From 2000 to 2003, I sat weekly at a meditation group hosted by Tom Davidson-Marx pictured to the left above. Tom’s approach was eclectic, focused around Vipassana, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhism. Tom’s teachings, rife with humor, bore many seeds in me which I feel are just starting to bear fruit. He has a very practical approach to meditation, and taught that you don’t have to go off to a cave, but can use daily life as a spiritual practice. He walks the talk as he is a dedicated family man who raised two wonderful children. His wife Katina also did tremendous work in preparing a comfortable mediation area complete with refreshments. Tom works as a nurse at the State Hospital helping severely mentally ill people.
Tom actually went the route of becoming an actual ordained Buddhist monk in Burma and Sri Lanka. Here is a link to his bio. He would often tell stories of his ordeals during our weekly sits. It did not sound like an easy time for him, as among other things he had to battle an intestinal fluke while doing is practice in Southeast Asia. When I reflect on my blog, I realize that his weekly talks were a huge influence in how I write and view my spiritual path.
I still get his weekly emails and last night he was hosting a Buddhist Nun, Karma Lekshe Tsomo, whom he had hosted many years ago when I sat with the group regularly. As fate would have it, I was nearby after taking my father-in-law to the ER. He was admitted for a procedure on his esophagus and taken away into the bowels of the hospital. I decided to go to the meditation to clear my head and get a sense of my old community.
It was a real treat to sit in the group again. Tom immediately recognized me and gave me a big hug and noticed my bald head. I used to have long hair when I sat in his group. There were only a few of the old students who I recognized, and a whole crop of new ones.
Lekshe gave a nice meditation and discussion on loving kindness and said it is easy to give loving kindness to those who are dear to you, but the more evolved practice is to be giving loving kindness to those who cause you discomfort and torment. I reflected on how this philosophy was taught heavily by Tom during my formative years and how that has shaped my own work in the mental health field and has allowed me to work with extremely difficult people without getting fatigued or burnt out.
And now with my ailing father-in-law, and my mother-in-law who has special needs, I see how Tom’s teachings of using the hardships of daily life as spiritual practice is very powerful indeed. Thank you Tom for all you have given me and your community!