The Gift

Sharon Davison-Fleetwood

It was a wonderful summer day and Rinpoche was offering 21 days of Tara wongkur and teachings at Tseringma House. I was new to the process of coming, sitting and waiting for the car to arrive, unlike all the others in attendance. It had only been a few short days since I had first come in contact with the teacher. One experience had told me that something was up, even though I had no idea what it was.. and I intended to follow thorough on that feeling. It wasn't often that one found that they had stumbled on the scent of 'truth' and if one got the scent, you sure didn't let it go.

It was the end of the class and I had just had the thought, "I wonder how he feels about women and if enlightenment is possible for them". It seemed to me that there was some belief in Buddhism that it is not possible for a woman to awaken, that she needs to be reborn as a man. As a woman, I didn't want to believe that was the case and so I was curious what the teacher might think about this topic central to my own aspiration. I had also heard a few comments, in the short time I had been around, to indicate that Rinpoche had some interesting thoughts and things to say about women. But being terrified of speaking up, I had no way for my question to be answered.

As he rose to leave, and I was scrambling to rise, I heard him say, "You know, it's all there in the body of a woman and enlightenment is possible in a single lifetime". My head snapped around. I could not believe what I was hearing. How could he have known what I was thinking?

Much later, I realized what a gift I had received. I don't know if anyone else remembers those few short snippets of words that held such an impact for me, and if they did, had they the same impact? I do know that I had heard that it is possible, today, in this life, not in some ideal day gone by, but in this life, for me, as a woman, to become enlightened. That was the gift of believing, of believing without a doubt that this can be done. What a gift it was, for if you really believed that you could awaken, what would the impact of that be on your life? It changed mine, and I will forever be grateful.

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