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Tango Meets Tibet

My prayer of surrender

Was it in Januaray when I realized that reaching the “old” age of 60 was just 6 months away? As the psychotherapist, I’d spent decades witnessing my clients, as well as friends and family, go through a sort of ‘birth canal’ as they prepare for certain important initiations in life. God, the thought of turning 60 and having my life stay as it currently was, was absolutely appalling! It wasn’t that any particular part was appalling; it was just the overall stuckness of it.

I prayed one of the big prayers. You know, the ones where you say, “Dear God, Buddha, Tara, Mary, all the angels, Jesus, anyone else who might be listening, I completely and totally surrender my life to you. Please take me and show me my very highest purpose. I completely trust, I let go. I only know that this is not it. No matter what you want, I will do. I hold on to nothing.”

Then nothing happened – for about a month. . . .

We  designed a new line of wrist malas for women. I’d had this business for years. Porter had perfected his mala making to beautiful pieces of spiritual jewelry. Carlos Santana, Jack Kornfield and many other notable spiritual seekers purchased and used his malas.

Tara, compassion in action

Anyway, he did this design around the beginning of February and named them “Tara Malas”, due to the fact that there are 21 beads and 21 praises to Tara. She had always come to me at  turning points in my life, and here she was again.

Beloved Tara personifies compassion in action, the Saviors who so wisely stated:
“Those who wish to attain supreme enlightenment in a man’s body are many, but those who wish to serve the aims of beings in a woman’s body are few indeed; therefore may I, until this world is emptied out serve the aims of beings with none but a woman’s body.”
We had dinner with our friends Debra and Geo a few days later. Now, here we were sitting in our favorite meeting place, the Lotus Restaurant, eating the same round of food that we have been eating together for 5 or 6 years. Somehow it is comforting to know that we will probably be going to this same restaurant, eating the same round of food for another 10 – 15 years.

I was wearing the new Tara mala , a beautiful jade with garnet and carnelian and a gold guru bead, as Debra went on the say that Lama Palden, our mutual dear friend, would be doing a Women’s Day long Retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. The event was entailed “Empowering the Awakening Feminine – A Benefit for the Nangchen Nuns” and, of course, the divine Tara, was the focus of the Awakened Feminine.

Magnificent possibility meets with auspicious serendipity

Do you ever get one of those feelings inside when magnificent possibility meets with auspicious serendipity? I have a tendency to bubble over with enthusiasm, which I immediately tried on calm and ground. But I just ‘knew’ that somehow the ethers had parted and grace was looking me right in the face. I called my friend Lama Palden the next day and we set up a meeting at her house. I offered that we sell our Tara Malas at the event with the proceeds going to Nangchen Nuns (who I still knew nothing about!) Palden spoke to me then about these dedicated women, the plight of their survival, and the great work that Tsoknyi Rinpoche was doing as their avid supporter. Almost simultaneously, we thought of the possibility of the nuns making Tara Malas as a cottage industry.

Tara Malas donated the sales of our malas at the Spirit Rock benefit, and the next thing I knew my friend Geo and I were plodding through a proposal to Tsoknye Rinpoche, asking for his blessings and support to make this dream a reality.  I found a tour agency that would provide me with a translator and a driver for the 26 hour drive to Nangchen and learned everything I could about this barren area  and the Nangchen Nuns.

In April we received Tsoknye Rinpoche’s blessings for the journey in which it was determined that I would find local Tibetan women to make the malas which would then be taken to the nunnery and placed on the alter for 30 days of blessings by the nuns.  We started a non-profit organization sponsored by MarinLink and started preparing a benefit to raise money for our journey.

Fourteen volunteers seemed to suddenly appear, my tango teachers agreed to perform, auction items poured in and we had so much food and wine donated people went home with arms full!  Ten days later, Jeffrey, my videographer and I were on a plane to Xining.  It was July 2nd.

The benefit and a suitcase of dehydrated food

They said I couldn’t pull it off in only 5 weeks. They were right. But we could and we did! Team work and dedication is a powerful pairing. Apparently, so is Tango and Tibet. Our auctioneer, Adam Neville, was extraordinarly entertaining; spending money was never more fun. Little Henry and Jeremy, both 6 years old and dressed to the 9’s, assisted Adam and were generally charming and delightful! Gustavo and Jesica, our star performers, inspired about 50 people to take their first tango lesson. Because they are so deeply connected and loving themselves, it is easy to feel the depth of spiritual connection and emotion that lives in this beautiful dance. Bravo to everyone who got up to try something new! It was an evening of both great joy and deep meaning. Many people met the Nangchen Nuns for the first time and felt deeply moved by their dedication and deep commitment to their practice. So many people very generously opened their hearts and their wallets. On June 30th, Jeffrey, our wonderful videographer, and I leave for Xining, China. Although there are still some pieces left to finalize, we are taking our prayers and trust with us, along with an entire suitcase filled with dehydrated vegetables, energy bars, herbs, pills and oatmeal. Sometimes, its hard to believe that it was just 4 months ago that I met the Nangchen Nuns. And I certainly had no intention, or desire, to go to Tibet at that point. Their force is powerful. Will I wake up on the airplane to find this has all been a dream? But then, it is, isn’t it!


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