When I first became aware of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, they were building the Monastery building. I was a teenager. We would sit across the street in our car after long nights of partying… like teenagers. I thought it was a strange place. The gong would ring for Tara puja at 6 and the conch would blow at 7 am for breakfast every time we were there… Although I didnt know what the sounds were for.
I had no idea that my mother would move there after I graduated high school, or that I would have my heart split open and my whole world rocked, and spend my 20’s there, It was something I couldn’t fathom at the time.
Later, when the new building was completed, Lhakang was almost finished and the Buddha in place, I happened to drop my resistance to organized religion and upon a tragedy befalling my family, I went to visit my mom there.
All of my preconceived notions of creepy old hippies with rosaries were washed away. It was exquisite on top of that mountain I had spent so much time on growing up. And not everyone was “old”… And I laugh at myself as I type, because there were very few “hippies” there at all. There was, though, a feeling of fresh and new that was Inspiring.
A young woman named Jody was living there and we made fast friends. She was like the sprite at the gate to the garden and I am sure glad I followed her down the path!
Jody would tell me about an amazing woman named Ani Wangmo who had done a 12 year solitary retreat in the cabin out back. And prior to that, close to a year of Nyungne retreat in a little treehouse down the road. She had just come out. Before I met her, I was fascinated by her story. She was a yogini of the highest order and I was to revere her.
And then we met… The reverence that grew from knowing her was from beyond what my linear mind could have fathomed from a place of “should”. Oh… The smile in her eyes and the sound of her voice. She was no stoic hard force to reckon with, but instead a lovely, funny, beautiful goddess with the most amazing sense of humor and grace.
I was still a bit resistant at the time, to organized religion and the idea of white Buddhists living together in a sort of summer camp setting, but my armor was being stripped daily.
If Jody was the sprite at the garden gate, then Ani Wangmo was the wise Faery at the base of the tree in the woods.
I can instantly conjure the sound of her voice. Her willingness to accept and invite me into such a new world held no judgement (even at my own judgement) — only welcoming.
Her flair for the unconventional and her eagerness to be as completely full of life is forever inspiring and I feel so so very fortunate.
She, for me, was like a mirror image of our teacher, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, except that the image was not of his stoic (and at times heavy) energy, but the direct opposite. She felt like the female embodiment of Rinpoche’s sacred clown energy. Some of you who know them both may jest as you read this, and some will get it.
I think she set the bar for him. There is no other like her.
She is grace and wildfire and steady love…
It is very difficult to be a strong, forthright, no bullshit woman in many places in our society, and Tibetan Buddhism is sure one of those places. She gave me permission to try. One could look around, and wonder where the woman’s “place” is in this philosophy. Yogini’s like Wangmo, (Susan Albright, Wangmo La, or La as she is lovingly referred to by those closest to her) just by being who they be, direct practitioners like myself to look deeper into the lineage to find reflections of themselves. And there are many… Yeshe Tsogyal, Padmasambhava’s consort, being the first I found.
Wangmo La’s choice to take what she attained in retreat, out with into her life “in the world” inspires. You do not have to live in a monastery to live in Dharma. You don’t have to wear robes to share truth and love and compassion.
You do not even have to call it Dharma…
Having that permission meant so much, and kept me on my path. Although, I did not need permission from anyone, to be myself, I thank her for it. I hold what I have learned from Buddhist study sacred as I live “in the world”, happily.
I recently came to find that my dear friend has been physically unwell. She is recovering. ❤
Now I give back light and prayers. That lifeforce to which I speak, the lifeforce that she gave to me, I send it back with so much love. I give thanks that she is surrounded by such affection and love.
Tayatha Om Bekandze
Bekandze Maha Bekandze
Randze Samu Gate Soha
Fundraising efforts are here: Thank you.
I sat this morning, and listened to a beautiful offering from a dear friend. Every time I hear it– feel it, which I do often these days –it’s like a reminder meditation, I am elevated to a place of non-resistance and peace. I have shared it with friends, and I am not sure even one of them has actually listened. If one person listens, and feels, all the way through, I bet that person feels the energy shifts as they come. It just gets higher and higher. Today, it is my offering.
Thank you thank you thank you thank you…. Thank you.