Someone I love very much is a huge fan of A Course In Miracles. If you know what this is, fantastic, if you don’t, you’re in the same boat as me. A Course In Miracles, from the small taste I’ve had, is a beautiful book of profound spiritual teachings. You know when you read something, and it just rings true? Maybe it makes you suddenly happy, or you find yourself nodding your head in intrinsic agreement… This is how A Course In Miracles is for me, and apparently for the 1.5 million people worldwide who have bought the book. It opens with the lines:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Pretty powerful language. The book goes on to help us clear the blocks in our minds and hearts which prevent us from experiencing the divine peace and love that is our birthright. It helps us to see reality as it really is, and in doing so, guides us to peace.
I was introduced to ACIM several years back, and though it made an impression on me, I was daunted by the 1600 page volume of work. I read bits and pieces, picking it up and putting it down at my leisure. It’s not light reading. It’s pretty heavy. But it picks you up when you’re feeling down, and you can sense the power and truth illuminating every word as you read. A Course In Miracles offers us a very moving message.
Arriving in Dharamsala several days ago, a sign caught my eye. It was posted on a busy wall, amongst a jumble of other signs that advertised yoga, reiki, massage, and herbal healing. It said: “A Course In Miracles. Every Sunday from 1-5.” It went on to give directions to the house of the teacher, located just beyond the Dalai Lama Temple. I sketched a quick map, stuck it in my purse, and walked on.
Today at 12:30, I started walking. I trudged up the steep dirt path, turned right on Jogibara Road, cut across the path to Temple Road, and headed down. I admired the colorful sights in the vendor’s stalls- turquoise bracelets, gorgeous saris, Tibetan prayer bowls, crystals of every size and color. Nearing the bottom of Temple Road, I saw that a crowd was gathering. I figured a cow was stuck in the road. But this crowd was huge, buzzing, many with their hands pressed before their hearts. They were forming a circle around the entrance of the Dalai Lama temple. I asked two Western women what was going on. “The Dalai Lama is coming,” one of them said, gesturing down the road. This tiny town I am staying in is the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, but I never expected to see His Holiness in person. I was late for class, but I decided to stop anyway.
Ten minutes later, a murmur went through the crowd, and I watched many crimson-robed monks go down on one knee. The sound of rolling engines caught my ear, and I looked up to see a convoy of government vehicles emerging from the gates of the temple. An unexpected sob caught in my throat, and I felt tears in my eyes. Almost before I knew it, I was looking into the face of the Dalai Lama as he passed by in the backseat of a simple Toyota Camry. He was smiling that gorgeous smile, his eyebrows raised in excitement like a little boy, waving to the crowds of people who had come out to see him. As soon as I saw his smile, the emotion that had choked me up passed, and I found that I was beaming. As I walked down the road to the class, I noticed that everyone looked happy, smiling and laughing together.
The class was small and simple, about nine of us in a bare white room. We talked for several hours about the miracle of loving others as yourself, and our teacher walked us through three simple steps to forgiveness. Several times, I noticed how peaceful the room felt. Except for the teacher and one other man, the class was all women. Sunlight streamed through the window, and the Tibetan woman who worked in the kitchen smiled and served us tea. Talking about love and acceptance in that small room had a powerful effect on me, and I felt light and happy when I emerged into the early twilight.
Walking down the road past the temple, I thought about how freeing it is to love others exactly as they are. I thought about how much I love the people in my life, despite our massive imperfections. I felt my heart expand as I accepted the shortcomings in myself, and knew that my wonderful friends and family do that for me all the time. And I thought about the Dalai Lama’s smile, and started grinning again. His birthday is tomorrow, and I believe he will be seventy-five. There’s a big party at the temple, with Tibetan music, singing and dancing. I imagine that I will see countless smiles on the faces of children, Tibetans, Westerners, and Indians alike. The energy that the Dalai Lama generates is happy and hopeful.
I watched the sun set over the Himalayas this evening, the mountains turning pink, purple, blue, and then gray. The moon rose in the sky, and as I talked to a beautiful Korean girl named Tusingthi, I couldn’t help but marvel at nature’s perfection. The balance of the moon against the mountains was striking, and as the valley turned darker, and then darker shades of green, the handful of us on the roof fell silent. I noticed when I left that everyone was smiling. I walked to my room with a happy heart.
Thank you, A Course In Miracles, for the expanding peace in my heart. And Happy Birthday, Dalai Lama!! Your smile is contagious;)