Life is full of absurd surprises, like on Friday night when I was taken to Sydney's central Masonic Temple for a lecture by a Tibetan Rinpoche Lama. A close friend of mine has become an acolyte, Tibetan mysticism appealing more to her than her previous Catholicism. I was more mystified about such exoticism of high Himalayan Buddhism and found it quite surreal to hear about it in such a hard-arsed city like Sydney, and in the grand hall of the Freemason's temple to boot, their ghosts welling up from the nuclear fall-out shelter in the crypt below and wailing in shock around me.
I imagined the 500 nice Aussie white groupies in the audience were sincerely seeking the sacred in a terribly materialistic and mundane world, and had chosen Tibetan Budhism as having great promise. Another friend sitting nearby whispered to me that there were some in the crowd known as 'Lama lovers', hoping to sully the virginal, pristine monks sworn to lifelong celibacy and thus attractive to certain jaded Western succubi types, zeroing in on all that Eastern innocence. I scanned the crowd of placid, polite spiritual waifs, white middle-class do-gooders scrubbed antiseptically clean, trying to pick out who were the lusty and pretentious wankers. The sheep-like Aussie monks dressed up in their saffron and maroon costumes amused me, they crept about with earnest, milksop miens, swishing their robes over their shoulders like drag queens, hogging the front row, holier than the rest of us worldly slobs, most of them idealistically young, shaven-headed and pink-skinned like new-born wombats, and I wondered for how many years they would keep up the front before collapsing back into decadent capitalist temptation, buying or screwing everything within reach.
Then the old Rinpoche Lama turned up and the crowd bowed in obeisance, like God had walked in, some even flinging themselves upon the floor and prostrating 3 times, to show their zeal and holy commitment. I guess they were honest in their respect and awe but it still seemed ridiculous to me, he was just a human, even Buddha himself said there was no god, and there should be no religion made in his name, but desperate seekers see only what their clouded mind's project, we all want the sacred in our lives, and the "special" to come save us, even me, who always hopes that one fine day a great teacher like Babaji, yogi of yogis, will walk out of his hidden Himalayan fastness, tap me on the shoulder and say, "Yes Toby, you are ready for the eternal wisdom, come with me." That's why I roam the Himalayan mountains so often, only it never happens, because it's a myth, a romance, and I'm the eternal lost soul, wanderer, desirous, horny, mischievous trickster, incapable of sticking with the real thing even if it happened my way.
Anyway, the Great Lama finally sat and proceeded to give a long-winded lecture, harrumphing, coughing, wheezing, whispering, giggling, mumbling, on and on and on, and I couldn't make out barely a word, (it all sounded Tibetan to me), something about my mother and father being illusions, (my old mum will be sad to hear that), and 'sound' was also the basis of Illusion; if so, that meant his mumblings as well. The crowd listened raptly, as if they understood everything, it was life-awakening for them, and when he giggled idiotically they laughed with him, all very honourable and jolly, quite daft in my mind, I didn't get a single joke for all the polite laughing. I meditated on his vibes for an hour, there was some charisma there, he might even have been passing in and out of Nirvana as there were many long moments of silence that were extremely sweet, but still I understood nothing, maybe it was just not my thing, I was not ready for the message. I grew restless and impatient, after 90 minutes I gave up and rushed from the auditorium, past the stained glass portrait of some high, solemn Freemason glaring balefully down upon me and out into the blessed rain and fresh air.
In relief I went to the movies, to see "Cars" by the Pixar Animation Studios, and got much more of a high, spirit-filled experience, the psychedelic colours, the funny car jokes, the music, the art, the sweet story of the journey being more important than the goal, it made me very happy, I even cried with delight, like a child, I had a life-affirming epiphany, 'up' movies my kind of religion, I saw the 7 sacred colours beamed thru the white light and nectar dripped from the roof of my head. YOW!!!