Brief impressions of the preparation ceremony for the Kalachakra Initiation, July 13, 2011:
- I was struck by the sight of robed monks, men and women of peace, stepping through the doorways of hockey rink walls that normally admit hulking players looking to drop the gloves.
- The combination of being among so many Buddhists, and in the presence of the Dalai Lama, had my head spinning a bit at the beginning of the event. When my focus finally began to sharpen, I realized that the Dalai Lama was talking about the importance of concentration and not letting one’s mind drift. Did someone mention irony?
- The volunteeers were doing a great job despite trying circumstances, particularly after the event when the participants were trying to collect their kusha grass and red strings. Thank goodness for the volunteers.
- Looking over the heads of the crowd in the hallways of the Verizon Center, as the attendees held their stalks of kusha grass upright in their fists, it appeared like a field of grass swaying in a breeze. I emerged from the building to streets filled with people clutching their stalks of grass. In every direction there were clumps of kusha grass sprouting from hands. The platforms in the Metro station were awash in kusha grass. The clumps thinned as one moved further from the building, as the participants scattered to their various hotels and homes, to restaurants for dinner with friends and family, to other events. At my own Metro stop a mile or so away, I saw a couple of women holding kusha stalks. I was reminded of the way that plants seem to sprout up from nowhere, distant from where they were originally planted, their seeds carried by the wind, birds, and insects. It struck me as a perfect metaphor for the Dharma: Each of us was carrying the teachings we had received that day to far flung places, where it would take root and blossom. No matter where you looked, no matter how far you traveled, the Dharma could still be found, flourishing.