The Dalai Lama's Blessing...
by Mitzi Linn
When I heard that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was going to be in Seaside OR. to meet with Tibetan refugees living in the Northwest in October1985 I knew I had to go. The news spread through various Oregon sanghas. A friend called me from Ashland. It seemed that the event would be open to whomever showed up, and that Western students could go. No tickets required. The event would be held at a hotel. Friends from the Nyingma sanghas of Ashland, Cottage Grove and Portland planned carpooling. I lived in Eugene and planned to go with my partner.
I became a Tibetan Buddhist a year after going to Ashland to see His Holiness Dudjom, Rinpoche, in 1980. Dudjom, Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism at that time. During that first visit and his teachings, he gave a Long Life Empowerment. In his 80’s at that time, this tiny man laughed readily, made jokes and smiled frequently while sitting high on his throne, covered with Tibetan carpets. He led the empowerment exquisitely. This being the first encounter with the Tibetan teachers and not knowing much about protocol, I gave him my three large turquoise Tibetan beads as an offering. Maybe I had a kata which he placed around my shoulders or, maybe I gave him a turquoise colored silk scarf....which he tied up in a bundle with the thin white katas. I don’t remember clearly.
Passing in front of him as part of the empowerment ceremony, I noted his eyes deep in trance. Being in his physical presence gave me a sense of well being and wonder. Many took refuge with Dudjom, Rinpoche, that day. Still it took a year or so, and a vision, for me to take refuge with one of the other Rinpoches I was drawn to that first day with the Tibetan masters.
Gyaltrul, Rinpoche, distinguished himself from the other Lamas with Dudjom, Rinpoche, by shooting people in the audience with his squirt gun. He clowned around. At a break he came right up to me and said something in broken English that startled me. Perhaps it was "Hello, how are you?” I was standing alone, looking out a window at the gray, rainy day. I should have known then that the teacher I’d asked for had arrived.
Just a week before I remember sitting on the thick green carpet where I taught classes in Tarot and Psychic Development saying to the Universe that it was time for me to have a guru-type teacher. I said I’d prefer it to be a woman but it must be Tibetan, and OK if it was a man.
I had been reading about Tibetan Buddhism since the early 70’s thanks to a woman who taught me Tarot, introduced the Western Occult Tradition and Tibetan writings of Trungpa, Alexandra David Neel and more. I practiced a kind of psychic meditation, clearing the chakras and running energy. I was ready for more. It’s a spiritual precept that if you ask with your heart, the prayer is answered. Within a month, after Dudjom’s teaching in Ashland, Gyaltrul, Rinpoche, Sangye Kandro and Lama Yeshe, then a monk, came to stay in my house in Eugene while Dudjom, Rinpoche, was teaching in Eugene. I moved next door for a few days with my partner. We’d gone to see Dudjom together.
Our houses joined at the carport. His teenage children had the downstairs of his house. We generally ate dinner together in their house. For me it was ideal having my own space, my own house with bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room. It certainly served the situation of having Gyaltrul, Rinpoche, and Sangye Kandro and Lama Yeshe become part of our family during those visits.
The living room of my house was a post and beam construction. This large open room with high ceilings, windows on the west wall and a flat roof was where I taught classes. Gyaltrul,Rinpoche, marveled that it was like a Tibetan temple. Since I’d never seen a Tibetan temple at that point, I had no idea what he was talking about. Later, I saw that Tibetan temples offered the same large open post and beam construction with elaborate decoration covering every nook and cranny. A sacred space created to overwhelm the senses.
My house was more zen-like, sparsely decorated with few furnishings, many plants and a thick green carpet. Still, a temple space with adjacent bedroom and kitchen. There students and clients could comfortably lie on the floor for guided meditations. We often sat in circles on cushions to read Tarot cards together. To this day old friends and students mention that forest green carpet with great affection. The light wood walls added to the grounded feeling. It was a nurturing environment.
Different teachers including Gyaltrul, Rinpoche, and Chagdud, Rinpoche, gave teachings in that space. I even witnessed Sangye and Yeshe performing secret practices, the tsa lungs , which involved levitating. Sometimes I rented it out for weekend workshops of other teachers. Most mornings I sat in meditation, there on the green carpet looking out the windows at the sky. I always remember Dudjom, Rinpoche’s advice to look at the sky while doing Tibetan practices. The Tibetans had so much sky in Tibet.
I loved that space in a way I’ve never loved a house since. It supported my spiritual growth, and my development as a teacher, healer and psychic reader. It made having a partner and family relationship possible. Given our hectic lives and our relationships, I would have never been able to maintain that ten year relationship without my own space.
Whenever things between my partner and I were difficult I could just be in my home and wait for the storm to pass. Storms arose frequently in our relationship and then subsided. Our power struggles made me stronger. We never had a chance at real intimacy. Both of us survived abusive childhoods, and trusting each other was tenuous at best. “ Praise and blame are the same” became a personal mantra for me. It seemed either he lavishly praised and loved me or totally blamed me for everything. Perhaps I did the same to him. I’m sure there was middle ground though I don’t always remember it. Anyway this phenomenon fit the Buddhist teaching that encourages non-attachment to both praise and blame.
In that large temple-like room, I took refuge in the Buddha with Gyaltrul, Rinpoche, after lunch one spring afternoon in front of the Green Tara poster above my altar. He was in Eugene giving teachings at the time. I do remember him cutting a piece of my hair and giving me a red protection cord. I’d had a vision that led me to take refuge. One time driving him, Sangye and Ram Dass across Eugene for lunch I told him about it.
I found myself in a very large room in which spiritual teachings were taking place. It was full of people from all different spiritual paths and religions practiced on the planet today. Nothing much seemed to be happening though it was peaceful. A message came to me to go find Gyaltrul, Rinpoche in the next room, and to bring him my lifeline. My lifeline was a pipe that went along the ceiling, like a heating duct, but I could guide it into the next room.
I entered the smaller room and saw a white light Buddha sitting and shimmering on a raised platform at the front of the room. The energy level in the room was a much higher frequency than in the other room. The room was not as crowded as the other one had been. Looking around I spotted a small group of Tibetans, among other small groups of spiritual practitioners. I went over to them, noting that I was dressed in maroon velvet short shorts, not in traditional Tibetan clothing. I asked where Gyaltrul, Rinpoche was and they smiled saying he wasn’t there now. Still, there was the Buddha and this high, light feeling.
About this time a thought crossed my mind and I wondered what I’d done with my shoulder bag with my ID and money in it . I wanted to go back to the other room and get it. When I started back I woke up from my dream/vision.
Ram Dass pointed out I would have been enlightened in the vision if I hadn’t thought about going back for my bag. Rinpoche said nothing, though it was his response I wanted.
My relationship with my partner was as much a teacher as everything else. It brought up all kinds of stuff that I couldn’t ignore. One time at the Buddhist retreat land outside Ashland we had graciously been given Gaia and Shandor’s house for a day or two. There in their funky house, I casually mentioned I wanted to attain enlightenment (?????) as soon as possible, or in this lifetime, or something along this line. He became furious. I remember walking with him down to his car, him yelling at me and my feeling ashamed that we were fighting there at the retreat land. Crying masked the shame and resentment I felt. To this day I hesitate to say something like I want to be enlightened for fear all hell will break loose.
No matter how much I loved that man, no resolution of our underlying problems was ever possible, even with therapy. We never learned to communicate in a non-threatening, non-judgemental way about our interpersonal stuff. About the time I’d try to bring up something in a rational and neutral way, he would erupt and start yelling. I never knew what to expect. His addiction to marijuana made him more peaceful sometimes and more approachable, but not in a reliable way. I stopped smoking marijuana and embraced the personal growth ideal, doing therapy and meditating--trying to know myself and change some of my worst patterns. My pattern is to disappear if things get out of control.
We could be the seemingly ideal couple, hugging and kissing alot in public, or two estranged icebergs ignoring each other. I learned that both people have to really try to make a relationship work, and that no matter how much you may love someone emotionally and otherwise, that’s no guarantee you can stay together and work it out. Learning these lessons was valuable. Perhaps whatever that karma is has been diminished.
My partner and I embarked on our journey to see the Dalai Lama at Seaside. It was Halloween. I had thought about taking the large quartz crystal on my altar as a present for His Holiness. It had a small crystal inside it and a rainbow. I had rented out my house for that evening. A group met to do some kind of Hallowmas circle. I took an amethyst cluster from my altar as a gift instead of the double quartz crystal. However, it no longer sat on my altar when I returned. I wished I’d given it to His Holiness directly but then maybe it did get to him.
We drove up the Oregon coast, spending the night somewhere along the way before Seaside. When we got to Seaside the next day for the event, we were engulfed in a feud, and not speaking to each other. We found other people we knew at the hotel, and went to a large basement room where His Holiness would speak. The room filled with Tibetans who sat crossed legged on the floor. We did too, and I remember we ended up near the front of the room in the second row. I marveled at the Tibetan men, all in suits, sitting on the floor. We sat together still not talking. About two hundred people waited in that small underground room.
His Holiness entered the room, we stood. The very moment the door opened the energy of the room shifted. Unconditional compassion washed over us. He bowed, we prostrated. I felt peaceful and energetic, totally different from what I was feeling a minute before. I’d never experienced such a clear shift of energy in a public situation. He talked about conditions in Tibet to the Tibetans in Tibetan for an hour which flew by. After that he gave several mantra empowerments for practioners. Then, everyone got up, the Tibetans forming a line with white katas in hand. At the front of the room, His Holiness greeted, talked to and blessed each person. Many Tibetans cried. We Western students held back, letting all the Tibetans go first. We too were invited to receive his blessing and got in line.
Then, I was face to face with the Dalai Lama. I can’t remember if I had a kata but I did give him the chunk of amethyst. He touched my hand and mala. I said “Thank you.” His face, inches from mine, beamed. My conscious awareness jumped to a higher frequency. I felt I’d entered Nirvana. Or heaven. Anyway, a higher energy realm. This reminded my being that death, the end of the physical body, is not the end of consciousness or experience. His blessing cleared my mind/heart. It affirmed knowledge and wisdom, as well as the power of compassion. I floated back in a trance to where other sangha friends stood.
The line dwindled and I noticed that my partner still hadn’t gone through. I asked, “Aren’t you going to get his blessing?” He answered, “No, because you want me to”. Amazed, I replied without thought, “I wouldn’t let being angry at me stand in the way of getting the Dalai Lama’s blessing” Then he got in line. I couldn’t read his response to the experience.
Outside it was a beautiful, sunny Sunday. When we drove back to Eugene that afternoon, I sang almost all the way back. I wasn’t sure how to talk about this experience with my partner who still seemed angry at me. I expressed my joy singing. To talk about it anyway would have trivialized it.
Recently I watched, Heart of Tibet, a video tape of the Kalachakra Empowerment in 1989 in Los Angeles with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. On the tape he says that if he can make someone even temporarily happy that’s fine with him. A truly amazing being. I felt his distinctive energy that day long ago-- his infinite willingness to help right in the moment. His genuine loving-kindness gave me what I needed. Om Mani Padme Hung.
(I am reporting what I remember happened. It was a very hectic time in my life, the 1980's. I discovered Oaxaca too with my partner. For all the hard and beautiful things in my relationship with my X, I am grateful. We had many really amazing experiences together before separating. I can say we loved each other. After a long hiatus, we became friends a few years ago )