10,000 miles, $10,000 bucks and more journeying that one can imagine landed me in a moldy little meditation room 4000 feet above sea level sitting in front of this brown-skinned man who looked my age but had wisdom of the ancient.
He held a gaze so powerful I felt like I could reach out and touch the connection between us. Certainly my emails had made it here, even if he had never responded he obviously knew I was coming.
I’d read all his work and meditated and practiced with some of his students and I somehow justified this insane trip to his little temple in this 3rd world totally unsafe for a white dude country because… well, I didn’t even have a because.
During endless bus rides, airplane transfers, security lines and more humanity than many see in a life time, I ran story after story in my head of the moment we’d meet. I imagined how it would look, how it would feel. Way before I arrived I knew exactly how it would smell and was certain of the profound awe I would experience.
I’ll admit, I even practiced our greeting… I wanted it just right, humility and respect with just enough intrigue that he’d open up to me and teach me everything.
I had a range of topics, issues I packed up and carted around the world to sort out. I had this deep knowing I’d find refuge here and I banked on leaving much of my crap up on this mountain top never to be seen again.
I even had all the perfect gear. I wasn’t like other people, I was ready for this…
We greeted in silence which was not like I planned but seemed noble and sacred. We sat and his unrelenting stare just burned into me.
Others surrounded us, finding their cushion and a bell rang and meditation began. Ok, I told myself, this first. My mind ran WILD.
An hour later he moved, eyes opened. I knew because I was watching having never once shut my eyes, not even for a second.
Now was the moment, I wondered what he’s he going to say first? When could I ask my important questions?
I was so ready.
Maybe he’d acknowledge me personally, mention how far I traveled, I’d be the honored guest from America– the most devoted student.
A woman came forth with an announcement…. to this day I can remember every word she said perfectly:
“as you all know, our teacher has committed to reciting a Gatha, used for generating calm and experiencing profound peace in the present moment and so for the next 30 days and he will be in total silence otherwise, taking no questions and only teaching this poem…so please join along if you wish…”
Dumfounded with shock and awe flooding all of me, I listened as everyone began to chant, over and over and over again:
Present moment, wonderful moment!
Present moment, wonderful moment!
Gathas are used to cultivate and dwell in mindfulness throughout our day and have been used for thousands of years as a form of spiritual practice and meditation, repeated and memorized and used as chants, song and a powerful focus for walking and sitting meditation.
Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!
Waking this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment, And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at beings with eyes of compassion.
May the sound of this bell penetrate deeply into the cosmos so that beings, even those in dark places, may hear it and be free from birth and death. May all beings realize awakening and find their way home. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.
At the foot of the Bodhi tree, I keep my back straight and my posture stable . Body, speech, and mind are calmed. There is no longer any thought of right and wrong. Mindfulness is shining on the five skandhas. The original face will be found, and the shore of illusion will be left behind. Sisters and brothers, diligently bring your mind into meditation. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (three times).
The day is ending and our life is one day shorter. Let us look carefully at what we have done. Let us practice diligently, putting our whole heart into the path of meditation. Let us live deeply each moment and in freedom, so the time doesn’t slip away meaninglessly.