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I wasn’t exactly happy with where I had come to this point. I’d already spent six years in the business world with not much but experience and debt to show for it. I mean, I had the self-employed luxury—freedom of time, but did I really? I was still missing significant moments in my friends’ lives because I didn’t have the money to fly out and be there for that wedding or the car to show up for that birthday celebration. Sure, I didn’t have a boss lording over me, playing political games with my career or otherwise cutting me down, and I could take a break whenever I wanted, as long as I got the work done in the end. But was that really the freedom I was after?
Ostensibly my friends adored me, I had a loving partner, had bought a house (which I managed to keep despite the ups and downs of my self-employed income), and my family surprised me by flying in for the birthday celebration. That’s love, right? I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t happy. You remember that woman who raised me, yeah, she even mentioned something about my low spirits. I can pretty much hide my true emotions from anyone, except my mom.
Dorjee Wangchuk was a name given to me, an expression of who I am spiritually by the master teacher under which I took refuge in the Tibetan Buddhist religion. I took refuge under the Nyingma tradition, the oldest, unbroken Buddhist lineage. ‘Unbroken’ just means that the oral teachings were passed down continuously, without a break, from Padmasambhava, the founder of this lineage a thousand years ago to students today. Each student receives the teachings as they were handed down from the teacher’s teacher, all the way back to the eighth century. This is an incredible accomplishment! In a tradition like that, the energy runs deep and is very powerful.
’Taking refuge’ is a special moment, as like any coming of age ritual, where the teacher and student touch, hand to crown, and a spiritual exchange happens. I exchange the commitment to regard Lord Buddha’s teaching as my source of and path to enlightenment, and I communicate this commitment telepathically to the master, who receives this transmission, and gives a name to it. This was a life-changing experience for me because I saw pure light energy enter my being and jolt me awake, kind of like sparking a fire to light. I received my spiritual name through his words, and “Dorjee Wangchuk” was born. The name I was given when I took refuge is a description of how I held my commitment when I made it as witnessed by the teacher, and is expressive of how I walk this path.
Dorjee Wangchuk means ‘lord of the thunderbolt’ (irresistible force; knowledge) or ‘diamond’ (indestructibility, compassion). Known also as ‘Vajra’ in Sanskrit, it symbolizes knowledge (ñana-vajira) and compassion forged and joined by wisdom that disintegrates the grasping of consciousness (vinnananam-pariggaha). Think about that for a second. “Hello, my name is Dorjee. I’m here to disintegrate your grasping of consciousness.” It wouldn’t exactly impress my next boss, but then again, I left my last boss in 2007 and never looked back (well, maybe once or twice…). At that time, I entered onto a path that would forge my spirit into the name I was only beginning to understand.
Indeed, this name is a lot to live up to. Personifications of Dorjee in Tibetan culture were often wrathful warriors or nature spirits. I think I know why I spent so much time staring at a wall conquering my emotions: to express my emotions unbridled is seriously destructive, and has caused a lot of damage. I’m truly sorry to those I’ve ever hurt. I vowed to not cause harm, and I protect that samaya by keeping my mind in check.
It’s All About the Mind
You see, the mind is what makes or breaks this reality: “for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” (Hamlet). I had already decided in high school that I wanted to be a psychologist, and in college, I realized the deplorable state of an industry that was setup to fail. Mental health was being meted out under intense regulations and ‘evidence-based therapies’ were not working. I had already glimpsed another reality, parallel to ours, traveled in our dreams or meditations, which had far more pervasive and lasting impacts than anything the current establishment could offer.
So I hung back from grad school, and delved into my own deep study of the human mind: what it’s made of, how it works, and how it evolves. The tools I’ve found that actually work don’t look anything like what you’d get in a traditional therapy environment, and the energies at work can’t be assessed scientifically. By its very nature, infinity defies science as immeasurable in nuance, but so obvious in its broad impact, that the instruments just don’t exist to capture and explain what’s happening.
But like the perspective of the greatest engineers of last century, what’s more important is that it works, we can always find out how later. I think that’s why so many people are flocking to the esoteric mysteries, which are now being so freely revealed, to answer age-old questions about the universe and themselves that has been secret knowledge held by initiates around the world for so long, yet has not been accepted by the modern scientific establishment when put to the test. We don’t need to know the ‘why’ anymore, we just need to know the ‘how,’ and that knowledge is coming forth in droves. Are you listening?
Re-Defining the Self
And now, I recognize and honor the lineage from which I come, and desire to truly be a part of a heritage that runs powerfully and deep. Having spent a year as another name, I’m now ready to choose what was previously my given name. It is no longer just given, it is now chosen.
I choose my name to be Matthew Koren.
This name means ‘gift of god’ and ‘root’, as in the indivisible part of a word, carrying its fundamental importance. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). I’m carrying a gift that I can’t wait to share with you, it’s a gift from God. It’s of fundamental importance to you, this world, and the whole universe. It is the Word of God, and it’s inside you waiting to be expressed.
Go now, and create your Word in the likeness of God, and you will be like him, indeed you will be him, creator manifest. This world is your playground.
Play hard, my friends, and have no regrets.
“As above, so below. As within, so without.”
I find it endlessly fascinating to discover examples where the macro-context informs or clarifies what’s happening on a micro-contextual level. Like to consider that, as our solar system travels through space, it’s creating the same pattern DNA strands do within our cells. Or that cell walls contain the mitochondria (i.e. power plants of our cells), nucleus, and other cell parts, like a city wall contains the structures inside that sustain it. Is it any wonder that we design computers with a CPU (brain), motherboard (circuitry/circulatory system), memory and power source similar to our own biological makeup?
We are all living organisms within living organisms, relations within relations. The quality of the food we eat affects our health, the quality of thoughts we think affects our mind. Are you a passive consumer or actively creating in these relationships? What relationships do you continue to feed, and which relationships do you let fall away? Rather than be trapped by your current relationships, make an effort to assess those relationships that serve you (i.e. best friends) and those relationships that don’t serve you (i.e. in my case, ice cream). And with that information, what are you creating?
I like to remind my clients that they’re always creating. The question is: are you participating consciously in the process?
Let me know in the comments below what you’re creating in your life.
There’s nothing predictable about our journey here, and we’re not well-served living it with anything less than our complete passion and intensity. I believe, at least in the past, a true journey was an adventure defined by the lack of a clear destination, not knowing exactly how you were going to get there, your success not guaranteed, and your potential failure costing your life. In short, embarking on a journey was to embark on an adventure where you had nothing to lose, so you might as well play all out.
This sentiment began to happen again during the Cold War, a world where just a few nuclear bomb detonations could cascade quickly into the end of society as we know it. Faced again with uncompromising options, the confidence to tackle our fears head on, and make a stand for what we believed in became a more tenable option than living a life in bondage by our fear.
Nowadays is not much different than our histories tells us in this way. As most historians will affirm, humanity moves in cycles. We repeat old patterns and mistakes in new, slightly more interesting ways (in the most optimistic sense), while also finding new ways to live and express our wondrous creative potential.
This is really the breakthrough of modern society. Not all our technological advances, not our forays into new, more dangerous ‘final’ frontiers, both physically and philosophically. Our breakthrough is that we’re still living in a universe filled with such beauty and such pain—two vastly different experiences, a paradox not to be resolved.
So move forward with confidence. We’ll live to see another day.
“After all, perhaps the greatness of art lies in the perpetual tension between beauty and pain, the love of men and the madness of creation, unbearable solitude and the exhausting crowd, rejection and consent.” -Albert Camus