Tibetan medicine is hard to come by here in Portland. After asking around and searching for months while we dealt with my diagnosis and prognosis, gave away 14 pickup trucks full of belongings and moved to Rose Villa, I finally was given two names, and contacted one a month or so ago.
Christiana Polites is the owner of Yangchenma Healing Arts, and brought to me today a collection of Tibetan pills made to order. They are like little herbal rum balls without the rum, no sugar, and no wheat. I start tomorrow. After decades of reading about Tibetan pills and medicine (I once took a class from Yoshi Donden, at that time the personal physician to the Dalai Lama, a one-day class in Washington DC ) I am finally getting to see and touch and will be tasting. Its like a little miracle to me. It’s not like you can just go to a store and buy these things, or even go online. For me, it was like asking the universe to provide me with something very rare and special, maybe life saving, and out of the mists of everyday life, here comes this true soul with just what I asked for and much more. To my door, mind you. Kindness, such kindness.
Tibetan medicine is old, and comes from the heart. Much of how it works (but not all; they use herbs, acupuncture, and sound healing, for starters) depends on devotion, both on the part of the medical practitioner, and also the patient. Buddhist devotion is not what we think of here in the West, when we use those words. It’s not a giving away of one’s power. Devotion is a way of opening one’s heart and soul in order to receive teachings, wisdom, a transmission of any sort from a guru or teacher to your own being, and to receive medicine as well. A way of trusting completely.
For example, Christiana embedded a thousand mantras into water for me, sealing her mantra recitation with a long retreat, and offering healing and protection in these liters of drinking water. As a skeptical Westerner born into a medical family, I might simply push that gift aside, thank her for the water and deny Tibetan medicine in general. I think there might be some racism in such a stand, a false sense of superiority, an education solely grounded in Western thought. But I am no longer skeptical, I was in the healing profession myself for decades, am a practicing Buddhist, and I know the profound value of devotion. It isn’t magic, but it can feel like that. You touch the very membrane of Pure Love, the thin places in human existence where Mystery is close at hand. It is my belief that ultimately all healing comes from there.
Sometimes I imagine that people will think I am trying Tibetan medicine and IV turmeric and medical marijuana as a desperate person, seeking a way to keep on living. A clutching at straws, I think the idiom goes. I’ve investigated that in deep meditation, to see if it’s true or not. It is not true. I would and will continue to open my life to healing on every level, whether I live another month or another decade or more. It’s quite a lovely way to live! I’ll learn much and pass on as much as I can along the way. I’m not feeling desperate. I am thrilled to be able to do this my own way, following a dark path without a whole lot of guideposts along the way. Following my heart, my curiosity, the shimmering that catches my attention. Watching the tides of life begin to ebb back up into my being in their gentle, subtle way.
And tomorrow I get to taste my first Tibetan pill! The people who make these pills also say mantras (or repetitive prayers) over and over while they are making them, so that not only are the herbal combinations potent and part of human healing for centuries, but they are also blessed actively. Not like buying aspirin from the store, that’s for sure.
So I am sipping water that has a particular vibration embedded in it, a prayer of sorts from Christiana who has a big heart, and I know that it is part of this journey I am on. And rejoice.