The Prince, a Monk, and Tea

By Jingpa Lodu

There is a kingdom called Sukhavati, the Realm of Bliss, a land of light and magic, prayer and chanting, knowledge and compassion.  Within it there dwells a young prince and he wears regal bejeweled gowns, but they are no more distinguished than the next prince’s gown.  His crown shines in the light of the butter lamps, but no brighter than any one of his brother’s crowns.  He feels simple, he feels unremarkable.

Tonight he sits, quietly watching his tea steep.  The steam rises off the decorated clay pot, and the tea leaves slowly fall into the boiled water. His cup is ornately painted with a scene of bamboo and wind.  He closes his eyes, clears his mind.  Focusing on nothing he realizes that he is not alone.  From across the cavernous temple echoes the sound of an old monk,  slowly chanting to himself.  His tones are careful and sure, he has practiced for an eternity to learn the correct intonation, to make a true and correct offering.

Is that my lot in life? The young prince wonders to himself.  Am I destined to be an old man, alone, chanting to the empty temple in the middle hours of the night?

The chanting echoes one last moment, and a deafening silence encroaches upon the young prince’s ears.

“Sit tall, my young prince,” the old monk says quietly sitting directly before the young prince.  “Breathe a full, deep breath into your chest.  Within your chest beats a heart that has the energy of a million suns at its call.  In your veins there is a liquid flowing that is more precious than any molten metal, any stream or river.  Why do you not know the worth of you?”

Ashamed, the young prince looks down to the tea.  A second cup now sits besides his.  The second cup is a simple bamboo cup; no gilding, no paint, no jewels. Plain in every way.

“My cup is simple, you are right.” The monk closes his eyes and pulls his hands into his thick winter robes, protection from the night’s chill.  “But does it not hold the tea as well as yours?  Does it not serve me as well as your cup?  And if it is lost to me, or if it were to lay broken on the ground at my feet, could I not find another to take the place of this cup?”

The young prince watches the monk for a timeless moment.  He is familiar, he is known to the young prince, and yet he does not know who he is.

“Monk, does your cup not long to be adorned?  Does it not wish to sparkle in the light, with jewels and metals?  Does it not want to be noticed?”

The monk pours tea in to the prince’s cup, and then in to his own.  He lifts his cup to his mouth, and breathes in the aroma of the tea.

“Does the lily wish to be a rose?  Does the lion wish to be a snow leopard?  What if I told you that there was once a flower that grew strong and tall out over a running stream, and that this flower wished to be a fish swimming in the water?”

The prince closes his eyes, seeing this flower in his head, and realizes that the flower is the fish.  The fish eats the flower and so then the flower becomes one with the fish.

The young prince opens his eyes to tell the monk, only to find himself sitting alone in the temple.  He looks down and sees his cup is gone, and in its place there is only a simple bamboo cup.



Daily Chenrezig Meditation In Suburbia

By Jingpa Lodu

Chenrezig, four armed Avalokiteshvara

It’s noisy in here, my son is playing the Xbox with his friends, my daughters are all screaming and laughing while they run around the house, Barbie’s in hand.  My wife is sitting close to me, a book in her hands, and Brian Eno is providing some ambient sounds from my laptop.  This is not the ideal environment that most people would seek for meditation, but this is my reality.

To me, meditation is not just sitting still, focusing on my breath and lifting my consciousness; but rather meditation is a breath to breath occurrence that can take place in every situation.  I have no cave to disappear into, no retreat cabin on a secluded lake in the high hills.  What I do have is a suburban backyard and a house full of exuberant life, and that is okay with me.

My meditation practice is a simple one: I focus upon my breath, I murmur Chenrezig’s mantra, and I become all compassion as the form of Chenrezig slowly becomes real, one atom at a time, until he is fully formed before me in my mind’s eye, and then I assume his form.  In the end, if I retain the effortless focus needed, I am Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion.

I do this practice while sitting beside my friends and family, and most are never aware.  I wear a small wrist mala on my left arm, while on my right arm there is a 9 inch tattoo of his mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum.  The mala is seldom touched while I chant the mantra in my head, but it is there as a reminder for me, a touchstone that I can reach out to if necessary.  I had the tattoo done last summer, I wanted something that was an outward reminder to me that in all things I can observe my practice.  I love it when people ask me what it means, as I get to mention the mantra to them, and I know that most have never heard the mantra spoken before in this incarnation.

Some ask me why I chose to focus upon Chenrezig, I answer with an old proverb: Practice one deity, find all, practice all, find none.  I was drawn to Chenrezig, perhaps by karma, through my lineage, Karma Kagyu.  Chenrezig may well be the most widely known Buddhist deity, second only to Gautama Buddha himself.  Chenrezig is his Tibetan name, while in India he is known as Avalokiteshvara, in China he is the female emanation known as Kuan-yin, and in Japan she is known as Kannon.  Chenrezig’s name in Tibetan means ‘One Who Looks with an Unwavering Eye’ demonstrating that he, no matter in which emanation, is always watching over all sentient beings.

In the end, that is what I strive to be, a compassionate soul, seeking to aid all I encounter while living within the tenants of Buddhism; The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.



Do you Sadhu?

By Jingpa Lodu

Autobiography of a Sadhu: A Journey into Mystic India

I am eagerly awaiting my copy of Autobiography of a Sadhu, by Baba Rampuri.  I recently discovered his blog while reading some articles about kriya yoga, and happily followed a link into his site.  While there I watched a few videos and read some excerpts from his book, and I was hooked.  In many ways it reminds me of the great Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda.

I hope to have a small review up soon…