Thursday, June 30, 2011

FACTS about Poland

1.       It is old, vast, and BEAUTIFUL.
2.       Its people are open, WARM, and friendly. Laughter comes easy to them.
3.       The language is musical and HARD to pronounce.
4.       Men are TRUE gentlemen.
5.       Women are GORGEOUS.
6.       The SAUSAGES are the best in the whole wide world.
7.       In the summer, the sun RISES at 3 am!!!
8.       I absolutely LOOOVE it!!!

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    The Cat's Birthday

    Today I write with a heavy heart. The Karma Guen course is officially over and already friends are departing. I myself, leave tomorrow morning to Madrid. So I am a bit sad. Suddenly I am afraid of everything I am doing. All this traveling, all these changes. I feel a sudden hole inside of me and I feel weak...

    I miss my children, my mother, my friends, and of course my beloved. My good friend Kuba left yesterday, not without telling me as he said farewell "You know you can count on me, right?" So now I feel alone again, assailled by disturbing emotions without anyone to share them with. I know very well I am strong enough for all of this and that I have all necessary resources to make my dreams come true. However true that is, I am still scared and I still feel like crying. I feel the urge to run to my beloved arms. The lack of loving contact is having a terrible toll on my morale. I need a bug hug and someone who tells me everything will be fine.

    I see a pattern in my anxiety. I am packing up and this never fails to unnerve. I feel anxious, fragile. It is so stupid.

    I finished the first Volume of the trilogy "he" gave me and I loved it. The story tells the very special relationship that a little girl has with her daemon, or rather her soul, in this case in the body of an animal, who also is her dearest and clsest friend. I wish I had one, especially now that I feel so lonely. I can't help but think of all the moments in my life that I've felt  truly alone, when a good loving advise whould have been so welcome and might have saved me from so many mistakes, mistakes born of sadness, ignorance, stupidity or confusion. But we are all truly alone in this world. Life is our own adventure to be lived, and death is the same. I can't help but think of a conversation I had recently when I told my friend "But Grace, love, no one has your back".

    And in the end, this adventure that I am living now, is my own choosing, and roads are opening before me so that I only need to follow them. I know this is a blessing that I should only feel gratefulness for, but today I am like a litlle girl, a small little girl in need of love, tenderness and comfort. The woman hiding inside is still hagning strongly, so the litlle girl doesn not cry, she's only got one last mean to overcome her feeling of unrest and she writes. She writes to the man she loves and wishes for his arms around her, she writes on her diary and escapes the sadness.

    Oh! And by the way… today is my cat's birthday. I miss my home.

    Sunday, June 26, 2011


    So originally I came here thinking I would move into Karma Guen, become a resident and make my life here, but just a few days here have told me this is not really what I want for my life. Mind you, Karma Guen is perfect. It is beautiful, peaceful, the residents are the loveliest people ever, the energy of the place, the gompa, the Stupa, everything is inspiring. But I must admit I am not ready to live in an island, and metaphorically speaking, Karma Guen is an island.

    The one only other plan I had for sure was to travel to Hungary to attend Lama Ole's course at Becske, at the invitation of my dear friend Csaba. I had of course also planned to visit Paris, but this was a romantic trip and since romance is no longer in order (at least not now), I look at what is in front of my nose, and that is: DHARMA.

    And right when I was about to purchase my ticket to fly to Budapest, Pavel Chorda walked into my life. Again JuanPa introduced me to Pavel. He is Spanish, in spite of the slavic name and is married to a beautiful girl. They are both here at the course and I have seen them in the Gompa, sitting a few rows ahead of me. And Pavel is proposing we travel together to Kuchary, in Poland. This is absolutely new, I had no plans of going to Poland, but the idea is terribly seductive, especially that now I have at least one very dear friend in Warsaw, since Kuba lives there.

    So there! I bought my ticket and on the 29 I will land in Warsaw in order to attend the Kuchary course. Lama Ole's words in San Salvador come back to me and echo in my mind "When you come to Europe, you must travel with me".

    I am feeling on a roll and spontaneously register online to attend the Tenovice Phowa in Czech Republic. Why not? I might even go to Prague afterwards, something I've wanted to do my whole life. Life belongs to me and I now can afford it. I know by experience that every single penny invested in Dharma comes back to me multiplied, so no fear, and follow the Lama :)

    Possibilities continue to open up before me, the more friends I make, the more destinations that become possible. All I know is I must be at EC in august. Everything else is a possibility.

    Meanwhile I got some translations work and have been working really hard, trying to balance my Karma Guen office job, the translations I must finish according to deadlines, and the parties and meditations. I have a full schedule!!!

    I also spend much time reading the book my beloved offered me as a Birthday gift. I LOVE this story, it is fantastic, and never go to bed (ah! the word bed.... it is allegorically used here, since I dream in a tent on a mat on the floor) without reading at least one chapter. I am entranced by the story. I love the magic it presents. The books are the Dark Works, mainly right now, the Golden Compass. It makes me dream, I wonder what my daemon would be like if I had one, and I also think of my beloved, and feel love and attachment mingle inside me. "Attachment is such a difficult thing to undo". I continue with my green tara meditations, but also continue to write to him and have even spoken with him on skype... I realize this stop at Brussels was more dangerous than i would admit to, but I also realized things could never have happened differently. Blessed be Brussels and the joy it brought us, because I know he enjoyed it quite as much as I.

    Now this is exactly what personal development is made of... a great opportunity for growth, to learn about love, about managing difficult emotions and letting go, and mostly, trusting space.

    And how could I not when I am in utter paradise all the time, surrounded by happy loving friends, the smell of pine trees and lavender, the warmth shine of the sun, the meditations, the desert... All the peace and excitement it provides, my heart is constantly moved and appeased all at once. And I still feel the need to share all of this with him. My beloved, my chosen one, the one with whom I've shared untainted love, and with whom only good impressions subside. I KNOW this is what I am in love with, I KNOW this is what I am attached to, and further more, I KNOW this is ME... It is all within my reach. I can make it all happen. It is mine to give, and mine to feel.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Medicina Buddha initiation

    I am exhausted.

    The Phowa course ended two days ago, and we of course held the traditional PARTY. Not that this is such a great change in the normal scheme of things. We've been having parties every night, with great music and crazy dancing that goes on until at least 2 a.m. Lama Ole asks that we do not drink alcohol during the course, but that is nothing for Kagyu people. Even so, people dance and dance and jump and sing... Like my friend, the beautiful red head Helena said "I love our people" We are all about joy and friendship, alcohol notwithstanding.

    Yet for the traditional end-of-course party, there was alcohol. In fact Miguel had gone pushed the envelop so far as to prepare thousands of Mojitos. The Mojitos were delicious and people drank and danced. I met a lovely guy named Kai, like Grace's son. Kai is so beautiful it takes my breath away. He actually speaks good Spanish, so we dance and talk for a while. Lama Ole came to our party, shared our joy and addressed us, asking us to live meaningful lives, to enjoy parties and sing - not scream. Upon leaving we came face to face and he gave me a kiss and... his Mojito!!! Hahahaha!!!

    However, for me the situation was tricky. Yesterday (or the day after the party) the Medicine Buddha Initiation took place at the Benalmadena Stupa, and my team was responsible for the logistics of transporting everyone to Benalmadena. This meant waking up at 6:30 a.m. to oversee the loading of the earliest bus. Since I went to bed at 3:00 (I could have stayed much later) I was not too fresh in the morning.

    After sending everyone off, I went for a nap on the office couch. Later that day, we went to meditate to the Kalachakra Stupa, that crowns our amazing mountain. Jorge, a Spanish friend who lives in Mexico, told me that the energy of Kalachakra either unites what must be united or separates once and for all that which no longer has the karma to remain united. Since the thought of my beloved is never too far away from me, I decided to focus on this during my Green Tara meditation. Wilma was doing Mandala offerings. The air was fresh and the sun shone bright. I could hear the mandala rice falling over and over again... The smell of pines carried away my mantras... Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha, Om Tare Tuttare Soha...

    We rode with Wolfie to Benalmadena, but first we stopped at Torre del Mar where he treated us to an AMAZING tapas lunch. The generosity of his kind heart and of the Mediterranean was a gift to our palates. I could not believe how many delicious flavors melted in my mouth. We then rode to Benalmadena and went straight to the Stupa. An exhibition was held regarding stupas, what they are, the different types of stupas and the meaning of their shapes and structures. I meditated a while inside the Stupa while waiting for Sheralb Gyaltsen Rinpoche.

    I must say this was not the first Initiation I received, having taken two already with none other than XVII Karmapa himself, but I was really new in the Dharma at the time and could not really comprehend everything that was taking place around me. This time, the blessing was fully evident. I was blissfully blown away by Rinpoche, his kindness and gentle sense of humour. Lama Ole was at this side and my dear Kamilla was doing a wonderful job translating from Tibetan into English. The moment is marvelous and I enjoy it slowly and fully.

    I have always loved the Medicine Buddha meditation, and Lama Ole always encourages us to practice it and share it with our Sangha friends. Before leaving home I gave my meditation booklet to my mom. I hope she is practicing even if only at times, I am convinced no illness or physical discomfort or pain can endure while we recite this mantra. I make strong wishes for her health and well being. May she be blessed with good health, strength and may all her pain disappear. All through the initiation it is she I hold in my heart, bathed in the healing blue light. My love for her is lapizlazuli... and neverending.

    After the initiation, the blessing takes a very long time, after all it is nearly 2000 people who have come. The last bus leaves at 2 in the morning. JuanPa introduces me to a young Czech man, Pavel, who will be the last one to board the bus with me. Pavel is spontaneous and friendly and we chat for a while as I fall gently asleep. I must confess I've never been happier to see my tent than last night...

    I go to sleep quickly, thinking of the many blessings of the day... the lunch with my friends, the empowerment, the many friends on the way... All fades away from my consciousness in the strong blue light...

    The Four Immeasurables (Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity)

    May all beings have happiness and the causes for happiness
    May they be free from suffering and the causes for suffering
    May they never be separated from bliss without suffering
    May they be in equanimity, free of attachment and anger

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Karma Guen

    Karma Guen is truly a beautiful place. Located on top of a mountain in the Andalusian desert, the air smells of pine tree and eucalyptus, delicious and warm. Life is good and the sun shines brightly. People around me complain of the heat, but I am used to it and feel happy to be here after the cold nights spent in Brussels. 

    At the moment Karma Guen is like a Babel tower, I can hear more languages than I can identify and am actually learning a few new words. People look so please when I try to speak their language and I feel like building a hesitant bridge, making new friends. I love this international feeling. For as long as I can remember I have been fond of the foreign, the new, the strangeness of all these new sounds around me delight me. More than anything I am so happy to be in this Bodhisattva Factory, where everyone shares the same values. I see this in the smallest details, like the adorable raccoon sticker in the bathroom mirror that says "You are very pretty, but please take your hair with you", or when friends share their feelings upon receiving a special blessing from our Lama, or how serious everyone around me take his advises, also the friendly smiles, the openness, the attitude in general.... I feel happy. I feel comfortable. I have been welcomed in this community as if people knew me, and of course, they probably do from a past life. My team members are adorable and we work really hard. I love to be a part of this energy that does what needs to be done with a joyful sense of duty. Everyone trusts everyone. And they can. Everyone here is Buddhist, and if anything, a Buddhist is responsible for him or herself :)

    I have come here to make friends, to develop and practice and to be useful to others. I feel I made the right decision. At least during the course, afterwards, we'll see if Karma Guen is really for me.

    I love the place and the peacefulness, but I wonder if this is the place where I can be more useful to the Dharma and to my family. Bringing the children to me is heavy on my mind and I mustn't lose sight of this objective.

    I often think of my beloved, on how much I enjoyed his company. The evening before the last one, we went to dinner to an African restaurant in his neighborhood and talked, talked, and talked for hours, until they closed the place down and we were forced to go back to his place. This is probably my favorite memory from my stay in Brussels. The moment I understood our connection was real, and took place not only between two bodies, two lovers but also between two souls, two friends.

    I look out the window and see the horizon, on the top of the mountain the Stupa shines in the sun's last rays. I will go meditate now.

    Karmapa Chenno 

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    My birthday

    Today is my birthday.

    I am utterly joyful. My beloved gave me a present, not to open until today and the best part is a letter I have read so many times already I know it by heart. The present is 3 books... My favorite gift... how did he know? but of course he knew...

    Karma Guen is everything I hoped for and much more. The work at the office has allowed me to meet quite many people since almost everyone at one time or another stops by. Kuba and I have become great friends and this afternoon he took me to the beach with a few girls. I am so happy to have made girl-friends. A girl needs a girl, and the office team only has one dakini... ME!!! So I swam in the Mediterranean, which I hadn't done since I was a kid. I was bewildered at the peacefulness of the ocean, it was almost still and quickly became very deep... What an experience for me, a mermaid from the Pacific!

    I am overwhelmed by everyone's generosity. Little presents manifested from all directions, from ripe papaya, to Green Tara images, to Dharma books, to Buddhas. I am happy to meet old friends and to make new ones and tonight... we actually DANCED!!!! Kuba brought some wine, and cheese and ham and we all played some music and we danced!!! I am so happy. This is what all birthday celebrations ought to be like. Uncomplicated, spontaneous, stress-free and joyful. To think that this morning I was melancholic...

    I have never before found myself immersed in a full Buddhist environment and I am amazed at the kindness people have shown me. I was very sick two nights ago. I actually left my tent at two a.m. and went to wake up the doctor. Those who know me know how much I detest disturbing other people, especially those I don't know very well. Asking for a favor is a torture to me, so imagine how bad the pain was for me to go wake up Steffi at 2 am!!! She actually went for another doctor, and they decided to inject Buscapine in my arm. The effect was quite quick. They had gone for Zenon, a kind Lituanian colossus with a lopsided smile who is a resident at Karma Guen, and asked him to drive me to the hospital, I, of course found the idea repulsive and was protesting with all the strength left to me from the pain, but after the medication went into my bloodstream, no more pain, no more hospital talk... Back to the tent and finally some sleep. Well, all this illness talk to tell you that so many people came to see how I was doing. I feel loved and appreciated, and as Lama Ole says "We take Refuge in Space, which contains information, and we experience deep bliss. It also contains experience - and it's naturally very kind." My friends on the Way open their hearts to me and I vow to be deserving...


    I am also experiencing difficulties. Attachment is a tough thing, and I can't shake off the feeling of oneness I felt with my beloved, just a few days ago. I wish he could be here with me and I could bury my face in his chest and my fingers in his hair. But he is not and I must learn to let go and move on. Life is kind and gentle to me, now is not the time for craving what is not offered. Now is the time to grow.

    Phowa course starts in two days, the Lama is in Malaga as we speak. What else is there?

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Arriving in Karma Guen

    So here I am. My plane just landed in Malaga and I have to resign myself to the fact my friend Wolfie is not coming to pick me up as planned. I try to go online and miserably fail, all pay-phones are broken and my mobile of course doesn't work in Europe. I feel stupid and panicky, and wander helplessly about the arrival terminal trying to decide the best course of action. Should I take a bus? where to? shall I sit somewhere and trust space? No need... A man's voice in my back says "Buddhist?" and my heart leaps in my chest. I proudly try to suck back in the tears of nervousness I had carelessly let out and turn to face the voice.

    And that is how Karma Guen comes to my life instead of me going to it. Frank is in charge of transportation and is here to pick up a group of travelers like me. So, my life been saved and all, I can now relax and meet the others. The ride takes about an hour and Frank informs me that since I speak many languages I should be working at the office, and once we get to KG he takes me there right away.

    A blue door opens up and two men greet me with big smiles. One is JuanPa, "the boss" and the other is a tall and handsome Spanish guy who introduces himself as Giaccomo. I find the name rather odd for a Spaniard, but oh well! I will soon find out he introduces himself by the many variations of his actually Polish name according to the nationality of the person he is speaking too: Jacob, Jacques or Jacobo is actually Jakub, Kuba for short and we are to become the best friends ever, only I don't know that at this point.

    Kuba quickly becomes my protector and he helps me set up my tent and gives me the tour of KG, at 8 we go down to the big Gompa to meditate and tour the gardens, at night, there is a full moon eclipse and we go to the Stupa meditate. I am nonplussed at all the good impressions and the jet-lag and lack of sleep from my last Brussels night have numbed my senses. My first impressions of Karma Guen are beautiful but hazy. I just feel happy to have arrived. Happy to be "home" surrounded by my people, the Kaguys, in the pure land of Buddha.


    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    The first step is the biggest

    And my first step took me directly to my lover... well, actually, not directly. I had one magical stop along the way and met a couple of amazing people.

    When you make a decision like that, a decision big as the sky, a decision to change your life and affect and impact those you love the most, when you leave everything you know and everyone you love and everything you love and everyone you know... well... you spend a couple of nights lying awake in bed wondering...

    And I did.

    But when you are on the Way (remember my Way is that of Buddha and Lama Ole Nydahl, and my magic international Sangha, and those beautiful methods that change one's life and bring joy, peace, wisdom and strength, as well as invincible protectors, who make sure the difficulties you face in your life are those you can learn from), well, when you are on the way one of the things you learn to do quite well is to trust space. And space is pregnant with information. It is enough to look around ourselves, to listen to what people are telling us, to become aware, then space is full of messages, and I began to take in all the signs.

    The signs were many and favorable, not the least of those receiving my lama's blessing in May, during our yearly retreat. And upon arriving to Atlanta (my mandatory overnight stop) three perfect strangers were waiting for me at the airport. Their names are Sheri, Gloria and Dan. And they found me even when I was evidently lost and took me to dinner and home, and we spoke about life and stuff and I slept and ate and then they drove me to the airport and made sure I was fine. If that is not one blessed way to start a journey, then I don't know what is.

    And the airplane I took in Atlanta flew me to my lover, like I said at the beginning. The man I fell in love with a few months earlier and who had fallen in love with me.

    - At this point it is presumptuous of me to say that he still is in love with me, but I trust the information that space brings forward so we'll just continue on my tempo. -

    And so the plane lands in Brussels, and I nervously run to brush my teeth and adjust my curls, and I step out of the plane and out of the airport and... THERE HE IS!!!! And I stop thinking, there are no thoughts. He is there and he is holding me in his arms and he is kissing my lips and we're both laughing like idiots and happy as children who find their best friend at the park after coming home from long vacations.

    And we take the train, the metro, I don't know, I am too stunned by love and jet-lag to notice. And we get to his home and naturally fall into each other arms and hold each other tenderly. Then my friend, Ingrid, his room-mate, and the one who introduced us, as well as the main reason I accepted to fly to Brussels in the first place, where I knew nobody else at the time, wakes up (I forgot to mention I landed at 8 am on a Saturday). The three of us go out for a walk and I discover a beautiful city. I am stupidly surprised and I marvel at my own ignorance that Brussels could be so gorgeous. We do the tourist scene and I see La Grande Place and the Famous Manekeen Pis, and we drink a Belgian beer and walk and walk and walk. I am so nervous I cannot open my mouth for food, no Belgian fries, no Belgian waffles, no Belgian chocolates. I am high on love.

    At night I meet their friends and we open a bottle of rhum I brought for him and we get slightly drunk and lay lazily on the couch watching my favorite romantic movie like nothing had ever happened that separated us, like time and space were just illusions, like only love is real, and I will discreetly skip the story until the morning after...

    But I hardly see the point of going through all the details of my short visit to Brussels, suffice to say I saw my dear friend and I spent time with my most beloved, my lover, my friend, my man, whom I love so hard, my heart's better half... and I am happy.

    Too soon comes the time to leave him and go to Karma Guen, and I am afraid because I don't want this loving to stop and I fear we'll never meet again, I fear things will never be the same... But I leave and I don't have to fake the last smile I give him from the train. I love you my sweet, thank you, thank you, thank you...

    The first step is the happiest.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    When the time is right

    What are a thousand years for planet earth? what are a hundred years for western civilization? what are ten years or a few more for a human?

    For me they were in part a never-ending inner struggle. Struggle against bad habits, bad relationships, struggle against addictions, unemployment, low self-esteem, struggle to find myself and get some footing, struggle to become independent, struggle to breathe in and out relaxed and satisfied with my life as it is.

    And times came and went, the good and the bad, and the ones I thought were good but turned out to be bad, and the one I considered bad but in the end turned out to be quite good. And people came and went. Friends, lovers and those who some time or other betrayed me, and those who eventually surprised me. And feelings and emotions came and went. Hatred and anger and resentment, pain and poor-me situations, lion's roar and I'm the king of the world, until finally some peace and quiet came my way, until my karma led me to my teacher, to my community, to my friends, my family, my Way.

    And the Way is called Diamond-Way, and the teacher is called Lama Ole Nydahl and the community/friends/family is called Sangha. It is an International Western Buddhist association under the spiritual guidance of the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, you can learn much more about it on the appropriate web-pages, many are dedicated to the lineage, to Karmapa or to Lama Ole. This blog is not about that, at least not directly about that. This blog is quite egotistically about ME.

    So like I said my karma led me out of my misery, this misery that most human beings live with most of their lives simply because they are not aware that methods exist that can change one's life completely. The teachings of Buddha were my gift to myself, and have guided my little life so far. Among other things they gave me joy and purpose, and the strength to believe in myself and to become stronger. So after much more than ten years of unfruitful and frustrating wishing and not achieving, I wished and achieved. I am back in Europe.

    So ok, this requires some clarifications, but quite brief, the past isn't really all that important. Let's just say that I was born and raised in Paris, France and then suddenly abruptly uprooted in my teens and brought to El Salvador, this minute however beautiful country of Central America. In El Salvador civil war was raging and I went from utter freedom spent in the streets of Paris with my childhood friends to being locked up in a house, lonely as a mouse surrounded by cats, for the El Salvadorans my age were anything but open-minded, and a teenage french girl with an attitude was a little too much for them. Since then my wildest dream has been to return to Europe. All attempts so far failed.

    Then came a traveling teacher who spoke eloquently and I decided the time had come to put all my energy in one direction and to pave my way to Europe again. And I did. Many are the friends I have to thank for helping me. Most importantly a member of my Sangha who works at an airline and generously offered me an airplane ticket at a price that made all the rest possible. Then the amazing lady who hires me in Guatemala (I'm a free-lance simultaneous interpreter you see, and since the crisis, work has been rather rare) and gave me so much work that I could save money for the big trip. Then my children, for whom such a move is so essential, the opportunities for them in Europe compared to those in El Salvador are enough to make the move an obligation, and my friends in whom I confided who supported my idea, of course, the man I fell in love with, who lived overseas, and who I wanted to see again so badly nothing could possibly hold me back, and my mother of course who offered to take care of my two lovely daughters while my adventure took place.

    So thanks to all these good connections I spread out my wings and fly, fly, fly...