One day my teacher, Venerable Karma Yeshe Wangpo said to me: “You should teach”. I didn’t. Some weeks passed. Again he said: “You should teach”. Still I didn’t. I guess I am a slow learner. For two whole years he kept saying: “You should teach”. I didn’t tell him, but I was terrified. Who was I to teach? I didn’t know enough. I wasn’t good enough. Nobody would come. I’d screw up. These thoughts were my companions for those two years. Then one day as I sat meditating, something shifted. A great and wonderful sadness filled my heart. It’s not about me. I cried. From somewhere deep inside of me I had touched something that was greater than me and yet at the same time was me.
Yeshe said once it wasn’t him teaching. I didn’t get it then. I do now. The One, the Universe, God, Creator, or whatever we call it, manifests through all creation, including this body and mind that I label “me”. He said what was important was that I had touched that wisdom place, and it was from there that I would be guided as I undertook the journey to follow this path of compassion.
I got up from the meditation cushion. I now knew. What “I” wanted didn’t matter. My insecurities didn’t matter. My fears didn’t matter. What mattered was really very simple. Compassion. Compassion for others. I felt my heart open wide. My heart was big enough to love others, all others, including the fearful, scared me. How could I not teach?
I phoned Yeshe and told him. I went over to his apartment and we talked for two hours. He spoke of many things during that time, including that for as long as he was able, he would always be there for me. And what about “me”? Yes, I was still scared. I would make mistakes. But I would be coming from that open-hearted part of myself that we all have inside of us. Somehow I now knew that if I always tried to come from a place of kindness and genuine caring, that whatever manifested would be okay.
Near the end of our chat, something curious happened. Suddenly, what looked like a small picture fell off of the wall where he stood; he caught it. He was quiet for a moment. He looked down at the item in his hand, then at me. He smiled, stepped towards me, and handed me the picture. Puzzled, I looked at what I now held. I can’t even begin to describe what I felt at that moment. As I raised my eyes to meet his gaze, he softly said that Tibetans would consider what had just happened auspicious. Even now, as I recall this story, I feel a sense of wonder, and from somewhere deep inside of me a connection to something I find hard to explain: A feeling that I’m not alone. Of process. Of being guided. Of love.
What was the picture? What did I see that day, the day on which I finally let go of the “I” and welcomed the “we”? From a carefully crafted needlework the words stood out: For everything there is a season.
Now, many years later, I feel fortunate to still be guiding others. Every day I feel grateful to live where I can connect with the beauty of the Dharma, with my teacher, and with other sangha, as they, as we, make the effort to keep alive a tradition of compassion, a path of peace and of love begun so many centuries ago by the Buddha.