It was Valentine’s Day when an email came through the website to the Garden media department from the producer Trent Harris of the National PBS show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Mr. Harris wrote: “Our program is housed in Washington DC and is broadcast nationally. We are very interested in the Garden of 1000 Buddhas. It sounds like a wonderful place and a great idea for a story for our show. We would like to come to Montana to film and do interviews. I am hoping we might be able to set something up very soon, perhaps next week. Is this a possibility?” NEXT WEEK? Covered in a thick, sloppy blanket of snow, with the Garden during the deserted, dismal, Montana, muddy-frozen mess, we thought to ourselves “Oh, please, come in the Spring when this place looks like the hobbit-filled Shire-land”! So, we urged Trent to wait until May when the Garden would film like a garden should, with trees and flowers blooming, birds and bees buzzing, and during Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche’s scheduled visit to teach Shinay in MT. After reading some links we sent to him like the NY Times article about the wonderful Tribal relations that were unfolding on the sacred ground in Arlee, Trent seemed intrigued and happily agreed to postpone until May, realizing the opportunity to interview Rinpoche and the Tribal representatives could be a great, news-worthy story. Months of emails and phone calls flew by while all the plans were made.
The day began on May 22 at 9am with a lovely Sunday morning pancake breakfast with the TV producer Trent Harris and interviewer Lucky Severson and our charismatic crew that we invited to be interviewed: Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche with Karma Tensum (accompanied by his brother) of TCEF translating, dining side-by-side with Salish-Kootenai tribal representatives Steve Lozar, Julie Cajune, and Dan Decker. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, yet palpably purposeful, with those present coming together with a common goal: to discuss the Garden, its founder, and the relationship between two indigenous people and their interactions, struggles, and peaceful resistance to global violence.
While Trent Harris skillfully operated the camera and sound equipment, Lucky Severson expertly interviewed TSR about his time spent as a captive of the communists, his vision of the Garden as a small child, and how a sacred site of this nature can turn the tide of negativity in these degenerate times.
Having interviewed the Dalai Lama himself along with countless spiritual leaders and groups, Lucky Severson indeed lived up to his namesake, being able to adeptly bring out questions and illicit moving responses from each interviewee including Tribal Council leader Steve Lozar, Salish-educator Julie Cajune, and SKC Tribal legal representative Dan Decker, while capturing the awesome Jocko-Valley landscapes surrounding the Garden. During the interview, Steve Lozar offered “I can’t think of better neighbors!” They walked, they talked, they shared stories and laughs, as well as common ground of tears shed.
The interview wrapped up in the place where all the Buddhas are cast, the beloved Buddha Barn where volunteers David and Jacob were pouring the concrete for a statue in perfect timing for Rinpoche to explain the casting process for the camera and insert the sacred scrolls and blessings in the central shaft of the statue. To view the complete video which aired on PBS on June 17, 2011, visit the VIDEO tab on this site!