Going back to yesterday… Sunday.
I went to church with my father, but arrived an hour early. I hadn’t done Dharma practice yet, so it was quite interesting practicing in the small Episcopal sanctuary (St. Luke’s on Judd St.). This was a church where I spent some time in the past – I went to preschool there, 40 & 41 years ago. Plus my Dad had an apartment there for a few years, so I was also there for a couple of summers when I was in elementary school.
Doing refuge practice (Buddhist) in an Episcopal church can be insightful. There was a lot of light around me. I am a mystic btw… I was not hallucinating – or at least not in a negative manner (you will see what I’m talking about). In my healing and emotional-process-oriented bodywork practice, I occasionally have guides or wisdom beings show up – usually they are associated with my clients. I can sometimes ask these beings questions and get answers for my clients (if appropriate). Jesus (as healer and Bodhisattva) shows up quite a bit, along with Aslan (the Lion from the Chronicles of Narnia). And they both were with me while I did practice and meditation in this church.
So I am sitting in a pew, doing refuge mantras, Jesus is sitting next to me, and Aslan is behind me, lying down by the door. Wow! I did not expect that. I did a quick version of practice, because I didn’t have a text with me, and because my Dad was going to come in and start practicing the organ. In just 30 minutes, I was easily able to connect to the natural light of that space.
I should mention that I was baptized Catholic originally, then raised Episcopalian and Presbyterian. And then in 2004 I met my first Tibetan Lamas, feeling a curious connection there. And in 2006, I took refuge and Bodhisattva vows from Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen in Maryland. At that point, I renounced any commitment I had previously made to practice Christianity. Although, really, how much commitment can a baby make when they (she / he) are being baptized at 3 or 6 months old?!
With that said however, I realized that I do kind of hold two lineages – one from a Christian background, and the second from years of practicing Tibetan Buddhism and learning the Tibetan language. Obviously, the latter is closer to my heart. But Jesus never left me. And apparently, neither did Aslan.
Then I went across the street to a large cemetery. After the experience in the church, this was a curious experience too. There were many birds – and different types. In fact, I even saw a tree full of these green parrot looking birds – they are an invasive species – the Rose-Winged Parakeet. But they are fun to gaze at! I did wonder if any of these birds (not just the parakeets) were actually local spirits. I got that feeling.
Then I came to a grave of one of the last Ali’i – or Hawaiian Royal Family members – who died in 1928: Princess Elizabeth Keka’aniau La’anui. Yes, distant relatives of King Kamehameha still survive to this day, but this grave was fancy – black granite with gold lettering. Plus there were intricate offerings placed around the foot of it. I should have gotten a picture. There was a lava rock bowl with fruit in it, several tea leaves wrapped around offerings (I’m assuming food?), and several flower leis. I knew immediately that this was not the grave of an ordinary person. When I read the epitaph inscription, I knew that these offerings are / were still being made to the Royal ancestors. And I seemed to have the feeling that (not knowing at the time), that there were other Royal ancestors buried nearby.
Later, I asked my father, who is a historian, where the Kamehameha’s are buried. King Kamehameha the II, III, and IV are all buried in the Royal Mausoleum, which sure enough, is just a few blocks away from the cemetery, where the High Chiefess is buried (where I was having those intuitions).
Then I went to church (happy to hear my father play the organ and piano, basically to support him), where the elderly congregation were very warm and welcoming, the pastor welcomed me and asked about my family and my niece. It was quite sweet! I love small churches – little sanctuaries with a history of devoted and faithful practitioners. And for a brief morning half-hour, it was quite an interesting (Buddhist) shrine room as well!