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Advice for upcoming surgery

Advice for upcoming surgery

Zopa Herron working at the computer.
Be kind to everyone you meet.

Venerable Thubten Chodron received a letter from Marie asking for prayers for her during her upcoming mastectomy. She put Marie in touch with Zopa, who had had the same surgery a year before. Here is what Zopa shared with Marie.

Dear Marie,

Before my surgery (which went very well), Venerable told me that my job in the hospital was to be KIND to EVERYONE I met there. I held that thought very close in my mind, and it took away a lot of my self-centered fear. Also, Geshela Kelsang Damdul told me always to think of the cancer as only purification of past karma, not anything else. That made it so I could meet it with a more positive attitude. Another helpful practice was doing the taking and giving meditation (tonglen) for all those with cancer. In addition, I remembered Lama Zopa saying to think, “This is NOT a problem.” I now see that the cancer has really been an “enemy-friend”—a friend disguised as an enemy—helping me on the path.

Much peace and healing to you,

Listen to Zopa’s talk on meeting breast cancer with the Dharma.

Zopa Herron

Karma Zopa began to focus on the Dharma in 1993 through Kagyu Changchub Chuling in Portland, Oregon. She was a mediator and adjunct professor teaching Conflict Resolution. From 1994 onward, she attended at least 2 Buddhist retreats per year. Reading widely in the Dharma, she met Venerable Thubten Chodron in 1994 at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center and has followed her ever since. In 1999, Zopa took Refuge and the 5 precepts from Geshe Kalsang Damdul and from Lama Michael Conklin, receiving the precept name, Karma Zopa Hlamo. In 2000, she took Refuge precepts with Ven Chodron and received the Bodhisattva vows the next year. For several years, as Sravasti Abbey was established, she served as co-chair of Friends of Sravasti Abbey. Zopa has been fortunate to hear teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Jampa Tegchok, Khensur Wangdak, Venerable Thubten Chodron, Yangsi Rinpoche, Geshe Kalsang Damdul, Dagmo Kusho and others. From 1975-2008, she engaged in social services in Portland in a number of roles: as a lawyer for people with low incomes, an instructor in law and conflict resolution, a family mediator, a cross-cultural consultant with Tools for Diversity and a coach for executive directors of non-profits. In 2008, Zopa moved to Sravasti Abbey for a six-month trial living period and she has remained ever since, to serve the Dharma. Shortly thereafter, she began using her refuge name, Karma Zopa. In May 24, 2009, Zopa took the 8 anagarika precepts for life, as a lay person offering service in the Abbey office, kitchen, gardens and buildings. In March 2013, Zopa joined KCC at Ser Cho Osel Ling for a one year retreat. She is now in Portland, exploring how to best support the Dharma, with plans to return to Sravasti for a time.