Englightenment shines from the heart

Originally Cont’d from  Can’t A Guy Get A Break Around Here? 1-9-10

This throne we just put together at Ethical Society of Philadelphia looks real! I bet folks here haven’t seen its likeness since King George ruled over the Comonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1775, and Ben Franklin was trying to draw us closer as a “Royal Colony.”

It sure looks  like one of those you see a king or some royal person might ascend to, as they greet their subjects and bestow a blessing. Someone just placed a small wooden step stool at the side of the throne.  The more I look at this beautifully covered structure  I helped to create, the more I feel I’ve done a small, but great service for the good of others. Despite Philadelphia’s history with royalty.

That feeling expands as someone hoists flowers up to the table top placing them in front of the throne. A bunch rests on the left side next to a small tea-cup which has one of those fancy porcelain lids. Flowers adorn the wooden floor beneath on both sides of the throne. Three sets of  two red mats piled on each other cover areas off to the side and at the “feet” of the throne. I notice someone has placed yet another mat and what looks like a pillow before a small podium. A young, attractive, yet sad-looking, woman with pale skin and dark clothes to match her dark hair approaches the stage. She’s an English-speaking interpreter, who will eventually sit in the lotus position and offer the translation for a man who spent 20 years in a Chinese prison during the so-called “Cultural Revolution” when he refused to bow to the Communist government, and now, older with his eyesight apparently diminishing, he’s accepted an invitiation from the City of Brotherly Love to speak to all of about an “independence” of the mind.


H.E. Garchen Rinpoche, a renowned Tibetan Buddhist Master from the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, presented a discourse on Buddhism as some 500 people crowded into the standing-room only hall along Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square Friday, January the 8th, 2010. It was historic, someone said, because it was the first time this international speaker came to my old home town. (He had ascended to, and spoke from the “throne” I helped prepare. I felt I helped a Buddha find some refuge while he visited here.)

 “He was born 72 years ago in Eastern Tibet and was recognized as the incarnation of a heart disciple of Jigden Sumgon who was previously Nargajuna’s disciple,” a message from his followers’ website says. “Rinpoche was about to finish a traditional 3 year retreat when he was imprisoned for 20 years during the Cultural Revolution.  Yet like Milarepa, Garchen Rinpoche was able to realize the Dharma while facing obstacles. In prison he studied under a Great Dzogchen Master and was a respected teacher upon his release. Rinpoche now teaches Dharma around the world, touching students with his bright love.”


Following his  “Dharma” teaching, I rush to the back of the hall, standing in the lobby with no one but the coördinator and me. This holy man approaches and I’m thanking him, shaking his hand as he leaves the auditorium and slowly places the crowd behind. He just spoke for nearly two hours, and each sentence, each word seemed directed right at me.

Something urges me to bow to him as I hold his hand a little longer after the initial handshake. I kiss him. I bend down to the hand he extends in friendship and understanding, and I plant a peck of gratitude on the back of  his hand. I think he’s smiling at that. I know I am.

And that smiles has stayed with me this next day as I recall my service to someone closer to Enlightenment than this humble sentient being may ever hope to approach. You’re looking at a guy who caught one of those good breaks in life. Hope I don’t squander it away.

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