My first exposure to Buddhism wasn’t significant. Infact, it was a turn off. A man who claimed to be Buddhist visited our high school and basically told our class his goal was to become a heartless robot. Well, not entirely, but pretty much… There wasn’t any joy.
A mushroom trip, where I experienced the bardos and death shook me to the core a few years later, and I turned my focus away from worldly accomplishments, and towards dharma. I spent 6 months in India and came into contact with an Advaita Vedanta teacher. Later I was “adopted” by a Cherookee grandmother medicine woman, and finally settled into Buddhism, when I took refuge with my current teacher Lama Ole Nydhal in 1996.
The reason I stuck with Buddhism is it gives me tools I can work in everyday life, as well as prepare me for the most profound experiences. The results of practice are attainable and methods are useful across the three vehicles. I also am at home with my sangha.
My first exposure to Buddhism was my Korean neighbor, who made offering and lite incense and sat quietly. It was a cultural experience- no buddhist teachings, but I liked the beauty of offerings and sitting quietly.
Later when I was in college and met my, now husband, Willy, he introduced me to lay Buddhism, getting the teachings and practicing through Lama Ole Nydahl, via the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Dorje of the Karma Kagyu Tibetan Lineage.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
I associate Buddhism with growing up. As I become an adult, I integrate the methods and teachings into my daily life.
If you explore other lineages within buddhism, how did you come to decide on which lineage was right for you?
My buddshist Lama first came to me in a dream. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life. There was no time or space, only incredible bliss and I was travelling at the speed of light. Two weeks later a friend invited me to Buddhist lecture, and the following weekend I found myself doing a phowa practice (course on conscious dying) with Lama Ole Nydhal. When I met him, he said “I saw you flying”. I took refuge at that course.
It’s not like trying out different meals off a menu at different restaurants. When you find your teacher it’s more like being born into a certain family with certain parents. One does not exchange root lamas on the vajrayana path.
My root lama is Lama Ole Nydhal, and my lineage lamas are the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje,Shamar Rinpoche and other karma kagyu lineage lamas.
What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers and etc)
Lately, I often start the day with 54 or 108 prostrations, which is a wonderful way to take refuge, and on a practical level gets the blood moving and keeps the body looking and feeling great. In the evening I’ll sit down to some form of guru yoga… either 16th Karmapa, 8th Karmapa or guru yoga from the ngondro. These are familiar, comfortable practices, nothing special, yet always bring me back into the blessing and powerfield of my lineage, teachers and sangha.
Which sangha do you normally attend. Please describe how the role of the sangha has supported/inspired your practice.
If I didn’t have a sangha I’d be an egotistical jerk. These are my true friends that I butt heads with, share meals with, break bread with, so to speak. I belong to the Diamond Way Karma Kagyu sangha.
What is your primarily profession?
I am an artist/painter. My painting practice does not mix with buddhism on an outer level. I keep the two distinct and separate.
Kim states: I am a photographer- studio and fine art
Do you think your personality or background influence the lineage/practices that resonate with you?
I don’t. The reason I say this is there are people from every country in the world (outside of the Middle East and Africa) that take part in Diamond Way Buddhism. The practitioners belong to every political party, socio-economic spectrum you can imagine. It seems there is a place for everyone in the Dharma, no matter what their background is or wherever they happen to be in life. I’ve met ex Russian Mafia members, as well as social service workers in Diamond Way. I’ve met janitors and CEO’s. Personality and background appear to not be a factor. Diamond Way attracts people who have a connection to Kagyu and Nyingma transmissions- nothing more, nothing less.