elephants and coconuts


The Great Stupa of Shambhaha Mountain Center in Colorado sits nestled in the hills like its own Buddha, sitting, almost cross-legged.  A majestic, colorful sight.  My Zen master told me today that “nothing of the Stupa is casually done – everything is of a design for peace and joy.”   

Kai and I walked up to the Stupa today. On the way Kai dove into a lake and then rolled in the tall mountain grasses in absolute bliss. ,  The ashes of Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche rest there and so it was pilgrimage for me, an avid reader of his writings over the years. When I arrived after my hike into the mountains to find it, I collapsed and wept deep tears.  I wish he were here to talk to.

He once wrote:

“ In the jungles of flaming ego,

May there be cool iceberg of bodhicitta.*

On the racetrack of bureaucracy,

May there be the walk of the elephant.

May the sumptuous castle of arrogance,

Be destroyed by vajra** confidence.

In the garden of gentle sanity,

May you be bombarded by coconuts or wakefulness.”

His blessings always make me laugh.  He was silly and yet very powerful a spiritual leader. Flames, icebergs, elephants, castles, gardens and falling coconuts! How wonderful and decidedly unvarnished with spiritual mumbo-jumbo!

Today, this first day of a seven day retreat with new Buddhist friends and Kai, we will walk and pray, Kai will swim on the Red Feather Lakes daily and I will sit withJesus and the Buddha – both – and wonder of the confidence of the elephant, the garden of gentleness and the occasional value of being clocked on the noggin by a coconut!  Angels and incense, organs and evensong will have to wait for another day.

I long for the day that my bodhicitta will come.  Until then I sit, with my oolong tea (I brought a tea bowl from my last firing!) and wait, seeking destruction of my ego by way of confidence. It will take some time but healing is slow work.

*a spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently existing self.

** Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond  and is a kind of small club used in Vajrayana Buddhism.

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