I’m not kidding. I took the 25 minute walk uphill towards the Tushita center for their drop-in meditation at 8:30 this morning. The walk there was lovely, a meditation in itself. We were fortunate to have Hedwig leading the group in meditation again.
For the first time in a while I was really able to get deep into the meditation and see blue light in my head. That is usually how I know (along with the feeling of course) that I have gotten to the zone or head space that is deeply meditative for me.
Afterwards, I posed a few questions to Hedwig about Tibetan Buddhism. Did the Dali Lama and or his followers believe him to be enlightened, a Buddha? If Tibetan Buddhists believe in not killing anything (even mosquitoes) where did that reverence for life end? Everyday we kill bacteria by brushing our teeth, so to what point do they take this reverence for life? And finally, I asked her if most Tibetan Buddhists believe in their deities as real beings or as representations of qualities (like compassion)?
Her answer to my first question was satisfying to me. Of course no enlightened being would ever refer to himself as enlightened (and the Dalai Lama does not say that he is) as this would represent a lack of enlightenment and manifestation of human vanity or pride. Ultimately, whether his followers believe he is or is not is irrelevant if it helps them in their journey. Essentially, does the tree really fall in the forest if no one is there to witness it?
The second and third answers were a little vague, but life can be a little vague that way, with no clear cut answers to some things. One good point that did come out however was about our intention. If we are careful to never wantonly kill, even though we accidentally kill just by being alive and walking (think of the bacteria and bugs), we are not suffering unnecessary bad karma. But we must constantly weigh the good and the bad when making choices that will affect other lives, even the smallest ones.
As for the deities bit, how important are they to the Tibetan tradition? Very, according to Hedwig. But how one sees them (as real or representations) is again a matter of use and meaning to the individual.