The Nomad's Mandala

It’s T-minus 8 days before I leave Colorado on my year-long adventure. With Drubchen completed (my last real engagement in CO), the anticipation of what’s to come is palpable. Time’s fleetness is always made apparent in those overburdened moments where you wish you could press pause for an extended, suspended breath. The excitement that hums at the border of a quest is a welcome counterbalance to the anxiety that accompanies packing one’s life into a backpack for a daunting year of unfamiliarity.

The White Dakini Drubchen at Tara Mandala has historically marked significant transition periods in my life (likely due in part to its occurrence at the end of Summer). The first Drubchen in 2009 preceded my first year of college at the Boston Conservatory, following a sincerely magical summer of volunteering at Tara Mandala Retreat Center. The experience of a Drubchen changed my life in a number of wonderful ways, but it also functionally incapacitated me in an educational trajectory that no longer matched my my heart’s aspirations. Every plan that I had made for my future was essentially scrapped at this point, leading me down a convoluted (yet precisely fashioned) path that has led me to where I am today. This was one of the most obvious plot changes in my narrative, and it was appropriately marked by a Drubchen.

Astrologically speaking, August 1st, 2009 (around the time that we began final preparations for Drubchen) offered my Lot of Spirit a 'Loosing of the Bonds' to Cancer, a significant indicator of major life transitions in one’s Zodiacal Aphesis (Releasing) as taught by Valens in the 2nd century. In laymen’s terms, the occurrence of a life-changing “plot change” in August of 2009 was recorded in my natal chart from the moment I was born. These Loosing of the Bonds can occur in various levels of the cycle of time, and they are unchanging from the moment you are separated from your mother at birth, much like the karma with which you take rebirth in samsara. From a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, one’s birth is astrologically linked with your latent karmic seeds. A birth reflective of one’s past karmic deeds, in accordance with the “four results”of karma, is known as the fully ripened effect of our actions. The conditions present in our experience of that life, according to the same doctrine, would be the conditioning effect of our karma. These two aspects are present from our first breath, presenting the natural effects of our actions through successive lifetimes. This “doctrine” is no more akin to predestination than the doctrine of gravity. Both identify that causes have conditions: one is referencing matter under the sway of gravitational pull, and the other is referencing stream of consciousness through successive lifetimes under the sway of unawareness.

For more anecdotal context for the concept, my last “minor” Loosing of the Bond occurred this April, when a very complicated 2.5-year relationship came to a very tumultuous and unexpected end. Unlike my 2009 Loosing of the Bond to Cancer, this one occurred in a peak period regarding the direction of my life under the dual influence of Jupiter and Mars (the most beneficial and negative planets in my diurnal chart), making it significantly more traumatic and impactful. My next and final Loosing of the Bond will take place a few days after I arrive in the UK, taking place in my 8th house of death and regeneration, where Saturn has been lying in wait for my Saturn return. This period, according to my chart, will engage my shadow in the 12th house and creative potential in the 5th, but it will be supported by the ruler of the transit’s zoidia (Sagittarius), Jupiter, hopefully clearing the way for joy and ease.

Regardless of any astrological techniques or meta-analyses of my “process,” I am anxious and excited for the roads that lie ahead, and I have certainly found that viewing it on a wider narrative arc is tremendously helpful in simply trusting the process and focusing on applying mindfulness in the day-to-day. This is also achieved through careful application of mythological archetypes on one’s experience through the shadow. For millennia, humans have looked to mythological figures and situations for inspiration in daily life. With true myth, this can effectively break you out of a rut and focus your eyes on a more vast destination.

The nomad’s life isn’t one that I’ve coveted. A major reason I never seriously pursued a life on the stage was because the thought of touring for a year at a time terrified me. My deep desire for stability undermined my adventurer’s spirit, and the slightest friction would leave me stuck and unwilling to budge even in the shadow of an impending tidal wave. But once the plot was twisted, so to speak, from my narrow vision of my destiny, I was forced unwillingly into a tempest of bullshit and unwanted responsibilities. So here I am, after a period of regeneration and refocusing, about to set off on a new plot line. In a matter of weeks, my personal mandala has shifted from a bejeweled ritual palace to the great globe itself – simultaneously more vast and more portable, and replete with opportunities for little liberations.

And so the yogi wanders… I am reminded of the master Padampa Sangye’s words revealed through Jalü Dorje’s pure vision:

“Enjoy the impossible. Readily accept that which is most improper, Trample all hesitation, Go beyond hope and fear of anything. These are the extraordinary teachings of Dampa Nagpo.”

Thank you all for being a part of my Mobile Mandala.



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© 2020 Shrīmālā Healing Arts. Tibetan Medicine is a millennia-old healing discipline formally acknowledged in Tibet, China, India, Bhutan, and Nepal. However, it is not a licensed medical discipline in the USA, UK, or EU, and therefore is not regulated by the FDA, AMA or any other regulatory body in these countries. Erik is not legally qualified to diagnose any conditions, and no herbal formulas recommended or supplied are intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease. Therapies or treatments pursued under a Tibetan Medicine Practitioner should not be treated as a replacement for qualified care by a licensed physician.