Updated: Jun 23, 2020
It's an incredible thought to think that my first introduction to way of Buddhism came directly from the intimate instruction of His Holinesss, The 14th Dalai Lama himself, in person.
I had traveled from my home located in the city of Mayapur, in the province of West Bengal to the province of Bihar, with my fellow artistic colleagues. Venturing with me was my life companion, Juno award winning opera singer, Dustin Hiles, and wandering philosopher and spiritualist, Patrick Nickisch. We had traveled with the intention of exploring the revered city of Bodh Gaya - the location where Buddha achieved enlightenment - as well as to visit an acquaintance's cow sanctuary, called a Goshala.
Our party traveled by local trains for nearly twenty hours to arrive to our destination.
The day prior to our auspicious meeting, my colleague, Dustin Hiles approached the Canadian embassy and informed them that we, as Canadian artists abroad where present within the province of Bihar to further our understanding of Buddhism and to explore the culture of the Tibetans in exile. Immediately that afternoon, we were notified that there was an opportunity to have an intimate council with His Holiness, the following day. I was sincerely honored and awestruck at the opportunity and our fortuitous timing of arrival to this incredible city. Our background checks were cleared and our audience passes were created a mere hours after the phone call. All was set for the event the following morning at 10:00 am.
The team of the Dalai Lama informed me that His Holiness would bless personal mala beads, if we so desired. The street leading up to the Bodha Temple were flanked by hundreds of individual vendor kiosks, showcasing thousands upon thousands individual strands of malas. There were malas fabricated from the seeds of Bodha trees to those carved our of obsidian and jade. A one of a kind, unique strand could undoubtedly be found, if you just had the rummaging and haggling spirit to find it. I settled on a simple, yet striking mala, comprised of a 30 individual carved howlite beads. My excitement was increasing with every passing hour, as I laid awake on my bed unable to fall asleep, thinking of the following morning's introduction.
It was the morning of January 8th, 2020. I had decided among the many hours of sleeplessness, that I wanted to gift His Holiness with a token of my appreciation for him taking the time to receive me. I spent twilight hours penning a poem - an homage to the beautiful country of Tibet. Meanwhile back home, in the city of Ottawa, my close friend, mentor, and English Department Head, Melanie White , was busy putting ink to paper herself. Melanie has always been an inspiration to me and even though distance and life tends to separate us, I always try to do my very best to include her in my adventures. The result of our writing frenzy yielded two unique ruminations and all that was left was to present our tokens of gratitude.
To be continued...