The first time I saw the image of this enlightened soul, I was terrified.
I was immersed in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying at my favorite coffee shop, making mental notes about how to further my meditation practice.
When this photograph appeared in the book, I made a footnote in my mental notes not to include this man in my practice.
I like to feel all warm and fuzzy in my meditation, and this man, Padma (as I will forever now refer to him, because Eastern names are impossibly long and complicated, and I have no idea how to correctly pronounce his name out loud), is not the image I associate with warm and fuzzy.
I was terrified of this image, and those piercing eyes were unforgettable. I also found his powers to be extremely interesting. As Sogyal Rinpoche explained,
“One of his qualities is that he has the power to give his blessing instantly to whoever prays to him, and whatever we may pray for, he has the power to grant our wish immediately.”
Now enters my second issue with this enlightened soul.
The whole reason I enjoy studying the philosophy of Buddhism is because it does not force religious dogma onto you. You are your own teacher, your own master. I don’t believe in praying to a god, or to a soul, or to a concrete image of any idol, as I believe my communication should remain intimate and exclusive with whatever higher power that may be—one that I refer to as the Universe, because we’re all a part of the universe, and all so deeply connected within it and within each other. In this theory, I see no need for some sort of idol-like medium to relay my messages to the higher being.
Yet, as much as this struck me as funny business, I couldn’t help but remain captivated by the thought that I could have any wish that I desired, granted. Who wouldn’t, right?
I give this background because, last night, I had an intimate encounter with Padma. And it blew my mind.
I spent all day looking forward to entering into a meditative state to shut my mind up. My day started with a text from a friend who had reached out to me because she had had a nightmare about a bad omen that involved my new found relationship. Another good friend was coming out of the closet to his parents, so the majority of my thoughts throughout the day involved sending him light and love during his difficult time. On top of that, my most recent ex and I started conversing for the first time in months later in the day. Needless to say, I needed my mind to stop.
I happily organized my candles, lit my incense, carefully placed the selection of crystals I needed, started some positive-energy evoking music, perched my happy little ass on my meditation pillow and lowered my eyes.
Then it started happening. The thoughts started to flood in and I found it nearly impossible to stop. I started focusing on my breath so much it rose to an intensity that would rival orgasmic breath. Growing in frustration, the words of Sogyal Rinpoche echoed in my chaotic mind, and then all of a sudden Padma’s eyes burned through my retinas.
That piercing fixed gaze completely eradicated all thoughts from my mind. I was able to enter into my practice. I felt the light energy radiate through my crown chakra and into my heart. I fixed my attention on my heart and started building this golden orb of light and love around myself, watching as it grew with each breath.
Suddenly, I watched my heart transform into an island floating above the vast ocean of the endless love I had manifested within my soul. I floated above this ocean watching my heart island, and I started to reach out to it to emit a more direct line of light and love. I then floated towards the island and felt my feet land on the coast of my heart. I noticed the island was bare, with a small rainforest in one corner.
Then Padma showed up on my island and told me I needed to start planting seeds—seeds of compassion and love.
So I turned and started planting little seeds of compassion and of love slowly and carefully all over the bare part of the island.
And then he stopped me and we looked at a part of the island I hadn’t seen before: it was a burnt rainforest. Immediately, I knew that it was burnt from the heartache and suffering my heart has endured over the course of time.
Then he said to me:
“See those burns—every time you plant a new seed of compassion and love, a part of that burnt forest erases and makes room for more growth. You must fill the island of your heart with more love and compassion before you can offer your heart to another. You must grow the island of your heart with a rich rainforest before you can afford to offer bits of it to another soul.”
And then Padma pointed to the ocean and the waves grew larger, and he said:
“See how the waves come up on this shore and crash back into the ocean? These are like your thoughts and the chaos outside of you. It will come, but let it pass and go back to where it came from. Keep your focus on growing your heart and one day the ocean will calm.”
Then the music stopped. My phone had died.
And now I pray to Padma out of gratitude, with compassion and love in my heart.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Jamie Khoo/Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Wonderlane/Flickr Creative Commons