The waiter at our boutique hotel stood out from our first interaction. My first thought was that he was trained in a 5-star hotel in the West. His demeanor was warm, but with some reserve. His service was perfect, and timing impeccable. The more I watched him, the more I could see a level of serenity I rarely experienced in anyone, a serenity that comes from extensive spiritual training. It was his monk-like presence and flowing movements that touched us all.
Now in his mid twenties, Lodoe was sent to a monastery in southern Bhutan at the age of six and lived there the next sixteen years, only to be called home in 2006, when his father died. When I asked him if he missed that life, and his face glowed with memories. He said, “Oh yes! Very much I miss it.” He was alternately inspired and reticent when speaking of his former life. Being the younger son, he has an inescapable duty to his family. He explained there is no return to monastic life. His hunger for meditation and a simple life is clear. There’s sadness or loss in his eyes, which lurks beneath the surface of his remarkably handsome face. I am quite sure he could do anything asked of him, in any field, with great success. His body and mind were in the restaurant, his heart in the monastery, and his soul remains in the Buddhist teachings of compassion and living for the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
Everyone in our group was moved by Lodoe. Sometimes we don’t get the path we most desire; it’s simply not in the cards. I think Lodoe is here to help the rest of us along, to inspire us, to be an example, somehow, of living peacefully in everyday life. I wish he could have his life’s desire, but I am thankful for his living in the outside world.
Although there is something to be learned from anyone, a few times a year I meet someone from whom I want and need to learn. This man is one of those people. I hope our fates bring us together again. Just as Amita met Kunzang Chodin, and they discovered a connection and possibility of working together on a nursery school project, I would have Lodoe’s influence in my life. I want his peace, patience, and compassion. This foundation of compassion allows one, to allow others, to be as they are, without reaction or judgment. If someone shows me anger, I could return understanding, rather than more anger, if I were to be practicing compassion. Lodoe’s words, actions, and service all speak of his progress on the path to compassion. While I do strive to be good, most of the time, it’s immensely valuable and inspiring to have a model. It might rub off.