The Gap


Tonight we had a teaching about the meditation practice related to Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. Shamarpa is considered an expression of this fundamental wisdom and compassion, and this is the practice we’re doing daily for the forty-nine days between his death and his cremation.

The practice is vibrant: the alter full of offerings, the text full of music, the meditation full of imagery. Sitting in the Institute, listening to all the merits of this practice, the qualities that can be developed, the good that can be accomplished, I felt a sudden rush of loneliness. I checked myself to find its source. A little tired, a little achy, but not really stressed, and surrounded by people I love. What’s the deal, self?

I glanced up at the photo of Shamarpa, nestled in his place on the throne that he fills/filled when he is/was here. I got hit by a wave of missing-feeling mixed with the memory of his confidence and gentleness. The loneliness subsided some, and I had this thought:

Maybe all this loss I feel, for some one who isn’t really gone, but just present in a way I can’t see with my eyes or touch with my hands…maybe when I feel his absence, what I am actually feeling is the gap between me–here and now–and everything I wish I were capable of.

I don’t have an infinite light. I’m just a little, sometimes light. Often I’m hazy and muggy with confusion. Honestly, sometimes it’s kinda dark in here. And all of this loneliness for some one wiser and stronger and surer than me; it’s a little misplaced. Technically, the wise and the strong and the sure are never apart from us. Wisdom and strength and certainty are with us whenever we open our minds to them. I’m not lonely for the masters or the Buddhas or even the relative reminders of other people’s love. Those things are here for me. No.

I’m lonely for the part of me that remembers how to be infinite.

**This post is part of a larger project culminating in a week of creative journalism in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal chronicling the cremation of the Tibetan spiritual master Shamar Rinpoche. To find out more or make a donation to this project, go here.