Achieve Spontaneously

The many-limbed Bodhi tree, granddaughter of the tree under which Buddha was enlightened, at Buddha Buddha. (note the small Buddha face at the bottom of limbs... )

“This is where they buried the crystal,” Ann says. I’m walking around our property with an old friend. . . she lived here before we bought Buddha-Buddha and she’s filling me in on the history of the place, telling me about the Medicine Wheel created by the Chippewa Medicine Man, Sun Bear, Kalu Rinpoche, and a Hawaiian Kahuna, whose name she can’t remember. It’s also the day of Sun Bear’s death, although we don’t know it at the time, and Ann has brought me a copy of one of his books.

Henry and I didn’t know our place had been a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center

Pond House with big pond in foreground

when we bought it— it was just an overpriced, overgrown acre with a hideous mess of a house on it— layers of shag carpet, one room filled with cages in which wild birds were held captive (there was a sheer net strung across the yard to trap them), and a dead rat rotting in the intricate electronics of the kitchen stove. But there were also two ponds, the larger obscured by waist-high weeds, two streams, and some other indefinable something. It was way out of our price range and we’d have no money left for improvements, or tools, or even paint to cover the nasty red trim on everything. (I’m exaggerating. . . the first thing I did was buy paint to cover the red trim.)

But the shed filled with junk next to the big pond? I opened the door and brushed my way through cobwebs. This was a good space. I could live in here, I thought. How peaceful this big room is. Lloyd, the owner, told me the monks meditated there. Monks? What monks? Gradually the story unfolded. Ann told me the Dalai Lama felt the Karma family of Buddhism should be present in Hawaii, so Kalu Rinpoche came to establish a center. She also told me the Dalai Lama lived in the little apartment attached to the house for six weeks, although that story has been disputed by others who were involved with Situ Choling around the same time.

—a prettier picture of the Pond House

“I know nothing about Tibetan Buddhism, Ann. What characterizes the Karma family?”

“Each family has a strength and an associated flaw,” she says. This gets my attention. I’m certain it’s no accident we’re living here.

“And. . . ?”

“I believe the weakness of the Karma family is obsessive activity.”

Ouch. I’ve noticed that every day Henry and I tell each other with gusto what we’ve accomplished during our day. . . “I certainly got a lot of things done today,” or “I took care of so much stuff.” I know that flaw too well. What would it be like to not keep doing things, to not track the day’s success in terms of jobs done— to not value oneself on the basis of what’s been completed?

“So what’s the associated strength?” I think the answer may change my life. Here we are smack in the middle of the mana of this increasingly beautiful place (due to our obsessive labor), and I NEED to know about the better choice.

“Spontaneous achievement,” Ann says.

“SPONTANEOUS ACHIEVEMENT!” I am ecstatic. That’s my goal. Wait. Can it be a goal if it has to be spontaneous? Forget goals. Achieve spontaneously. YES!

A couple of months later Henry and I are preparing to meet Tai Situ Rinpoche, who also spent time at Buddha-Buddha. We are very excited as we plan to ask him to give us refuge, which means we will become Buddhists. Seems the right thing to do. We are given exact instructions on how to approach him— step inside, genuflect, a few steps more, more genuflecting. But when we enter and begin the ritual he laughs, “oh, don’t bother with that,” he gestures, “come here and sit down.”

He’s a beautiful joyful brown man, emanating good humor and grace. We sit on either side of him, basking in his presence. He makes us feels as if we are old friends, glad to see each other after long separation. “Why are you here?” Tai Situ asks. Or maybe he said, “what can I do for you?”

Henry and I explain that we wish to become Buddhists. Tai Situ wants to know why. We tell him that we were married in a Buddhist ceremony. . . by accident actually, as we’d gone to request permission from a Japanese Buddhist priest at Valley of the Temples to be married there, but he misunderstood— his English wasn’t so good— and he thought we were asking him to marry us. We didn’t want to hurt his feelings so we had a Buddhist wedding. Tai Situ roars with laughter.

House, lotus pond, one of the two Buddhas left by the Tibetans, and my thumb in foreground.

“You’re already Buddhists,” he chortles, “you took refuge when you were married!” Well, good, then. That’s taken care of. We talk about Buddha-Buddha a little. He says he was given the room at the end of the house because it was the worst space. I tell him that it’s now my office and it’s not the worst space anymore because I replaced the entire front wall with a big window which overlooks the lotus pond and the Ko’olau Mountains. He finds this funny as well.

Then we remember that we have a question; we’re having a relationship problem and we hope he will give us some guidance. I tell my side of the issue in some detail. Then Henry explains how he feels. Tai Situ is listening to each of us attentively, nodding thoughtfully. When we have finished he looks at me for a moment, then at Henry. . . we wait expectantly.

“I don’t think there’s really any problem,” he says.

Henry and I look at each other. It’s true. The problem has disappeared.

On the way home I realize we’d experienced spontaneous achievement in action. The funny thing is that neither Henry nor I can even remember what the big-deal problem was.

(Please note: this blog has been achieved spontaneously, no kidding. I just sat down and out it popped.)

Lotus pond (early in the season, no lotus blossoms yet) as viewed from house.

HAPPY AUTUMN EQUINOX! May the next three months be filled with SPONTANEOUS
ACHIEVEMENT for each of us!

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2 Responses to Achieve Spontaneously

  1. Veronica says:

    Aliceanne,
    You and Buddha-Buddha are so beautiful … I shared blog article with my Facebook friends.
    Aloha, Veronica

  2. Kaui says:

    I wonder if Dalai Lama thought Hawai’i would be helpful for the Karma family’s busyness.

    What you two have done is inspiring, it is so beautiful now.

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