A Thousand Journeys Towards Enlightenment

Information Gatherer - Jenny Dzidowski
HELLO! Thank you for taking a look at this article
I am currently in the process of collecting people's stories.
Please check back from time to time to check out the updates.
I am so excited about this idea, I could hardly sleep when I first thought of it!
I truly believe that if we pool our stories about how we found Tibetan Buddhism; what trials and tribulations lead us there or inspirations, we will be able to empower many others to do the same by relating to our JOURNEYS.
Much love and kindness to everyone
from Jen

First Chapter:

Story 1:

From the age of 15 I did a great deal of soul searching. I was working to support myself and often living alone while my mother, a sole parent after 25 years of marriage and 5 children, was hospitalised periodically. The questions I asked myself were about universal truth, commonality, success and personal strength. I wondered what successful people had in common and concluded that no matter how hard they worked they needed some higher aspiration to create success. I wondered what differentiated those people making choices and made the difference between a good person and a bad one. What they choose to put their faith in? 
For those who chose to put it into themselves only, like for instance Hitler and so many other corporate directors currently, ultimate power seemed to corrupt them absolutely and spiral into an abyss of darkness, hatred and death. Where the person honestly chose to put some higher spirit or others above themselves, benefit flowed outwards as a creative force including others, enriching, creating culture and beauty. The energetic feeling was different and palpable. The battle,age old, between good and evil, is this what created it? Was it as simple as faith? Ultimate faith in oneself and a focused goal can equate to ultimate control over material resources for an individual or a collective.
Although my father had been Muslim and my mother Methodist, my initial thoughts about religion were schooled in Christianity and Jesus. Through 'faith in Jesus Christ' we are told to commit our faith to God who grants our prayers. "Did God create us in his image, or did we create him in ours?" 
At 15, I wondered, its hard to overcome conditioning, we humans generally fail to have ultimate faith in ourselves, we are weak or ignorant of how powerful minds are, and of the power of 'faith/belief', and we are susceptible to falling under the yolk of greed and self interest when we do discern that we have the ultimate power to wield. The image of an impregnable super human to help us fulfil our goals, to act as the gate keeper to filter our arrogance and hold our power in check. Unfortunately over time, that filter was distorted by men who coveted and exploited the power it held.
The Buddhist Dharma and Quantum physics seem to reinforce this notion that, 'with our thoughts we make the world.' At 15, without knowledge of either Quantum physics or Buddhism, I also came to this conclusion. I chose to be an Atheist because of the multitude of examples where espousing a religion gave license to war, brutality, murder, torture, greed, theft, sexual deviancy and exploitation, slavery and other distortions of human interaction. Buddhism was my faith of choice of the religions I knew, because  religions excluded others not of that faith. I thought Buddhism to be inclusive.
Although I often thought of Buddhism as 'my religion', it wasn't until years later that I began to study and assimilate the lessons on offer from Buddhism, first reading and painting with Zen motivation and eventually taking refuge and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as my root Guru in 2006.

Story 2:

Since I was 5 years old (this is my earliest recollection) I knew that Israel, where I was born to a Jewish family, was not my home. Every weekend, early morning when everyone was asleep, I used to sit myself and remind to myself in total conviction that "My home is far and high" – though I did not have a clue then what that meant. I always felt myself to be very "religious" and I did not know what that meant either. At the age of about 14 – 15 I tried going deeper into Judaism but felt nothing and after a month I stopped that, never again. I loved reading about faraway places and loved traveling, but only in 1990, did I start a conscious journey to find my sources of spirituality, "my home". It happened during a tour of Ireland, where a series of spiritual occurrences were initiated spontaneously. It started with my first sight of Ireland, while landing, seeing the "13 shades of green" and feeling utter happiness like "coming home" with a very powerful "Déjà vu" feeling. Right after, walking the streets of Dublin for the first time, people treated me like I had lived there all my life. Other tourists also came up to me for directions in the city, and telling them that I am a first time tourist just like them awarded me with nasty looks and remarks of how unkind and what a liar I was, why would I not help them……

Years after that trip, when I started to have other recollections from past lives, I remembered a play I once saw in London about a Catholic nun in severe retreat in Ireland of the middle ages and that bomb-like effect it had on me and things started to fall in place concerning my past connections to Ireland. In Ireland, I also went into a spontaneous meditation in which I experienced a strong rooted connection to everything in the universe and after that I was in such inner joy for three months, glowing and all, that people came up to ask me what wonderful thing has happened to me …..

Again I did not have a clue myself – I just knew, now with a strong sense of purpose, that I must find that joy again and this time for good…..

So, I started searching, I travelled all around Europe and after that I started touring the Far East of Asia. I still had no idea what my destination was, but I knew I had to find my "home". Landing in China in 1993 I again felt a very powerful "Déjà vu". Thinking I went crazy, as China should have felt a "strange place", but I felt SO "at home" – nothing was strange, food was like medicine to me and the sights, and like in Ireland, even the local Chinese people treated me very differently from other tourists. Back in Israel, I started studying and taking courses on China – history, culture, the lot. I loved it all but knew I had not quite arrived yet to my destination. Around that time, I started to have very vivid pictures of two places in my mind. Even though they were very clear, I had no idea where these places were, the view of the surroundings felt like nothing I ever saw with my own eyes. Along with the pictures in my mind, I also started to have a very deep sense of longing – but longing to what……

I visited quite a few countries in the Far East but my next clue came up in Bali, Indonesia. I was always scared of visiting India – all the "brainwashing" people in the West are used too, and I used to declare then that "India would be the last place for me to visit". But the Buddhas came up with a bright solution for me….

I landed in Bali, which is a Hindu island and immediately became enchanted with the place and the culture. Nearly went into a trance in the holiest temple during the holiest festivities there. So, the next year, when the China courses organizers were invited to bring with them to Dharamsala India a group of Israelis as guests of the Tibetan government in exile, I was the first one to join that group. I knew nothing about Tibet or Tibetans or Buddhism, and my incentive to join the group was the second part of the trip – the Indian Himalayas (Ladakh). I thought that would be my one chance in life to see the Himalayas…..

On the train going up to the North of India, the Tibetan organizers somehow spotted me withing the group and asked me to join and tell them about the Jewish history and in return told me the Tibetan story. By the time we got to Dharamsala the next morning, I was already deep inside the Tibetan story – it felt like remembering. In Dharamsala I saw for the first time in this life Tibetan monks and I just wanted to follow them and talk to them, with this going on in my mind: "I don’t know what this is all about, but I know it is very very good"….

The next morning our group was invited to a teaching by a very senior Lama and he started off by talking about Karma. I never believed in a creating "GOD" – the concept sounded totally illogical to me. And there was this old Lama who for the first time explained to me that we are the ones responsible for our lives and the choices we make are what determines whatever, good and bad, happens to us (unless we purify that karma first). I wanted to jump for joy! First time I hear something sensible, I had no doubt at all, the concept felt totally natural to me and I also had no doubt about past and future lives. I started feeling I am at the threshold of "my home". When I had to go back to my life in Israel, I became very confused. In Israel there are no Tibetans, no Buddhists, no temples, no permanent centers, no residing Lamas. What was I? Am I Jewish or am I a Buddhist?

The end of 1995 was personally for me the worst year of my life. During those difficult times, in a miraculous way, I got my hands on a CD of Lama Gyurme chanting and I used to listen to it every night before sleep with such feelings of longing that tears would come to my eyes. All I wanted was to listen to this chanting. Little did I know that these were chantings from the Karma Kagyu school – I did not even know back then of the Karma Kagyu. It just felt connected to my heart, my core of being. One night I woke up and spontaneously cried out 3 times: "I do not know Who You are, I don’t know where You are – but I know you are there, so please COME AND TAKE ME HOME". I still had no clue Who I was calling to, Who is my spiritual teacher, I just knew He was there and listening……

In 1996 I took a guided tour of all India. South, West, East and North. One of the places included in the tour was the Indian State of Sikkim, specifically Rumtek monastery, the Seat of HH The Gyalwang Karmapa, Head of the Karma Kagyu School. When I arrived there, I had no idea about who He is and even about the Karma Kagyu School. None. But at the monastery I had a very emotional experience concerning recognizing His face.

In 1997 I joined a tour to Tibet, and that sealed for me the question. I arrived HOME. Landing at Lhasa airport and taking the 45 minutes bus (back then) to the city I recognized one of the two clear "strange" images I carried in my mind all these years. There it was in front of me. I felt so emotional, I started crying and all I wanted was to get up in the bus and shout with all I had in me: "I AM FINALLY HOMEEEEEE!"

Standing in fromt of the Chomolangma Mt. (Mt. Everest, as Westerners call it) it sealed for me once and for all the questions of "Who am I"? I felt like I underwent a personal initiation experience there, back to Buddhism, and that was it. No more questions about my spiritual and even mundane home of so many past lives, and the reason why I never I belonged to my current place of birth. But still something was missing…..Who and where is my spiritual guide and teacher and all that this entails.

While in Tibet many "above nature" experiences happened to me all along the way, ending at one of Milarepa's caves approaching Nepal border. It took me years afterward to understand realize and internalize myself the many meanings of all these very profound experiences and this process still continues……

There are many more such stories and experiences but it would need a whole book….maybe one day. In the next years all kinds of experiences occurred, which now I know, were all stemming from that 1995 desperate cry in the night to my Guru to take me home. He led the way, all if it, in such a skillful way, preparing me, so that one day I would be able to recognize Him myself. As it should be. And that day came in the summer of 2005 – when I heard for the first time in this life HH The 17th Gyalwang KARMAPA chanting. I never heard it before in this life but I fully and utterly recognized it. And so, I left all me belongings on the floor, not caring about anything else, and ran toward him "shouting" in my mind (I did not want to get arrested shouting it out loud…): "Here I am – take me HOME". I had NO doubt He can hear me. HH The KARMAPA turned His head toward me and gave me a big smile. And the rest, as they say, is History……

Ow, and I also recognized the other clear image of a place I had my mind many years back – my hometown of many lifetimes in Eastern Tibet….. I saw the place on TV and the people there confirmed to me the place I knew in my mind and just saw for the first time in this life……

Luminous mind

 

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