I arrive after a 30-hour journey of car and flight, feeling tired but filled with anticipation of the two weeks to come, looking forward to relaxing, instruction-filled days. Alas, it is not to be.
Instead, roadblocks seem to spring up around me from day one. Adjusting to a very different environment is difficult. I am directionally-challenged, and that combined with my sometimes lack of other practical skills fills me with a sense of anxiety. I become lost, both literally and figuratively. And my classes with Lujan are not all smooth sailing either.
In the first few days, I am immediately confronted with my social doings, my lack of integrity, my flaws and failings. Lujan is patient but ruthless. As always, I sense his intensity and sometimes the pressure from him sits on my chest like a gorilla. Every day he greets me with affection and sends me on my way with love. But in between times, I am shown things I don’t want to see. He is watching me, and I can’t escape.
Gradually, though, I relax into my new surroundings. The weather is warm, sticky. I swim, sleep, read, practice. The food is fantastic. The watermelons are deeply red and sweetly perfect; the pineapple, like candy.
But in class Lujan does not allow me to relax. He is relentless. He finds the cracks in my personality, breaks open the secrets I keep even from myself, gives me no place to hide. I look and look into his eyes, but mostly I see his impersonal directive to support not what I think I am, but what I need to be.
And of course there are the movements. I am taught the routine of Walking the Tao and I immediately feel the energetic effects upon my being. I learn the last half of Dragon’s Tears, and, as usual, struggle with both the gross and finer details of the movements. On the next to the last day, Lujan asks me to watch him go through the entire sequence, and I am filled with not just a sense of awe but also a sense of emptiness.
In other words, in watching a master whose flawless gestures speak to gentleness, to beauty, and yes, to infinity, Lujan stopped my mind. And sometimes in the two week period, Lujan demonstrates his tremendous energetic signature by “sending” me his energy from across the room, which I feel across the palms of my hands like hot hits of electricity.
Dear fellow travelers, know that Lujan keeps his house impeccably clean, and again, I speak both literally and figuratively, and that he expects nothing less from his students. Go see Lujan if you dare, but know that you will be held to the highest possible standard, which is, of course, the only standard worth being held to.
And here’s the rub: I realize I will never reach that standard. I know and have always known that my gestures will always be lacking and that I will fail in my effort to become all that I am truly meant to be. But that is irrelevant. What is relevant is the attempt, the pure devotional attempt, practiced daily with the deepest constancy and commitment and patience to refine the gestures of life and the movements, to become something more, to reach for that which can’t even be spoken, to listen to my own heart, to speak from my center and my silence, to rest in my own truth.
Lujan has said, “When one crosses over there is no way back. This is where one’s moral perspective becomes universal ethics, which can be difficult for the socialized mindset to comprehend. With this process a human being really becomes an earthling, a virtual universal conduit.” This is the crux of Lujan’s teachings and of the human dilemma, the struggle Lujan confronts you with in no uncertain terms. This is the truth Lujan conveys to his students through his words, his actions, and most importantly, his very being. This is the directive we all humbly receive from him and to which, despite our shortcomings, we must devote ourselves.
This testimonial may seem dark, but I have returned to the “real world” with my proverbial feet more firmly planted, my roots having grown a little deeper, a little wider, roots that are meant to be spread in the darkness and that lend both plants and humans their strength. I have witnessed my weaknesses and how easily I allow myself to be blown off course by the slightest breeze. Now it’s up to me to work on those flaws, to strengthen the threads of my being, like a fine seamstress works to repair a beautiful but torn piece of fabric with so much care that the tear is as if it has never been.
As the Tao Te Ching tells us:
Mystery and manifestations
come from the same source
which is darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
Mystery within mystery.
The gateway to all.
Lujan opens that gateway. He allows you to peek into that mystery, that darkness, and invites you in, knowing full well that only you can intend yourself to enter.
I wish you all light and love and the courage to go forward in your path.
And to dear Lujan, my eternal love and gratitude.