Heart Surgery


[by Ven Segyu Choepel Rinpoche]

I was in great deal of pain growing up as a teenage in Brazil. Although I had a very good life in the worldly sense, I was very frustrated and didn’t understand why. I fact, I was smoking pain and anger and making everyone around me miserable too. Wanting to help, some friends invited me to see a teacher known for her healing abilities. I was very skeptical that any spiritual teacher would be able to help me. I believe that she perceived my skepticism immediately upon our meeting because she was very fierce and strong with me. She literally threw a coin at my face and when it hit the floor she said, ” See this coin ? It has two sides. One side is your spiritual life and you must take care of it. The other is your worldly life and with that only suffering will remain in you.” After those few words, she proceeded to kick me out of her house. I was shocked by words and left with an anger that would stay with me for months.

One year later, still frustrated and distressed, my life had become unbearable. There was a terrible pain in my heart and I felt practically suicidal. One day,as I was driving to work in terrible despair, suddenly the image of this woman throwing the coin at me came into my mind. So I decided to try to find her. I started driving wildly around Rio de Janeiro, a big city that is difficult to get around, looking for her home. My friends had taken me there the first time so I didn’t know exactly where she lived, but my motivation and will were so strong that I would not give up. After hours and hours of driving up and down the city streets, I became so desperate that I leaned my head on the steering wheel and broke into tears. Suddenly I felt someone tapping on my shoulder. A woman, a stranger, started telling me that I ought to talk to someone and suggested I go to this address she gave me. I didn’t think much of it, but because I was so desperate I decided to go. When I made the final turn and looked up, I was astonished to see the woman I had met one year before standing in front of her modest home. A seventy – eight – year – old woman, she was very sick and very weak, but she had one incredible smile and a powerful will. She came over to me and said, ” Oh, son, it took so long for you to flip the coin over. I am so happy you came. ” She was so warm and so nurturing that I spent the day crying in her arms. She didn’t say much, just a few words, but they would prove to be the words of my first spiritual teacher. ” It’s all right, son, now you are on the path. ”

I studied healing with this teacher until her death many years later. She created all the conditions for me to embrace my spiritual path,until I found my ultimate path in Tibetan Buddhism. Today, inspired by my goal to spread the Bodhidharma, I shoulder many responsibilities as a teacher and director of two monasteries and many Dharma centres. But I know I am who I am today because of the kindness of this first great teacher who tossed a coin in my face and threw me out of her house. That’s what I cultivate and remember in the midst of my greatest difficulties — how in one moment of great compassion she so skillfully and invisibly opened my heart.

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