Wednesday, August 8, 2012

BLESSINGS

I have been waiting for some time for the chance to bring little Luka to Thanissaro Bhikkhu for a blessing, and the opportunity finally presented itself this past weekend.  Than Geoff came up from the Metta Forest Monastery in Valley Center for a meditation session and a dharma talk for our Laguna Beach sangha; and Sarah, our daughter, had brought Luka down to spend the weekend at the cottage.  Than Geoff graciously agreed to offer his blessing, and I was delighted to have my grandson receive it.

Why was this so important for me?  Like all good Christian babies, I was of course baptized--in my case, by my own father.  And, Christian or not, the tribal rite of welcoming a new baby into the world is universal one.  It takes many different forms, some of them unpalatable to our own culture and traditions, but it seems like a necessary and wholesome ritual, one that satisfies age-old spiritual needs of family and grow alike.  In our own splintered social circumstance, where the individual is routinely idolized and cocooned, the value of rituals is often minimized or neglected: one of the reasons that we have so many ungrown little boys rampaging around the planet, in circumstances large and small, is that we have largely discarded the kind of initiation that ritualizes the transition from boy to man.

So this little ritual was important for me.  Having long since abandoned the Christian tradition in which I was raised and thrown my lot in with Buddhism, I deemed it appropriate to approach Than Geoff, and was delighted when he agreed.  In the fifteen years since I first encountered his teaching, I have learned immeasurably from his wisdom and compassion.  My wish was for Luka to receive from him the gift not of the trappings of Buddhism, its the true heritage of wisdom acquired through the experience of life itself.  I hope that, as he grows, he will learn compassion for himself and for all his fellow beings, and that he will find the source of true happiness--not in material well-being but in inner peace.


We brought him to Than Geoff on Sunday afternoon, along with an unexpected guest, a little friend, Lucas, just two weeks older than Luka, who had come down for a visit with his mother.  The ritual was a brief one.  First, the snipping of a tiny lock of hair and its presentation, in a small, ceremonial box, to the baby's parents.  Then a sprinkling of previously blessed water, along with the expression of good wishes for the baby's long life and happiness.  And finally, a general blessing for the parents and all those gathered for the occasion.

We left with a shared feeling of levity and, on my part at least, of gratitude.  And we brought home with us the gift of a small bottle of blessed water with which, Than Geoff explained, we could bless anything we wanted--cars, pets, home...  And that we did.

3 comments:

CHI SPHERE said...

This is beautiful and supports the continuity of a life affirming transition from infancy to boyhood. I believe that it is not by chance that your picture of the moment of blessing is backlit by white light that seems to emanate from Geoff's head and the outside world. Luka is blessed by many family members who all have his well being in their hearts and thoughts. It is this kind and nurturing environment that is providing Luka with a creative spring board into the pool of life.

robin andrea said...

Someday you'll show Luka this photo and he will know the moment again, when he is older.

CHI SPHERE said...

Yes r a...

Someday. if he is very wise, he will remember that moment and know that every moment is full of light and is a blessing...