Weldon Travis: The Dalai Lama and me
The current issue of the National Graphic contains a 14-page overview of the Dalai Lama’s life. It includes many photographs, and portrays him from age 4 into his mid-80s, including his narrow and harrowing escape from the Communist Chinese in Tibet, over the Himalayas to India, after which many were slaughtered; temples and culture were destroyed.
That piqued my interest and percolated my memory.
The Tibetan Monks have been coming to Grass Valley for 15 years. They take several days to create highly intricate mandalas from colorful tiny chips of rocks and minerals. A few years ago at St. Joseph’s Cultural Center, members of the Nisenan and Northern Maidu Native American tribes participated in the final ceremony wherein the sand-like particles are co-mingled, inserted into small cellophane envelopes and given to the guests. The monks played their long horns and sang with three voices emanating simultaneously from each throat.
How do they do that? Discipline, determination and devotion!
Back in the ’70s in Marin County, a California Highway Patrol compatriot and I had the great honor to be His Holiness’ bodyguards. The day-long event took place at the Green Gulch Zen Center between Mount Tamalpais and Bolinas, also known as “the town that won’t be found.”
I was awed to be in his presence, yet relaxed enough to shake his hand, unknowing that I had violated protocol. His twinkling eyes, joyous expressions, his acceptance of everyone and everything was calming yet exhilarating for me.
Enhancing my pleasure was having seen the Shaolin Warriors with their incredible skill in Kung Fu and my own dabbling in various forms of the martial arts as well as QiGong, a discipline similar to Tai Chi. My teacher, Qi Yung Ma, was a refugee from the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when his entire family, with the exception of an aunt, had been exterminated. From the age of 5 to 10 years, he and his aunt lived in the wilderness area of Heilongjiang Provence in the vicinity of Harbin, the “Ice City.” Eventually the Communist government determined that QiGong was not a nefarious, counter-revolutionary practice. They welcomed him back and installed him in a three-story edifice as a master teacher.
In 1992 at Berkeley, he attended the first-ever gathering of QiGong masters. He defected, divorcing his wife so that she would not be persecuted. He was poor as a church mouse when I met him at a training series in a local church. He continued to enlighten me for several weeks thereafter.
Over several decades, this training has served me well.
Weldon Travis is a retired Marin County Deputy Sheriff’s Sergeant with 33 years of service, the first five as a Resident Deputy in the San Geronimo Valley. He and his wife, Irene, live in Rough and Ready.
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