Buddhanature

When I was in France this summer, I met with my teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, for five minutes. He’s busy—he has commitments, a foundation to run, a lot of students who want to see him: thousands. In fact, we are all clambering to see him. Who knows what we want from him—a lot of weird things. This summer, for instance, he cautioned us, at the program in France, not to talk to him about so-called “tantric sex.” He said something like, “I don’t know what tantric sex is, and I don’t want to know. So if you think you’re having it, don’t tell me about it.” We can be pretty crazy.

Anyway, I met with him for five minutes. We were outside, on a porch in the back of the house in the exquisite Dordogne Valley where he was staying. He was in robes. I feel like he was barefoot, but probably not—he was probably wearing sandals. He walked in front of me, slowly, his back towards me, when I first got outside, and I followed. It’s when he walks, that I often see him as a prince, or these days, as a king. He has that quality.

Finally, he motioned for me to sit down in a chair by a table. Then he leaned up against that same table, about a foot from me, crossed his ankles one over the other, and smiled at me, or maybe even chuckled. We talked, and he laughed a lot, like he was happy, and having fun. It was like we were on a date—he was very near, and he was having a nice time. (We weren’t on a date, FYI, don’t worry.) But that’s what he made me feel—that he was having a nice time, just being there for that five minutes one early evening in the Dordogne Valley. It felt personal.

Like I said, he is very busy, there were other people waiting in the foyer to see him. Many people had come before me on that day, and the days before that. But he just leaned against the table, and smiled. He wasn’t anywhere but there. It sounds like nothing, but it startled me. Though it was completely simple and subtle, it was a gift. The gift was, I’m here. The gift was, You’re O.K., Deitch—you’re completely O.K.

But I don’t feel O.K. like that. I don’t feel, inside myself, that I know that kind of acceptance. No one’s ever treated me like that before, like there was nothing at all wrong. (This is nothing “spiritual,” by the way. This is not a woo-woo thing, with incense and bells and prayer.) This is what I left my summer with. This is how it is: You’re O.K., Deitch—you’re completely O.K.

Anyway, it’s time for me to tell you this. I probably haven’t conveyed it, the message. I haven’t been treated like that, and I haven’t treated people like that. So now I’d like to convey it. I’m going to start here. I’m going to start now.

(Photo: Rinpoche by Pawo Choyning Dorji; taken with a Hipstamatic iPhone camera)

Is This It?

So I was just driving out to Greenport with Scout hyperventilating in the backseat this afternoon, listening to some yet-unreleased Reggie Ray MP3s. Right as we were rounding a particularly beautiful bend in a back road (blue sky, newly turned soil, green everywhere), Reggie was talking about how the totality is in each moment—how even in a moment of longing for someone or something you can’t have, you can find everything you need—and I was thinking, “I don’t get it.” (This is nothing new.)

Just then a wind came up, and the tree up ahead did a little hula dance, its flower skirts twirling in all directions at once, and, all of a sudden, a veritable blizzard of little white and pink petals fell like fat, fragrant confetti all around my car. I laughed, Scout laughed.* And then, around the next bend, just in case he and/or I didn’t get it, was a yellow street sign—the kind put out by the county—on which was one word: “Church.”

I read it outloud to Scout because, even though the message was completely obvious, he can’t read, and I didn’t want him to miss it. Then I remembered that he can’t hear either. Judging from the depth of his enthusiastic love, though, which he’s been raining down like sudden petals all his life, I’d say he knows just what Reggie is talking about, and I’ve been missing it right there in the backseat of my car.

*Not fact-checked.

(Artwork: “Greenport, Long Island,” by Robert Ward van Boskerck, circa. 1880s-1890s)

Getting Your Socks-With-Sandals Groove On

The Sartorialist today described this Parisian woman as “cool.” I wouldn’t have thought that from looking at the picture; I would have described her as goofy. But there must be some quality about her that isn’t coming across in photo, some je ne sais quoi that turns even goofy to cool.

Diane Keaton had it in “Annie Hall”—there she was in her stupid hat and fat tie and dude still wanted to kiss her. Lear had it on the heath: raving in his underwear, he was still king. I think that’s what the je ne sais quoi is, the confidence of kings: lungta, in Tibetan—the unlimited energy of basic goodness, or inherent wakefulness. (Wow, that’s freakin’ far from the chick in the the jodphurs and the Corkies with socks, but what the hell.)

Maud had a friend in high school, in Halifax—Lauren—who used to wear socks with her Birkenstocks, and her grandmother’s white wool coat that closed with a sash. If I wore that I’d look like a Vermont lady who drank homemade wine and sprinkled cat hair on my cereal with my flax seeds. But Lauren, who embodied lungta, was beating both boys and girls (and dogs) off with a stick.

Trungpa Rinpoche, the man who brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West in the late Sixties and early Seventies, used to tell his American students when they’d lost their lungta, to pull up their socks. There’s a story about how one day he said this to one of his students—pull your socks up—and the student said, “But Rinpoche, I’m not wearing socks,” to which Rinpoche replied, “Then pull up your pants.”

Clearly, that’s what the Sartorialist lady did, she pulled up her pants.