by Maryanne Comaroto
As we waited at the light, I suddenly decided we should have really clean food for dinner, and went straight instead of turning right. A few minutes later, we were pulling into the parking lot of one of our favorite haunts.
The manager greeted us with great enthusiasm. "Maryanne!" he exclaimed, almost as soon as we walked in the door. I've often thought this place was like a very liberal Left version of "Cheers" - where everybody knows your name.
After placing our orders, my husband turned his attention to the woman seated on the sofa next to ours, and more specifically to her cute, tiny dog. She smiled and said, "he's a service dog."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He was all of three or four pounds.
She sensed my surprise and explained. "He works as a healer sometimes - his sensitivity makes him perfect to absorb the energy of the people he heals. His name is Buddha," she added, at which my husband and I laughed a little. Cute dog, cute name.
"And what do you do?" I asked her.
"Oh, I'm a Tibetan Buddhist nun," she replied. "Actually, a Swami, from a very specific lineage originating in the Himalayas. I'll be a Parmahansa very soon, and then I may or may not choose to become a Llama," she said.
My eyes widened in surprise. I had no idea someone could just become a Llama like that.
She changed the subject. "I've been having feelings recently about a big earthquake," she said, "and my mother has gone crazy about it and keeps warning me to be ready for it. It's only because I predicted 9/11, though," she said. "For months I dreamed about planes crashing, and no one paid any attention to what I was saying."
I started to reply, but then a friend from our dance class walked into the room. She was on her way back to New York, and we thought we'd already missed our opportunity to say goodbye to her. I suddenly marveled at that "moment of insight" when I changed my mind about which restaurant we should eat at. This was also what I loved about the nun's story - how great to have a life in the realm of all things possible, rather than just in the restrictive world of the expected!
After our friend left, I turned back to the nun and explained about our friend. "She's part of our dance community," I said, and explained a little about our classes.
"Yes," she said, nodding. "I'm also a dancer. Ballet." I thought about it: a Parmahansa ballerina. What an interesting mental picture that created.
This time I changed the subject. "Any hair under that hat?" I asked. She took the hat off and revealed that there was, in fact, no hair. "As Swamis, we are allowed to grow our hair if we want," she said, "but I find shaving easier anyway!"
"So, are you allowed to date?" I asked.
She picked up on what I was really asking. "Yeah, we can have partners after becoming a Parmahansa, but they have to be in the same order, and they have to be priests," she said. "Teachers can only date other teachers," she added. It seemed like a reasonable answer.
As we finished our dinner, my husband asked for the check. But the nun wasn't through with her story. "You know, I lived on a cattle farm at one point," she said, and suddenly it occurred to me how unlikely it was: to meet a Parmahansa who had a tiny healing dog named Buddha, and who was also a ballerina, and a prophet of terrorism (and maybe of earthquakes), and lived on a cattle farm.
"You should drop by the temple sometime," she said. "I teach classes there!"
We got up and hugged our new friend goodbye. "Yeah, we might just see you there," I said.
Driving home, we discussed how great it would be to come up with a new teaching, making a new lineage from scratch. At the beginning you'd be a Llama, and then as you progressed you would come down the ranks, re-grow your hair, become sexually active, and then eventually... enlightenment! Ah, the wonders of living in California!
by Maryanne Comaroto of Maryanne Live