Inji Ani - Thubten Choekyi - From Nirvana Loving Teenager to Buddhist Nun to Wife & Mum: A Journey
Hello! (Work in Process)
Welcome to my personal Journey!
I will work on my story when I get the time & inspiration.
Please SCROLL DOWN to see what I have written so far
Finally, i feel i can think about something other than the bushfires that have been surrounding our little town and other nearby villages, says she as she still listens to the fire scanner while typing this.
First of all, I want to mention how thankful I am to be able to write something like this and share it with others who may be interested.
I have never considered myself as anything special, only as someone who was and is sure that there has to be some more to our lives than growing up, going to college/uni, getting a career, married, a mortgage, retirement and finally death; a more meaningful purpose for our existence.
Driven by this mentality, I decided to look out side this box as a teenager, and discovered that i seem to want more; or something different than most of my peers around me.
From an early teenage-aged age, I withdrew into myself and found comfort in the lyrics of Kurt Cobain, the front man of Nirvana. His pained and sometimes harsh words made me feeling more comfortable with dissatisfaction i felt towards the materialist way of life that I was being encourage to embrace by growing up in the West.
Struggling to find positivity, meaning and purpose, I discovered a book as I was scanning the shelves in the bookstore one day, it was called Girlosophy by Anthea Paul. It featured beautiful photos of young women with positive affirmations on each page. I thought the girls in the photos; they looked so beautiful and confident; like they had life all figured out.So, I tried to emulate these girls and implement the advice that each page gave. But, there was still 'something' missing.
This time, I came across a book called 'The Art of Happiness A Handbook for Living', by the 14th Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler.
At first, I was drawn towards the Dalai Lama's loving and open face that was smiling up at me from the bookshelf and the title said it all, 'yes, happiness is an art', I thought. I opened the pages and began to read a few lines on each page. 'It all seems like practical, common sense advice, but why don't we do it?' I thought. Buying the book, I decided to try my best to practice what the Dalai Lama said.....
And so, it all began in a humble book store with the right book and right open mindedness.
Over the following months, I poured over the words on each page and wrote down the pearls of wisdom of the Dalai Lama, and made a convenient sized, pocket reminder booklet from old writing paper, orange cardboard, tying it all together with purple string and glued a cut out picture of the Buddha on the front. It was the start of lifting myself up and transforming my destructive and negative outlook on life; it was my symbol of hope.
As I started to process and practice what my little booklet suggested, I started to feel something stir inside of me; an urge to find other like minded people.
After a searches on the internet, I found a few Buddhist places. The first was a temple located in the mid Blue Mountains and I journeyed there to check it out one day. I don't remember attending any classes, only seeing it from the outside.
The second place was located further up the Mountains, this time close to Medlow Bath.
The Centre was in the Tibetan tradition and I went back there to attend a talk on the Four Reliances:-
1. Do not rely on the individual, but on the Dharma.
2. Do not rely on the words, but on the meaning.
3. Do not rely on the provisional meaning, but on the definitive meaning.
4. Do not rely on the ordinary mind, but on wisdom.
Not knowing anything other than what I had read in the Dalai Lama's Art of Happiness book, I found these four points greatly refreshing, extremely reasonable and logical.
Even though I did enjoy this class, the environment, the people, my own mind during my time there; something didn't quite resonate with me and I decided to continue on with my search.
The third address that I had was the Vajrasattva Mountain Centre located on Lurline St in Katoomba. I saw that they had a regular Friday night Lam Rim class lead by a Buddhist nun.
At the time, during the week, I worked in Westmead and every Friday afternoon, I would drive up the M4 motorway and Great Western Highway to arrive just in time for a 6:30pm start. Needless to say, I had a convenient size snack in the car for dinner.
We took turns reading pages on the Lam Rim text, 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand', by Pabongka Rinpoche.
The group of regulars were small but extremely friendly. They welcomed me from the beginning and made me feel included. The discussions were dynamic and very interesting. But, what I found most comforting, was that the few monks and nuns who resided at the Centre, to be refreshingly forward, honest and direct,without any drama or ulterior motivates. I felt like I could trust what they said and for someone who was in her early twenties at that time, I really admired their integrity and that solidified my decision to go back to this Buddhist centre.
After our discussion group on the Friday evenings, a few of us would stay back and have a cup of herbal tea. Lemongrass and ginger was my staple favourite, while getting to know some of the others. Finally, I felt like I had found somewhere I could put my roots down and really learn; I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew I was in the right place.
You would be forgiven for thinking that I would just go home and turn in for the night, but no, I was young and I would drive back down the Mountain and meet my boyfriend and friends at either the Log Cabin or O'Donoghues pub for a bit of fun. However, I was the 'self designated driver' and made it my mission to get a car full of my friends home safely. Some funny memories of those drives, which I am sure a couple of my friends would definitely not remember! Haha!
From then on I went back to the Centre for more; more classes, more events like mantra rolling and tsa tsa painting.
The classes were given on a donation basis, however, the Centre also offered to make a donation by offering your time by working in their little shop on weekends, opening for anyone who may drop in. This was another great opportunity for me to meet other like minded people and share my experiences about the Centre.
The Centre had a special event, a visiting Buddhist monk, who would give the White Tara initiation in July 2003. I saw the advertisement and made a note of the date and time. A couple of days before the initiation, someone from the Centre called to check if I will be attending this special event, I assured them that I would be there and was very excited about it.
That night I had a very clear and vivid dream. There was a semi-circle of people standing in front of a white table that had a chair behind it. However, floating in space above the seat of the chair was a beautiful golden orb radiating light and calmness.
My grandmother, who is a well known Christian lady, was standing in the middle of the front row of the crowd. She, uncharacteristically, was shouting verbal abuse, pointing at and insulting the entity that was floating there. Each time, my grandmother said something hurtful, I felt a sharp pain at my heart level and felt an overhelming emotion of hurt in the face of this abuse.
The feeling that I felt towards this 'entity' is difficult to describe, but it was like an unwavering sense of peace, love, calmness, centredness and groundedness, my words don't do it justice.
Anyway,when I woke up, I thought to myself, 'that was a strange dream', but I regularly have vivid dreams and didn't think anything of it.
The next day, I went to Vajrasattva Mountain Centre to attend the White Tara Initiation given by the visiting monk.
As usual, I walked through the front door, took my shoes off and placed them on the shoe shelf. I moved the curtain aside that was separating the 'gonpa' from the rest of the room and laid my eyes on the monk who was sitting on the throne that was prepared for him.
As soon as I looked at him, my vivid dream from a couple of days ago, spontaneously came rushing back to me, and I thought to myself, 'that's him! That's the same feeling I got from the strange orb/entity in my dream!' I was shocked.
I finally came to and found an empty cushion on the floor to sit on. As I sat there while others where finding their places, the thought occurred to me that I need to ask this Teacher permission to receive this initiation.
I stood up and walked over to the translator who was sitting next to the Teacher. 'Would it be okay for me to take this initiation?' The translator asked the Teacher and he then looked at me and nodded his head. I needed to look this Teacher in the eyes; up close....
The White Tara initiation lasted for almost 2 hours, however, even shortly after it had finished, I couldn't remember much of it. I only really remembered thinking 'how kind he was for standing up from his throne and walking behind each person and touching them gently on the crown of their head. Until this day, I have never seen a Teacher come to the students to bless them, it is always the other way round, so humble and kind, I thought.
Afterwards, I only had one thought, 'I needed to find out where this Teacher was visiting next and learn everything about him.' I asked around during our usual post-class cup of tea and found out that he was staying in Marrickville.
But, that meeting will have to be for my next installment. ;-)
Please check in later to read some more when I get a chance to write.