2023 : Thoughts, Inspiration, and a Mantra

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

As 2022 winds down, I started to think about what a strange year it was.

For me at least. it seemed like I was enveloped in a mantle of fog. On a fundamental level, I acknowledge the passage of time and seasons, but I’m not exactly sure how January 2022 metamorphosed into where we are now, at the end of another year. Sometimes time moved too swiftly, other times it seems as if the tick of the clock too slowly moved to the next minute.

I’m not smart enough to explain all of that, but I’ve learned to radically accept things as they are. At the end of the day, at the end of this odd year, the only constant is love; to love and be loved. Despite the inexorable and merciless movement of time, I’m bound by that belief.

Do you make resolutions? I don’t — too much pressure — instead I like the idea of manifesting a happy and healthy new year.

You have to breathe through the heart. And once you’re in that space – and it’s a very big space – once you’re in there, you’re in a completely different space. You’re in the space that can heal anything.” Dolores Cannon

Dalai Lama

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama (whom I had the incredible honor of meeting and speaking with a couple years ago…)

As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.”

In my opinion, this is still the best and most relevant mantra, again from the Dalai Lama:
Om Mani Padme Hum

He says this mantra has the power to…“transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech and mind of a Buddha.”

Tibetan culture tells us that to deeply know this phrase — to bring it into the very depths of one’s being — is to attain enlightenment.

Here’s what each syllable means:

Om

The first, Om is composed of three letters. A, U, and M. These symbolize the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.

All Buddhas are cases of beings who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path became enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who from the beginning is free from faults and possesses all good qualities. The development of pure body, speech, and mind comes from gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into the pure.

Mani

Mani, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method—the altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.

Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty, or difficulties, of cyclic existence and of solitary peace.

Similarly, just as a jewel fulfills the wishes of sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to become enlightened fulfills the wishes of sentient beings.

Padme

The two syllables, padme, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom, just as a lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-contradiction whereas there would be contradiction if you did not have wisdom.

There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing that persons are empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existent, wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality—that is to say, of difference of entity between subject an object—and wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence.

Though there are many different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom realizing emptiness.

Hum

Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of method and wisdom refers to wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom.

In the mantra or tantric, vehicle, it refers to one consciousness in which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one undifferentiable entity.

In terms of the seed syllables of the five Conqueror Buddhas, hum is the seed syllable of Akshobhya—the immovable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by anything.

The six syllables, om mani padme hum mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is considered the foremost Buddhist leader of our time. The exiled spiritual head of the Tibetan people, a Nobel Peace Laureate, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, and a remarkable teacher and scholar who has authored over one hundred books. https://www.shambhala.com/snowlion_articles/om-mani-padme-hum-dalai-lama/

Meeting the Dalai Lama. Thaumaturgic.

This is going to be the first in a series of posts about my thaumaturgical, magical, and enchanting encounter with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of the people of Tibet. He was born July 6, 1935. The Dalai Lamas are considered the manifestations of the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the people.

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What does thaumaturgic mean?
…Of, or relating to, the working of magic or performance of miracles.

Lastly, powerfullest of all, least recognized of all, a Noblesse of Literature; without steel on their thigh, without gold in their purse, but with the “grand thaumaturgic faculty of Thought” in their head.
–Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, a History

So yes, an otherworldly experience for sure. Because as Emily Dickinson once wrote, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

I really am NOBODY. That’s correct. But somehow, the Universe was aligned at this moment in time to bring me to the front row of a press conference with the Dalai Lama at UCSD.

Fourteen years ago, almost to the exact day, I was at Rimac Field in this same intense heat screaming myself hoarse (and annoying everyone around me #sorrynotsorry) as I watched Angel Boy 1.0 graduate with honors. I’m not sure it compares to the day he received his PhD from Yale, but at that point in time, I couldn’t have foreseen the future. Actually I DID, but more on that later.

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I heard that the Dalai Lama was planning to speak at UCSD for two consecutive days; the first public gathering was to be preceded by a press conference and on the following day, he was the commencement speaker for 2017 graduates.

After the year I had endured, one in which I was broken into a million pieces and each of those pieces exploded into a million pieces; this little princess who had her rose colored glasses cruelly ripped off her face and shattered-the shards of glass slicing and ripping apart every tendon and muscle, deeply cutting to the bones, her bones that were now stripped of all flesh– and oh especially her heart, her innocent innocent vulnerable heart…that she could have and DID muster up the wherewithal to apply for media credentials for the press conference is really nothing short of a miracle.

But she did. I did. She persevered. I persevered. She triumphed. I triumphed. She rose from the whirlpool of a sinking boat and she took one breath. And then another. And another.

Apparently, I still live an enchanted life. In spite of everything.

With nothing to lose, you lose nothing by trying. You only have everything to gain.
That’s one of my new mantras.

It’s the ultimate despair to have nothing left. TRUST ME.

Yet another story for another day.

It’s not like I felt unworthy of being in the presence of His Holiness. It was more akin to feeling that this was purely pure serendipity.

And what was my very first thought? It was of fashion, of course. What’s the appropriate fashion statement for an event of a lifetime? I chose a simple Calvin Klein slim line dress and accessorized with a triple strand of pearls. My heels were a respectable height, don’t you think?

We had to submit questions in advance with no assurance that our particular question would be chosen, but I was prepared for anything. After all, when you expect nothing, there are no expectations, right?

True to form, I was one of the first in attendance, and the first to snag the best seat in the house, in the front row, literally six feet or so from the Dalai Lama.

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The energy in the room was palpable. With about one hundred jaded journalists and photographers who’ve seen it all, there was a certain excitement and anticipation; talk of feeling a sense of positive and uplifting spirituality.

When he walked in, His Holiness didn’t immediately climb the riser to sit on the small stage. Instead he stopped to chat with and bless many of us lucky enough to sit in that first row. He said “hello” while looking directly in my eyes, took my hand, and blessed me. His hand was warm and I felt touched on a cellular level.

HE TOUCHED ME.

After Ann Curry formally introduced him (she looked GORGEOUS, by the way), His Holiness spoke for about fifteen minutes (I captured it all on my phone) about compassion and kindness and education and the state of the world, and then opened it to questions. There was a bit of confusion because he didn’t want to be read questions that were previously submitted; instead he wanted to connect to us in the present moment.

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Most people weren’t prepared for that, but I was.

He answered a couple questions about politics and a macro vision of the world (sorry, didn’t pay much attention haha) and then I raised my hand and he pointed at me. Now let me ask you guys, how would you have felt at that moment? Would you be nervous? Scared? Shy?  I felt no anxiety. I asked the question I had previously submitted. He didn’t hear me the first time and I had to repeat myself:

“If you have suffered deep personal and emotional pain, how do you turn that pain and anger into love and compassion and forgive the one who hurt you?”

For the next fifteen minutes, his eyes locked on mine as he spoke directly to me. As if we were the only ones in the room. You could hear a pin drop. There were things he said to me that were conveyed only by thought, I know, because I started tearing up, wiping away tears unashamed to be so emotional and so raw in public. Ann Curry nodded to me, as if she too understood,  and he kept talking, leaning forward to heal my pain cell by cell, deeply and lovingly.

It was the most transformative experience of my life, right up there with the births of Angel Boy 1.0 and 2.0, a moment in time that I’m still processing.

Stay tuned for Part Two and I’ll have video, too.

Namaste, y’all. And #gratitude.

(PS These are all my images, copyright Enchanted Seashells.)