Make of Yourself a Light

A note from Carl:

There is a story that I love from Lord Of The Dance, the autobiography of the late great, Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Chagdud Tulku was one of the early Tibetan teachers who came to the West, and his teachings helped spread the Buddhist teachings to many people in North and South America. Later in his life, when he returned to Tibet with his son and his Western wife, he made a pilgrimage to see one of his root teachers who had been in solitary retreat. His teacher would not come out to meet Rinpoche’s son and wife, and essentially told him, “You blew it this lifetime. You should not have gone West, you should have just stayed in retreat and done your practice.”

Imagine- you dedicate your life to tirelessly teaching, practicing, building centers, caring for and supporting students in their practice, and you make this epic journey to visit your teacher and he tells you it was all a waste of time- you blew it. And though Chagdud Tulku was not delighted by the feedback, his inner response was, “In my heart of hearts, I knew what I did was right.”

Make of Yourself a Light

For me, this story illustrates an important piece in the relationship with a teacher. Chagdud Rinpoche was one probably one of the most dedicated and devoted practitioners on the planet, following the guidance of his many teachers. Yet his central teacher was his own heart-mind. He could stand firmly in his inner-knowing, even as it contrasted the words of his deeply respected teacher.

Having been in many different forms of the teacher-student relationship in my life, I always have great curiosity about which ways the role of teacher can best call out to the wisdom and knowing inherent in the student. While in our culture, there is often a challenge to let some other guidance penetrate our own thinking mind, ideas, defenses and conditioning, there is also the counter-challenge of how readily we can surrender our sovereignty to an external authority. Like so many things in life, the question is how to find that middle way where we can be deeply receptive to outer guidance and instruction, while continuously refining our ability to know from within.

This dynamic, of course, is not limited to meditation, but applies to every aspect of life. How do we discover our own inner-knowing when it comes to relationship issues? Finances? Excercise? Diet? Life choices? For me, inner sense of knowing is a dance of continuously taking in feedback and guidance from teachers, friends, books, classes, Erin, Mesa, life itself…and letting that feedback resonate with my own time meditating, writing and self-reflecting…So hopefully, I can know in my heart of hearts, what is right for me.

The last instruction of the Buddha, “Make of yourself a light” is one that I find essential in discovering my inner-compass…

Make of Yourself a Light

The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal — a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.
An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.
Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire —
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

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Wishing you to make of yourself and light,

p.s Monday, March 7th is the last day for the discount on a spring tune-up Structural Integration 3- series with Feldenkrais lessons. It is a powerful way to hit the reset button on ease, alignment, and graceful movement! (the sessions can be used anytime. You can see more details below.)

p.p.s. We are so fortunate to be hosting our friend and mentor and beloved international teacher, Russell Delman, in Salt Lake City again in March. Registration is now open for his public workshop March 19-20 with an open public talk on March 18. (Find lots more details below. We hope you’ll join us!)

p.p.p.s. Drumroll please! You can now take a peek at the details for the workshop Erin will be coteaching with Laurie Wagner and Nan Seymour this July. I’m so excited about it! Trusting Your Life: An Embodied Writing Retreat. Take a peek at this today! Registration will open shortly.

Details on Erin’s September Santa Fe retreat will be coming within the week. Yippee!

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