I first became interested in Buddhism in September of 2003, when I attended the dedication and consecration of the new Chamtse Ling temple located at what was then called the Tibetan Cultural Center, in Bloomington, IN. The ceremony was conducted by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. I was mostly just curious about His Holiness, and felt it was an easy opportunity to see and hear a famous person – who was famous for good reasons – for promoting peace and understanding all over the world and between all peoples.
Even though I did not know much about him, from what I did know, I believed that he was a very genuine man – a man who “walks the walk”, not just “talks the talk”. In other words he lives, in everything he does, exactly what he says and teaches. He leads and teaches by example, which I feel is the best possible way to lead and teach.
I was just one of hundreds and hundreds of people in the crowd. I was never closer to him than several hundred feet away. There were TV monitors everywhere, but I only barely caught a glimpse of him directly, once. But he affected me very deeply. I felt huge amounts of energy coming from him – loving, compassionate energy. I cried about half of the time I was there, and I didn’t and still don’t know way, at all.
I had been a science major in college, and my “real” job is in the computer field with a major American company. But I had always wanted to become a professional Massage Therapist, and so in 1999 I did – I graduated from a 500 hour program at an accredited massage school, and passed the National Certification exam, and I have had a small side business ever since. The letters CMT after my name mean “Certified Massage Therapist”.
While in massage school, I was introduced to “energy” therapies – healing with “life force energy”. Once I first learned about energy healing, I began to study it a lot. The particular type of energy work I choose, for no conscious reason, was Reiki – a healing method developed by a Buddhist man in Japan. I have since studied Reiki very deeply, and have been teaching it for about 5 years, and I have written 4 books about it.
I had never been religions at all. Up through my early adult years, I considered myself agnostic. I thought science could explain everything that happens and could answer all questions and solve all problems. But my experiences with Reiki changed that. I learned to do Reiki healing with people who are not with me. I have done healing work with people in many parts of the world, all while sitting in my chair in Indiana.
My experiences with Reiki caused me to realize that the view I previously had of the world and life, was incomplete. Science could not explain how I can do energy healing with someone who is thousands of miles away. This was proof to me, that all Human Beings are connected in some intangible way – that there is more to a Human Being than just a body, a mind, and feelings.
The more I have worked with Reiki over the years, the more sensitive to the subtle energies I have became, and the more directly aware I am, of the interconnection of all Beings – this is all very, very subtle, but does ever so slowly increase. At his point in my life, I consider myself “spiritual but not religious”.
And I became more serious about developing my own spirituality and my understanding of spirituality in general – by studying a variety of spiritual material. I chose to become ordained in a spiritual order, The Order of Melchezidek. This is why Rev. appears before my name. The Order of Melchezidek has only one doctrine – “to heal and teach the Human condition”. It was a good opportunity for me to pursue my spiritual growth, including my work with massage and Reiki, without doing so through a specific religion.
So, because of my extensive experience with energy, and my view of the interconnectedness of all Beings, I was not surprised at all when I felt energy coming from His Holiness, but I was completely and totally surprised by the magnitude of what I felt, and the effect it had on me. This proved to me that Buddhism can be a very effective way to grow spiritually.
I began to attend Dharma talks and other events at TCC, irregularly due to the time and distance. I did not try to absorb the Dharma teaching through my mind, I simply absorbed the energy of the teachings. And, I observed that TCC needed a lot of help, and so I became a volunteer there, fixing things.
At some time, I learned a quotation of His Holiness: “I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate success in life.”
And my experiences as a volunteer proved that it was true – I am happier when I am helping others. I still visit TMBCC in Bloomington, but less often, due to the time and expense to travel so far. I am not a Buddhist, nor a follower of any other religion, but I find my spiritual beliefs are highly compatible with most Buddhists, and most Hindus, but less so with some Christians.
I found An Lac at the perfect time. A new temple is being built, and I am pretty handy. This provides me with a wonderful chance to volunteer, which is so very meaningful to me. And I have a chance, much closer to home, to absorb the energy of the Dharma talks, to further my spiritual development. However, my favorite part of Sunday service is the chanting, and the big drum and bell – the energy is wonderful. I like the food, the women are beautiful, everyone is friendly, and I enjoy discussing the nature of the world and Human life with the people at An Lac. So, I visit An Lac when I can, and am happy to do so.
I bow lightly, with my hands in prayer position in front of my heart, and say:
Ei Ee Da Phat (Vietnamese Buddhist)
God Bless You and Keep You (Christian)
I think one of the most important thing every Human Being can do, is look for and celebrate the similarities between themselves and others, instead of looking for and emphasizing the differences.