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Pointing My Bow

Last week I read the book Threads of Awakening: An American Woman’s Journey into Tibet’s Sacred Textile Art by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo. Though I finished this wonderful book, there is a passage I keep returning to:

My name reminds me of the rare opportunity I have in this human life, to practice, to discern, to make choices, to teach, to give. It trains me not to disparage myself, nor to waste the great resource of being me.

As the author explains in the book, upon completing the Buddhist Refuge Ceremony, a formal way of setting the intention for a spiritual life, administered by a Lama (a Buddhist Monk), she was given a new name. The Lama chose the name Rinchen Wongmo for her, which, in Tibetan, means Precious Initiate.

This name challenges me everyday to step into what I’ve come here prepared to be.

Rinchen-Wongmo goes on to illuminate that the refuge ceremony is the moment when you sit down with the map of all possibilities, set your destination, and chart your intended route. However, like a ship en route, you are always drifting off course. You use refuge again and again to pull yourself back into line, to point your bow to the intended direction. Though it may take a long time, if you keep turning your nose toward your destination, everything you encounter in life will become fuel for the journey.

This description and explanation filled me with great hope. Though I may be drifting off course, the things I am practicing, discerning, choosing, teaching, and giving are really just fuel for my journey. I need only take refuge in the fact that I, too, have set an intention for a spiritual life. And as such, I should never disparage myself (like last week when I said I was a hot mess!).

This is definitely a much better metaphor to use with myself. In the past, I would say, with a degree of pleading hope, that while I was on the right road, I was temporarily lost. Perhaps taking refuge in one of Rumi’s mean-spirited roadhouses! But Rinchen-Wongmo’s metaphor of being blown off course by the winds of life, with the momentary detour adding to the overall journey, seemed a much truer description of how my life actually feels.

Returning to the book to reread this passage again and again, two questions resonated inside of me:

  • What name would I give myself to remind me to step into what I am preparing to be?

  • Of my great resources, what am I currently wasting?

I’ll let you know what I come up with. But I am already wondering if the questions aren’t really one and the same?


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