In life, you have to laugh. As someone who tries to follow a spiritual path, I’m always looking for the lessons that come from different life experiences. Having been faced with challenging circumstances lately, in terms of financial stability, I am constantly giving thanks for all that I have and looking for answers as to how to continue to spread blessings given limited resources. Although I am aware that it is possible to meditate anywhere, my friend and manager, Becky, and decided to seek out a place to retreat and meditate for the day. Therfore, we called the local Buddhist temple in Miami, and were referred to a location north of Miami. Traveling an hour and a half north of my home, Becky and I were in search of serenity. Expecting to find a location much like the Miami temple, complete with gardens and a beautiful golden temple, we instead found ourselves bewildered as we approached a single story home along a busy street, with a distinct red front door. Calling to verify the address, Becky hangs up and says, “Well, Melissa, we’re here.” Within moments, a monk in a golden Buddhist robe, came out and began dancing in the front yard pond, up to his knees in what looked to be questionable water, where we soon realized he seemed as though he was preparing for our awaited arrival. Upon leaving the mirky water, he quickly scurried over to the garage, pressing a button and stated with pride, “Welcome to the temple!” Inside, a silent and dumbfounded Becky and I saw about fifty golden Buddhas with candles lit around them, complete with a red carpet and square orange mats for seated comfort. Becky and I firmly believing that everything happens for a reason, happily continued into the garage. Upon reaching the front of an altar, the monk inquired, “Do you chant?” “Yes,” I replied. “Show me chanting,” he demanded. To which I said, “Give me a second, please, to take everything in,” and as though he didn’t hear me he once again demanded, “Chant!” This time, realizing I needed to oblige him, I began to chant a basic chant for love and peace. After I did this for a few minutes, he said, “Very nice, but not like my chanting. I do Tibetan chanting.” “Show me, please,” I asked. “You meditate?” he inquired further. “Yes, every day,” I replied. Then, he looked at Becky and said, “You meditate?” “Yes,” Becky informed him. At which point, Becky seated herself on the man-made seating area covered in golden mats, where the monk said, “Oh, no, no,no those mats are for the monks. This mat for you,” reaching out under the seating area, pulling out a cushion of a different color, throwing it on the ground next to me, telling Becky, “Sit here.” Becky then quickly removed herself from the golden mats and took her seat beside me on the mat provided by the monk. Then, he asked us to explain how we meditate. As we began explaining that we try to quiet our minds and raise our awareness free of the everyday concerns and worries, the monk looked at us as though we were speaking a foreign language that he was not familiar with, to which he responded, “I teach you to meditate.” Becky looked at me and we both agreed to learn. The only problem was the traffic was so loud passing by, neither one of us could hear what he was saying and the smell of his feet far exceeded any vibrational level I was able to reach in the middle of this traffic-ridden garage temple. I was impressed with the beauty of his aura and the sincerity in his voice as he demonstrated his type of Tibetan chanting. I could feel his soul and his words resonated with me on a level that was not understood with the conscious mind. He also seemed pleased with my eagerness to learn and happily pulled out a chanting workbook, so that I could see what he was chanting about. I was becoming concerned over the different shades of pale coming over Becky’s face, as the stench of his feet was unrelenting. Finally, he informed us that he was going to give us a blessing and asked us to hold our hands in prayer position and have an open heart for the blessings he was going to pour upon us. Trying very hard to focus and feel appreciation, I did what I was told. Seconds after, I was soothed by his chants until large amounts of water began falling on top of me, which was not comforting as the wind began to blow with a vengeance, making the water ridiculously cold, and, just as I began to think, “I hope to God this water did not come from the murky pond that the monk with the smelly feet was dancing in as we approached the house,” my train of thought was broken by the sound of a large thud at which point my eyes opened immediately. Looking at Becky, who looked like a deer caught in the headlights, I inquired, “What was that?” When Becky announced, “He just hit me in the head with a stick!” However, the stick was already safely tucked away in a spot that was invisible and a large grin spread across the monk’s face, as he announced, “Now you received blessing. Can you give to the temple?” Quickly looking in my purse, to my dismay, I realized I had not a dollar to give and Becky had only a ten dollar bill, which we had intended to use for the next meal. Reluctantly, she placed the ten dollars in a red box next to one of the many Buddhas and I said, “No worries, Becky, what we give we will get back ten times over.” “I know, but I just paid ten dollars to get soaked and hit over the head with a weird stick. Can you tell me what the lesson is here?” “Not sure yet,” I informed her. Moments later, we both retreated back into my car, cold, wet and bewildered. Overall, the experience was a blessing, because it brought about many moments of laughter and confirmed our belief that in order to enjoy some quiet meditative time, the space needed is really to be found within. I am also thankful to have my health and beautiful friends to share laughs and stories with, that can only be experienced in this wonderful, mysterious, unusual and divine journey we call life.
As Thanksgiving approaches, remember to give thanks every day and stay thankful, no matter how bumpy the road becomes, that you were given yet another day to live and learn. Many blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving!