Monday, May 27, 2013

inspiration adventure


Hooray for three-day weekends! This way I was able to work on Saturday and other than a meeting Sunday afternoon, actually get something of a real weekend. And I could use one! This spring has been go, go, go! When we haven't been on the road I've been madly working on my writing sample. Happily, things seem to have turned a corner. We have a couple of weeks with no trips and I got the paper in to Pacifica this week, so now I wait. I wish I could say I was good at waiting, but I guess I do prefer it to some of the writing process. I was very grateful to have my application completely submitted on Tuesday, because not 5 minutes after giving my amazing admissions counselor the go-ahead to submit it, I got a kind message from the director of admissions encouraging me to get everything in because there are only a couple of spots left for the fall cohort. I received a lovely letter in the mail from one of the department co-chairs at the end of the week that had been mailed that same day, saying essentially the same thing and describing the program in such a delicious way that pretty much every cell in my body knows what I hope I'm doing in late August this year. Any fingers you'd like to cross on my behalf would be most welcome! I hope to hear this week if I make the cut for a phone interview. I'll keep you posted...

In the meanwhile, let me catch you up! Last weekend I was in Louisville and since it ended up that I was by myself, in a huge suite overlooking the Ohio River mind you, that's a big part of how the paper got finished. But that's not why I was there! As you can see from the photo above, I was in town to see the Dalai Lama - my first time. I attended both the public talk on Sunday and the Buddhist teaching on Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment on Monday - well the first part and then I admit that I did hightail it back to Nashville, which given the powerhouse that this past week ended up being was really good fortune. As you can see from the photo I had a very good seat on Monday, but this picture was taken just as things were starting and I wish I'd moved the camera just a bit to the right so you could see more than just a bit of his translator Thupten Jinpa's head there on the far right, because their sweet relationship knocked me out.

That really was probably the teaching I was meant to get from the experience. While I'd been impressed by their relationship at the public talk, it was pretty much what I'd seen in videos of events with the Dalai Lama, where they sit side-by-side. However, at the Buddhist teaching the Dalai Lama was on a traditional throne, as you can see, and Thupten Jinpa was down by the front of the stage. Because of where I was sitting I had a good view of the side of his face and loved watching as he nodded agreement and encouragement and was right there with a word when needed. He embodied calm, total attentiveness and devotion. I walked away wanting to BE Thupten Jinpa. Once the teachings on the text began, after an interesting and rather lenghty introduction, the Dalai Lama just spoke in Tibetan, which I loved! So Thupten Jinpa gave very long explanations and translations. And when the Dalai Lama interrupted him and took over in English himself, no problem. He just listened closely to hear when he was needed next.

I got two messages from this experience. One was seeing the Dalai Lama happily accepting help - something my perfectionistic self has real trouble with. And this is the DALAI LAMA! If he doesn't require himself to be able to be all things, then why in the world should I? Why not allow myself to really be part of this beautifully interrelated community? And I would love to have the same alert, relaxed attention to my life and those around me as Thupten Jinpa. And again, the humility, the ability to offer and step back. To stop the incessant pushing. Powerful stuff.

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It was sweet to see how proud Louisville is of its connection to Thomas Merton, who would come into town from Gethsemane. He had his Fourth and Walnut epiphany just blocks from where the Dalai Lama spoke:

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Yes, absolutely! Just like the sun.