When I was 26, I feel in love with Buddhist psychology and meditation teachings. I needed a “safe and reliable refuge”. At first, I looked up in awe at my Asian teachers. I was perplexed by life and searching for answers outside of myself. I hoped to enlighten myself through connection with who they were and the compassion they exuded. Over the years of practice, they always pointed us back to enlightened qualities of our own hearts as the real source of inspiration and wonder. Our teachers saw us as young Buddhas, learning how to cultivate, strengthen and trust our own innate sanity, goodness, and understanding.
Teachers point the way and help us envision the possibility of awakening. We begin to trust that awakening can happen in this very life – in fact, in any moment when we’re not preoccupied with wanting our situation to be different, better, luckier… This impatience with the way things are and how it is for us generates stressful thoughts that make us unhappy and block the flow of clarity. Mindfulness allows us to see when our attention is ‘going there’ and choose a more positive and liberating focus for our energy and consciousness.
As we enter the last month of a challenging year for our country, I feel infinite gratitude for the trust of my teachers, for Ram Dass’s teachings of loving awareness and the opportunity to teach at his annual winter retreat with hundreds of people who long to embody them. I’m grateful for the kindness of everyone who helped my injured back to travel here for the week. Our teachers’ sense of spiritual adventure and their trust in our indwelling wisdom spark confidence that this is journey is possible for each one of us. May we all continue to practice and learn together. And may we trust our teachers, trusting us on our path!