Saturday, November 6, 2010

Refuge Vow: The Interview...

"What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.  It is the birthplace of authenticity.
                                                                                                            --Brene' Brown

Maintaining my vulnerability is a daily practice.  Tenderness is always mighty when extended to both  myself and others.  I attended the beginnings of taking My Refuge Vows last night.  It is very auspicious that the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche ( he is the head of the Shambhala buddhist lineage that dates back some 2,500 years) is in town this weekend with his wife (the present Sakyong Wangmo whose name is Khandro Tseyang Ripa Mukpo) to celebrate the end of his year long retreat, and the birth of their  daughter (Drukmo Yeshe Savasvati Ziji Mukpo)...shortened to The Princess for those of us not well versed in the pronunciation of her very long Tibetan name.  Today's celebration was to honor the "Royal Family" being here in Boulder, the birthplace of his father's, Chogyum Trungpa Rinpoche, bringing Tibetan buddhism to America.  Today, was an unprecedentedly warm afternoon...the high 70's, so it was an exquisite autumn day to spend outside with our gorgeous fall colors and the wind blowing the leaves of yellow, burnt auburn, and crimson red to the ground and swirling at our feet.

I arrived with my two 'khatas' (white ceremonial scarves) that the Sakyong blesses and places around your neck, after doing so...Leaving their presence one is met by a Tibetan monk, who places a goji-like berry in the palm of your hand.  It represents long life and one swallows it on the spot. Next in line, another Tibetan monk who gives you a royal purple string to hang around your neck (loosely) to be worn until it literally falls off.  I so love the pomp and ceremonial aspects that the Tibetans buddhists engage in for many occasions.

Last evenings 'interview' was done with an Acharya (in this case: Acharya Ferguson) whom you are introduced to singly to be interviewed by.  The protocol is to meet him and say: "I have come seeking refuge."  He responds: "Why are you seeking refuge?" I am sure no two answers are the same for each interviewee.  I paused a moment and answered: "No exit, no problem."  His countenance shifted to what looked like amusement and appreciation.  I am told that a part of tomorrow's Refuge Ceremony will be the Acharya giving you your "Refuge Name" based on your answer and his felt and intuitive sense of your essence...this giving of a Refuge Name is something I did not know about until this afternoon.

Tomorrow's vow ceremony will be my announcing, publicly, my aspiration to follow the path of the Buddha.  This is not a vow to follow a 'diety' but to proclaim that I have exhausted my strategies of distraction, denial and escapism and to find that learning to experience reality directly through the path of meditation and mindfulness is a life-affirming choice.

There is surely vulnerability in this momentous threshold that I am about to cross.  This threshold is full of beauty and an aspired authenticity that I vow to take hold of and nurture for the rest of my days.


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