“I love, and the world is mine.” – Florence Earle Coates
I’ve been swept up into a spiritual and cultural journey that has taken me away from my usual news updates. I’ve even hit the pause button on my book edits and new writing of any kind these last few months. The focus seems to have been on receiving new information versus reflecting on the changes that have occurred as a result. Hopefully, now, at least for June and part of July, I will have more time to dedicate to my writing.
So, right now I’m in the heart of Boudha, home of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. It has been almost 3 years since I was last here and as far as I can tell, it remains one of the places on this earth that I consider a spiritual home. After a wild run around the Golden Triangle of India (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur), I spent a month in Goa studying Ashtanga with Rolf and Marci Naujokat, exploring the Goan landscape, and learning to drive a scooter in Indian traffic. About halfway through my time in Goa, I made a spontaneous decision, fueled by a strong intuitive pull and headed north to Himachal Pradesh to the tiny village of Bir, to attend a teaching and finally meet one of my longtime inspirations and heros in Tibetan Buddhism, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. After a powerful teaching, I was able to sit down with her for a private meeting that will stand out as one of the most valuable moments of my life. I formally took refuge as a Buddhist with Jetsunma at her teaching at Deer Park Institute.
I ended up staying in Bir for over a month, attending a memoir writing workshop and a meditation retreat. A welcome surprise was how much Bir would endure itself to me. I loved that little village and the locals who lived there. It was my favorite place in India I had been too. I felt that I was leaving a small piece of myself there as my taxi pulled away for the 12 hour drive to Delhi under the evening sky.
During my time in Himachal, I also sneaked away two hours north to the village of Sidhpur to stay at Thosamling Nunnery for a week and spend much of my time at the stunning Norbulingka Institute. It was in Sidhpur that I finally got to be in the presence of HH The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The first meeting was when I attended one of his public audiences, but the second time was an “accidental” run in. While sitting in the cafe at Norbulingka, our waiter rushed up to us exclaiming, “The Karmapa is coming!” Suddenly, there he was walking past us, 5 feet away. I stood and bowed my head. He turned, met my eyes in a solid gaze and smiled on his way in and again on his way out of lunch with his entourage. My heart danced. I asked the waiter if he came to the cafe often and he said, “Yes, once or twice a year.” Does that qualify as often? Needless to say, I felt blessed. And I also felt that it was just the beginning of being in his physical presence. He exuded love. During my month in Himachal, I was also able to visit the Dalai Lama’s residence and temple complex in Mcleod Ganj.
In early May I flew to Nepal and jumped head first into preparations for the first Nepal Retreat and Tour for Vasudhaiva. Despite all the unexpected things that occur in a developing country like Nepal including power outages, political protests, and strikes, it came together and the event ended with me fully inspired and contemplating the next one.
Now, I get to be a local for a while, doing kora around the stupa in the evenings, getting on my mat at a regular time, teaching Ashtanga at Pranamaya Yoga, reading philosophy, making new friends, catching up with old friends, and setting up my teaching schedule for the rest of the year.
From the outset of this journey back in February, I’ve made a continued effort to maintain a balance between a disciplined focus of my goals while having an open heart of surrender to the unknown. This practice not only reduces and eliminates suffering but on the flipside it also makes sure one is acting from love, instead of acting to “get” love through some temporal, fragile, form-based outcome—a path that never ultimately works. This practice also makes sure I know the journey itself, is worth it, irregardless of the goal.
I recently told someone that imbedded in the act of surrender, is an affirmation of abundance and trust. This surrender is something that I’m working very hard to cultivate. It is the antithesis of fear. It is the antidote to desperation. The more I do this, the more unexpected gifts have come my way to support me in furthering my dreams. And suddenly, I realize that all I have to do is receive. And to receive, I’ve learned, also requires courage.
While internally negotiating this truth, I hear a voice of wisdom that says, “An aspect of giving is being able to receive from others. So lay back and lean on me. Unfurl your palms. Open your breath. I will provide. If you need to dance, dance with me. If you need to speak, speak to me. If you need to fall, fall on me. If you need to wrestle with your demons, I will bare witness to the fight, sitting in the corner of the ring with a towel to wipe your sweat while whispering the truth into your ear. Use my body as your counterpoint and my voice as your nourishment. Let our rhythm be your muse. You are held by me; in body, speech, heart, and mind. All that you need to do is receive me.”
I will continue to pass on updates as the journey unfolds. Thank you for taking the journey with me.