Life: after seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Life: after seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama December 17, 2005

This is from my personal journal, dated 9-20-05, just after seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama September 18th and 19th in Tucson, Arizona. It was a momentous event, one which woke me from my spiritual slumber in academia. Though sometimes I’m not sure if I haven’t just turned over and gone back to sleep. And I laugh… Maybe I didn’t wake from anything at all!

For a bit (or a lot) of context: I had just returned from England in August, still working on a Masters dissertation in Buddhist Studies and then I took up a beyond-full load of MA level philosophy classes. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Then, just seven days prior to seeing His Holiness, I received an email from the folks at Diamond Mountain informing me that, if I still wanted it, I would be given (given!) a pass to one of His Holiness’s private teachings to be given in the days before his large public talk. I had actually planned on forgoing the whole trip. Too tired, too busy. Then, fifteen minutes after receiving that email, my sister, in Los Angeles, called me to inform me that she and my mother had worked things out for me (gotta love the family for such things!) and that I was to drop out of courses here, go see His Holiness, relax a bit, finish my dissertation well, and go on to a Ph.D. program with getting a second MA. So in just five days I dropped almost all of my courses here, booked a plane ticket and a hotel in Tucson Arizona, and flew down to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso.


Last night
under patchy clouds and distant stars
swimming in the hotel pool
calm enveloped me
insight descended upon me.

I touched the clouds and the stars
and then they were gone.

Now, above me was eternity
distant and dark
beckoning with tiny glimmers
obscured by death
softly alluring
deceptively beautiful.

No clouds
No stars
Just death itself and eternity beyond
staring down at me.

eternity is the simple part.

There are no questions it will not answer
however softly.

It is death
the feathery clouds
dimly illuminated by the city below
which draws one’s eyes and wonder.

For death is none other than life itself
with its awesome beauty and devastating tragedy.

And I thought to myself last night
“that’s it
I’m a changed man
I get it.”

But I was wrong.

It’s not that simple and I know it.

The realization may be just that sudden
but it can only rise out of a firm foundation
and lately my ground has been rocked just enough
that insights arrived at now will soon be lost.

Perhaps I can share them
a bit with Soorjya
more with Shumita
some with friends and family as well.

Time to move on for now though.
Change will come.
Hasn’t it always?

these are the contingencies of life
the carrot we stretch our necks out for.

on the other hand
is always there
watching over our foolhearted pursuits.

Let Truth be my beloved
and let it be yours as well.

— J.S.W.

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