SPIRITUAL OLYMPICS

13e269e7dd2189555144fd97b22322e4At the millennium, I flew from Manhattan to live in Dharamsala, home of the exiled Tibetans in the foothills of the Himalayas. Months later, my precious Micron laptop (it was the rare person who owned a laptop in those days) was stolen right out of my apartment, along with the backup disks. In one fell swoop, I had lost over ten years of my writing and research. I was, as you can imagine, devastated. (I plan to explain the fascinating series of events that led to this theft in another article, but right now all I want to do is share with you what one high lama said to me in the aftermath of this mini disaster.)

A little background, so you can empathize with just how terrible I felt: I had left Manhattan after selling my beautiful apartment. Word spread that I was a “rich foreigner” and so I was besieged by both Tibetans, many of whom were desperate for financial aid, as well as by the local Indians, Himachalis, as they are known. And I did help as many as I could, not just with money, but in a variety of ways, including teaching a few a little English. Continue reading

Absolute & Relative Reality – Samsara’s Seven Flavors #2/12

buddhist-teacherAngelica and I rode the subway into downtown Manhattan, then walked to a packed hall near 8th street in the simmering east village to hear this lama speak. And she was right — he was brilliant and magnetic. In hindsight, it is easy to see how his unique methods of teaching eastern wisdom gave my own life rich meaning, and forever changed its course.

The next few years flashed by as I studied with him, absorbing every nugget he dropped. I saw his ego grow monstrous as his flock swelled, but I stayed on, convinced that his teachings were authentic, culled directly as they were from the ancient scriptures. In fact I was so enraptured by his efforts to spread the dharma among the lost tribes of Manhattan that I offered to transcribe his teachings on Mahamudra — a word that has many connotations in the Buddhist world, but which he introduced to us as an ancient teaching on the nature of samsara, or relative reality. Continue reading

Angelica’s Brilliant Lama – Samsara’s Seven Flavors #1/12

opening-imagePeak of summer, Manhattan 1995….life was on the upswing, what with an admin gig at a top law firm a hop, skip and jump from Grand Central, and my very own co-op apartment in picturesque Brooklyn Heights, whose major attraction happened to be a fabulous roof garden with a scintillating nocturnal view of New York’s other three boroughs (Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island), and glimpses of the cool blue profile of the Lady of Liberty towering majestically over the horizon.

A swirl of friends — artists, musicians, writers, poets, sculptors, photographers, and the occasional lawyer or stockbroker befriended during my years of freelancing on Wall Street and in Manhattan’s law firms — added zest to the mix. And while the week was one crazy stretch of slogging to keep body and soul together, weekends allowed me to dip my soul into hatha yoga and meditation, an amazing novel, an off-Broadway show, or even a Shakespeare evening performance in Central Park, after which a bunch of us would troop over to some generous stranger’s penthouse on the upper west side to party beneath a canopy of stars. Continue reading