My Sister Laughs

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans — John Lennon (of all people).

First, my wife’s best friend came for a visit.
She and I cleaned out the garage. My wife had stored a large number of papers out there.
Some papers were notes from therapy sessions. Every piece of paper was reviewed. It took one and a half days.
My wife’s friend left Monday and I started cleaning house.
Then #2 son called and wanted me to pick up grandson #2 after school because of an early release situation.
I brought my grandson home and baby sat him until his mother came to pick him up at 4 pm. I only had him Monday and Tuesday afternoon.
Yesterday I had a endoscopy of my esophagus.
And, the first week my wife’s friend was here, we had the outside of our house painted.
This last Friday my wife’s twin brother and his wife are came to visit and my wife is taking a vacation to spend time with her twin.

One of my younger sisters died in a freak automobile accident. My sense is that she is in heaven laughing at me.

She left behind a lot of Buddhist objects that she used in her own personal spiritual journey. I’m not willing to throw these items away. To me they have spiritual content. I want to find the appropriate person for each item. I’m looking for people who will see the spiritual value in what I have to share – I want to match the individual items to the person who receives the item.

A set of forty four laminated Tibetan Buddhist icons has been the most interesting of all the things my sister left behind. My best instinct was that these icons were very powerful spiritual entities. It seemed obvious that the best thing to do would be to take these icons to the local Tibetan Buddhist center.

The Emaho Buddhist Center is in a part of my metropolitan area that has strange street numbers. Several cities run together and it can be very difficult to find an address. I have to admit I wasn’t functioning very well either. I felt very vulnerable. I have been doing a yoga style mediation for about forty years. But, I’ve never really had a teacher who really knew what he was doing in terms of yoga practice. The person I was going to talk to at the Center is exactly such a teacher. So, I had a hard time physically locating the Center because I really didn’t want to find the Center.

Having eventually found the Center. I met Geshe Jampa Khechok. Geshe has the equivalent of a PhD. in Buddhist Theology and Practice. He was the opposite of all my fears. The only agenda I can ascribe to him is that of a compassionate listener. He didn’t know my sister personally but was willing to pray for her soul. He patiently listened to my peculiar personal story as a yoga practitioner. He was glad to have the Buddhist icons. And finally he and I went into the sanctuary at the Center and meditated together. My time spent with Geshe was like a spiritual homecoming.

I scheduled a second visit with Geshe so that my son who is a new Buddhist practitioner could visit the center and meet Geshe. I told Geshe that I would send him an email with questions my son and I would like to discuss. As I began to write the email, I realized that Geshe would completely understand my personal efforts in yoga if I told him I had been meditating on Shiva energy for the last forty years. When we got to the center, Geshe’s response to the explanation of my yoga practice was once again very relaxed while I was somewhat agitated. I was imagining all the negative critiques he could give. His simple suggestion for my meditation practice was that I should combine the negative Shiva energy with the positive energy that is found in Beginner’s Mind. He agreed that Shiva energy was an ‘ultimate reality’. We all had a good laugh when I suggested that there was a kind of peace in Shiva energy – the kind of peace that is in Shiva energy just isn’t very peaceful.

Geshe’s suggestion opened up a new way of looking at the opportunities I have in mediation. I’ve changed my meditation practice to include the integrated mode suggested by Geshe. Mostly this change is accomplished by using different visual images. For example, in the part of my mediation where I practice pranayamic breathing, I imaging two snakes going up my spine. One snake is translucent blue, the other translucent red. The two snakes twist around my spine as the pranayamic energy rises.

Visiting Geshe Jampa Khechok at the Emaho Center was just one of the actions my sister’s death caused me to take. I did feel a spiritual compulsion to find appropriate homes for all the spiritual items she left behind. I found each situation where I gave someone a spiritual gift from my sister’s legacy, that the person receiving the spiritual gift gave a gift of loving energy in return. I feel blessed.

Thinking about these issues and my forty year flight Christian fundamentalism has brought me to some interesting conclusions. For many reasons my sister who died was engaged in a continuing search for some kind of spiritual certainty. In some ways, she and I shared this search. Toward the end of her life she seemed to have reached some conclusions that satisfied some of her spiritual needs. She never had the kind of certainty that I have found meditating with Shiva energy. My sister and I shared a dislike of Christian fundamentalism. It didn’t satisfy for either one of us. I have to admit I felt superior in my certainty as I watched her struggle with uncertainty. Now, I wonder if my flight from Christian fundamentalism caused me to substitute the certainly found in Christian fundamentalism with the certainty of Shiva energy. I wonder if certainty isn’t over-rated.

And, finally, I have the continuing feeling that my sister is in heaven having a relaxed sort of chuckle as I work through the opportunities presented by the totality of her spiritual legacy.

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This entry was posted in Buddhism, Christian Fundamentalism, Christianity, personal spiritual journey, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to My Sister Laughs

  1. Linda Baugh says:

    Thank you so much for your story of meeting Geshe Jampa at Emaho. Like your sister, I have been on a spiritual quest and have visited Emaho and met Geshe Jampo. I will return to explore Buddhism further.

    My thoughts are with you on the loss of your sister.

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