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  • By Jesse Austin

Traveling to Tibet

You can’t decide between getting married or going on a trip to Tibet.

Danny G, your live-in boyfriend, is tall, reasonable looking and has a job with a future. But he refuses to be part of your dream and journey with you to amazing Tibet. He works happily in a bank as a loan officer. Danny is on just his 53rd incarnation, and he is still dazzled by the camouflage of earth life. Going to Tibet for him is a distraction from endeavoring to make a significant career splash.

“Well,” you ask Danny, “Can you at least watch my dog?”

“Sure,” he says spooning into his mouth a heaping load of eggs au gratin.

“We will get married when I get back,” you explain.


In Tibet you do a lot of climbing. You are 25, splendidly fit, with short, strong legs, dark hair and a nose an elephant wouldn’t be ashamed off. You have also lived somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,800 lives. Your spiritual cup is very nearly full.

Nonetheless, you are still an ardent seeker of the light, of wisdom and various other hidden secrets of existence. Thus, trekking through stark Tibet, you are emboldened to locate a certain holy woman. Her Tibetan name translated means something like white flower in the dark mountain rocks.

Finally you come to a cliff village at 5,200 feet and the people there know of the holy woman. Two slim, smiling little girls delightedly lead you up a terrifically steep trail you wouldn’t let your dog attempt. Then you follow the nimble kids along a ledge not nearly as wide as a dirty dinner plate.

Finally the little rascals excitedly sing out a greeting. A woman older than the dead tree in your parents Oregon backyard pokes her head out of a cave. The narrow mouth of the cave is almost an optical illusion. Blinking, you both see it and you don’t.

After drawing a huge smile from the ancient holy woman, the girls scatter, laughing, back along the ledge. You are alone with the saint. You feel greatly honored and lucky as heaven. Your journey from Northern California to this moment was much harder than expected. You decide the journey itself has cleansed your soul. You are ready for answers.

With gestures you are invited into the darkness. Inside the low cave you find it impossible to stand up straight. Stooping, you inch your way until you see a profusion of flickering lights. You have a math mind and you count 91 candles. You are signaled to sit on a ragged bit of gray rug. You drop down and remove your heavy boots, your feet hurt.

With trembling, gnarled hands the holy woman offers you liquid black gunk in a tiny earthen cup. The vessel doesn’t have a handle, so you hold it in both hands and toss down the smelly concoction in one go. It is nasty stuff. Your large nose stings clear up into your sinuses.

Then you hear a voice in your thoughts.

“I will kill you and take for myself your splendid lightweight pack!”

“Ha, ha…” you shoot the thought right back through the window of your imagination.

“I will teach you to fly,” you now hear in your mind. “Step out on the ledge, jump and you will find you have the wings of an eagle.”

“Ha, ha…” you answer, a bit smugly. You know this game, and you won’t be bullied or bribed. You want real answers.

The old woman made a grimace of acknowledgement. Then she closed her eyes and settled into a trance. Time passed. A tiny fire you had not noticed crackled not far from your knees. Out of the corner of your eye you saw a ball of fur, a bat, flit-flit around the low, dripping cave. You felt an abrupt surge of delight. Existence suddenly seemed to you astonishingly stupendous. Wow, you whispered. Then, without preamble, you leaned over and crashed on to your side. Maybe, you decided, a nap would be providential.

The earthen cave floor embraced you with unconditional love. You were home. You were forever. You felt your mind-consciousness leap out in five directions at once. You were now fully in the inner realms, ready to explore the vast gestalt of unconscious existence. You were enormously proud of yourself.

The ancient crone put a bony hand on the back of your neck and leaped into your body. You found the arrangement a bit crowded. You stirred, sat up and placed your young, fresh hand on the back of the holy woman’s bent, wrinkled neck.

Ah, that’s better, you thought. You were in the crone’s body, it was empty, you had it to yourself.

In the morning the ancient holy woman, wearing your body, had left. All that remained were the boots.

Poor child, you thought to yourself, I hope she makes it home. Ah, it is all in the hands of God.

Later, the frisky little girls brought you a large piece of cooked rabbit. You blessed the children and told them to carry messages of love to their village.

Your imagination was as stark and bright as a star. Pretending, you crept out on old legs to the ledge and leaped off.

Your wings were enormous, your hopes were like innumerable kisses and your dreams were brave tunnels into various, endless layers of reality.

Oh heavens, were you ever pleased.

Back home Danny G and the holy woman in the youthful body were duly married.

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