Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on April 4, 2015

The young Karmapa is someone after my own heart. He tells it like it is, which is refreshing. Recently, in a talk about not-eating meat, the Karmapa said he became a strict vegetarian only a few years ago. Before that, and in Tibet, there was not much to eat except meat. I can testify to that myself from my trips there. In the talk, he had the temerity to say that he not only loved eating meat, but even now that he is a vegetarian, meat is still his favorite food, albeit only in memory. That is the kind of honesty that I don’t usually see public figures, and hardly ever in politicians, which the Karmapa is not.

So, with the Karmapa, you don’t get a lot of highfalutin abstracts, but rather statements that are grounding. In my experience, he is more honest and ordinary than most of us dare to be. That is almost an oxymoron, a spiritual being that is more ordinary than others. What a breath of fresh air.

I met the Karmapa many years ago at Tsurphu Monastery, his ancestral home high in the mountains of Tibet located at around 15,000 feet, a place wedged at the edge of and between two mountains, and back then only reached by forty-miles of very slow, rocky, bumpity-bump, and driving through streams. I am not a traveler, and only went to Tibet because my Tibetan dharma teacher of over thirty years (now in his nineties) one fine day, during an interview, told Margaret and I to go to Tibet and see His Holiness. And when responded that I hoped one day to be able to do that, his response was, no, go this summer, within a month, as soon as you can arrange it. Well, that blew our minds. In Vajrajana Buddhism, you pretty-much do what your lama asks, because of the old saying, “In for a nickel, in for a dime” sort of thing.

And we did go to Tibet, within a month, kids and all. When I entered his presence and sat down on the floor in front of the Karmapa, his eyes zeroed in on me, the irises ratcheting in out and out like a camera racking focus. I had never been seen so thoroughly. And when I looked at him, I saw, not what I expected to see, a powerful being, but instead I saw into own self more clearly than I had ever imagined. That was in 1997.

I know that in a few days I will be driving almost 900 miles to spend some eighteen days with or around the Karmapa, attend several empowerments, and hear many teachings.

For the first part of our trip, Margaret and I will be staying with my dear Facebook friend Elizabeth Mantis, who lives right on the ocean in New York, and then later we go straight to our monastery, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD), where we will be part of the crew helping to welcome the Karmapa. As I keep posting here, and I have experienced this many times before, coming events have a way of casting their light upon the present moment. When I am with the Karmapa, a glimpse into the future is a glimpse into the nature of my own mind.

The Karmapa is not just a mind-reader, but a revealer of the mind, like my mind, your mind -- The Mind. The first thing I realized when I first met the Karmapa was that I had never known the nature of my own mind up until that moment, had not even looked at it: I didn’t know how. The Karmapa just revealed me to myself in the most gentle but authentic way possible. There I was, sitting in his presence and contemplating not his nature (as I had expected), but my own mind’s nature. As they say, “Who woulda’ thunk it.”

I had expected to meet a great spiritual being and what I found was myself as having, at heart, that same nature. I realized that on the spot! Now that is true power, perfect reflection, the power to enable others to realization their own essential nature.

[Photo taken by me last summer.]