My blindfold is on—I’m getting ready to be initiated into the Three Pledges by none other than His Holiness, The Dalai Lama.
The Three Pledges, known as Thupa Damtsik Sumko, is a tantric Buddhist practice that employs powerful means to help eliminate negative karma leading to higher attainment of the state of enlightenment, and also helps to clear afflicted mental states and tendencies, according to the practitioners.
The crowd is mostly Buddhist followers, many of which are monks. The excited chatter upon entering the Beacon Theater, where we are to learn about and receive this initiation, has mellowed to a gentle hum of meditative breathing, as we meditate, inhale and exhale as one.
Differences between us melt, as we have our red blindfolds on and listen to the Dalai Lama recite the ceremony and blessings, he initiates us through an intense ceremony that includes visualizations that seem to materialize internally without conscious decision connected; subconscious depth and expansive growth become the norm for about a half hour, and none of us will be the same again, we silently can agree.
Earlier that morning, I saw the sunrise over a dark city filled with lights; the bustle of New York City seemed gentle and serene, and my Starbucks medication of caffeine helped me attain a different type of enlightenment called “alert” after an excited and nearly sleepless night anticipating the moments to be.
Standing in line to get into the theater, conversations were rolling like babbling brooks of life and love. People from as far north as Canada and far south as Florida, and even from Tibet, all gathered for a few hours, meshing lives and following similar purpose.
The chill in the air was warmed as soon as we entered the building—intimate and swaddled in rich golds, greens and burgundy; all colors that complemented the stage—the stage now covered with a red carpet, earth colors of healing and spirituality, meditation cushions and a raised meditation bench for His Holiness.
Monks among us floated by draped in red and mustard yellow robes, smiling and serene.
“You are a pod, liberation is in your hands, no one can wish away your karma, no one can take your suffering or any suffering, liberation is about release, be your own savior,” said the Dalai Lama.
Of course, he also honored all religions, those with saviors such as Christianity and God, and helped to mesh the initiation with each person’s own religion or even lack of such. He gave instructions for Christians, Atheists and everyone in between; not just practicing Buddhists.
Unique, and unexpected, was the focus on the body and yoga. The focus on the wisdom body was stressed by a focus on the health of the form body.
“Your form body affects the wisdom (spirit) body,” he added, “your form body, it impacts your truth, your nature, your dedication to your wisdom body. Your speech corresponds to your enlightenment. Like wings of a bird, your form and wisdom spread and fly; they cruise across space and time, in your perceived reality, allowing impact of the wisdom of emptiness.”
To generate an awakened mind, the Dalai Lama instructed us to be mindful of qualifications of ourselves and others that we teach; to teach to those who have a liberation, and are ready to be empowered.
He then instructed us to generate our mind to have an additional admiration of awakening, to not just see it as a goal but a process of enlightenment at each step or struggle.
His emphasis on physical health was emphasized; “it freshens the mind, and is healthy” he said with a smile.
“Before you accomplish anything, even the process of enlightenment or initiation, you must envision the end result, you must then implement the steps to make it true,” he said softly, but with firm directive.
The initiation was intense and ended with a flower seed we were each given to hold in the palm of our left hand, to reflect deeply on the pod that we are, the growth that comes from mud, light and water.
Meditations, teachings and inspirations took place during those hours. For my private psychotherapy practice, I was blessed to be able to take these teachings and convert them, as instructed by the Dalai Lama, into a true teaching tool to help people exercise to help alleviate mental pain and anguish and to help others to release and heal as they find the power and strength within themselves.
There are no words to describe, but to say His Holiness the Dalai Lama has touched my life in a way that was to me, a once in a lifetime experience, surreal and spiritually healing, is to put simple words to a much larger experience.
In the coming months and years, I am dedicated to honing my skills in teaching, for this initiation was for us all.
We are all pods, meant to grow beyond our realizations. Yesterday, both physically and spiritually, my blindfold was released from my vision.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman