In the summer of 2005 I was fortunate enough to spend in China with my girlfriend of the time and her family. They took me under their wing and showed me all around Szechuan from Jin Li square in Chengdu to Le Shan mountains Buddhist retreat. It was an experience I have yet to surpass. The trip while mind expanding was also heart expanding. The purpose of this story isn’t to tell of my trip details and destinations, its to tell a simple lesson I learned partially in China, then through bits and pieces over the next few years as the message filtered its way through time and space.
One portion of China I saw was a Buddhist temple location in a very poor rural area known to the locals as the “Green Dragon”. The day was hot and overcast, Szechuan is always hot and overcast because of its mountainous boundaries. Our Lexus, scented with fine lily perfume made on the streets near the American Consulate rolled up into a street filled with young children and girls and old parents, open sewage bisected the road, and the people lived in what we in the U.S. would dare to call poverty. I wouldn’t call it poverty, more like desolation. We pulled up to a girl wearing a white men's t shirt, our driver, my girlfriends father asks in his harsh sounding chengdu-nese dialect, where is the Green Dragon Temple?
She replied by grunting something with a sly look as she squinted through the window at me, then pointed to the north. I could see a tuft of black armpit hair reaching out from her shirt, “we’re not in Maple Syrup Land anymore” I think to myself.
We drove off, and I saw her shrinking into the distance behind us in a yellow mustard cloud of red soil as we peeled away. We were nearly 5 minutes away Yang says, 5 minutes until my life took a twist.
We parked around the corner from a concrete building, very state looking construction, plane, lifeless and gray. Then I noticed a large set of pillars which formed a gate. The gate had ten foot high concrete walls extending from its sides that hugged the entire temple grounds. Inside of the walls it was the most zen, and peaceful experience one could imagine. I lit candles and incense and prayed for guidance and wisdom. Little did I know how prophetic those prayers would be.
When our visit was concluded we left, outside of the gates there were many many people, lepers, the sick and the starving. And they were begging for money from the rich tourists leaving the temple. A boy approached me with a small cup with some loose coin and a folded note, my instinct was to give, give them the money that I didn’t care about that sat idle in my pocket, more then enough to feed the whole lot. As I reached into my pocket my friends pulled me away and insisted it was just a scam, its only a scam, don’t give them anything. They’re scum.
I was given wisdom, I saw true suffering, I was given a test to guide me. And I listened to my friends and I shuffled passed them and I hopped into the car and we drove away. Each dip in the road made me feel nauseous, my chest was heavy and my heart ached with each beat, I felt warm liquid on my cheeks, I was crying, my body was aching for the wrong I had done. I turned my back on my fellow man that which I swore I would never do to myself. I broke my own heart.
During my trip through the temple I had purchased a few wooden bead bracelets that were supposedly blessed. I took them as a symbol or a memento so I could never forget. But I had a long road to travel yet, the message effected me through subconscious pain and guilt, I felt ashamed for being so closed off to the suffering of others, so I wore one of the bracelets to mark that shame to myself. The lesson manifest physically.
Some time later…
Fast forward a few years, the bracelet is mostly gone, Its lost somewhere in the 2 or 3 moves I did from apartment to apartment. If fate had wove this tale, then it has done so with a sense of irony, because during this time that the bracelet was lost, I was free falling, from breaking up out of an 8 year relationship to losing my home, to hating my job, to becoming angry and desperate. I made a stone of my heart and no lessons got through.
Early in 2010 things began to change for me. I lost touch with the hard shell I was wearing as I noticed it was driving away my family and friends. This hurt so I undertook a massive level of introspection and came to some conclusions. I concluded that I could only ever be myself. I cannot be the cool and calculated person I tried to be, it wasn’t real to myself and I grew deeper and deeper into a depression. After I concluded that I could no longer live a lie, and that I was always going to just be that sensitive kid who wanted everyone to get along and to be happy. And that I had to take that form of myself and mature it into a viable lifestyle. Things turned around.
People from the past have come to me, opportunities have been given to me, when I opened my heart, all frequencies, the universe began to speak to me. Event after event, situation after situation, I see the connections between us all. Maybe we are all electrified impulses in a greater beings head, but we are all the same, all connected. And because of that connection and because I was open to know it and to hear the truth, the message came to me. Bring love wherever you go, love is the wellspring from which life flows, we must cultivate life and guard it. Days after this realization the bracelet reappears from nowhere. I literally found it in a drawer I swear I never put it in. I began to wear it and the significance of the lesson back in China remained.
1 week ago:
Alan and I decided it would be a good idea to get buzzed up and walk around Manhattan. The Belgian Bar BXL, Aramark office, all around we went. This day was strange, there was snowfall in the air but it wasn’t snowing really, but there was a metallic and electric flavor to the air. I wasn’t cold, but I felt cool and as though I was adrift in the winds as we walked. I knew that night was going to be special.
I had been wearing my bracelet for a month at this point. It had a deep significance as I now fully understood the message and why I wore it. As Alan and I walked around Manhattan at night late the city was very welcoming but also in great pain. I could feel it. One corner we turned and an old black man came to me. His eyes were yellow and his beard was gray and black, his coat was tattered and his voice was low and soft. “can you help me man?” Alan gave me a sideways glance and kept walking on, my instinct was to follow him… but my feet were rooted there on the ground and I turned to face him. I reached into my pocket and its when I made the connection. “my bracelet is missing”. It was gone, I had wore it all day and I last remembered seeing it on the train when we drove into Manhattan, but now, it was just gone. That absence made me think, bracelet… bracelet, China… It was the universe tapping me on the shoulder again. I then came to realize, this is the final exam, I failed my 1st test, and now here, years away on the other side of the planet, the same token I took from China my cheat sheet, reminded me of the lesson I had already learned.
“I cant make the same mistake again” I say to Alan, his eyes lock mine and he nods his head. I hand the old man a few dollars, he doesn’t smile, he doesn’t say “bless me” he stares right in my eyes and says “Thank you”. I passed, and a weight feels lifted from my back. I feel my eyes welling up and I feel like its ok that the bracelet is gone, it served its purpose and now it has faded into history to effect someone else life. I am free of my pain and I have concluded that my life has been half full for too long.
We must tap into our higher selves. Only through connecting to one and other and spreading real genuine love and caring can we balance the tides and win the fight for mankind's soul. Talent and gifts are abound in all of us, how many times have I used my intellect, my cunning, my physical strength, my beauty as a tool to enrich myself at the cost of someone else?
Gifts are meant to be shared, and I am done being the fat kid at the party. The universe takes care of its own, you get what you need, when you need it, and then we die when the lessons are learned. We cannot ever know the true nature of the cosmos, that’s not the point of life. We have been put here into the 3rd dimension to do 3rd dimensional things, that means we life and work in a world of material, and it is through this matter that we must prove our rights to exist through charity, understanding and self awareness.