My dear church going, elementary school teacher mom is responsible for me being Buddhist.
I was raised an Espiscopalian but left the Church as a teen-ager. I took Refuge and converted to Tibetan Buddhism in October 2007. Or as Ben said at the time, I’m now a card carrying member.
Several years ago my Mom gave me a book/DVD set about meditation for Christmas. I lost the DVD before I had a chance to watch it but I did read the book. The timing was right, the message found fertile ground, and the journey began. For years I teased my Mom for making me a Buddhist. She says she doesn’t remember where or why she picked that gift out. But I’m glad she did.
I attended a public talk in 2006 given by the Dalai Lama gave in Vancouver BC. The moment he walked into the room I burst into tears. His presence was proof positive that everything I’d read in the books was true. The theoretical was possible.
I attended my first teaching, In Praise of Dependent Origination, in San Francisco April 2007. Over the years I’ve heard public talks and attended a number of teachings, rituals, and initiations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The public talks, in English, I call Buddhism Lite. They’re given in English like a TED talk or book reading. Secular on the surface but the Dharma underlies everything presented.
I take my spiritual practice pretty seriously. I’ve taken advanced vows that come with obligations to carry out certain practices in this and future incarnations. The only ink I have is a tattoo, Om Mani Padme Hum&148;. I turn the prayer wheels at the Sakya Monastery close to my house several times a week and more importantly, I strive to generate bodhicitta and practice loving kindness each and every day.
the key to enlightenment
In the end I’m a householder. Normal guy leading a normal life. I’m not ordained (and I honestly don’t see it in my future this incarnation). I miss not being able to spend time with His Holiness. I can’t complain because I’t been fortunate enough to spend time with him on no less than 12 times, half teachings and rituals in Tibetan with monks and nuns, gongs and incense. Being in his presence is other worldly magical. And I say this as a science driven nerd.
When my mother got old, she ended up in an assisted care facility. I went baack to Cleveland to visit with her on a regular basis. For years I took her to church, St. Paul’s in Cleveland Heights. The deal was she got to do her thing (she knew those old chants by heart) and I was able to sit next to her turning my mala repeating Om mani padme hum. the whole time. A fond memory I’ll always hold dear.
When someone I know, or friend of a friend dies, I turn the prayer wheels to help insure an auspricious reincarnation. Something I did when my son Coleman died. But that’s another story...
Covid changed damn near everything. Neither His Holiness nor I travel as much or as casually as before. My bucket list is attending the Kalachakra conductd by the Dalai Lama. I had two chances but life intervened. Watching his current vidoe prsentations is odd because I’m so used to hearing Thubten Jinpa do the translation from Tibetan to English. Not only is he a former monk and world renown Buddhist scholar in his own right, the interaction between the two of them is do intimate and fluid that I have a hard time listening to any other lotsawa (translator).
One of these days I need to memorize The Heart Sutra. I promise.
Now that you’re a regular visitor, you’ll notice that the fortune cookie and rock-paper-scissors in the upper left corner rotates when you relaod the page.