Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unmistaken Experiences

It's amazing how you can't recreate the same experience twice. They say this about ecstatic drug-induced experiences, but I'd say it goes for clear-minded ones, too. In fact, what's prompted me to write this is my experience was simply from watching a movie for a second time.

The name of the movie is "Unmistaken Child", a documentary about a monk who is assigned the job of finding his teacher in his new reincarnated form. Here's the trailer:

I saw this movie the first time while Karma was still in India and I was living here on my own. I went and saw it in the theaters in downtown Berkeley. I was so moved by the devotion of this amazing monk.

This time I watched it while laying in bed with my husband, an ex-monk who lived for many years in retreat in very similar areas to the ones this was filmed in. In fact, he's been to many of those places (I've only been to Dharmasala, which is in there for a bit). It was really amazing to see it from his perspective (as much as one can without actually being the other person).

This movie has rekindled how much I appreciate Karma for his simple upbringing, his lack of desire for all things material (his post-Xmas shopping desire is null).

Sometimes it's difficult to keep this in mind when my mind is SO infiltrated with desire. (Of course I'd rather it not be, but that's the truth of the matter.)

Sometimes I feel inferior because of this. (That's totally in MY mind, not anything that he's doing.)

Sometimes I feel like completely giving up my entire spiritual aspiration because of this. (Although that doesn't seem to far off since my "practice" is pretty much doing nothing these days...and I mean that in the most ordinary sense of it.)

Sometimes I feel like getting really drunk or just running away from this whole life I've built here at even the thought of giving up on that path. (Really, if I did "give up" I feel like I might as well just plug back into the "matrix" and why not crash and burn??)

I hope this is making some sort of sense. I guess that doesn't really matter since it's more of an outpouring of my thoughts.

Anyways, this seems somewhat dismal, but what I was trying to get at is that seeing this movie LIFTED me in some way to see that he's from a totally different world (duh) and that our habits are totally different (duh) and that I have to STOP COMPARING myself and my meditation to him and his (big time duh).

I just kept thinking about Karma being up there in those mountains that border between Nepal and Tibet where there is such VAST amount of space with very few people....and now him walking from "Berkeley Bonar" (as he calls our house on Bonar Street) up University Ave to San Pablo every day, passing an extremely diverse group of people, walking, shopping, gathered at the bus stop....

I can't imagine what this transition is like for him.

Actually, I said to him during the movie, "Maybe we should just go live somewhere like that." His response was, "In the mountains? I would like it there, but I think it would be really difficult for you."

This prompted me to really think about whether I could do what he's doing, but in the opposite way. Not living in India, but living in the mountains of Nepal or Tibet. Giving up all my electronic vices, weekly dharma groups, circles, dance parties, obsessing over food being "right" or not, impulse shopping online, jumping on a plane and being with my family....or even more simply, turning on the faucet and having hot water, flipping the space heater on when it's only 50 degrees (I know, that's insane, even after living in VA and upstate NY).... Could I actually DO that??? Some parts of me wants to say, "YES!!!" I could do that! I could do that to "prove" that I could...or something totally ego-fed.

But seriously, I'm a creature of comfort. I've never been camping more than a weekend and hated every moment of it because it was chilly and raining.

Maybe I could....maybe I'm underestimating how powerful the mind is and that it can override any habit that has been accumulated.

Maybe someday I'll actually find out.


  1. We too recently watched this film. The young man certainly was faithful to his mission! Beautifully shot film.
    I really appreciate your honesty, Caroline. It seems to me that all newlyweds struggle in some way as you are. It is not important who loves more or who is willing to sacrifice for the other more; who is a better person, or who does the dishes more! Eventually, each has his or her turn to be the "more." That is the see-saw of marriage and any other deep, lasting relationship.
    Remember too that God is not interested in our "doing," but in our "being" in a love relationship with Him. I believe that he made the sacrifice so that we could have an abundant life and so, we, in response, love/act accordingly.
    P.S. Never underestimate the ability of human beings to adapt....I saw on BBCAmerica that there are people in Indonesia who can hold their breaths underwater for up to 5 minutes!

  2. Thanks, Jeanne, I really appreciate your words of wisdom! I am very blessed to have such an amazing network of people! Karma and I are also very communicative, which I'm grateful for.
    As for humans being adaptable, I believe it! We are amazing (& complex) creatures. =)