The basic practice¹ Ngöndro took an hour morning and evening with all the visualizations, prostrations and prayers. My practice was not stable. Sometimes it worked fine and for long periods. Often reduced it to just sitting without any rituals or not doing any practice at all. It was frustrating.
The prayers were in Tibetan and I was able to sing them by heart and had the English translation so I understod the meaning of those prayers. Prostrations was not as difficult as it had been in the beginning. It was a good practice to reduce the ego. But I did not understand why I should visualize all the great masters,Yidams, Khandro, Sangye, Yungdrung Sempa (peaceful an wrathful meditation deities, female wisdom Dakinis, Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas) of which I had no images of or hardly new them by names.
In this period of my life there were two choices. One was to stop with all attempts to practice. The second was to go into retreat in Dolanji and do my Ngöndro with access to a qualified teacher.
So the year 2008 I had decided to look up the Bön-Geshe who was my teacher during the retreat in Denmark 2001. We had sporadic contact over the seven years passed but never met in real life. I also wanted to see Dolanji and the Bön-Monastery.
When did I became a Buddhist seeker? Was it the moment when I in 1993 borrowed “The opening of the wisdom eye” by His Holiness Dalai Lama. It was in the library on Gällvare Hospital where my five year old daughter Amanda was lying in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit ). She was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and now with pneumonina se was near death.
I was asking myself why my daughter had to suffer from the moment of her birth? The doctors had explained the genetic cause as both me and her mother where asymptomatic carriers. But my question was beyond clinical answers, it was an existential question. As I did not believe in the original sin or one God there had to be something else.
My daughter survived and I started reading about Tibetan Buddhism. “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche was one of the first i read. All this reading gave me a theoretical knowledge about rebirth, life and death.
During the years I learned to live with suffering and death. The books also teached me that I could not get “it” (bliss, enlightenment, real nature, true self) from books. The only way was to have a qualified teacher and teachers in Tibetan Buddhism where rear in norther Sweden.
It was a long way to Dolanji. I traveled with my Daughter Evelina to Delhi och by train to Kalka. On rainy roads we went by taxi to Dolanji and there we rented a room in the Menri Guesthouse. After three days I met Lungring Gaylsen in his new hose by ther river where he lived with his old father.
We where invited for lunch and had a long talk sitting in the gazebo.It was good to se my friend after all these years. Gyaltsen had disrobed and was not teaching anymore but he answered my questions during those hours. I think I understood what he explained to me.
As I sat there and listened to Gyaltsen I became certain that the only way to grasp Bön-practice was to go to retreat in Dolanji. Otherwise I should let it go.
I gave Lungrings father a ‘kata’ before we left, he was such an impressing man, walking his khora round the house. The kata was a white wool shavl i had bought in Dheli. There was no khatas at the monastery shop.
On the monastery area they where building a yogi temple for practitioners who did not want to be monks. Was that a sign for me to be one? I could not decide, how could i finance a three year retreat and what would my children say about my intention. They where all grown up but Amanda and I had a strong bond. Was she able to let go of me?
To be a yogi was maybe another dream? Dalia Lama said in an interview with Robert Thurman: “I always say that people should not rush to change religions. There is real value in finding the spiritual resources you need in your home religion.” Was I rushing or pushing myself into a religion because I don’t like religions with gods? What about all the visualizations of deities, just imaginations or real gods and goddesses?
I could not decide if it was my path to be a Bönpo. Here I was in north of India, my teacher had disrobed and did not teach anymore. I did not know what I should do so I did not meet His Holiness Lungtuk Tenpai Nyima although the guesthouse tenant urged me several times. I did not know what to talk about, what to ask or answer.
My daughter and I took a taxi to Solan and a buss to Shimla. The day after we took a buss to Dharmsala and late in the evening we came to McLeod Ganji. The we stayed for eleven days, it felt like home, the climate the tibetan people and “mammas” vegetable food – as we called the Mrs. Kalsang Dickyi at Gakyi Resturant.
A long busstrip took us to Manali. The old Nyigmapa Temple in Manali was worn down but tibetan’s still walked they khoras round the temple. On hillside roads to Rotang Laa i used my mala and prayed in Tibetan, was I only mimicking or was it real preyers?
With small butterlamps, dzunkars, malas and other objeckts i returned to the place where i lived. I made my butterlamps and my practice was stronger than ever. This lasted until I forgot my ghee on the stove in April 2009 when a neighbor shoutet me down to the sauna. When I came up the fire had been visiting my kitchen. It was like demons had been there, all so unreal.
After some days that what might be called reality slowly returned. My computer had been stolen in September and now the fire was visiting me. Was it time to move on? But where? I had talked with Amanda about my plans to become yogi in Dohlanji. The plan was to be i Dolanji during winter times but the long time plan was to stay until enlightenment. I did not tell anyone about that, not even myself.
The summer vacation came as a relief. I traveled north to go up to Aktse in Sarek National Park to make a khora round Skierfe. On the way I stopped at restaurant Gasskas in Jokkmokk where I met Viviann. She laughed when looking at me and she had sparkling eyes. I run away, made my khora, came back and phoned her.
Now I am working at home, as a houseman; no time for practice at all, a daughter of 2 1/2 who is pushing all my buttons and a 12 year boy who is my ‘Indian Teaboy’. Vivian is working full time at the hospital to be a gynecologist and earning the money so we can manage.
It’s strange. My plan to be a yogi was to take place when I became 60 years and it was a month ago. Amanda died the 27 of March 2010 when her heart gave up. HannaBrita was born 10 October 2010. They took turns in my life, my daughters.
The yogi path is not closed, I just choose not to follow it. This is my practice. Living in a family is a practice I could not have as a yogi. How does it come that ‘this-I’ turned to be a family man instead of a yogi? There could be answers or speculations but does it matter? Everything written in this blog post is just a mind game, one way to portray my spiritual journey, a summary for you to read.
The question is if there is any other practice than sitting meditation? What is meditation? How can this-I reduce the self-importance, silence the ongoing chattering of the mind? How can this-I calm the anger? A meditation, a practice that goes on during day and night. A never ending practice?
OM MA TRI MU YE SA LE DU
¹ Tibetan Buddhists use the word practice instead of meditation as practice includes more than the meditation itself.