Shaken to the core by Angelica’s unexpected rant, I rode the elevator up to my apartment. The thought flashed that here was a perfect opportunity to check out the efficacy of Mahamudra. So I sat in lotus position before my altar and watched the flow of my breath until I felt calmer. Then I pulled up the embarrassing scene in the subway.
Other passengers had watched Angelica go nuts: some had smirked; some had shot us looks of disapproval or irritation. Holding this scene in the foreground of my mind, I applied to it each of the six flavors of Emptiness. Tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks as I re-lived the humiliating experience. Strangely, when I was done, I felt peaceful and grounded. Surely Angelica’s outburst had been the result of some inexpressible agony! Compassion for her arose. As the lama had promised, Mahamudra did work!
A couple days later, Angelica called to apologize : she’d cracked up on the subway, she explained, because the following day was Mother’s Day, and she’d dreaded spending it with the woman who’d battered her for years. Unable to deal with the volcanic feelings that shot up every time she forced herself to play nice with her abuser, she’d vented on me. Could I forgive her?
It gave me a real kick to tell her that, thanks to Mahamudra, I already had.
This incident convinced me of the power of Mahamudra. Instead of running away from pain — emotional, physical, existential — I began to apply the six flavors to difficult situations and people. As I grew stronger in the practice, I began to teach it to friends.
One fine day I added another flavor to my own practice of Mahamudra — that samsara is inherently imperfect. This conclusion had leaped out at me after having practiced the other six for quite a while — for beneath my suffering I found lurking the insidious expectation that my life should be perfect; I suspected that most, if not all humans, felt the same way. I rated this flavor so high that I soon moved it up to first place.
If we are already perfect in our essence — which is the liberating teaching of the east — and if we incarnate for some mysterious reason known only to the omniscient, then it follows that the identity we form, as well as the circumstances into which we are thrust, must be imperfect — in order for us to grow.
Today I truly accept that some inscrutable power has designed all of life to be deliberately imperfect — and that’s a thought that makes perfect sense to me, and which restores me to peace.