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Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Georgia on My Mind (O'Keefe, that is) #2

 

Though it may be sacriligeous here in Santa Fe to say it (about as bad as admitting that I don't particularly LIKE opera, gasp!), I don't revere Georgia O'Keefe as much as I used to. There, I said it. Yes, I still adore her paintings, and I have to stuff my hands in my pockets at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum to keep from caressing her glorious canvases; but I NO LONGER WANT TO BE JUST LIKE GEORGIA.  I still want to emulate some of her qualities-- courage, vision, independence,  and, yes, eccentricity (as in not giving a damn what people may think).  But now I want something more, and that something more is a SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, something that can hopefully inform my artisitc vision but much more importantly can help me lead a meaningful life with much less suffering.

Georgia had a groping kind of 20th century spirituality based on the rugged individualistic pursuit of happiness far from the madding crowd (i.e. eccentric, artistic, romantic loner).

"I feel that a real living form is the natural result of the individual's effort to create the living thing out of the adventure of his spirit into the unknown — where it has experienced something — felt something — it has not understood — and from that experience comes the desire to make the unknown — known ... I in some way feel that everyone is born with it ... but that with most of humanity it becomes blasted..one way or another."

My new role model, Machig Labdron (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machig_Labdr%C3%B6n) ,

an 11th century Tibetan yogini, has a much more direct path:

Machig Statue Face   Troma

Loving Kindness aspect                Ferocious "cutting through" aspect

Be happy, my disciples!
That dualistic mental activity may be completely destroyed,
I have the excellent doctrines of freedom from activity.
Be happy, my disciples!
That all difficulties may be used as helpers,
I have the doctrines which show how to liberate whatever is arising in the mind.
Be happy, my disciples!
That the treasure of benefit for others may be opened,
I have the doctrines of mental training of aspiration and practice of Bodhicitta.
I open the treasure of benefit for both self and others and give it to you.
Do not feel sorrow, my children.
I will liberate all beings from the six realms of samsara.
http://www.simplybeing.co.uk/articles.php?p=The_Secret_Biography_of_Machig_Labdron,_1997
Yippee! & A la la ho!


 
Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Pilgrimage#1: Origins of the Path

 

Some things are meant to be. My recent trip to Nepal and Tibet falls into that category, as well as the categories of “once-in-a-lifetime”, “dream-come-true”, and “too-good-to-be-true”. Actually, the trip ultimately defied categories altogether; but more about that later.

 

Winter Solstice gif

Winter Solstice Sunrise at Tara Mandala

 

I had dreamed of going to the Himalayas since I was 12 years old, an unlikely aspiration for a girl growing up in suburban Dallas in the 1950s.  My maternal grandparents managed a summer camp near Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and rather than loll around the public pool in the sweltering Texas heat, I spent every summer in the cool high mountains of Colorado, hiking, riding my cousin’s horses, and attending camp.  I looked forward to my annual summer pilgrimage to the mountains all year long. It felt like my salvation, my own private Shangri-la, to escape to the mountains from the suffocating confines of school and a dysfunctional nuclear-family life. The summer I was 12, I climbed my first mountain over 14,000 feet. And I was hooked. I voraciously read books from the library about the Himalayas, and settled on Nepal as my ultimate destination to visit in the world. It was not until some years later that I even learned about a place called Tibet, because all the maps after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 listed the region as China.

So, here I was more than four decades after my original Himalayan dream was born, passport in hand, walking across the tarmac towards the Kathmandu airport in Nepal. It still seemed like a dream; but the hazy terraced fields in the distance, the steamy heat, the cacophonous traffic, and the colorful clothing of the Nepali people were all viscerally real.  How did this Himalayan dream of mine come full circle to reality?  As a middle-aged massage therapist, meditation instructor and counselor, I seemed an unlikely world traveler.

Early in my life, my fascination with things “Eastern” led me to a steadfast meditation practice: Transcendental Meditation in the 60s (along with every other “boomer” it seemed, including the Beatles) and eventually to the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism in the 80s. In 2005, I started living and working at Tara Mandala, a Buddhist retreat center in Southern Colorado (www.taramandala.org).  The founder of Tara Mandala and author of Women of Wisdom, Tsultrim Allione, organized the trip to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of her introduction to Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal, where in 1967 at the age of 19, she became one of the first Western women to be ordained as a Buddhist nun. Our tour guide serendipitously would be Jerome Edou, a long-time Buddhist practitioner and author of Machig Labdron and the Origins of Chod. Jerome’s Kathmandu-based company, Base Camp Trek (www.basecamptrek.com), would be handling all the logistics of our journey.


Tsultrim
      Tsultrim Allione