The Venerable Lama Naomh Tomas OCBM
He lives by the motto “May I serve to be perfect. May I be perfect to serve.”
You might find him around the neighborhood weeding the garden or guiding meditation in the yoga studio. As we might expect of a Buddhist monk, Lama Tomas wears colorful robes and multiple strings of prayer beads. But he is also heavily tattooed, and he enjoys the occasional cigar. He claims over 2700 Facebook friends and sports a unicorn hood ornament on his little car. And he lives among residents in the big house at 96 Church Street. To the delight of our entire community, Lama Tomas aspires only to be of spiritual service to the men and families of Riverbank House, our first Lama-in-residence.
A life-long seeker and student of Buddhism, the Ven. Lama Naomh Tomas received ordination on June 26, 2014. His spiritual lineage stems from the Order of Celtic Buddhist Monastics. His commitment to a simple life of service has taken him to an eclectic mix of communities. He has ministered to the elderly and dying homeless in Panama. He has led outreach and Refuge Recovery meetings at the Anadaire Celtic Buddhist Center in Saxtons River, VT. And most recently, he has come home to Riverbank House as our community’s resident spiritual friend and mentor.
A Buddhist Tradition of Service
When he was fifteen years old, Tomas felt drawn to Buddhism. He met with his first teacher, a Chinese Buddhist monk, over regular lunches in Boston’s Chinatown. A busboy acted as interpreter. After years of seeking, learning, practicing, and voracious reading, Lama Tomas sought to fulfill a promise made to him by his spiritual teacher: “You will find out who you are.”
In the tradition of simple service, for years Tomas traveled from Vermont to regularly guide the Riverbank House community in Buddhist practice on Wednesday afternoons.
“But,” he says, “We don’t live life on our own terms. Everything changes. Nothing is permanent.” Riverbank House was calling to him with its undeniable and indescribable aura of hope and promise.
“Then,” he says, “the saddest moment of my life, the death of my son (by suspected overdose), created an opportunity, a mission, a call to heart-work.” Noah’s death presented “a very pure opportunity to make a difference with men who are young, who are working so hard to stay alive.”
“Drug use can feel like the way to – until it gets in the way of – spirituality,” the Lama says. He has made it his mission to be the compassionate presence that invites men to experience a real and lasting peace without drugs or alcohol.
And he doesn’t hesitate to sprinkle blessings upon us all as he celebrates having finally found who he truly is.
You may reach Lama Tomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 413-824-1945.