My own ‘space dancer!’

My Buddhist teacher is cloaked in mystery

I have never met her — yes, I do know her gender — or heard her voice. We correspond via email, an annoyingly modern means that seems inappropriate for such an ancient form of enlightenment. But as she would say, and in fact did say: It is what it is.

I am new to this game so I looked up a couple of things online, notably this: 

A female embodiment of enlightenment is called a dakini — the Tibetan word for which is khandro, meaning ‘sky-goer’ or ‘space-dancer,’ indicating that these women have left the confines of earth and inhabit the vastness of space.*

A sky-goer! A space-dancer! I’ll buy a ticket to that!

I emailed her the other day saying I was planning to move away from the house my wife and I shared until her death one year, seven months and six days ago. (But who’s counting?)

Ever since she died I have had hopes of finding something as simple and yet as difficult as peace of mind, but my mind is as besieged by ghosts and grief and guilt as it ever was. If I could have one wish it would be to have Beowulf leap into my brain and slay the demons inside. What’s the alternative, a bullet?


But failing both options, as I told my teacher, I’m going to get the hell out of this house and this town and try and put the demons behind me.

“Those smoked beef strips you sent me in your ‘care package’ will come in handy,” I wrote to her, “like the beef jerky that sustained the explorers and coureurs du bois of centuries past. (I’ve eaten the chocolates and the chocolate cookies and the hand-cooked potato chips.)”

The move, I told her, will finally take me away from this wretched house. I will walk away from it like Bashō setting out on ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North.’ Except I will drive away in my Jeep.


“Please,” she wrote back to me, “don’t drive off in a state of boredom and disappointment to seek new adventure. If you can’t find comfort at home in your own company, you won’t find comfort anywhere else you go — loneliness and emptiness will follow you everywhere. Ultimately nothing external (not even Beowulf) would be able to slay the demons. We have to accept whatever reality we are dealt with and make peace with it by ourselves.”

Clearly, good sound dakini advice, and advice that I will follow. I will stay put (after all, the house is fully furnished with memories) and keep plugging away at that elusive peace-of-mind thing.


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Road to hell

Let me tell you what happened on the road to God. 

I was a hitchhiker on the side of a dark highway, looking for the road to God, not even knowing if there was such a road — the desperation of the bereaved.

The truck was an oil tanker. My shadowy figure must have spooked the driver. He swerved violently, delivering me a glancing blow and sending me spinning across the shoulder of the road. The truck slammed into the concrete pilon of an overpass. The tanker exploded. It was an inferno. The driver was incinerated.

First responders described the scene as “sheer hell.”

I was taken to a local hospital, and from my hospital bed I watched the horror replayed on the eleven o’clock news.


The truck driver was a young man with a wife and three kids in Memphis. I am an old man who was selfishly searching for an unknown and probably nonexistent entity just so I could possibly be with my wife again.

The tragedy that befell the young truck driver and his family was so grotesquely unfair and unjust that I vowed never to venture on that road again.

I will be haunted by the guilt of his death until I die, but there is nothing I can do to change the tragedy of that night. All I can do now is give up my selfish, and let’s face it, pointless search for God.

Now I stay inside the hallowed confines of my bungalow on County Road 9. Hallowed because it contains the memory of my wife, the photos on the mantel, her dresses still hanging in the closet, her writing materials undisturbed on the desk, all of her belongings still intact. Nothing has been changed or removed.

This is where I will live out my days. This is my life. And this is my death.

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Hoping for a ghostly kick in the rear


And then he realized — it made him laugh, bitterly of course — that his being totally alone was Cosmic Justice, Karma, Payback from ‘God,’ whatever you want to call it.

Example No. 1: The one time he didn’t call back when his troubled son made a phone call to him and got his voicemail was followed by a disastrous tragedy.

The father was stupidly following the advice of the boy’s mother. “You’ve been coddling him,” she had said some days earlier. “If you keep doing that he’ll never make it on his own.”

Tough love, she called it, a phrase that was popular at the time, although you don’t hear it much anymore. Probably because it doesn’t work.

Two days after his son made that unanswered phone call, the lad swallowed enough barbiturates to kill himself three times over.

Example No. 2: He was a caregiver to his wife — not the mother of the above-mentioned son, he would quickly note — for the last five years of her life, the last three most intensively. He loved her totally, but there were times when he became impatient under the stress and did not treat her with the respect and concern he believes she deserved.

She had said to him, at different times, that he was (1) the love of her life, and (2) that he treated her like shit. In his heart he believes the first statement more than the other, but nonetheless, the other comes back like an arrow through his heart.

Example No. 3: His older brother, who died recently, was the total opposite of him. His brother was leveled-headed, responsible, organized and ambitious — all the things the younger brother was not. He could describe several incidents that now leave him with guilt, but he just sums it up by saying, vis-á-vis his older brother: I was a total asshole.

So where does that leave him? In an isolated void of guilt and sorrow.

He misses them all more then he can ever say. Most of all his wife. And he cries that to the rafters of the old house in which he now lives alone. It does no good, of course. Their spirits don’t visit him, their ghosts don’t even haunt him.

He would be overjoyed if their ghosts would come into his house and give him a good kick in the ass.

But it’s most unlikely to happen. He can wail and yell until all the gin bottles are empty, it won’t do any good.

They cannot hear him. They are all dead. Oblivious. No sensation. Non-existent now. No communication possible, no spiritual communion, and, empirically, no ‘Heavenly’ reunion.

It’s just him now, and the emptiness, and the gin.

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