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Nov 13
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The Power of Chapstick

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

By Lois Lungta, on-the-scene reporter in Halifax

Ah, the many uses of chapstick.

Last night, Stuart Lord (our new president of Naropa University) hosted a dinner for alumni. On each table were little offerings: pens, notepads, and bumper stickers branded with Naropa insignia. And chapstick. Little tubes of chapstick that were jacketed in a Naropa cover, with a little clasp that one could hook onto one’s person.

I don’t know how many people who are reading this will relate to the incredible skillful means of this little gift. It would sound a little odd, I think, if I declared that this gift made me fall in love with Naropa all over again. Many of us in the mandala, who have been fortunate enough to attend teachings by the Sakyong, connect chapstick with him because as he teaches, it is never far away. Sometimes he even uses it as a prop. Some might even say, a transmission. Please, stay with me as I elaborate.

The writing of this blog entry — two days after the Shambhala congress dissolved and on the morning of the departures of people on the Mandala Council and the Sakyong’s Council – is actually fueled by chapstick.

I think back to the first blog entry of the week, and my confession that – yes – I fueled my morning writing sessions with McDonald’s coffee. Well, this morning I went to their door once again only to find their 24-hour operation shut down. Two doors down, at Subway, I was met with many apologies, but the guys behind the counter were technically on the night shift, and didn’t have the faintest idea how to operate the coffee machine.

With the doors to the pub at the Lord Nelson firmly closed and locked, I even placed an inquiry with a pilot and his flight attendants as they checked out, on their way to the airport. To no avail. I was to remain coffeeless. Of course, the usual questions surfaced about my ability to write without an injection of this precious substance that propels much of human activity on earth.

And then I put my hand in my pocket. My fingers found the tube of chapstick, which I naturally uncapped and brought to my lips. I was delighted to discover that it had a minty flavor and that it tingled. Suddenly, I felt I could write. My senses felt invigorated, my inspiration clear, and my confidence in continuing in the face of this obstacle established. And so here I am, typing away to the sound of my roommate’s deep breaths.

Yesterday was a day off from blogging, quite unintentionally, because sitting on the water and watching the sun rise struck me as the thing to do. Then the day unfolded from there with meetings, interviews, and running into all the right people. The day turned to night, then late night, and still the experience continued as Shambhala bust some moves on the dance floor with our Sakyong Wangmo.

I cannot express how moved I am by my experience here this week. Nor could I recount all that happened, or how deeply it has touched my life. I am tired and sad and exhilarated and inspired. I am even happy that the Sakyong is going on retreat because according to His Eminence, Namkha Drimed Rinpoche, the Tenshuk ceremony went well. Now he can take some time. He can take a year to do whatever he needs to do. And I feel especially good about this because I am convinced – by his words and actions – that everything is for us. For our society, and for our world.

Last night, in between dance sessions that I wish I could describe, I asked Acharya Adam Lobel to comment on our path this next year, as we seek to accomplish so much, so sanely. He listened to me ramble for a minute, then suddenly stood up from his stool and leaned in to shout over the pounding music. I saw the intensity in his face, the firm resolve of pith intention. And he said,

“Relax gently in basic goodness, and things will manifest from there.”

Upon typing that sentence, I glanced at the time and realized that coffee would now be available. So I went to the lobby of the Lord Nelson and found a golden urn filled with the steaming brew, with cups and cream and everything I could want. I am sipping it now, thinking about my imminent departure and wondering when to wake my fellow travelers.

Relax gently. Things happen when they happen, in a wondrous consortium of elements and circumstances. We all feel passionate about establishing enlightened society. We are all here, we are who we are, we act as we are inspired, we accomplish within the profound dance of phenomenon. Can living be so simple?

As I wonder how to part from this experience, this week of celebrating community, I pause and look out the window, into a morning sky that is still dark. Something catches my eye. Something white, and when I focus my eyes and look closer, I see that it is the moon. A heavenly body that is currently reflecting the sun’s light and the earth’s shadow into a crescent. The sky is turning a lighter shade of midnight, and soon the sun will rise.

How is our world so magical that this happens every day? If the cosmos and nature has rhythms and patterns, qualities and spontaneously arising activity that are so marvelous – so can we. Our adjustments and refinement need only be slight. Because, as the Buddha and the direct transmission lineage of the last 2,500 years has taught, the enlightened nature of ourselves and our society is close at hand. It is so close that it is inherent.

Yesterday, Walker Blaine sent me on my way with the following wish: “May the words be with you.” And so I send all of us on our way – the Sakyong included – with the following wish:

May we be intoxicated and awake, like sake and tea, may our senses engage the world, may our prayers be arrows, and may we stir phenomenon to witness the lotus garden of the Rigden in full bloom.

Signing off for now, this is Lois Lungta, riding in the jet stream of the lineage, reflecting reality as she sees it. It’s been fun.

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2 responses to “ The Power of Chapstick ”
  1. Pat Dunlap
    Nov 16, 2009

    I so enjoyed your impressions about the congress…they made me feel as though I was there in Halifax. Of course watching the streaming video recap of the Tenshuk ceremony with two of my fellow sangha members in Birmingham really connected us to all that was happening. I was delighted to be able to hear our Sakyong’s serious and cautionary words to us as he leaves for retreat.

    But you did a fabulous job as Lois Lungta…my favorite was the story about the chap stick!

    Thank you.

  2. Anne Saitzyk
    Nov 13, 2009

    Jennifer, er, I mean, Lois…
    I love your writings from congress.
    This was my first congress and wow! I am so inspired by the Sakyong’s presence and words. And by working with the mandala principle in our governance, including in the very earthy, practical way of group process. Thank you to all of you planners and coordinators and visionaries past, present and future, who teach and model such sanity and wisdom – and with space for the unexpected to arise. I can’t wait for the next congress.

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