WLM WLM Spring 2015 - Page 39

WLM | people W e had the opportunity to cover Matteo Pistono’s first book, In the Shadow of the Buddha, in 2011, and his story just fascinated me. Now that I’m finally able to sit down and dive into his second book, Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Terton Sogyal (2014), I find my fascination renewed. I truly enjoy learning the journeys of people from Wyoming – what they’ve accomplished, where they’ve traveled to, what they’ve seen and done. I feel that being connected to Wyoming is almost an exclusive club of sorts. Perhaps it’s our meager population size – or the distance between most of our communities – but when someone says “Oh yeah, that person – they’re from Wyoming,” I usually reply, “No kidding!” Such is the case with Matteo Pistono. Born in Cody and raised partly in Clark (population 70), Matteo graduated from Lander Valley High School in the late 1980s. “I grew up like all the other kids, playing baseball and soccer, hunting and fishing in the Winds and South Pass,” Matteo says. The choice to attend school abroad when he was 16 was the springboard to a lifelong journey. “When I came back and completed my undergraduate in Wyoming, I kept traveling abroad whenever I could…a semester in Holland, climbing mountains in Morocco, etc.” His travels and perspective on the world took a twist that led him down a path of exploration. “My parents had instilled in me an awareness that social action is not so much a choice as a responsibility – to ourselves and to our community,” Matteo explained in his first book, In the Shadow of the Buddha. He began his career in social action in environmental politics, going head-to-head with oil and gas lobbyists. The juxtaposition of a fast-paced life in politics on the one side, and spending months meditating under a Tibetan lama in Nepal on the other fueled his desire to explore. Political disillusionment led to an increase in time spent trekking in Nepal, where Buddhism intersected Matteo’s life. His choice to embrace the Buddhist practice evolved from the study of, and meditation on, its principles, which made a great deal of sense to him. “Buddhism does not ask you to believe anything. Rather, it is about seeing very clearly the nature of reality, and then acting from that place of knowledge. When we see how everyone and everything is somehow interconnected, then of course we won’t harm ourselves or our environment, because that, in a sense, is harming ourselves,” he explains. Shortly after arriving in London to pursue his Master’s Degree in Buddhist Philosophy in 1996, Matteo saw a striking photo of Terton Sogyal (a nineteenth-century Tibetan mystic) at the Rigpa Meditation Center and met Sogyal Rinpoche, Terton Sogyal’s reincarnate. “I was drawn to Terton Sogyal’s life because I know politics matter,” Matteo explains. “There was something in {him} – the way that he pursued the path of spiritual enlightenment even while in the unsavory theater of politics – that I wanted to understand more deeply.” He found the mystic’s endless source of strength and wisdom in the political realm to be an inspiration for Matteo’s own political work. photo by Barry Beckett www.wyolifestyle.com 39