THE WISDOM OF AN EX-BUDDHIST MONK

1998
Inverness, California

It was an amazingly beautiful fall afternoon. In the glowing golden coastal light, we shared a memorable meal with a charming unconventional man who once lived in Asia for many years as a practicing Buddhist monk even though he was a born and bred Yank. We had been casual friends; initiates to the early morning “regulars” who met at the Parkside Café in Stinson Beach on our way “over the hill”. This transient group of eclectic “locals” enjoyed many a lively conversation and debate. Bob always sat in the same place at the counter and did not appreciate anyone claiming “his spot” which, inevitably, made it all the more motivating (FUN!) to arrive at the café before he did and commandeer it.

Bob is a thinking man with a deliciously irreverent sense of humor and a profound sense about life. On this particular evening, we shared some very upsetting business/financial issues and our recent discovery of irrevocable betrayals by people we had implicitly trusted and respected…family…a brother. Bob listened intently, without interruption. When we had finished our story, he took out a pen and wrote something on a small piece of paper torn from the bottom of our dinner receipt. Without a word, he pushed the paper across the table. It read,

“He who clings to a moment of joy
Does the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise”

We looked at him, somewhat puzzled as to what these words actually mean. Bob serenely sipped from his glass of wine. He smiled as he leaned forward and gently said,

“Remember…it’s a journey…all of it. Ask yourself, “What am I learning?”

Never give your personal freedom to another. Decide what teaches you; what makes you a more compassionate person. Guard your spirit, imagination, creative intellect and physical life. Disengage from those people, places and things that harm your essential self. Discovering betrayal…turning and walking away from betrayal…may just be your road to authentic freedom. Let these painful chords teach you but then allow them to fall away and disappear into the light of the universe. Once you truly learn to protect yourself; your “essential self” will ripple and dance with the magnificence of “being” and “living life” in the present moment. This is the essence of joy; a feeling that flies in and out of life on the wings of a moment. It’s illusive and immune to captivity.

We each carry a powerful and unique spiritual imprint. Follow the path of love, kindness gratitude and compassion towards yourself as well as others. Each moment waits to fill you with an awareness and energetic source beyond imagining. The panoramic view of Eternity’s sunrise is always right here (he snaps his fingers)!”

Almost a decade has passed. Writing about it today, from the perspective of a radically changed life (an eight year adventure story in progress) where we live happily ever after in a land far far away (most of the time anyway) still has the capacity to bring tears of wonder and gratitude. Powerful words at a pivotal moment can change lives. It did ours.

Cheers to you Bob where ever you may be.

Postscript:
Never underestimate the power you possess to change yourself and your life.


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