After my recent life-changing travels through India, most of which I spent volunteering in the Tibetan exile community of McleodGanj, I came back to the USA feeling grateful for a chance to rest and recoup.
Almost immediately, I began reading everything I could get my hands on regarding beginning practice in Tibetan Buddhism.
Let me back track a wee bit:
Living in McleodGanj (aka Dharamsala, exile home of the Dalai Lama) was a daily immersion in Tibetan Buddhism, and yet I never "studied" or read anything while there. I floated around in various stages of "enlightenment", carried by the incredible vibes swirling around the Himalayan foothills...Chanting emanated from monasteries as I walked Kora and spun prayer wheels and learned how to use my mala and do my own mantras.
I sat, on different occasions, within a few yards of HH the 14th Dalai Lama, swept away by unseen unheard waves of energy.
I had amazing insights and grew, spiritually, in leaps and bounds.
Leaving the Tibetan community was heart-breaking, and I have vowed to get back ASAP to do whatever I can for them, as well as continue my own journey.
When I arrived back in America, after nearly 5 days recovering from jet-lag, I began ordering Tibetan Buddhism books, book-marking every Buddhist website I could find.
At first it was more like intellectual learning, trying to get my head around what I had just experienced.
I wanted to know what all those red-robed monks knew that made them radiate pure light from their glowing faces.
I learned the Four Noble Truths, read and re-read the Eightfold Path, memorized The Three Pure Precepts and the Five Precepts... I read articles and essays on "metta", and pondered whether true "bodhicitta" is possible.
I froze, however, at the idea of "meditation". I am notoriously scatter-brained, have been called ADHD.
Mindfulness? On rare occasion.
Oh I SIT plenty.
I sit on my rear-end and my mind goes all over the universe.
Letting go of attachments? Ummmm...not so much. In fact, I happen to quite like my sentimental nature. I've been known to wallow in memories and longings. It has driven most of my creative work for the past 30 years.
Last night, as I was reading, I simply hit a wall. I could not grasp a single concept. Mind, no mind...self, no self...
I just kept thinking, "WTF?" Seriously.
And maybe that's the point. Maybe an intellectual study of all of this is not important. Maybe, at least for now, it's okay to simply follow the precepts as best as I can.
My own phrasing of what I learned in McleodGanj, written at the top of several journal pages:
It is what it is. It just is. Accept. Allow. Let go. Repeat.
I giggle to myself as I realize my own impatience for progress.
How can I measure "progress"? I have been practicing for less than 3 weeks, "officially". The fact that I am looking for progress may indicate a lack thereof!
The only progress I am sure of is that I am more likely to consider the karmic weight of thoughts before they turn into actions, whereas before I tended to act out of passion and think after doing so.
And that is pretty amazing in itself, really.
Yes, I am hungry to continue on the path.