Chapter Two “My spiritual journey” continued…
“You’ll find out later about the people who live near the monastery, but to answer your question about the monks here in the monastery, it’s just the timing of your arrival [author’s note – I later found out there was more to it than that]. We are all very busy, and those you see here (pointing to the group who seemed to be ignoring me), are doing special long meditation exercises that require deep concentration, and they would have to start over again if they stopped, or even lost their concentration.” She smiled, and said, “Although, I noticed some of them lost their concentration anyway.”
“Then I caused more of a stir than I thought?” I said.
“You’d be surprised… You’ll get a chance to meet everyone later. But why don’t I just show you the grounds for now?”
“Sure – on with the tour. But I’ve got to tell you I’ve come farther to get here than Disneyland, so I hope it’s worth it.”
“Disneeland?” She spoke perfect English with an American accent, so I’d assumed she was familiar with Disneyland.
“…Well… I’ll tell you about it later. You probably won’t believe me anyway.”
“Oh yes, I will,” she said with a cute, innocent enthusiasm.
I could tell I could have some big fun pulling her leg.
“Anastasia, you speak English perfectly.”
“Those of us who were raised here are multi-lingual, but even the monks who weren’t raised here, learn at least English or Spanish, in addition to their native language (if it is something other than that). Monks have come here from all over the world. Some are also fluent in many of the various languages spoken in most parts of the world, even ancient languages. You can learn any language here that you wish.”
“I’m having a hard enough time with English at this moment. How many languages do you speak?”
“Only seven modern languages…”
“Oh… only seven… that’s too bad,” I said jokingly. She didn’t get my sarcasm, and just nodded in agreement.
As Anastasia was taking me to her first stop on my tour, I began asking many questions about the architecture.
“Be patient, you can’t learn everything in one day anyway. You will find out everything you want to know later.”
“I don’t know – tomorrow, next year, a decade. Whenever you do, you will have.”
Her unrevealing, complex, perplexing answer, reminded me a bit of the short time I’d spent earlier at a Zen monastery. Those Zen monks certainly love their paradoxical questions and answers. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would discover far more paradoxes here – and eventually come to understand them.
Finally, the radiant young woman showed me to a room where a monk was speaking to a group of other monks.
“There are many Adepts who can help you grow here. Of course, I know everyone can teach you something – even life itself is a teacher.” She pointed at the man who was speaking to the others, “He is my special personal true teacher, and has also been like a father to me, especially since my parents are no longer with us on this plane. He helps me change and grow.”
“How does he help you change?”
“He helps me see and understand myself clearly, and thus I can change things about myself that I wouldn’t ordinarily even see.”
“How does he do that? And what does ‘true teacher’ mean?”
“You love asking more than one question at a time, don’t you?”
“There’s just so much I want to learn…”
“I understand, I was just teasing you. I should probably answer your second question first. The Adept, or Initiate monks, like him, are also what we call true teachers. That’s because they have transcended their own selfishness and self-centeredness, and achieved what we call Universal Consciousness. Many different spiritual traditions have their own name for achieving that. Some call it achieving “Satori”, some “Nirvana”, some “Illumination”, and some like us, refer to it as “Enlightenment” or “Initiation”. But whatever you call it, it is a transformation that creates a total change in their viewpoint and way of life. That brings us to your first question. Because of their broad Universal Consciousness perspective, their Unselfish Love, and lack of selfishness, they thus ‘see’ everything (including people), very objectively, purely, and clearly. So they see things about yourself that you don’t see yourself – or even things you ‘block’ or hide inside yourself, and bring them up to you. Thus you can use them as a sort of ‘tool’ to see yourself clearly, see things you want to change, and then change, if you want to.”
“Only the Adept monks are what you call ‘true teachers’ then?”
“Yes. There are basically three kinds of monks in our order. Novices and elders are still essentially students. The Adept or Initiate monks are more like personal growth facilitators, or ‘therapists’.”
“Why do you use the term ‘true teacher’, instead of just master, or teacher, or Guru, or something like that?”
“Because it’s accurate. It also avoids labels that are sometimes associated with ego, or lack of humility, and the same time separates them from just an ordinary teacher. Many people and things can teach you. But a true teacher is a specific type of teacher. They’re ‘true’ in the sense of accuracy or lack of distortion. Like a ‘true’ arrow. In that sense, it’s just like a ‘true’ mirror is best for seeing your body or face, rather than an ‘untrue’ mirror with imperfections that would distort your reflection. Like I said, their teaching, or telling you about yourself is pure and true, because of the objectivity they have achieved from not being contaminated by, or subject to, their own selfishness anymore. So rather than thinking about themselves all the time as most people do, they aren’t self-centered, or defensive. Because of their unselfish consciousness, they don’t have anything to personally gain or lose in dealing with you, or to get in the way of their objectivity about you, so they just think and care about you, your best interests, and the best interests of all others. And they can tell you what they see from that great ‘higher’, ‘broader’, more loving perspective – if you ask for their help or opinion.”
The room where this “true teacher” monk was giving a talk, was lit only by candlelight, so I couldn’t see his face very well. But when everyone went outside to do an energy exercise, I saw it clearly. It was the man I saw on TV. I didn’t know it at the time, but he would soon be the most important person in my life. While some part of me rejoiced, some part of me cringed. I didn’t know why at the time, I just knew he was somehow frightening to me, like staring death in the face. Later, I would realize it was because of his ability to confront me and show me myself (which my selfish, self-centered ego strongly wanted to avoid). Because of that, I would do everything I could to avoid him for awhile. But there was an even stronger draw I had towards something about this man, that would eventually lead me to ask him to be my special mentor also – my personal teacher.
I didn’t know his name yet. But soon I heard one of the other monks there call him Zain. My head was reeling. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t a dream, it was “another world”, one that I thought only existed in my imagination just one long year ago.
Outside in a courtyard, Zain, and over a hundred people formed a circle, holding hands with arms outstretched between them. They were about to do an energy technique called the Star exercise. I had read about this years ago, in a very old book I read by an author whose last name was Leadbetter, Ledbeter, or something similar. The book was about what he called the Great White Brotherhood in Tibet, and it described them doing something called the Star Exercise during a festival called “Wesak”. But many of the particulars were never mentioned in the book. And the author’s stories also indicated that the people were as inaccessible as any myth. So while the book fascinated and attracted me in many ways, and his description of the people sounded like home, it left me with nothing I could further pursue. Now I found myself living it – the real thing.
Anastasia ushered me into position in this giant human chain that formed the circle, and gave me quick instructions. And then it began. I closed my eyes, as a feeling of light-headedness came over me. My head and body were buzzing with energy. I thought I was perhaps starting to “black out”, yet all I saw was fluctuating white light. It seemed as if I was experiencing a million thoughts and pictures all in a moment’s time. As I opened my eyes I saw energy vibrating in all things, and all the people there. Everything was flashing with white light superimposed over it.