I would like to share with you all a short story of a very interesting coincidence that happened a few days ago. As some of you may know, every 6 months I visit the doctor to check my blood sugar levels because I am at risk for diabetes. Fortunately, since my last checkup, the level went down to 6.7 from 6.9, which is very good news! To control my diabetes, I have been carefully watching my diet, and I think that walking daily, exercising, and making prostrations has had a positive impact on my health.
One of my students, Lynn Johnson, volunteered to drive me to my appointment. Lynn is a retired nurse practitioner and like my health expert. She has taken care of many of my medical and health needs, like paperwork, transportation, and giving me advice. She has helped me a lot and I am very grateful.
The health clinic is in Seaside, California, which is only a few miles away from the Dharma Center in Pacific Grove. Because of social distancing, I sat in the back of the car and Lynn sat in the driver’s seat. Both of us were wearing masks in the car.
I want to say something brief about masks. Recently a neighbor saw me outside wearing a facemask, and told me that she does not believe that it is necessary to wear a mask outside. Even when I go on walks down to the beach, I choose to wear a mask. Putting on a mask not only helps to protect oneself, but also acts as a precaution for the protection of others. Even if we object to wearing masks, we can at least wear a mask for the sake of other people. In other countries, like Taiwan, the people listened to the advice of their leaders and this worked out very well.
Due to the risk of the coronavirus, all patients were required to wait inside their cars until it was their turn. After I registered with the medical staff, we sat in the parking lot until my name was called, and we began talking with each other. Lynn expressed her frustrations with our current situation. She told me, “Rinpoche, I don’t like wearing masks. It is very uncomfortable and makes it hard for me to breathe. This coronavirus pandemic has been going on for too long and has become too difficult, etc.”
I responded, “Lynn, I think masks are not a problem. It has been a long time since we have seen each other, and this is one of the only chances that we have to spend time together. I am very happy to see you and spend time with you. Are you happy to see me?”
She smiled and said yes, so I said to her, “See, we are already happy, here, right now; this is happiness.” Then I told her, “Listen to me, just to be happy.” Then someone came outside calling out my name, “KARMA!”, so I went inside the clinic.
When I went inside of the room, I saw a young man with a mask who was dressed in scrubs. He very cheerfully said, “Good morning!” He then asked me, “How are you?” to which I responded, “I am good!” He saw me smiling, and said to me, “You seem very happy. When most people come in here, they are usually not very happy. This is for two reasons: 1) they are sick, and 2) the coronavirus pandemic. You look so happy.” He was very animated and gesticulated a lot, and seemed like a very kind and funny person.
When he began preparing the needle and cleaning my arm, he said to me, “Just be happy!” I was surprised, and said to him, “How do you know this?” I explained to him that as I was just waiting in the car before I was called inside, I told my friend the same thing. This was a very interesting coincidence.
Afterwards, he learned that I was a monk from my robes. He asked me where I was from. When I explained that I was from Tibet, he asked me to say something in Tibetan. He commented that to him it sounded like Mandarin Chinese, and inquired whether it was a similar language.
I also told him about the Dharma Center, and he asked me whether there is a group or community, and if I hold meditation classes. I gave him my information and my website and Facebook page, and he said that he was going to contact me later. Throughout my travels to different places in the United States and in Asia, I have interacted and met with many people, and many of these people whom I have met become my very close friends and some become my students. Who knows, maybe in the future he will become my student