Feb. 28-Incredible view of the Himalayas out of the bedroom window this morning. Went to a lookout above, for which we had to pay admittance, but great pictures. Had a group campfire last night. I told the group much of what I thought including liking, respecting Rinpoche, but not always liking him, feeling trapped on the journey (samsara), and that feeling of walking off the end of the road and disintegrating, which I called a "Zen Zero." Rinpoche said he appreciated my honesty, and could see the progress I have made-I cannot. He added that a good teacher should make you feel uncomfortable, not tell you what you want to hear. He called it "cooking an egg." I've been cooked on this journey.
Somehow I became aware that the discomfort I was feeling was the path. I had to suffer in order to have awareness that I was grasping at what I consider comfort. All impermanent. It was just letting go. Yes, I was but not by the trip, rather the grasping. I am trapped, it's uncomfortable, I'm sufferning. The handshake, just soothing, and finally "Ah, I think I'm okay." No intellectualizing. It was just okay-the symbolism of walking off the end of the world.
March 1- Back down to Pokhara, the Candle Inn and Out, same room. Woke up energized in the middle of the night with and idean on how to translate Buddhism to the average westerner, how to tell them what their Buddha nature is. "Imagine that you are standing on top of a Himalayan peak (forget whether that is possible) at 26,000 feet. You have thoughts, feelings, memories, all that your senses tell you. For a moment notice your thinking. Doesn't matter whether true or false, good or bad. Simply notice the flow. Do the same with your feelings. Simply notice. Now imagine that the part of you which notices could take a step six inches to the rear. Do that. Then further imagine that that noticing part could sit down. This part is not a thinking or feeling part, and as such has no form, it is pure awareness, emptiness. In fact it could sit in the village of Dampos at 6000 feet. Take a moment to feel this awareness, the lack of form, no thoughts, no feeling, just awareness. This is your true nature. Take some time just to be aware. Notice that any thought you have is 20,000 feet away, and as such is inconsequential, any feeling you have is the same. In fact this consciousness, your true nature needs nothing, it is nothing, it is emptiness. Now, just for a moment, take this awareness back to your body. Explore this sensation within your body, your True Nature needing nothing. After a moment, return to your awareness sitting in Dampos at 6000 feet.
Today, I am calm. There have been many Dharma talks, yet this awareness of my true nature did not come from intellectualizing rather from some direct transmission. I'll never know. The sense is that I prefer and will go home. A part of me knows that I don't have to. In fact, I know that I need nothing.
Mar. 2- Started the day by not getting my coffee at the Benchen restaurant no matter how many times I asked for it. Went to meditate instead.
Had an audience with Matthieu Ricard, a French, Tibetan monk, and well-known author. He is said to be the "happiest man on earth" according to a study (MRI?) of long-term meditators. He denies it, was in fact almost too humble. He refused to let anyone do prostrations in his presence. He was also a successful scientist prior to becoming a monk, and also the son of a famous French philospher. The second monk was a twenty-something reincarnation of Richard's teacher who is not the head of this monastery. He talked about what his teacher said about doubt, anger, and how we are responsible for getting rid of it, not suppressing it. Finally to a Hindu site, which would have been impressive many years ago, but now is rubble. It does contain the Naropa cave in which we briefly meditated.
Tomorrow is the visit to the Tibetan doctor, and the following day the flight home. We visited a stupa in the downtown Kathmandu area referred to as Bodha. The one with the eyes. We move to a hotel later for convenience to the airport.
I wish that I could sum up the trip, but there has been too much. Rinpoche has been a great guide and teacher with access to just about any eminent monk who has been anywhere nearby. I believe that he has also been instrumental in whatever change has taken place. I still believe that spacious awareness is the sense of being able to walk off the end of the road at any moment, needing nothing. This needs to stabalize through practice. It has been a tough journey. I will not forget the feeling of being trapped, being sick, wanting to go home. But I did not, and I will leave different in many ways.
Mar. 3- Left Benchen to get the Buddha statues. While waiting, we looked for a toilet, walking two blocks before turning back. Asked a store owner who pointed across the street to a Western Union where a guard was sitting. The guard said No. But the store owner walked across the street, took us in, and showed us the worst toilet I have ever seen. He then scolded the guard for his rudeness. We bought chips and a coke from him, and he asked us where we were from. Still waiting for the statues.
Incredible drive through narrow streets, getting the bus stuck at one point, having to back up a block, then walking several blocks to the Hotel Siddhi Manakamana which is a four star hotel right in the middle of the Bodha area. Just a wild place, with narrow alleys that lead to the stupa. Got a Tangka in a store on the stupa square which Rinpoche referred to as "his."
Also we both saw the Tibetan doctor today. This was a primary goal for me. He asked my symptoms, felt my pulse for several minutes, in several different places. He says I have wind and heat in my liver, which accounts for hypertension. He prescribed three different formulas to be crushed and taken with hot water 3X a day. He also suggested I stop coffee, oily and spicy food.
Later in the evening Rinpoche presented us with the Buddha statue. It is beautiful. One last dinner, and leave tomorrow. It has been a struggle with much suffering, and a priceless reward. Rinpoche has said so many times that we had to be so rich in merit to have gotten here.
Mar. 4- Flight cancelled. More to follow.