My name is Reverend Karen Harrison, and I. I want to acknowledge the Earth to the Earth ancestors and hearing the venerable chai and the song as the many sun gather. Marcus son. I I’m born here in Canada and my ancestors are from Northern Ontario and also from the Ukraine. And growing up as a little girl, we would go up north and go. We would do a lot of time out in in the woods, in the bush, as they say. And both my mother and father are from up north, and they’re farmers, too. And so growing up, we learned to love nature, to love the Earth. And I learned as a kid that I was from my father’s side of the family. We had indigenous blood. My father and my father’s family was very uncomfortable with this. So the only time we really could be free around that spiritual route was when we were up north or we were out in the wild, and then we felt at ease to just be ourselves. So that was the early development for me because today actually it is the summer solstice here on Turtle Island. It is the day where we recognize our indigenous ancestors here on Turtle Island. And so it’s still a journey began making, but it’s one that really touched me deeply when I was a kid. I, I love to be up north. I love to hang out with bears and pick blueberries and just be outside. And so that that was another universe for me, because when you come to the city, I felt not that comfortable. So my spirituality developed from that awareness from my aunts, really, it was my aunts that really nurtured my sense of spirituality, both on my mother’s side and my father’s side.
Well, I had been working with Nancy Potok here in Toronto. She’s a great she. She was a Quaker lady. And from the time I was a teenager, I’d been involved with Nazi. Nancy Pocock and June Cole would doing social justice work with Vietnamese refugees, things around South Africa and apartheid, trying to rid the world of prisons, doing prison abolitionist work and all of this. And so I, I learned all the work that sister Chad Kong and Tai had been doing with the Vietnamese. And then I found out that some of the Vietnamese that I had helped settled here in China with Nancy Potok were disciples of that her. And so then I got to meet the elders in the Vietnamese community and Sister Chang, Cong and Chai, and they came here a few times and we had an English speaking sangha, and that was formed, and I started meditating with the English speaking sangha. And we were a great burden to the Vietnamese Sangha at that time, because we we didn’t understand that they were still had so much of the trauma from what has happened in Vietnam. So we were very unmindful or, you know, has Westerners. And again, you know, I was you know, well, let’s let’s protest against nuclear weapons. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. And, you know, again, I was told, oh, you’re too active. You know, we need to just sit and just settle. So, oh, I found myself in a situation where, again, they asked me, Do you want to become a name? Do you want to, you know, is organizing? And I thought about it and I asked, Well, what does the nun do? And they said, Well, you’ll have to come live in another plum village or, you know, have a very strict schedule and you can’t do all this activism. So I said, No, I’m not really me, but nothing. But I want to meditate. I still meditate. So we kept on doing the meditation with the Sangha through many, many years. And then I met an elder friend of Tibetan and many years after that, and it was more settled in North America. There were several monasteries that were created. There was the Sangha in capac, and so I heard about another others and master Vietnamese and Master Kit Quando, who is like me, such an activist, you know. And I had a feeling of closeness with taekwondo and he was like me always getting into trouble. I always say, you know, he spent his life under house arrest in Vietnam working for democracy and and feeding the poorest and organizing. And he was such a good organizer. And the elders of the Vietnamese community here were organizing for the network in Vietnam to feed the poor, to provide medicine and everything in Vietnam, so that the poorest people would be able to have a and that they’ve been doing that, you know, since the beginning, since the Tai created fragrant palm leaves. And he was the chief editor of the Buddhist paper in Vietnam, and he served his head of educational institution for Buddhism in Vietnam. But when he was exiled, he was exiled because he was speaking for peace and doing a lot of work with the Vietnamese refugees. So they took away his passport and he got stuck in the West. So we had to we wanted to see if there was a way where he could return to Vietnam. So we we had part of our sangha was very dedicated, very disciplined to strict meditation practice and creating of a foundation in North America. And then some of us, like myself, working for King on social justice, not only around the world, but here too. And so all I had been working in the government should be for you. Get that?
As a teenager, I was very curious about everything. And I had a boyfriend who loved insects. He was a zoologist and he loved animals and insects. And we used to go canoeing together. And so one day he says to me, I want you to come to my parents house and meet a llama. And I thought, Oh, oh, this is a very wonderful. Because you like animals. You like insects. Insects. And here you have fabulous parents. Your parents have a lemon in their home. So I thought, what a llama. So of course I said, yes, yes, I’ll come. I’ll come over. And I came over and I said, okay, where do your parents keep the llama? And like this was this was in Rosedale. And I thought, well, how can you have a llama in Rosedale, which is a very affluent place in Toronto? So I met the parents and this was very strange. They were exploring the paranormal. They had an interest as well. And so they said, Come, come up to the third floor, you’ll meet the llama. And I said, Oh, yes, you have the llama living it up in the attic here. So anyways, I went up and there was this gentleman sitting cross-legged on the floor in crimson robes, and I said, I don’t see a llama. This is just human beings sitting here. And if you see a human being, what are you saying? This is a llama. This is not a Lobo. Well, the llama turned around and he smiled. He said, I’ve been waiting for you. And I said, Oh, thank you. I’ve come to meet a llama, but I don’t see one. He said, I feel the same. I have the same thought as you. And I said, Well, so what are you doing here? He says, I’m Tibetan. And he said, I sit here and I do meditation and I. I drink tea. And I said, Oh, this is wonderful. So I forgot about the Lama. Lama was no, no interest to me anymore. I thought interesting. Interesting guy. So we start we had we had tea. He put butter in it and I was like, oh, this is too much. This is very thick tea. And so we we had a good time together. We joked and and that and then we had the visit and and then I left and I said, Yeah, well, it doesn’t matter if I didn’t meet Lama. It’s a very nice man. I met. So I later on found out he was the lama and so that was what I first was introduced and I said, What is he? Well, my boyfriend said, he’s a he’s a Buddhist lama and he’s happily cool. And I said, Oh, oh, okay. So I didn’t know I was. So I said, well, that’s I guess that’s wonderful. So then I went to a poetry conference in Boulder, Colorado, and I was very interested in Oregon poetry. And I met Allen Ginsberg there, and I met the Grateful Dead. Allen Ginsberg and you know, Gregory Corso, Annie Waldman, Bob Dylan. I just hung out there and Allen Ginsberg came up to me one day and he said, Do you look like you could try meditation? Why do it? And I said, Oh, okay. And so he brought me to a little room and there were other people there. And he said, You know, you just sit and breathe. I said, Yes, Sarah. He says, Yes, that’s all. So I did it. I sat and I breathe. He came up to me afterwards. He said, How did you like that? I said, You know, everything’s just happening. It is just like it is. Is that all there is? And he said, Yes, that’s it. And I said, okay, so it’s all good. It’s just fine. I said, I think I’ll do this more. And I said, I like it. You know, I like it because I’m too active. He said, Good, where you where you sit more. And I said, Yes, I get on that. So I started it. I started sitting more and I would sit with Mr. Ginsberg and all these poets. And I didn’t think what it was really, but I liked it. So I started doing meditation. And then when I came back to Toronto after that, I met a couple of Zen masters, and I thought I’d done everything because I, I had been sitting and breathing, so I thought through all there was to go. So I got myself into a bit of trouble. I went to a Zen temple with the Koreans and master. And it was very formal, you know, sticks and bells and everything. And I said to the Zen master, well, it’s a bit complicated here, you know. And I said, Why don’t you just sit and breathe? And he was like, you know, what do you know? And I said, Well, I was told it’s about sitting in. So I thought I knew everything. And obviously I didn’t. And I, I guided a lot. So and he was very kind and the whole sangha was very kind. And I met I met a lot of great people. I then met one of my partners. And after sitting more and more, I thought, Oh, maybe I would like to become a nun. This the same as you said to me. You’re your trouble. You wouldn’t last year, the nun you’re too active, you know. And I said, I’ve heard that before. Yes, you’re too active. So, you know, you have to you have to practice, practice, practice. And so I we did a little bit of a, I guess and babble and I was of course, like laughs and, you know, so I realized, no, I’m not nun material. And then I thought I had met some other Koreans and last year I had met some Japanese masters and I thought, Oh, and I done this. And and I thought, oh, this is too hard. This is way too strict. And what I, I can’t do this. I need somebody who is a little gentler and that and who understands me a little bit better because I’ll never I’ll never fit in these. It’s very complicated. It’s like a ritual. I have to be more natural. And so I. I met Cho, the Zen master kidnaped have. And the first way I met him it was in the late 70, early eighties. I was very active. I was a peace activist. I was involved in the anti-nuclear movement. There was a big march in New York City, which Tai was involved with, and we had an intruder show organization. And I did a 61 day, fellas, too. I wanted to save the world from nuclear weapons. And I failed. I failed still. But we’re getting better. But I failed. But anyway, so I first 61 days and I thought, oh, the environment is getting the pollution is getting worse. There’s so much world hunger. And I felt this, too. And he had been organizing internationally for a long time. And he made connections with the the community of reconciliation and he had been very involved in interfaith dialog and peace work, too. So I met Chai through that because he was one of the people who approved of the international and global movement. We were creating and we were creating with the Japanese Buddhist monks or Vietnamese, the American Buddhist monks, the Jewish community, the Christian community, all the religious community and the activists. And so we did that. And then I learned more about Chinese work with the in Vietnam. Well, I had been working with Nancy Potok here in Toronto. She’s a she she was a Quaker lady. And from the time I was a teenager, I’d been involved with Nazi. Nancy Pocock and Jim Cole would doing social justice work with Vietnamese refugees, things around South Africa and apartheid, and trying to rid the world of prisons, doing prison abolitionist work and all of this? And so I, I learned all the work that a sister, Chad Kong and Tai had been doing with the Vietnamese and then I found out that some of the Vietnamese that I had helped settled here in China with Nancy Potok were disciples of that her. And so then I got to meet the elders in the Vietnamese community and Sister Chang, Cong and Chai, and they came here a few times and we had an English speaking Sanga and that was formed and I started meditating with the English speaking Sangha. And we were a great burden to the Vietnamese Sangha at that time because we we didn’t understand that they were still had so much of the trauma from what is happened in Vietnam. So we were very unmindful or, you know, has Westerners. And again, you know, I was you know, well, let’s let’s protest against nuclear weapons. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. And, you know, again, I was told, oh, you’re too active. You know, we need to just sit and just settle. So all I, I found myself in a situation where, again, they asked me, do you want to become a no? Do you want to? You know, ordain is none. And I thought about it and I asked, what does the nun do? And they said, Well, you’ll have to come live in another plum village or and, you know, have a very strict schedule and you can’t do all this activism. So I said, No, I’m not ready to meet. But none. But I want to meditate. I still meditate. So we kept on doing the meditation with the Sangha through many, many years. And then I met an elder friend of Tibetan, and many years after that, and it was more settled in North America. There were several monasteries that were created. There was the Sangha in CAPAC, and so I heard about another Zen master, Vietnamese master kit quango, who is like me, such an activist, you know. And I had a feeling of closeness with Taekwondo, and he was like me, always getting into trouble. There’s always, you know, he spent his life under house arrest in Vietnam working for democracy and and feeding the poorest and organizing. And he was such a good organizer, and the elders of the Vietnamese community here were organizing for the network in Vietnam, all to feed the poor, tried medicine and everything in Vietnam so that the poorest people would be able to have aid. And that they’ve been doing that, you know, since the beginning, since the Thai created fragrant palm leaves. And he was the chief editor of the Buddhist paper in Vietnam, and he served as the head of educational institution for Buddhism in Vietnam. But when he was exiled, he was exiled because he was speaking for peace and doing a lot of work with the Vietnamese refugees. So they took away his passport and he got stuck in the West. So we had to we wanted to see things a way where he could return to Vietnam. So we we had to part of our sangha was very dedicated, very disciplined to strict meditation practice and creating of a foundation in North America. And then some of us, like myself, were involved in all social justice, not only around the world, but here too.
I think the practice made me realize that has I get older I, I can be more lazy and I am more lazy of an activist. And it’s easier for me to say, oh, I’m just having a lazy day today and I have great confidence in all the younger activists. And so I encourage the younger activists and I become more lazy. And I do my activists activism much more differently. Like usually if I don’t meditate, my activism will not be very good. So when something is really comes up, I usually start immediately and I just practice. When when I heard that Tai had passed joy. But you still hear. Of course, I knew I had to stop. I had to stop everything. And I just had to practice and the whole day and the whole night was for the practice. For me, everything was practicing because this was very hard. I didn’t want to try to test for him. I really wanted, you know, I want Tai to live to hundreds of years. So I had to stop and all my activism had to stop and I just had to focus on my practice. And, you know, I was pulled in many directions. Well, what was happening in Ukraine was unfolding after Tai has, but in the first little while I could not do any activities at all. So now I’m much more laid back with my activism and I do much more meditation practice. And when I march in protest, people look at me and go, Oh, there’s that old slow lady. And she’s walking very, very slowly, step by step by step. You know, they’re going like, Why is she walking so slow that we have a group that walks slowly and we walk very slow and sometimes we have a little sign. So this helps them know why we were walking so slow and that and we usually will be protest eating and then we’ll sit and stop and the whole protest goes. They keep going, but we sit. We have a picnic and then we catch up later and that and that’s how we protest. And I find this not they still have a lot you can protest about this is an interesting discovery. It’s good to be fully present in the moment and to you have faith in what’s happening in the moment. But I’ve learned I’ve learned that no matter how hard you protest, you’re just you’re just it’s a river flowing, right? And if the energy is going in that direction and the conditions are right, the conditions that you might want can develop. If you see conditions that are very harmful, you don’t have to do a lot. You know, it’s more subtle now. You don’t have to march, you don’t have to hold up signs. I find my my protest is every moment. My resistance is every moment. It’s not resistance. It’s just stock. In every moment. I just stop. And that’s my resistance in just, you know, having that moment to stop that pause before I go, I continue. And then sometimes a car comes around the corner and we’re on a march and we have to break our ribs quickly or we have to sit down quickly. And so now our protest is more about meditation. And of course, some of the my friends in the protest community are still denying that that hands a real person and we can’t help them. So we just we just walk with them. And if they get too upset that we still believe in that hand, we just move to another backing. Just one more. Just let them go ahead and do what they want. Sometimes in my protest now I see, especially when we’re protesting with elders, say somebody in their 1980s, the same time, we can see earlier that something might happen to them. And so there are ways where we can use our practice to help us find a way to help that elder escape home or find a way to help somebody in the protests to escape. Or Tai knew how to do that in his twenties, and I’m still learning.
I had to also send my partner great love and leave my partner. I had to realize that I loved my partner more than I loved his physical being and that the only way to love my partner was to be a little bit tough with him. So I was he had a drinking problem and I loved him very, very much. And I realized I was saving him from his drinking problem and the poisoning is over. So I realize I have to leave, but I have to show love in the evening. And I didn’t know how to do that because it’s very hard, you know, my partner and you love the person, but then they get very sick with alcohol. So the way that I left my partner was by being very, very strong and not and saving him from his drinking any more. So I left my partner and then I was wondering, okay, what am I going to do with the world? Oh, my going to survive here because you still have a know. You still think, oh, you have to have you’re with somebody. And the Vietnamese community was you have to be married. You’re she now. And I’m like, I don’t want to be married. Why are you saying this to me? And I would say to the Vietnamese community, No, I don’t want to be married. Then you have to be with your parents. No, I don’t want to be with my parents. I want to be independent and I want to do social justice. So I continue on. I was working as we continue doing meditation and at that time I was helping the University of Toronto Buddhist community and the Greater Toronto with its community. And we would organize events for the Buddhists here in the Toronto area and I would do a lot of this work. And we had social justice of things that we were doing around hunger and homelessness, poverty. You know, we were teaching people how to meditate so we would go to U of T and we, we’d ask the university for a room at U of T and we’d sit there and I had a friend, a a Buddhist minister from the Japanese tradition. And she was a woman. She was a Western woman. And she would mentor me and she would just say, you’re a you should be a minister, forget about being a nun. Because she said, it’s hard if you’re a nun, you won’t be able to do what you want to do. And I said, Well, they tell me I’m not supposed to do what I want to do. She said, But you have to be yourself, right? And so she mentored me. We got room set of tea and we didn’t care if people were arrested, no hands, community or whether they were with another Buddhist community, whether they were Tibetan Buddhists or Vietnamese Buddhists or North American tourists or Christians or Sikhs or whoever they were or Marxists and nobody of anything, just humans. So we got rooms and we would teach people how to sit and just sit and breathe, and we would do that. And sometimes we sit and breathe and then we say, okay, like, yeah, enough of sitting and breathing, you know, because here we go. Oh my back sore and that we teach some exercise for meditation make it easier but some people still they had to sit in chairs. And so we do okay. We do sleeping, lying down meditation and we’ll do the body looking at all the organs of the body meditation, and then we’ll do walking meditation. So we started to teach walking meditation. And in Toronto I was working with people and we were replanting the indigenous plants in Hyde Park. So we would do that. And then after we plant the indigenous plants in Hyde Park, we would do walking meditation through Hyde Park. And so I had a little bell and we would walk with no, no place in mind that we were going. And he would stop whispering and invite the bell to sound. And then we would stop and do breathing and then we would walk more. I would get up at 4:00 in the morning and I would do early morning meditation. Then I would go to work and at lunch time I would get an hour for lunch, very, very good. And I would go out to the park on lunch time and I would just sit and do meditation. Then I would go back to work. Then when I was in the workplace, I would do some meditation exercises, I did some teaching and and involved. People would ask me, What are you doing? And I would say, I’m doing meditation exercises and every now and then when I’m at my work, guess I stop. Well, my manager didn’t like that because I was stopping and meditating at work, but not too much, just a little bit. So anyways. Um, she asked me, well, why do you do that? And I said, because it helps me work better and I can do my I’m more at ease at work. She said, okay, well, you teach everybody else here at work what you’re doing. So I did that. People started to like it a lot. So then I was organizing for ways that and I was doing more organizing in this community. I see a lot of helping the Tibetan community and so I would live my life like that. Get up early, go be to work by 7:00 in the morning, meditate at lunch, then come home, do a little more, meditate and or we. I opened up my home to the Tibetan community to come to my home and we would do meditation there and that was on right avenue. And so after work, maybe two or three times a week, we would do meditation and then we would do an hour, sometimes 2 hours. Then we would do retreats at my home, and then the Japanese community was so kind. The Japanese community said, We have a space, you can meditate at our space. So they provided us with a beautiful space on Harper Street and we meditate there until they I forget if they sold or they they sold the property where that place was at. And then we, we found another meditation space. We, we did that. Then we had a oh throughout the years. Some time we would meditate as a yoga studio. We meditate there. Sometime we meditate at and akito a dojo. So we would meditate there. And so we would, we would go from place to place depending on the sangha. What would happen is some places they would ask us to pay rent and sometimes we couldn’t afford it. So then we would try and find another place. And we did like that through many, many years. We would do an hour of sitting meditation and then we would do walking meditation, maybe 10 minutes. Then we would do another hour of sitting meditation. Then we would have a Dharma discussion and we would have a circle and people could talk about their practice. I think I was allow people to be much more free and what they would talk about, because sometimes people would be going through a lot of trauma, a lot of trauma. And so I would, um, welcome their talk, their trauma, and we’d be sitting there and a person would break down. Something awful was happening in their life and they would cry and songer would be there. The whole sangha would be there to listen and embrace them. And they was known for doing that. And people would say to me, Karen, you’re doing too much of this trauma thing. But people, you know, because this is disrupting the practice, you know, because when you stop everything for one person having trauma or, you know, then, you know, everybody else has to pay attention. And I used to just say, but this is the way life is, right? This is like recently we had an awful accident not far from here and everybody was taking the transportation system. Something awful happened and everybody had to stop and pay attention and help and focus their attention and be there or else, you know, so life is like that. And I said, we’re not always just showing a cushion, right? And some time things come up and everything is meditation. This trauma is important to our practice. To you. No, no much. No, no, no compass, no flowers. So I got in a bit of trouble for doing stuff like that because everybody’s like, Oh, caring allows the trauma in the Sangha to be there and we shouldn’t allow stuff like that. But we did, we, we kept on with that. Oh that practicing our sangha, we, we, we called ourselves the mad sangha. We, we said if we’re not, if we’re not able to get our hands in the earth, in the mud, we can, we can’t have any flowers. So we’re going to allow the mud and we’re just going to be there and we’re going to we’re going to love that mud. And so we practice like that. So I tend to get many people in there. Some get bigger coming from very difficult situations in their lives. And then I was studying Buddhist is so we thought, well we need it’s good that we’re doing this meditation and breathing but we need to really focus on the full body mind experience and that’s the Buddhist medicine. So then we started it on allowing people to come and we would do Buddhist medical practice with them. We developed sort of a clinical, you know, if people were thrown out of the medical system that wasn’t there for them, the poorest of the poorest people, they would come and they would come to the sangha with their trauma and they would they would sit. And then we had we would have people that were learning Buddhist medicine that would be their for them to help with their healing. And this is where this friend of Tai who knew Venu will kick Congo, came in because he would say to me, meditation on the cushion was not enough and things are going to happen and you have to respond and healing is happening all the time. So if you practice singing really well, even if you can’t hear, you have to meet. Is that what is happening? Because if you if you can heal and others can’t hear, so you will learn from this. And so we would practice like this. And then all of a sudden people were like, okay, carrying, developing this medical clinic thing. And so this started to happen more and more here in Toronto. More and more people started doing Buddhist medicine and that and and in Plant Village too. And now I hear in village they’re welcoming the trauma practice. And I think this is wonderful because I know this guy was saying this in his life. He was the teenage monk when he was in his youth. He was doing the trauma practice. You know, the bombs were falling and they were rebuilding the villages and their food for refugees that you see, they had the route of the practice. They could do it. The sharing. The West, we can’t do it because we’re we don’t have a solid enough foundation. So all those years tie was developing that foundation. Now there are thousands of members of the order of inter being of ties family and you know all that do we enter we feel the ancestors that tie right even deeper ground and so we can do the trauma practice so that’s what we’re doing that more and more now and that’s how we would practice. And I got in trouble because nobody knew about Buddhism here in North America. Right. And if you look at a North American person just sitting there freezing and freezing. Oh, and you know, at one point I shaved my head. You think, oh, this is strange. So I you know, as some of the people I worked with, they didn’t understand, not even my family understood. Right? So they said, what are you doing? What is this Buddhist stuff? And so I got in a lot of trouble and this will make everybody laugh. I had a couple of gentlemen tell me, you made up this kitten. I’ve had person. He’s not real. He doesn’t exist. There is no Zen master chit that had carried. You made him up. He’s still a real human being. What you say? I said, Oh, baby, maybe for you he’s not real. But for me, I know his real life mission. He’s very real and he’s a true human being. Forget it. He’s a master. He’s a true human being. Don’t worry about him being a Zen master, but he is human, real deep human. So I was told that I was scrapped. I was living in a temple. It was a Tibetan Buddhist temple. And some one of these men, I believe they were with the Marxist community. They said, there’s this woman, she’s blogger, she’s created this grand master. She calls him check. You have had she’s she’s created this guy called Zen master kidnaped her. I think there’s something wrong with her that jerkiness true story. So they sent the police to this Buddhist temple here in Toronto, and the police came in. They said, where is this woman who made this same master who kidnaped her? That and I was living with Tibetan Buddhists and some kids could speak only Tibetan and there were some Polish people living there. Some people could only speak Polish. So they didn’t know. They said, There she is, she’s over there. She’s the one with Kit that they pointed to me. They said, she’s the one with Tibet. Her thing came up. They said, Are you the person that believes in this shit that had I said, Yes, I am. She’s a very nice man. I yeah. I don’t know have she’s a good person. I found him. They said there is no tip. That hand you’ve been saying there’s this tip, that hand. This is this is a dangerous idea. This tip, no cab. Okay. I didn’t understand. They said we’re good. We throw you in jail because these men say that tip. Nathaniel’s not a real human being. And you’re telling this lie that there’s a man called Tip that hand. So I served in jail and I practiced meditation in jail. I practice yoga. And while I was in jail, I convinced some people to become disciples of that and even a jail guard. I had, that’s how I practice. So I realized, Oh, no matter where you are, you have to you practice because, you know and then I had some friends in the Tibetan community, some the elders and I said, well, you know, I wanted my friends to visit me in the jail because they’ll tell you, kid, that was very real. If I had a lawyer, not even my lawyer believe Kit Dunham was you. He was a Christian lawyer. And I believe he was because Polish and he actually thought I had made up Tibet. And so I said, I want my my senior friends from the Afghan community to come visit me in jail. They said, this man doesn’t exist. They are not allowed to come visit you. So this is where the skulls sit. The kindness of the skulls come in. The family, they got word through to my Vietnamese kid, my ten friends, and they came in to the jail and we met and we sat and we did some meditation and they were taught that they were older Vietnamese people, but that this techniques and oh, we all learned a true story. And finally they brought me in front of a judge and the judge said, Are you the lady that talks about this shit, that hand, and that you think he’s a real man? I said, yes, yes. I have talked about him very often. They always say, Well, why did this man say you were dangerous? I said, Because they dating they don’t believe chicken at home is real. So they think that, you know, I’ve made him up, but I haven’t. I said I could not make up children, have I? It’s his parents that made him, not me. So they just said, well, you don’t seem dangerous to me. Oh, you’re going to have to work on getting rid of this idea that that is a real person. So I got released and I was sent to a Christian fellow. Here’s Roman Catholic, a Roman Catholic, and I would meet him. And you said, Have you forgotten about this kidnaping? And yet have you decided to give up this idea of Buddhism? You know, you maybe you need to be Christian. And I, I would keep on saying to him, no, no, kidnap Henry. He’s very he’s very religious. They didn’t like that. And I said, no, I haven’t given up on this concept of Buddhism. I said, I may not practice Buddhism, you know the best, but I said, I sit and I meditate. It’s okay, you know, I say, everybody can do that. And so eventually this this Roman Catholic man was like, she keeps on saying that she likes it. So he investigated and he started looking at books on bushes and he developed an interest influence. He came to me finally, the last time I met him, he said, you know, I don’t like my job. I like my quitting my job because he was working in the prison system. So I don’t like what I’m doing to people who don’t like what I’m doing to people with this prison system and jails and that I’m quitting my job. I think I like this idea. You you’ve been telling me about sitting and doing meditation. You say, can I do that? Has a Roman Catholic person? And I said, Of course you can. He says, Thank you, because I just realized I don’t like my job. He wishes to help. He started to read books about Buddhism and kidnaped her. And I. I saw him a few times after that. I said, How are you doing? This is wonderful. He said, I feel even I got better Roman Catholic I’ve ever been. And he said, You know what? You were telling the truth. Tippett had actually exuded this, and he said, No, I practiced meditation all the time, and I’m so happy. I’m so happy. I quit my job at It’s a true story, though, and I think it’s amazing. Yeah, yes, very true story. That and yet and then, you know, so I went to even last year some of these same men because say when lives up in Ottawa a few live in Toronto even this past summer they were like have is not a real person they’re still like that and they said, yeah, we think you should go back to jail because we don’t believe that Hitler hand was real. So I got in touch with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after I had passed John because I met his father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had a great interest in Buddhism. Even when I met him, he had a great interest. So I, I wrote to the Prime Minister and said, Mr. Hitler, time has passed, John. And you know, if, if we will miss him and so the Prime Minister wrote me a letter saying I’m sorry for the passing of Mr. Keating. I’ve heard. And she wrote it to me directly and I said, Can you write a bigger letter to everybody in Canada? He said, I heard from some of my Roman Catholic staff that they don’t think this. I said, I thought we were finished with that. He said, I can’t write for everybody in Canada. She said, I believe you and I know he’s a real person and I know how close you you felt to him and my father to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. And so I will write a letter because I know that you’re grieving the passing of your friend and how much you loved him. So, you know. Oh, I think so. You know, it’s sort of in the United States, you’re going to the same thing. President Biden that never met you, etc.. At least they’re not saying that President Joe Biden doesn’t exist. But I do need to do we just have to, you know, try and really be kind to these people, you know? But we don’t have to say that. I’m just wishing even now, as I said, he’s we know that he’s still present with us. Senior. I love to make people laugh, so I think it’s a good thing I want it to be a Buddhist community comedian. So doing I didn’t quite make it. But yeah, I would love to be a Buddhist can you the you have for this next lifetime. Next lifetime. I’ll go into comedy. Yes, exactly. I really like a good friend of all comedians. Yeah. To just set your intention. Yes. My intention in next life is to be a comedian. Yes. People are very receptive. They were never laughing at the truth. Yeah. So, yeah, that’s that’s what great comedy. There’s a have truth of. Wonderful. I’ll have a little top hat and I’ll say, look, this is the top hat I’m pulling to. Not it’s that he’s not a rabbit. He’s he’s a real sinister and it’s not magic. Yeah, it’s real. Yes. Oh, wow. Okay. Trying to think where to kind of pick up from folk from all that sort of very rich history. I guess just one thing that, you know, that caught my attention and I just be curious for you to kind of share a little bit more about what you meant by Buddhist, sort of like what are some of the things that that constituted like in terms of energy healing was it can you give us a little bit more descriptor in terms of what you were, what what what this type of medicine was good for in terms of treating traumas like can you give us a little more what that is how that why you termed as Buddhist medicine access to medicine, yeah. So what was the philosophy that drives this modality of healing, Reverend Buddhist medicine is we know that we’re surrounded by sangha, and all the elements are sangha. So we know we have all the root elements the air, the sky, the water, the minerals plants, the earth. And so the physician of the Buddha knew this too. And like the Buddha, he was very poor. He was abortion, and he hung out with a medicine people and they create various medicines with the meditation, medicine and exercises, um, meditation exercises, mindfulness exercises. There is various medicines within the various ethnic or Buddhist communities that have been developed. And then there’s the Chinese medicine that, that medicine, the Vietnamese have their own medicine. So there’s a a glimpse of what is medicine. Some are applied physically, some, and done with breathing. So breathing in the medicine of the whole environment and the sun are a rhythmic sound medicine. So there are certain medicines that are used to open various gates in the body, various lama points in the body, and to heal various organs. And then there’s the nutritional medicine to to eat fresh, to eat local, to eat food grown in good soil, organic. The and the Buddhist monks, they eat very little, just what they need because they still work on this. But they just what you need, you know, to eat locally, if you can grow your food, even if you have a little jar, you can put seeds and what water those seeds and that is like sitting meditation when you sit in water, the good seeds from you and that’s a nutrient nutrient. So, so it’s various forms of medicinal practice. And so I do the meditation oh for the mind. We know now that the mind is very plastic and there is something called neurogenesis. We can actually grow new brain cells and, we can grow new brain cells by seven practices and there is seven practices are all part of what is. And that is it’s not just good enough to sit on the meditation cushion. We must move and if we don’t move, then we can’t do our meditation practice. What is it good for? It’s good for helping people with cancer. People can live with cancer much better. I’m not going to say that we can cure, but I will say that I know certain remedies from Buddhist medicine that people take. Certain people have had their tumors reduce, they have gone into remission or no longer in their body. Oh, for arthritis, there are certain minerals certain elements that we can use to help with inflammation in the body that come from what is medicine. There are certain compresses and herbal remedies that we can use and it is so vast those so very vast, over 2600 years of practice, quite frankly, a lot of the monasteries and especially the very poor quarters in countries where they don’t have good access to medicine like we have in Canada and the United States. They have used these traditional medicines in villages and they have medical people, medical doctors, and they’re not use the Western medicine and they apply these medicines for various conditions. So a heart condition. Heart condition. Well, the meditation alone is very, very useful for heart condition. And certain medicines that we can take, minerals that we can use, well, that can help the even somebody having a heart attack. There are certain medicines that are available that if we give the person we can help them survive so that there’s not too much damage and so the new area I’m working with a doctor here in Toronto, he had a stroke and is so she had a brain injury and Dr. Gulati and we have all we’re doing something called brain changes and we’re helping people learn about neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, study how to when you have a severe brain injury, how you can train new brain cells, how you can recover from some very severe brain injury. For Dr. Gulati, it really helped him. He was in a severe accident. He couldn’t move and he had to stop medical school and using some of these medicines that are very old from traditional Buddhist medicine, including the meditation and the physical practices and some of the remedies. And Dr. Gulati has been able to recover from his brain injury. He returned to medical school. He practice now has an M.D. and since 2018 he’s been trying to organize the medical community around how to help the brain. Even when you get older, even some of the age people who get Alzheimer’s, you’re not impossible. We have seen some improvements there. So this is a very new area, but it was known by the doctor as the Buddha. So now I see a lot of the practice a around the meditation meditation practice usually. But I’ve always said I and you know, it’s just focusing on the brain. It’s not good enough because the brain depends on the whole body. So if you only practice on just sitting and this brain is you cannot heal the brain, you cannot heal the rest of the body. And some of the Buddhist medicine we use when people get frozen shoulder, if we use for this medicine, we have a little hammer and a piece of wood and we actually hammer people hit people, see this, they go, What the heck are you doing? But we’re not hurting that. What we’re doing is for waking up the body right? The Buddha said, you have to become awake. Well, the whole body is like this, you know. Right. Because when the body goes to sleep is not very good. And so not only the brain, but the whole body. And that’s what the Buddhist never teaches through. It’s huge exercise through various techniques and equipment. We have a hammer and on the hammer is written for this prayers and it’s very rhythmic. And the sound the patient hears that sound and it puts them into another space where they can actually work on everything in their body. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah.
Yeah. I never felt I never felt comfortable until I met kidnap had and in practicing Buddhism and being an activist earlier on when I was practicing Buddhism, I felt kind of this torn apart feeling, you know, what am I going to do? Am I going to be an activist? Or I’m going to practice meditation? And I’m like both. Both. And so a certain song goes has an activist. You know, people would tell me, why are you doing activism? You need to go to a monastery and just sit and that never worked for me. So when I met Tai, I knew immediately that Tai knew what I was about, what was happening with me immediately. So if we earlier on with my activism, it was a case of hide and seek. You know, today I’m practicing Buddhism. Tomorrow I’m in a protest, you know. And when I was with Tai, I had complete freedom. Complete freedom. It was great. I would be at the monastery with Chai. I remember being there with him at Deer Park Monastery. And, you know, I’m not wealthy, so I’d drink a tap, pitcher tap, and I just play around and and well and we’d be doing walking meditation, right? And I’d be playing with chai. I’d be like, Okay, I’m going to hide no chai. And you can think that I’m not doing walking meditation. So everybody be walking, right? And I just fear walk somewhere and I go behind a tree or, you know, go in a bush. If I go in the bush somewhere, I’d be hiding. Cause I knew they were walking. Tai would come and he wished me to the the walking towards that bush or that tree. Right. It was amazing. And I did that a couple of times. And he would always do that. I would join. It was so funny. We are doing walking meditation and there are the rattlesnakes there. Right. And so we were walking and we knew there were rattlesnakes there. And I was Ty was saying, okay, everybody here, we’re going to stop. We’re going to tell the rattlesnake they’re going chai. And I didn’t know what was happening. And I was about ready to go. Everybody picks. And then all of a sudden, I saw the biggest smile and Ty’s face. And all of a sudden, no, we’re shook. And, you know, he led people away from that. But, you know, it was it was really earlier on a game of hide and seek. You couldn’t let your Buddhist community really know you were an activist. And it was frowned upon. And now it’s more embraced. I mean, people used to look at me and say, oh, she’s that heavy, that activist Buddhist woman. And they they would say, oh, she has to practice Buddhism. She’s not here sitting on the cushion and doing like 12 hours meditation retreat. Although I do that, I do 12 hours meditation. Then I climb up the roof, slide down a tree, and go go and listen to jazz, hey, you know, and then be back for 4:00 meditation practice like that, you know. But it just, you know, it wasn’t easy when I was younger. I don’t think it was too easy for a lot of people who were involved in activism. And I can see because Buddhism was still becoming settled, especially for the Vietnamese lineage, it still hadn’t really got a foundation, but now it does.
Yeah. I think it was really good when I was a kid and I didn’t know I was, um, I didn’t know I was a person. I didn’t know I was me or a self. I just play playful energy. I think that was really, really wonderful and has I got older, I, I learned how to put myself in a box in living my life according to the requirements of other people. So now I, with the practice, I ask myself whatever the self is, okay, in this moment there’s no self. So what’s happening in this moment, right? And how can the energy be beneficial to serve all living beings? And I fail a lot, but sometimes I’m not failing. Sometimes I’m really like I go like, well, this practice is really deep. Think, Oh, you know, for instance, I was at an event where last weekend and you felt like never met my life came up to me because I’m a Buddhist, right? He saw me and everything. He said, You’re Buddhist, right? I said, Yes, I am. He says, I want to kill you. I’m like, I truly know law. You know, I get like, Oh, okay, I want to we talk about. And so I said, okay, well, I want to live, so this is not a good idea. So what do you mean? He said, I want to kill you because you’re a Buddhist, like, no, I think we should be friends, you know. And so he was really he was really angry and he really didn’t like me because I was Buddhist. So I just decided, okay, let’s just hang out here and we’ll find a way. We’ll find a way forward because I don’t want to get killed. So we hung out and I found more skillful means to connect with him as a human being. And then he really forgot what I was, you know? And at the end of our talk, he had his arms around me. He was hugging me, you know, he was like, You’re my best friend introducing his friends. And then I said to him, I said, You know, I’m so blessed. He said, Yeah. I threw out some of the ideas I had about this, you know, and he was well, you know, we left you, like, really good friends. And so next time, if I see him, I’m, like, getting stuck in and want to kill me. That’s a good thing. I’m just curious, like, why are some of his perceptions of Buddhist that was so strong and kind of defuzed his perceptions of Buddha? Ah, the first of all, he was he was Hindu and I love Tamil people and we love each other now it’s fine. But his perception of Buddhists were that we’re power hungry, that we like to control and have wealth and all this stuff. And that guy like me. Hello, you know, and, and so these were his his wrong perceptions that he Thai always has a mantra around that choice. Mantra is, are you sure? Yeah. Right. Are you sure? Because 99% of our perceptions are wrong. Yeah, I’ve learned that a patience and stopping and waiting is so important. And it doesn’t matter if it’s your experience or another human being experience. We have so much that is similar, right? And when we know our own experience, we can relate with more other beings experience. So, you know, the Buddhist thing is just some label that we’re using and I see that we have to find a way to become more human. And Buddhism has a good tradition and practice and teaching that can help all human beings on the planet, because we have to breathe right? So we have to. So if we develop this present moment, mindfulness, breathing, and then we’ll see the truth of rebirth, the truth of of everything, not just the Buddha taught, but also the spiritual teacher taught. And then we’ll realize several politicians to really want it to be spiritual teachers dragged out into politics, you know, so that we can have compassion for the and try to try, try, try. If you fail, just get up and try. And, you know, um, when I die, new people use my whatever’s left to nurture some other living beings and yeah, the rest and whatever exists in the Tibetan tradition. They have the, the, um, the funeral, the death practice of letting the vultures pick the bones. SCOTT Burial? Yeah, just whatever is left when I can just finish off, just pick my bones, please, and use them for some good in this world. And that is what the Buddha, you know, the Buddha was like. The Buddha lived through his ideas like a leaf, and he got food poisoning. So, you know, that’s he did that knowing that the food he was eating was not the guests food, but his compassion was so great that he knew he was an old man and he wanted more to more Buddhists. So not just one, but of many of us. And of knowing that everybody has the Buddha in them. Yeah.
Role as Reverend
I try not to teach, but I tell you not to teach too much. And because there’s nothing really to teach. I, I just try and be there for people. Hello, Gary. I just try and be herself as much as I can and available. And I think because in in the hand saga and tradition, the saga is so big now and it was very difficult for anybody to have a long period of time with Tai Sangha through it was the the teaching that the teacher was always there for you, even if you have a teacher. Okay, this is important to realize. You’re still going to make a lot of mistakes and you’re still going to end up stuck in the mud sometimes. So the teacher is really just there. So your own teacher. Right. So it in in the practice, you develop your own teacher and to be there for you. Right. So when you’re in a place where you don’t have your teacher, you may not have the rest of the sangha as long as you’ve got the practice, you know. And as long has you do you do that practice? Right. Okay. Today you’re tired. You don’t want to get up at 4:00 in the morning, you want to sleep till noon. It’s okay. Next day you get up at four, but you just keep going. Like polishing. Polishing, polishing. And then next life, you even polish even more. And so it doesn’t matter so much if you have a teacher with you. 24 hours is is a teacher is then you. Right. So that is the continuation. I mean, I, I’ve can stopped now and I have many teachers in many different forms. And any time I stop, I know the teacher is there for me. The moment I just stopped, I. I go deep. Agnes and I pay attention to what’s happening. I may not know what’s happening, but if I continue, just stop paying attention. Even if I’m blind, even if I can’t hear, even if I can’t see it, even if I can’t walk or it can’t do anything. I. I have a teacher there for me, and it’s not me. This is how the ancestors work. We don’t. We don’t know. They’re always here for us. So, yeah, it goes back to saying that you going to your ancestry, your heritage, and you remember all your teach teachers, whatever, whoever they were for you, the best of what? What was the best you knew. And that is meal of that is seeing as there are people that are just buying Ty’s books today and they will never have met Ty, but they will develop a relationship with Ty and everybody that continues. The lineage will have that relationship no matter what happens and the more we practice, that will continue. And if we make mistakes, the whole saga is there. When we can’t walk, the sangha can walk for us when we’re no longer here. The slogan continues, Right. So it’s not how much time you have with the teacher. Sometimes you have too much time with the teacher and the teacher really gets annoyed with you. I goof. Cool. Get out of here. You know that that is maybe not good for you because that Buddha said, don’t listen to anything I tell you. Try it out for yourself. And if it doesn’t work for you, throw it all out. So sometimes the best teacher is like, okay, this is what I give you, and so you get out of here. But you say to the teacher, But I want it all, I want it all, give it all to me. And the teacher says, Look, I’ve already given you enough. Go. And that is very much, you know, a very a good way to to to teach. You have a sangha to have and the Dharma and the sangha, right? And the tradition and take refuge in the Buddha. Well, what’s the broader and just like just one Buddha, right? You’re Buddha, right? I see the breathing. You you are my teacher, okay? You’re you what? You’re the testimony. And I learn from you. So you’re the Buddha, right? And I see the Buddha in you and everybody you meet. You see all this guy, it comes up, wants to kill me. Well, there’s a Buddha in him, too, so it’s not how long you have with the teacher is in. Is the teacher there not the length of time with the teacher, but is the teacher present? That’s the most important part. So people buying Chinese books today, they may be extremely close. Should try. And all of us who met Tai and Hug and those that have a lot of time with Tai are looking at the ones that never met Tai and get their like. And we look at these practitioners and we go, Whoa, the Buddha is there, there another Buddha, you know, hello, hello. It’s like that, you know. So yeah, don’t, don’t worry. If you make a Zen master and if she just tells you, watch out, you’re going to be hit by a car, it’s enough, you.
When my mom passed on, I knew immediately I knew immediately where she was going to be reporting. And I actually met her again. But I knew I couldn’t hang out with her a lot because she had enough of me. But I actually I actually knew where she would be going. And I had some interesting experiences on her part so that there’s no explanation. They go. And so I met this child and I knew it was my mom. And just certain things. And I had a feeling, even before I met this child, I knew I was going to need this child. No explanation. Just a deep feeling. Like even before I received the phone. So I knew, okay, my mother is in. I’m getting a call because my mother wants to see me again. My other is a baby, just a newborn. I mean, I guess, you know, as relates to practice, is it because, you know, the access to your visit, the awareness that allow you to build that confidence? I mean, is there anything more you could provide sense of how this to practice informed confidence compared to when you were younger like you know because you know, I’m trying to associate serve now when we’re young and we have this recollection of a past life and you question it maybe, you know, because it’s so strong. But does the practice how does that now how we won’t get to how but like you know, in your own personal experience, this obviously is sort of a information of confidence that comes to recognize that, yes, this this concept of reincarnation, past lives has been sort of strengthened. And so so that’s cut. And I guess the question is how, you know, how is this traipsing through the practice? Well, we’re all the cells in our body. The cells in our body know a lot that we’re not aware of. And when we do meditation practice, each cell in our body can wake up and wake up in a very unique way. And so our body and our brain work together. And so when you usually in the area of rebirth, it’s usually somebody you’re connected to through blood relationship or keeping a straight. So your whole body, all the cells and you will know and how it works. And I think they’re trying to look at that scientifically now. But yeah. And it makes scientific sense, right? Because we’re all just the collection of the elements. Right. You know, we’re all that and it continues. So if that collection of elements happens to formulate into another human being, you really feel it deeply in your body and your mind. And especially if you’re doing meditation, like when a loved one is passing on. If you do meditation, you will have a very deep experience in your it is like this real strong physical and a physical feeling. Like, just like it’s like a magnet. Just like moving. Yep. You know? Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely not something I’ve asked many people, but, you know, because I also think, you know, you know, the Tibetan traditions see a rich history around that. And yeah, there are some people that, you know, one my roommate, my roommate actually she’s, you know, very connected to our past lives and, you know, so it’s I’m always curious what people do have that connection with where that sort of confidence comes from in any and it makes sense. I think the way that we talk about sense of the body somatic memory well is sort of awakened through that. And then I see meditation as sort of the deeper the meditation or the the practice that the more, you know, we are tuned to these sort of. Yeah. Somatic sort of memories I guess. Yeah. So maybe that’s how I’m translating it, but it’s very, very physical. Yeah. Yeah. And I probably wouldn’t get that experience with some other individual. I’m not that close to. But it yeah. It’s like my mom passed away with cancer and I knew immediately with oh, really? Digging deeper into what’s happening in her body that she had cancer, that we just knew it physically and, um, and then it was confirmed. So there’s a, there’s a, a, a blood closeness, I think, that develops where, you know, on a cellular level. And, and of course, your energy and the materials that you’re made of just transforms. And some time it wants to create another human being. I think maybe my mother was a very spiritual woman and I might have planted that seed of rebirth into her, whereas maybe she might not have been reborn as a human being. But I think I although she’s like, What are you with this Buddhism stuff? I think on some level I did implant that into her and my dad to. So my dad was the same way. What are you messing around with this Buddhism stuff? And yet I remember bringing him to a titmus high retreat, and he thought it was weird. Um, you know, she was like, everybody’s wearing their pajamas, but looks like they just got out of bed and they’re walking around in their PJs. And he said, Why are they just walking? Aren’t they good to talk about something, you know? And I said, Dad, just enjoy your walking. And she would be saying, Well, they haven’t learned to talk yet. And eventually we would walk. And then eventually he got quiet and afterwards I asked him, Did you like that? She said, Are you trying to convert me to a Buddhist? And I said, No, Dad, you’re just human. I’m not trying to convert to anything. He said, Well, you know, I’m an old guy. It’s good for my eggs. It’s nice, nice weather. You know, we’re out in the countryside. And he said, you know, this Vietnamese food, it’s not bad. So he enjoyed himself. I don’t want to die. I still like that. And he took Kondo said, and my teacher said, Everything’s light. So there’s you don’t have to aspire for enlightenment and it has nothing to do with you. So I kind of gave up this and like, oh yeah, I’m like, okay, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. You don’t have to worry. It’s not not something you have to. I don’t know. I just I just everything is right, okay? And I think physics is showing that, too, because they say the light comes out of the black hole, you know, so there’s light there all the time. This enlightenment, I don’t know. I’m not worrying about just the death. I know now because of Chase teaching that when you die, you actually get to breathe again. You know, and I don’t have to worry about rebirth, but I’m sure it happens because I. I saw it already and, you know, and it is scientific. So the Tibetans are really the Tibetans know a lot, the light share it with everybody. She goes, you know, even after this earth no longer exists, we talk about the extinguish note of Buddhism. I’m not going to worry about that either, because what is bothersome is just, you know, it’s just the energy and it’s just, you know, what is so a death. I’m still wanting to live probably about five and then I will see. But if I die quickly, if something awful happens to me, I think Buddhism will really help me. Because before, as they say, the lights go off. If I just had that stuck in that little bit, I know everything’s going to be okay. So even if I’m flying in an airplane and the airplane falls to the earth, it’s okay. Mind you, I still have fear. I still have grief. I still have all the emotions that every human being experience. But I have a practice to deal with those emotions. So it’ll be better. It’ll be okay. I know there’s no escaping this death thing, but I know it’s all going to be okay. And I know I’m well prepared when that time comes and I transition. So, you know, Tai taught us how to die beautifully. I see. It’s a great festival and a great celebration after he passed on. And it was not just him breathing. Everybody was breathing. So it was. Yeah, not to think that there’s a death. Not to think that there’s a birth and even a world ends. If President Putin gets upset and does something silly. Please don’t do that, Mr. Putin, but we’re going to be okay. But we should prevent let me tell you, we could find a way to end or we give way, if I can speak to somebody who was going to kill me and I convinced them not to kill me, maybe more people we can convince Mr. Putin not to continue his killing.
On my mother’s side, I had an aunt who was an artist and she also was a revolutionary artist and a very independent woman. And she she went her own way. And she was very, very independent. And she studied art. And she did quite well as a darkness. And she was a very dear woman. She encouraged us to look for our creativity, let the world up inside of us to be who we were. And so when I was with my as mindfulness siren, when I was with my as a life was the paintbrush, life was the canvas. And that’s the way she treated it. She was just very independent and free. So that’s where my spiritual roots started. And also I can remember past lives to a little bit of the past life experience, but I can’t say too much about that because more people don’t understand it. I barely understand it, but I do have some memories from the time I was really, really young. I’d say maybe two years or something like that. Very young. I took I had these images of past lives that I have lived and that I had some interesting experiences. But you don’t talk about that in an urban environment, but children children receive this. And I was lucky that I could receive this, too. And so that nurtured me in my spirituality because I had this feeling. This is not the first time here on this earth I’ve been here before, and I didn’t understand. But I had that rooted feeling. I’ve been here before. Yeah, I get too much. Yeah. No, no, that’s just the start, you know? So I think so. And so you’ve given a sense of, you know, it’s having influence on your spiritual foundation. Yeah. And so that was through your teenage years. And so I guess the question becomes, you know, you know, after high school, college, like, how did things open up given that foundation? You know, you obviously you were raised in nature and that was also nurturing of the spiritual connection. Yeah. You know, so that’s what I got. And then so I guess, I guess maybe more formally as you enter adult life, how was her that spirituality cultivated or sort of pivot or, you know, so just kind of give us a little history of that aspect. Reverend Yeah, I had a teenager. I was very curious about everything and I had a boyfriend who loved insects. He was a zoologist and he loved animals and insects. And we used to go canoeing together. And so one day he says to me, I want you to come to my parents house and meet a llama. And I thought, Oh, oh, this is very wonderful because you like animals, you like insects, insects. And here you have fabulous parents. Your parents have a lemon. Their home. So I thought, what a llama. So of course I said, yes, yes, I’ll come. I’ll come over. And I came over and I said, okay, where do your parents keep the llama? And like this was a this was in Rosedale. And I thought, well, how can you have a llama in Rosedale, which is a very affluent place in Toronto? So I met the parents and this was very strange. They were exploring the paranormal. They had an interest in that and so they said, Come, come up to the third floor, you’ll meet the llama. And I said, Oh, you see you have the llama living well, yeah, up in the attic here. So anyways I went up and there was this gentleman sitting cross-legged on the floor in crimson robes and I said, I don’t see a llama. This is just a human being sitting here. And if you see a human being, what are you saying?
You know, and I don’t have to worry about rebirth, but I’m sure it happens because I saw it already and, you know, and it is scientific
This is a llama. This is not a lobo. Well, the llama turned around and he smiled. He said, I’ve been waiting for you that day. And I said, Oh, thank you. I’ve come to me the llama, but I don’t see one. He said, I feel the same. I have the same thought as you. And I said, Well, so what are you doing here? He says, I’m Tibetan. And he said, I sit here and I do meditation and I, I drink tea. And I said, Oh, this is wonderful. So I forgot about the llama. The llama was no, no interest to me anymore, I thought. Interesting, interesting guy. So we start we had we had tea. He put butter in it and I was like, oh, this is too much. This is very thick tea. And so we we had a good time together. We joked and and that and now we had the visit. And, and then I left and I said, Yeah, well, it doesn’t matter if I didn’t meet my it’s a very nice man I met. So I later on found out he was the lama and so that was what I first was introduced and I said, what is he. Well my boyfriend said, he’s a he’s a Buddhist lama and he’s all cool. And I said, oh, oh, okay. So I didn’t know I was like I said, well, that’s I guess that’s that’s wonderful. So then I went to a poetry conference in Boulder, Colorado, and I was very interested in Oregon poetry. And I met Allen Ginsberg there, and I met the Grateful Dead. Allen Ginsberg and, you know, Gregory Corso and he Wolfman a Bob Dylan. I just hung out there and Allen Ginsberg came up to me one day and he said, Do you look like you could try some meditation like Merton? And I said, Oh, okay. And so he brought me to a little room and there were other people there. And he said, You know, you just sit and breathe. I said, you? Well, he says, Yes, that’s all. So I did it. I sat and I breathe. He came up to me afterwards. He said, How did you like that? I said, You know, everything’s just happening. It is just like it is. Is that all there is? And she said, yes. And I said, okay, so it’s all good. It’s just fine. I said, I think I’ll do this more. And I said, I like it. You know, I like it because I’m too active.
But I’ve learned I’ve learned that no matter how hard you protest, you’re just you’re just it’s a river flowing, right? And if the energy is going in that direction and the conditions are right, the conditions that you might want can develop. If you see conditions that are very harmful, you don’t have to do a lot.
He said, Good. Where you where you sit more. And I said, Yes, I get on that. So I started it. I started studying more and I would sit with Mr. Ginsberg and all these poets. And I didn’t think what it was really, but I liked it. So I started doing meditation. Then when I came back to Toronto after that, I met a couple of Zen masters, and I, I thought I’d done everything because I, I had been sitting and breathing. So I thought that was all there was. You go. So I got myself into a bit of trouble. I went to a Zen temple with the Koreans and master. And it was very formal, you know, sticks and bells and everything. And I said to the Zen master, well, it’s a bit complicated. Here you go. And I said, Why don’t you just sit and breathe that? And he was like, You know, what do you know? And I said, Well, I was told it’s about singing in Britain. So I thought I knew everything. And obviously I didn’t. And I, I got it a lot, you know, and he was very kind and the whole sangha was very kind. And I met I met a lot of great people. I then met one of my partners. And after sitting more and more, I thought, Oh, maybe I would like to become a nun. The Zen master said to me, You’re your trouble. You wouldn’t last year, the nun, you’re too active, you know. And I said, I’ve heard that before. Yes, you’re too active. So, you know, you have to you have to practice, practice, practice. And so I we did a little bit of a I guess and babble and I was of course, I lost and, you know, so I realized, no, I’m not nun material. And then I thought I had met some Koreans and masters, I had met some Japanese masters then and I thought, Oh, and I done this. And and I thought, oh, this is too hard. This is way too strict. And what I, I can’t do this. I need somebody who was a little gentler and that and who understands me a little bit better because I’ll never I’ll never fit in if it’s very complicated, have like a ritual, I have to be more natural. And so I, I met a Zen master, kidnaped her. And the first way I met him, it was in the late seventies, early eighties. I was very active. I was a peace activist. I was involved in the anti-nuclear movement. Oh, there was a big march in New York City, which Tai was involved with, and we had an international organization and I did a 61 day fellows to I wanted to save the world from nuclear weapons. And I failed. I failed still. But we’re getting better. But I failed. But anyway. So I fell 61 days and I thought, oh, the environment is getting the pollution is getting worse. There’s so much world hunger. And I felt this too. And he had been organizing internationally for a long time. And he made connections with the the community of reconciliation and he had been very involved in interfaith dialog and peace work too. So I met Chai through that because he was one of the people who approved of the international and global movement. We were creating and we were creating with the Japanese Buddhist monks or Vietnamese, the American Buddhist monks, the Jewish community, the Christian community, all the religious community and the activists. And so we did that. And then I learned more about Chinese work with the in Vietnam.