Saturday, October 3, 2009

The trials of finding a spirtual friend

By this virtue may I quickly
Attain the enlightened state
Of Lama Chenrezig
And then lead every living being
Without exception to that ground.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty I had when I started my dharmic journey wasn’t for the lack ofqualified teachers. I found plenty of them. The difficulty arose in many forms, in which you are about to see. I don’t disparage any of these teachers, indeed, many were kind and gentle, but not too forthcoming with the dharma.

You see, there’s a criteria that I put together before hand on how to find a qualified teacher. However, if I had read the sutra of the Kalamma’s Delimma I would have found out that the Buddha himself expounded on these qualities centuries before.

Sure, you can stumble, grunt, sweat, strain, and in essence, work like a three dollar mule toward enlightenment on your own. But the easiest and best way to do it (although you’ll still have to grunt and strain a little bit) is to find a spiritual teacher. And thus, with this nugget of wisdom I set off on my journey.

During the two year trek I met a number of teachers, both good and not so much. I met a wonderful lama, who I was assured was totally realized and could lead me to enlightenment.
There was, one small problem.
1. He was in India
2. He didn’t speak a word of English.
So, since time is short and intelligence limited, I found I had neither time nor the patience needed to learn a whole new language before I could even speak to this lama. Besides, distance was a factor. Sure in ancient times those who wished to become immersed in Dharma traveled countless miles, in harsh environments, usually on the back of a yak to receive a lama’s blessings and empowerments. But this is the 21st century, and I’m lazy and had no desire to travel all the way to India with my husband in tow to learn from someone I couldn’t understand.

So. I moved on. I went to a few websites and met a few more teachers. Some of them were very popular and had students galore. Some even had monestaries, abbies and dharma centers of their own and taught lots of students. The problem with this is that they are all worthy teachers, but I didn’t want to be a simple face in the crowd, noever hopeing to ever speak to one of these lamas much less learn anything of value from him or her, because, frankly I could have simply picked up one of their multitudes of books and extracted some knowledge that way. But I didn’t want that. I wanted much more than that. Call me selfish, but I wanted more from someone on a one on one basis, not just do an occiassional monthly chat or try and drive 200 hundred miles to the nearest dhama center and sit and listen without ever getting the opportunity to actually sit down with the lama and ask questions.

Further, learning from some of these people was like learning from the kind Tibetan Lama who didn’t speak a word of English. True, these people did indeed speak English but what they taught was so far over my head that I couldn’t figure out what the frak what they were saying.

I have a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies; my major being English. And the only thing I could think of while listening was the old Texas adage, “If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with bullshit.’

So you could imagine how quickly I got up and walked away.

And then there were those who were so enamored with their own qualifications, and by who taught them that what dharma they knew was squeezed out through their egos, or they will happily answer your questions. The problem is you have to be a member of their ‘exclusive’ sangha in order to get the answer.

At this point, I was disgusted and ready to give up. I asked Kwan Yin, my patron Bodhisattva, to find me a teacher. So four years ago, I performed a small ceremony front of my altar. I wrote a list of qualifications necessary for a teacher. I asked Kwan Yin to find this person for me, then I took the piece of parchment outside and let the breeze carry it away.

And three days later, the teacher arrived. He is everything that I asked for. Lama Jigme is truly a spiritual friend. He teaches his students on a one on one basis, he never talks over my head. And he’s always there for me. I hope that when it comes time for me to teach, (I am, after all still a junior bird-woman) that I can be just as good an instructor as he is.

And if Lama Jigme has that piece of parchment, I’m going to faint.

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