God arrived in the shape of a Buddhist. Or the God talk did. Or maybe Narpa was just a yogi.
There was no way he would be confused with the local Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, or Roman Catholics. Not in those robes.
Though he had come to work for Wycliffe, he took only half of the advice, “You learn to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.” His storefront Dharma Hall, Om Bhao, opened just down the street from my Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama. He put the word out. Gossip spread, and once the Baptists and Assembly of God plus Deacon Big Bad Ed decried the newest manifestation of Satan in the city, Narpa’s meditation and chanting sessions attracted the curious. Maybe it beat a funeral. Soon he was lecturing to attentive audiences. “Overthrow of the Irreligious,” “The Yoga of the Despondency of Daidalus,” “The Ear-Whispered Tantra,” “Hold High the Banner of Devotion (Sadhanna).”
“I think we should go,” Isadora announced. “See what he’s up to.”
The room was filled with incense and a buzz.
Bosch painted quietly in one corner. The Amen Corner loudly filled another.
“I’m ecumenical,” Narpa explained. “Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Zen, Tibetan, a little Sufi.” He even had books by Gurdjieff and Steiner. Come one, come all.
Still, he was not pleased when people asked if he taught karate or tai-kwan-do. “Not that ecumenical,” he said. “I really do stress ahimsa.” Non-violence.
He spoke of the vital cord that links the higher nature and the animal – and, if severed, there’s no way to master the animal. He unrolled a psychedelic illustration filled with a host of saints and angels offering their guidance and protection. He spoke of learning to see in a new way, through the Third Eye. “From Brahma to a blade of grass, all things are my guru,” he said.
Rinpoche, he added, means “Precious” (like the Sanskrit “Shree” / or “Geshe” = learned lama, alike Hindu “pandit.” Or the Japanese Roshi).
The world was shrinking. The world was multiplying.
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