He was bringing our bodies in and our own exertion and effort to meet him in this place of teaching. After that, I started to study with him. I was lucky in that I could practice with him privately and personally, especially when my husband and I lived in Seattle with Khenpo for 2 1/2 years while he was on a retreat in which he was very involved in the body practices. I also practiced with his senior students.Q: How has lujong been useful in your own spiritual practice and what makes you particularly inspired to share it?
It took a while for me to begin talking as a child, and the first message I wanted to relay to my mom was that I wanted to dance. I studied ballet, tap and character dance, and then as a teenager, I studied kickboxing and competed in tournaments, so I always felt a strong call to work with my body. But it felt in a way separate from my spiritual practice, where I was sitting on the cushion and spending hours in stillness and study and reflection. So when I started training with the lujong teachings, it was a wonderful blessing to have these two aspects of my being come together in my spiritual practice.
One of the most profound points that I learned from Khenpo was the blending of dharma mind into all activity and all aspects of life. The lujong teachings really help me to make that bridge and take my practice off the cushion. How do I practice when I’m working in the garden, walking down the street, at the supermarket? The lujong practice methods are flexible and adaptable enough that we can use them in any situation that might arise in our lives. If we’re going through periods of anxiety, there are practices that will prepare us for something that might require our courage. If sickness arises, there are teachings on how to work with sickness. There are methods to work on energetic levels to either soothe the body and mind or create confidence and brilliance in the body and mind – whatever feels needed to bring our being into balance.
In lujong, we are working with practices from the intangible mind level, through the subtle body, to the tangible, physical body–these different levels of awareness that we are engaging with all the time, different layers of our being. I love the way that the lujong training brings so much attention to all of these places. We can hear these different layers of our experience once we are aware of them, and there is so much wisdom we can receive in this communication. So this has also had a deepening affect on my experience – hearing this wisdom body speak. I talk about this in my book, Training the Wisdom Body.
I keep finding more depth to these teachings. The practice keeps unfolding and deepening with each day of practice. It becomes a way of life rather than just a practice.Q: The weekend in October is a prerequisite for the lujong instructor certification you are offering. Could you tell me about that?
Part of the process to become certified to teach lujong is to attend these weekend lujong programs in order to deepen your own practice. This weekend in October fulfills one of the training requirements and there will be other weekends and longer retreats in the future that help towards that end as well. Another important part of preparing for certification is individual training sessions, in-person or via Skype, which can be started once an initial workshop has been completed.
More info on the workshop:
Training the Wisdom Body: In-depth Lujong and Subtle Body Training, April 2-3, 2016 at Sukhasiddhi Foundation.