Monday, April 18, 2011
My Path to Enlightenment
So, somewhere about age 17 I decided that becoming enlightened and helping all I could end their suffering and come to a more permanent bliss in life would be the most useful thing that I could do. We had enough successful businessmen and everything else that I could see. However, the world didn't seem ready for me and I still had to go to college and earn a living. So, I began to think about what I should do.
My father was a workaholic so he was working most of the time. Even if he wasn't at work he was working on something. But once in a while he would take a break to watch the evening news with me or to watch Bill Burred's Travelogs on TV or the Mutual of Omaha Travelogs back in the 1950s and early 1960s.
When I moved to the big Island of Hawaii with my first wife in 1974 with my new baby son I finally realized that my Dad was a workaholic and that I was following in his footsteps and I decided there that I didn't want to anymore and that my motto from then on would be "Work smarter not harder". I decided this would maximize my time with my wife and son and friends. As I considered how to do this I realized I had to by at the very least age 30 begin to run my own businesses as soon as I was capable of running a business myself without failing. Not failing was very important to me at the time, so I waited until I was sure I could succeed at whatever I did in running my own businesses.
After I got a building contractor's license from the state of california in the late 1970s I found that I really liked owning my own business but I soon found that I just wasn't hard nosed enough to be happy as a building contractor long term. So, my 2nd wife and I started buying businesses and then someone even gave us a business that we both ran for years as well. Someone had died and the caretaker of the business couldn't run it anymore so we kept the mail order business running for many years after that. So, during the 1980s we had multiple businesses running at the same time. This gave me a lot of time to study with masters both in the U.S. and India and Nepal. So, in the U.S. I studied with native American Medicine men until I became a Golden Dragon during a vision quest of no water no food for 4 days or 96 hours. It takes about 2 days before you start to get serious visions. However, becoming a 50 tall golden dragon who breathed the fire of enlighenment out on people that then became enlightened themselves I realized was a calling. So, after that I began to seek out Tibetan Lamas in the U.S. , India and Nepal to study with. And because we were business owners we could hire someone to run our businesses while we were in Asia from 4 to 6 months with our children. However, 4 of the 5 of us had ghiarrdea or protozoa in our intestines by the time we came back. We found it is endemic to India and is why so many people there are so skinny then in 1985 and 1986. When we returned to California with our three teenagers we sought out a foreign disease specialist who told us it would just sluff off within 6 months. "So don't worry." She said. Well. At the time I was seeing black spots before my eyes from a level of starvation from the protozoa eating my food so I wasn't getting enough. So, in the end she was right. After 6 months it went away.
In the process I met amazing people throughout northern India and visited Bodhgaya and was initiated along with 500,000 others there into the Kalachakra by the Dalai Lama. That was pretty amazing by itself. I also met the Tibetan lama that actually looks like Yoda then in 1986 only he was then about almost 6 feet tall and had just spent 17 years in a retreat walled away from the world with no lighting by sun or candle or lamp of any kind. So, I was told people can either deal with this or they can't. So, I met this guy who loved meditating in this way and then I met a young guy who tried 4 months and almost flipped out in the Himalayas as well. You never know what you are going to see there in the dark for four months or 4 years or even 17 years. The Yoda Lama was called (or is still called) Lam Rim Geshe.
Degobah planet. Jim Henson's muppet people had visited Dharamshala, India where Lam Rim Geshe lived then and where the Dalai Lama lives to help them create Yoda. So they had a real live person who was a very real meditative master that they fashioned Yoda Also, in the same movie the Ewoks were actually speaking rudementary Tibetan as their language. When I took Geshe Lobsang Gyatso that I had met in Santa Cruz, California and his translator to "The Empire Strikes back'' in New Delhi, they were laughing at what the Ewoks were saying. I asked why they were laughing and found they were speaking a rudimentary form of Tibetan from the Lama.
Also, I met a man named Thubten who was a student of the Geshe I took to the movie. Because the man's parents were dying he gave his Tibetan monk robes to Geshela so he could work and take care of his parents. Geshela held his monks robes for him and Thubten became a mountain climbing guide. HisEnglish was very very good and we became very good friends the month we were in Dharamshala. I also met him in the U.S. after he married an American. He was the one who introduced me to stories of Drukpa Kunley which made me laugh so hard I often fell on the floor in delightful raucous laughter. Thubten said he often told Drukpa Kunley stories to the climbers of high mountains as a protection to them as they climbed high peaks in the Himalayas. You see, Drukpa Kunley is a Crazy Wisdom Mahasiddha. For years I thought he was a fictitious Mahasiddha but found in the last 5 years he was real and lived in Bhutan. Sometimes he is also called, 'The man who enlightened 5000 women'. This might be hard for westerners to imagine but this kind of thing is a part of the legends of the Himalayas. Someone who is Crazy Wisdom manifests the "Wisdom beyond knowledge". So, such a one moves completely intuitively and winds up enlightening people right and left. I, myself have been called a "Crazy Wisdom emanation" which just means I might do almost anything to enlighten people and to help free them from their suffering and to bring them to bliss. But that is another story.
Though I cannot vouch that Padmasambhava was crazy wisdom, he was a very powerful Mahasiddha who is thought to have brought Buddhism to Tibet to King Tri-Song Detsun. To of his most famous students were female, Mandhrava, from the Tsopema (Rewalsar) area of India and Yeshe Sogyal who lived I believe in Lhasa, Tibet. I visited Rewalsar and saw some of the manifested siddhis there then in 1986 in February.
Before we went to Rewalsar, Thubten came and got us and said we were blessed as we had been chosen to visit Ling Rinpoche. At the time I didn't know who Ling Rinpoche was. So, my wife and three children 14, 12 and 11 were led by Thubten high up into the mountains on foot from Dharamshala. There was a stone hut with the familiar slate roof that one saw a lot in this area because of the slate mine with pieces of rock hewn slate tied onto donkeys for shipment throughout the area for the roofs of houses and businesses throughout Dharamshala. As we got close it had no electricity at all because we were far to far up into the mountains but the water of the streams was relatively pure and alpine at this height because there didn't appear to be any houses above us, so we might have been at least 8000 to 9000 feet and the tops of the mountains there I believe are between 15,000 to 20,000 feet in altitude. So, because of the nearness to the equator the treeline was at the very least 10,000 feet and still far above us. As we entered into the stone hut two Tibetan Buddhist monks greeted us very kindly like we were about to receive an amazing blessing. There on top of a table sat the elderly Ling Rinpoche. I wondered why they had brought us there at first until I realized Ling Rinpoche was not moving or even breathing. And then I realized why we were here. It was to witness Ling Rinpoche's type of transition. I asked the monks how long Ling Rinpoche had been like this and Thubten told me in English that he had been like this for about 2 years time. He was in the Maitreya Mudra teaching position and so I felt like he was in heaven broadcasting heaven back through his aura to me, my family, the monks, Thubten and the whole area and the whole world for that matter. Since my father had died the previous August 1985 it took me to tears in seeing a different type of transition. So I walked outside and cried seeing this path to enlightenment and feeling overwhelmed by the changes in my life. I knew God had helped me to move forward in a quantum jump this day.
However, when we flew from Katmandu, Nepal in April back to Thailand and then rested in Thailand for awhile. We then flew to Tokyo, Japan and from Tokyo to San Francisco. However, none of us were prepared for the extreme culture shock of returning to the United States, San Francisco and California. It was very difficult to adjust to the U.S. because people seemed so unbalanced here in the U.S. compared to the people we had met in India and Nepal and Thailand and Japan. It appears that people, especially who are seeing friends and relatives dying everyday like in India and Nepal then tend to be more realistic because they know firsthand watching so many that they know die that each day could be their last. When people are this real they don't get bogged down into neuroses like Americans tend to who are protected from violence and death by ambulances and hospitals and such. So, ambulances and hospitals were basically pretty rare in the wilds of India and Nepal back then. So, we saw a lot of dying or dead people sometimes who no one was ever going to come for. Since social services were fairly non-existent then a lot of places, bodies were just left where they were. The same with dead animals. This was a very different way of thinking than we have in the U.S. However, it is probably very different now in India and Nepal 25 or more years later. However, this was what it was like then. People were very real because the alternative wasn't realistic. Every moment counted in India then. There was no wasted moment when everyone might be your last each day. This was true of almost everyone except for the very rich who had lives similar to middle class or rich people here in the U.S. But then, 60% of the people didn't really have enough to eat every day. So, only 40% of India then was like 90% of the U.S. was then in 1985 and 1986. This has all changed today with increased affluence all over India.
So, when I returned to the U.S. I felt sort of like my life was over to some degree. I had only one more dream in my life to fulfill and that was to learn to fly. I had already flown about 16 hours in various small high and low wing planes as well as ridden countless hours with friends in their small planes over the western United States. So, in 1987 I began to work for my solo license and soloed three times. However, I found I didn't really like being up in a plane alone without anyone else and also I had three kids to get through college so I couldn't rationalize doing anymore than soloing with three teenagers getting ready for college. Now I might be able to afford to buy a plane but my wife's step brother and step sister died in a small plane crash in Idaho a few years ago with their dog. They left two college age sons alone and I can't really do that to my wife. Besides, I often get the feeling that I might pass on eventually when I'm very old in a large passenger plane. But since my uncle is supposed to have died in his own plane in 1942 in Seattle, sometimes I think it is just the family trauma of losing the kindest of all the brothers in my Dad's family in a plane crash in 1942.
So, I found myself with my Dad gone and all my dreams of a youth and young man fulfilled and wondered what next I would want to live for. However, life has a way of turning you upside down and shaking you until you say "Uncle" and giving you whole different lives than you ever imagined possible. At least that is what happened to me. I seem to be someone who keeps resurrecting from every near death experience in my life. I guess God has plans for me. So I live on another year and another watching all my friends and relatives die one by one. I have been to at least 20 funerals since 1995 and everyone a dear relative or friend that I never expected to have to live without. Enlightenment is something different than I ever expected.
When my wife's mother died in 1999 she was very very quiet all day. I asked her if there was something wrong. She was outside gardening at our home and finally confided in me, "I see all the good and all the bad in the world and I don't like it. It's awful."
I looked at her and said, "Why Dear, You've just told me what enlightenment is. This is what the Lamas always told me it was. You see everything. You don't have to like it but you do have to see this is the way things actually are. When you see literally everything good and bad then you can make enlightened decisions. You aren't living in just a fantasy like a little unenlightened child. You see it all. You don't have to like it but mechanistically by seeing it all you can save yourself and anyone else who will let you."
She looked at me and I thought she would cry and said, "I don't like it. It's awful." Once again I tried to reassure her. I said, "You don't have to like it. You just have to accept it as the way life really is. Then you are free. You are empowered. You can save yourself and anyone else who will let you." She said once again, "Maybe so. But I still don't like it." And once again I said, "You don't have to like it you just have to accept that this is how it all works. Then you are enlightened."
We hugged each other and she cried but I knew she now understood. Losing her mother was awful. But after about two years my wife came out of it and is one of the most amazing people I have ever met now. She helps everyone in completely amazing ways. She is an amazing enlightened woman now. And her mother's death took her there like a Zen Koan. It was amazing to witness. It still is.