Mar 3

(Prologue: I’ve got first-hand experience that a real understanding of the laws of karma can substantially change our lives for the better. I created this weblog to share information and personal experience with others. May it be beneficial!)

(Note: The phrase May-to-December in the title is a take-off on “May-to-December” romances that are based on the romantic love tradition of the Middle Ages.)

Before I go into a month-long in-house retreat from March 04 to the day before Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s parnirvana, I must thank Judith Simmer-Brown  (JSB) for her work on romantic love.  Had I not had her programmes and articles to refer to, my year of dangerous living <click here and here for details> could have been “dangerous” in a destructive way. As it was, I was able to navigate the dangers, not without pain, but at least with some awareness. This enabled me to use romantic love as a jump-off point to develop the beginnings of some genuine affection and appreciation for people as they are in any given moment, not for cardboard cut-outs and cookie-cutter templates.

The intelligent way of working with romantic love is to experience it fully, beginning with the romanatic passion, and then experience the disappointment and go on from there. We should understand fully what we are doing, being aware of our tendencies toward delusion when we are “in love.” <source: Judith Simmer-Brown: Romantic Vision vs Everyday Disappointment>

May this post benefit others besides myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 8


My weblog is an in-depth look into the concept and experience of karma. So when I started to write this Relationship Series, I debated with myself whether to include the dream below.

It is raw. It is intimate. It is sensitive. It is erotic. I then realized that the dream, notwithstanding its appearance, is not primarily about sex. Instead, it illustrates the theme of unresolved issues around romance.

Feb 03, 2012 – I and a man called Alex are lying on a king-size bed together. We are in the middle of it. Fully clothed. I am propped up on my left arm facing Alex who is lying flat on his back. Our strong karmic connection with and affection for each other is obvious. Two other couples lie at each end of the bed, again fully clothed. I do not know who they are. They are lying still. But their affection for each other is obvious. He asks me “Why aren’t we together?” I reply “because I would never leave you.” He whispers “Oh God.”  I lean down and kiss him. He doesn’t move. He says nothing. Then I put my head on his chest and simultaneously, I experience a feeling of sadness.

Life had been going along very well. I thought I knew who I was. Until this dream. It haunts me. Why? For the last three decades I have believed that my karmic path does not involve romance. The dream is saying that I have been mistaken. Oh-ooooooooh.

Here’s what the anatomy of one identity crisis looks like:

  • Feb 01 — Have eye operations to remove cataracts.
  • Feb 02 — review message from my late life partner (click here for message)
  • Feb 03 — Have this dream. Wonder about the timing of the dream. Given my eye operations, am I (figuratively speaking) seeing clearly now?
  • Mar 22 — I meet one of my spiritual spouses for supper (please double click here to take you to my Glossary for a definition of “spiritual spouse”) to discuss my dream. I’ve known him for 34 years. For the first time in our relationship he pins me down in a way he has not done before — “You’re a romantic Maggie.” He goes on to say:

Neither the man (Alex)  nor details of the dream are important here. Sex is merely the symbol the dream uses to point to the main message, which is that your long-held view of yourself has crumbled. This long-held view is that “romance-is-not-part-of-my-karmic-path.” There are unresolved issues around romance that you have to resolve now. If you don’t resolve them,  you will maintain your karmic patterns. You have shut off that part of yourself. This dream has administered a shock to you. But you were ready for the shock. That’s why it has been so effective.

  • The message of the dream haunts me to the point that
  • on Mar 21st my crystal mala breaks — this symbolizes to me that my identity (how I think of myself) has fallen apart; and
  • on Mar 24th I go the wrong way on a one-way street.
  • Mar 23 —  I have an appointment with my health practitioner, another of my spiritual spouses. His suggestions are the same: focus on the main message of the dream, not Alex, not the details of the dream itself.
  • Mar 31  — Meet a trusted girlfriend for coffee and muffins – “girltalk” is fun and light, but also serious. Helpful. “Ride the energy and drop the storyline,” she suggests. My women friends have a different perspective than my spiritual spouses. Both are valuable.
  • Apr 01 — April Fool’s Day – Cry.
  • Apr 02 — Send my health practitioner an e-mail. He gives me an appointment that day. When I arrive, I announce to him that I must be delusional. While I realize that I am being “thoroughly processed” as it is known in the dharma teachings, I am panicking. Actually, it’s just that I, like Humpty Dumpty, have taken a fall off the apparently solid wall (wall symbolizes who I think I am; my identity) on which I had been sitting for many years. The rug has been pulled out from under my storyline which could be expressed as “romance-is-not-part-of-my-karmic-path.”

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

But this time I do not rush to “recover.” As frightening and painful as what I am experiencing is, I don’t want to re-cover. I want to manifest as who I actually am. (Double click here to review my previous post about Humpty Dumpty.) I don’t want ego to be put back together again.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humtpy Dumpty together again.

Notwithstanding the fact that we do not focus on the man in the dream or any particular detail in the dream, at this appointment my health practitioner and I discuss the detail of my kissing the man. To me the kiss  (as a symbol)  “seals the deal.” But what deal? It is not clear in the dream, except that it is an acknowlegement of our connectedness. So what kind of relationship would I like with this man, my health practitioner asks? Given the latent eroticism of the dream, my reply surprises him:

As long as I can spend time with him I don’t care if he just wants to walk around the city or read the newspaper and drink tea together. Whatever suits him suits me. In other words, for me it’s choiceless in the best sense of that word — heart trumps ego. But I do miss the relationship we had many years ago where we could chat on any topic in a no-holds-barred way. In the dream as soon as I say “Because I would never  leave you,” the man figuratively goes to sleep. In other words, he does not want to relate directly to my answer. He prefers to use the king-size bed to sleep, not make love. In other words, not only is the nature of our relationship not clear in the dream — it is not clear in “real life” either. In the meantime, I have to go on with my life. {ADDED OCTOBER 21’12: I see now that the man didn’t respond positively to my saying “because I would never leave you” because he is not looking for any commitment for me. He doesn’t want to involve himself in a committed relationship.)

Before I leave the appointment, my health practitioner gives me excellent suggestions around practices that deal specifically with intense emotions (kleshas). Another suggestion involves the concept of “offering.”

Don’t resist anything that arises in my mind, he says. Instead, offer it all to the lineage, the three roots, the buddha, dharma and sangha. To others who are not Shambhala Buddhists, they may think of it as offering to the universe. It doesn’t matter. Just offer.

  • April 04 — I weigh myself at my fitness club before taking aquafit class. I have lost 15 pounds in three weeks. That evening, I attend the events around the 25th anniversary of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s parinirvana. In one of the film clips we see to honour Rinpoche, he says

    Go out and fall in love…..with something.

Never let it be said that I don’t follow the command of my guru!

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Apr 1

April 04, 2012 is the 25th anniversary of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s death (parinirvana). I am using this post to pay tribute to his great love for his students and to a heart that sustained and guided his escape from mountainous Tibet in 1959 so that he could bring the Shambhala buddhist teachings to the West.

“The main point is to have a heart! If you don’t have a heart, you have to build one. If you need further reinforcements, take a piece of my heart. You have it. It is yours.” (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche)

In Part Two of this Relationship Series, we discussed “falling in love.”

Today’s post is about love.

David Sable, a senior teacher with Shambhala International, was in Toronto, Canada on the weekend of March 16 – 18, 2012 to teach a programme. We had the following exchange. (Please note: The transcription immediately below is not exact but is being published with the permission of David Sable.)
My question of March 18, 2012: Is “love” synonymous with “basic goodness?”
David Sable: Yes!
Me: I gather that love comes out of primordial\ultimate basic goodness. But how can we relate to it on the relative plane? The use of the word “love” seems to be so abused at this point [as to render it almost meaningless]. We have “bought into” a lot of the ceremonies that our society has taught us about “love.”
David Sable: When we open the baggage we carry about “love,” this is what we work with on the relative plane [daily life]. Read the rest of this entry »
Mar 25

There is nothing as delicious as falling in love, and nothing as devastating as falling out of love.  When this happens, we have a unique opportunity to open more fully to our experience and to more complete relationships with others. This requires that we step out of the “pseudo-religion” of romantic love so prevalent in our western culture and engage in the real romance of care for another person. (source: Judith Simmer Brown)

A fellow Shambhala Buddhist practitioner reminded me a week ago that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (CTR)  said that to be an authentic warrior in the Shambhalian tradition “you needed to be ready to fall in love.”  [added April 04’12: The exact quotation turns out to be “So go out and fall in love…..with something.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Sadhana of Mahamudra Sourcebook, Tail of the Tiger, Vermont, December 1975] I had not heard that but I’m always glad to be reminded. I do remember that CTR said that to be a spiritual warrior one has to have had one’s heart broken.
To be a spiritual warrior, one must have a broken heart; without a broken heart and the sense of tenderness and vulnerability, your warriorship is untrustworthy. – Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

On Saturday, March 24, 2012 I was not paying attention to the road properly and drove the wrong way on a one-way street with a policeman directly opposite my car on the other side of the road. I was fixating on my broken heart rather than using broken heart to keep awake. The dralas must have been protecting me. ( The principle of drala refers to the sacred energy and power that exists when we step beyond aggression.)

Previous to this incident, on March 21, 2012, my crystal mala broke while I was practicing a sadhana. I felt it was symbolic of a heart that had broken into tiny pieces, and thought of the song by Janis Joplin “Take another piece of my heart now baby.”

I have a romantic nature. My teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, gave me the Shambhala name of Padma [nuturing, caring etc.] Night — I jokingly refer to the name as “a pretty romantic one for a lady no longer in the full bloom of youth,” you might say.

But I have been suspicious of “falling in love” because I have at times embraced the negative connotation. This produced a struggle between my genuine nature as a romantic on the one hand and my concept of falling in love on the other. Read the rest of this entry »