“It’s not all that helpful to just listen to and develop some kind of understanding about the dharma. What we really need to do is join the dharma with our own being, until the dharma and the individual who is practicing it are no longer separate from each other.”

–- His Holiness 17th Karmapa


This project is the story of collaboration and love and the spirit of giving

This is a tough writing assignment for me – blogging about making the KTD Giving Back Video (official deadline by #GivingTuesday, but most importantly, as a broad appeal for donations that will subsist for the next calendar year). Why is it so challenging? It seems straightforward enough.

I think perhaps because it touches (subtly) on so many crucial topics – most importantly ego, interdependence and letting go. Making the video, and also writing these thoughts – is the dharma practice itself, the way I understand it. If we really examine our lives, everything we do, think and say – it is all the practice. It’s breathtaking, painful, contradictory and challenging – all at the same time.


This video is the story of interdependence and teamwork

In film school (so many years ago), I was sure being a director meant being in charge. But getting out there on film sets in the real world, I soon learned it actually means making sacrifice. Not exactly what I was expecting. Meaning = sacrificing your original vision in favor of a better, more robust, group vision that is ultimately superior in every way. It is the practice of non-attachment, of recognizing brilliance and inspiration in others, of bowing down to the greater work of serving our teachers and the dharma.

So when my beloved Buddha-dharma teacher messages me in the middle of a live Krishna Das Kirtan – “May we speak?” – I know instantly he has an assignment for me; it’s not a simple invitation to chat.


True joy shines through

I think the reason I love this video so much is all the beautiful people in it, the time I got to spend with them, and the heartfelt messages of love and caring they share so openly. Every time I watch it again, I smile and laugh, again. Their sincerity is so infectious. I hope you all feel the same and it helps generate genuine warm feelings for KTD, Karmapa and the Buddha-dharma teachings, which are so meaningful to me, and so many people living in our beautiful world.


Eradicating creeping self doubt

I often wonder why I take so many pictures. It seems so silly really – especially when everyone else is also snapping away. Like there won’t be a million different depictions of the same scene.

But once KTD began publishing photos from all the amazing pujas and teachings I’ve had the privilege to attend, the doubt melted away. I feel, so viscerally, so deeply, how much the images mean to people – the joy of memory from those who were there, and the happiness and longing from those who weren’t. Their truths shine through the comments, pic replies, Emojis and re-posts – and I’m so lucky and grateful to be able to share my perspective with them, and to be open to receiving their affection in return.

I believe, with all my heart, the images are so moving because I’m totally in love with my subjects. When we put love in, we get love out.


“You offer joy and happiness to another person, and it reflects back into your own life.”

–- His Holiness 17th Karmapa


Thank you, KTD, for being such a blessing in so many lives.

–-Amber Roniger