In the Rose Garden
I happened to be at the Raven Spa last evening. It’s a Thai spa in a cool part of town and I’d been meaning to visit for a while. Exquisitely fashioned, it transports you to a different time and space, one of old and quiet beauty. The roughly hewn Asian styled wood, the spacious atrium adorned with Buddha statues and the hushed tones of the staff conjure a tranquility that the trickling water of the fountain deepens.
I sat waiting for a treatment reflecting on time present and time past and the coincidence of our Buddhist center arriving a year ago on the corner of this very block in Santa Monica; an outpost of sanity and simple space on the dusty Western frontier of California crazy. The message of the Buddhist tradition I was brought up with, one of humble altruism and quiet reflection upon things of ultimate meaning, runs directly counter to the noise and manic self obsession of modern times.
Somehow the spa’s ambiance drew back the curtains of our fleeting world. Nowadays, with the vigor of the distractions that envelop us, it seems possible to forget, ‘our place in the very rhythms of birth and death.' Perhaps the siren call of the distractions has become so seductive precisely because of our sense of desperation and displacement.
My father once said, 'I live at a time where Milarepa still walks the plains of Tibet,’ and I have carried these words with me ever since. A poignant reminder that, as TS Eliot remarks, ‘To be conscious is not to be in time.’ We can view the world through the eyes of a poet from time past or through the eyes of a mesmerized modern day individual. We need but choose.