When I had much time and no money soon after 9/11, I went to a mini retreat held by Lama Surya Das in Santa Monica. First time I ever go to this kind of thing. The organization kindly admitted me to it through scholastic exemption. A snippet of anecdote from the lama peaked my interest in HH 12th Gyalwang Drukpa.
Purportedly, he doesn't sleep because he burned off all mental projections in the years of meditation.
Then I had the fortune to meet him at one of his fundraisers for a school in Ladak.
I must confess that I had a flute of bubbly and some delectable chocolate morsels before meeting him in a canvas cube erected within the A+D Museum. Soft cushions and slide projections of mystical symbols adorned the space. The religious among the charitable were there by invitation. I was neither, but very interested in such life led by the lamas.
HH didn't betray my expectations of a high Tantric lama and had a bright, crisp and gregarious personality. The seasoned senior Buddhists of La La Land made a wall in front of him and chit chatted about the common acquaintances they had with him, until the cynical in me thought that a hint of boredom was present in his ever so slight delay of responses. Boredom, a predicament perhaps unique to humans, that would be only by expectation of some other more amusing situation. Mistake me not, I was not looking for any flaws in him, as I was mindful of that and to stay completely open to what was happening in the moment, through the veil of slosh induced by the bubbly and chocolate coursing through my veins.
Then I felt an irritation with the chit chat. An opportunity to talk with a high lama, and all but an hour was allotted. What would be the protocol in this kind of event, I don't know, but I came with an agenda. A question to ask: How does one choose an object of meditation? There were about ten of us in that tent and 20 minutes have already passed!
Then, as if he noticed my frustration, suddenly he turned to me asked, "Where are you from?"
It felt like a shot of a straight arrow, so direct and weightless but precisely pointed.
However, my mind reacted like a car radio intercepting a cell phone signal: Bzz , bzzz . . bzzzzz. It could only attempt to comprehend this question: a location? That seems too mundane; something about my spiritual journey? For heavens sake, it was just a simple question, but so much for equanimity. That precious arrow found no target to hit. I gave away the opportunity by answering how I came to be invited there. A wall of institutional chit chat again raised. A very devotional and gentle looking couple were addressed as well, but soon it was time to join the fundraising agenda.