I got a chill when I saw the word “Tibet” today because it took me back to the late 60s when I was a newly minted second lieutenant trying to make his way in the US army. The words that impressed me then, however, had nothing to do with the military. It had everything to do with life. Nearly 40 years later, I see that the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” called out to me, though I may not have known it then.
I had thirsted for more of an understanding of Life back then. I was not quite 21 years of age.
Eventually, I put the book and all of its teachings aside, and raised no major questions as I got married, went to Vietnam and studied at the university before becoming a newspaper journalist.
At age 30, however, divorce was pending and my life once again begged me to seek a spiritual path. I met a young woman who led me to a Guru, where I felt so comfortable visiting an ashram and listening to the talks in “Satsang” (how did I just remember that term? I haven’t thought of it for decades!) I created a little “altar” with candles, incense and a picture of my guru, as I tried in vain to meditate, and on perhaps one occasion, I lost “my self,” and felt the most energized I have ever felt in my life.
(Spirituality called out to me again, describing in whispers of a state far higher than I had ever dreamed of before!)
But, life, my career and a second marriage led me away from that. I even dreamed of the Guru leaving our Earth in a hot air balloon, drifting up to space, where I truly believed that he was going to perish while touching the outer atmosphere.
I awoke in a cold sweat, looked outside my tiny Pottstown, PA, apartment, and saw that it had snowed for the earliest time in eastern Pennsylvania’s recorded history — Columbus Day, Oct. 12, 1980.
I grew a beard.
For the first time in my life.
I felt I had to rearrange something in my life, perhaps to ward me against some future threat, or prepare me for a new addition to my life style. Less than two months later, I met my future (and current wife, a so-called “Jesus freak”) and she later confined to me that what drew her to me physically was MY BEARD!
Today, I have entered a new phase, where the Tibetan Book of the Dead is appending and writing a new chapter in my life. I will be going to a place called the “Omega Institute” for a retreat to contemplate PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), to meditate, and to study in a library, called the “Ram Dass Library.
Shades of Timothy Leary, LSD acid trips, and a book he and another brilliant young professor, Richard Alpert (a.k.a. Ram Dass), championed, “The Tibetan Book of the Dead.”
Am I coming full circle to something that started all those years ago and only now appears to come to a blossoming?
I would like to think so.
But why has it taken so long, and why did I have to squeeze through so many hoops, overcome so many obstacles, and avoid death and possible disgrace to finally get to “this” place?
I guess this is what one would call a rhetorical question? Maybe. But I still want to know.
(The comment was left Oct. 19, 2009, at the latest post of urbansannyasin, entitled: “Dream Yoga,” which was a follow-up to “The Tibetan Book of the Dead,” Oct. 18, 2009)
I enjoyed reading your posts and comments this morning. Thank you for sharing some of your innermost thoughts. I resonate with many of them.
Presently I’m returning to my study of Buddhism, which I started intensely some twenty years ago. Beside me on my desk is a copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead with the CD read by Richard Gere. From your blog I will return to reading Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by the Dalai Lama. So, it seems we have things in common. I will check back again. Thank you also for visiting and commenting on my blog.
Hope your studies have progressed well, and that you are closer to finding answers you were seeking. I plan to be “initiated” at a ceremony May 23, 2010, when I will formally seek “refuge” in the Buddha.
I’m a little anxious. Don’t feel I could ever live up to whatever I believe I should live up to. Feel like I’m about the jump out of an airplane for the first time and hope that the parachute opens with me still intact.
Well, that’s pretty serendipitous! Actually, it was one of your posts, about a dream you had, that inspired those last two posts of mine on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I wanted to talk about some dream yoga of my own I’ve been practicing, but I wanted to put it in context first, by mentioning some of the experiences one faces in the Tibetan Rebirth Process. Stay tuned!
As far as why you had to go through all those experiences, to get to this place now, it’s like I said in my post on Karma, every experience you go through changes your level of awareness. And, your awareness today is a conglomeration of all the experiences you’ve had over this (and any other) lifetime. Sometimes, we wish we had an easier road, but, if we arrive at a beautiful level of awareness, what does it matter how we got here? Our experiences are what it took to get us here, so, we shouldn’t regret them.
Have fun at the Omega Institute!
If you don’t believe in synchronicity now, you *never *will!
Let’s hear it for one of my heroes, *Dr. Carl Jung.*