Two years ago a Lama foresaw a moment in his future, a moment that would hold him committed to Maui until he understood it, and likely longer. He waited and waited for the moment to come, patient with it although he didn’t understand what it would mean. What he knew he knew through no external source, through nothing but his acceptance of what the world might gift him with. Last week, one of his students, a beautifully gifted and artistic young man who writes spellbinding songs and strives to live a life of purity and honesty, told this Lama about me, about my commitment to change and growth, and although he wasn’t – at first – inclined to be filmed, he knew an auspicion when he saw one. For he had envisioned meeting a man under a tree.
He endeavored to come meet me.
This afternoon, I had an impulse, an urge to leave the sun-dappled shade of my banyan and walk up to the road. Despite having weighed myself just yesterday, it was the only excuse I could muster, and I grabbed the scale, leaving my flip-flops behind (which I’d not done before) with the thought that they’d slow me down, and got to the road just as two cars pulled in to the little turn-off.
I was straddling the fence (literally) as I watched a man I’d never seen get out of a silver sedan, and I felt a home-coming, the joy of seeing an old friend by surprise. Simultaneously, it was a lurching shock that made me lose my balance a little as I nearly stumbled as I swung my leg over the top wire, and a gave me the warm comfort of a loved ones unasked for promise.
Paramahansa Yogananda’s phrase from his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, struck me like lightning, a bolt of recognition, the pure shock of clarity with it, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
We greeted each other warmly, me introducing myself and asking what he would be called, and him replying with a sublimely gentle smile, “Lama”.
We shared our stories and experiences, talking for an hour and some, before I told him what I’d felt when I’d seen him. After I did, he gave me a grateful look and in a soft voice, thanked me for fulfilling his vision.
Tomorrow will be five weeks of fasting, prayer, meditation, and I’ll still have two more to go before my time here is over, but I feel, now, an easiness that I hadn’t had before about this period coming to a close. I now know that I have someone to help me through the times ahead, someone to guide me from what I am learning to and through much of the learning ahead.
He doesn’t care to describe himself as Buddhist, preferring to identify as Buddhistic, having come to where he abides through the teachings of Buddhism, and not through acculturation. It was the study and practice of Yogic Buddhism that earned him, through arduous years of learning to read Sanskrit and Tibetan while poring over the texts of esoteric Buddhism, of developing and deepening his humanity with service, of self-sacrifice while teaching, the title of Lama. To be his student I have to promise to take with me the teachings and share them with the whole of humanity as I go through the world. I promise. I consent. It’s an ideal I feel I can well serve. I don’t have to be a Buddhist, either. He’ll take me as I am with the promise that he’ll help me become the person I’m striving to be, directing me through the ordeals of compassion and the pitfalls of developing self-awareness.
I think both of us are happy to be here, now, for the friendship and lessons we’ll both receive as our friendship grows. He’s looking forward to it as much as I am, I think, and he’s waiting for me to come to him as he waited for two years to come to me.
I feel as if I’m standing on a precipice. On one side of me is the solid ground of my past and on the other an uncertain and ferociously-lived abyss of a future.
Jumping seems the only sane option. After all, haven’t I been leaping for five weeks already?
I’m glad I walked to the road. As it turns out, I really couldn’t wait any longer to meet him.