On the left is Lhamo Dondrub, who was born to a farming and horse trading family in the small hamlet of Takster, Chinghai province, China. At the age of six he entered the monastic life and received his consecrated name Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. On the right is Alan Richard Griffiths, who was born to a middle class family in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England. At the age of 30 he entered the monastic life and received his consecrated name Bede, shortly thereafter. These two humble monks are the closest it gets for me to say hero. I reserve the title hero for individuals who live an exemplary life both morally and sacramentally speaking. Vitality, resilience, integrity, and holiness are four qualitities that I associate with these two luminaries of their respective faith traditions. They are for many heros of the faith journey.
Why I chose to share them here is to acknowledge the unity of their friendship, while appreciating their diverse views on multiple ideas. Supreme was their communion of love as both stand tall in their unique expressions of truth. Both also remain devoted and rooted in their sense of place, knowing who they are by where they are from and where they are going. Tenzin Gyatso was forced to flee his homeland and has lived in exile for more than 50 years. Bede Griffiths chose to move to South India when he was 49 and remained there until his death on May 13, 1993. Both heros have shown me how to be a loving human being by facing the ultimate desire of the heart, unconditional love. When this occurs wisdom is present and inner peace is felt and known. Perhaps, that is the beginning of human wisdom, facing unconditional love.
The book of Proverbs says that the beginning of wisdom is the "fear of God." Well, when we remember to seek God in all things and thereby come face-to-face with the image of God that dwells in the Heart of our heart, that is cause for surrender. Just like Moses when he encountred the burning bush on Holy Mount Sinai and all he could do was hide his face from the fierce brilliance of divine light. Yes, the battle of life is simply facing the reality that you are simultaneously unconditionally lovable and loving.
written by The Reverend Dr. Matthew Cobb
St. Luke's Episcopal Church