Why is the Dalai Lama smiling?

Does anyone hear remember being in high school and wanting desperately to be accepted, if not by adults and teachers, at least by one’s peers. It’s difficult to shake ourselves free of mental cobwebs of the past, but essential if we wish to move through the world without living inside the cramped box of old programming.

I don’t usually cross paths with acupuncturists that I went to school with. Yesterday and today I bumped into two – neither of whom I knew particularly well, but since we share a common path – acupuncture/holistic medicine – I quite naturally reached out to my fellow professionals in a friendly effort to acknowledge our common community.

I was surprised at the abruptness of the replies. Both the acu’s I tried to connect with run traditional “boutique” style clinics. I don’t use the term “boutique” in a disrespectful way. It’s just a convenient label to distinguish that they charge much higher prices, see people in private rooms, presumably spend more time in conversation, and aren’t accessible to people who lack fancy insurance plans or large disposable incomes.

There was the standard exchange “how’s your practice going?” “Very well”, both my colleagues replied…almost with an edge. Maybe I am overly sensitive to the question. Years ago, I remember riding to a CEU seminar in the back seat of a beat up car with 3 or 4 other acus. Almost the first question one of them asked me was (had he even asked me my name?)…”how many patients a week do you see?” I rather sarcastically answered, “do you mean patients per week, or weeks per patient?” That was maybe ten years ago, and the competitive attitude in my peers really ticked me off and got under my skin to the point where I lost all compassion for my fellow human.

Fast forward to the present. Here I was again, trying to connect with my colleagues, across those old invisible barriers. I sensed what seemed a wall of judgment and fear in my colleagues, but maybe they were just in a hurry to get somewhere with little time to connect…Buddha knows I’ve been in that state of mind to the point of even ignoring my wife and child…what suffering! In any case, I kept the door open, said I was doing Community Acupuncture, and offered a half dozen cards with the tentative statement…”if you have any patients who can’t afford your rates, maybe you’d like to refer them to us.”

Almost as soon as I uttered that statement, I realized how that might’ve easily been perceived as a boldly insensitive and loaded statement inferring a whole boat load of judgements. From my side, there was just the intention to be of service in the world. I have no idea how my colleagues processed my matter of fact sharing and lack of pretense about my business model.

It took me a few seconds to reconnect with the ancient high school “wish-to-be-accepted” emotional program. I acknowledged it, and let it go as best I could, realizing not everyone has the time or emotional space to be open to something other than their perception of reality.

Then I thought of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (who I have heard may return to Portland – the center of the universe – Oregon next year)…how he calls George W. Bush his friend, how gracious he was hanging out with him during the Congressional Medal of Honor ceremony earlier this year. And more recently, in a press interview, he reaffirmed his friendship with Mr. Bush, but acknowledged very skillfully that he doesn’t have a complete grasp on reality. (Neither do I.) This made me smile, let go even more, and keep walking on…holding firmly and gently to my good intentions to serve, without grasping at palaces in the air such as status, reputation, fame, transitory monetary wealth, and such.

river Jordan
Author: river Jordan

After graduating from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1997, I had a hobby practice for a few years before moving to Northern India to study Buddhism. During this time, I volunteered in a local clinic, giving acupuncture to Tibetan refugees and Indian nationals. <p> Returning to the U.S. in 2002, I started a typical insurance based acupuncture practice catering to the upper middle class. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with <a href="https://www.acuwithoutborders.org/" target="_blank">Acupuncturists Without Borders</a>, using community style acupuncture to treat trauma victims in a natural disaster setting. </p> Inspired by the power and efficacy of acupuncture in a post-disaster setting, I began to contemplate issues of socioeconomic class. What could be done to make acupuncture accessible to everyone and still provider a livable wage for an acupuncturist? After attending WCA's first conference in October of 2006, I had found the answer to that question. In January 2007, together with my partner Serena Sundaram, we founded <a href="https://www.communichi.org/" target="_blank">Communichi</a>, Seattle's first dedicated community acupuncture clinic. <p> As a Buddhist, I believe that healing begins in the mind. As the positive qualities of wisdom and compassion are cultivated in the mind of a practitioner, this...

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  1. When we first switch to CA practice, it’s as if a load is lifted

    We feel happy to tell people about our practice, to invite them to our clinic, and to charge them our ridiculously low prices.  We no longer hide our money-grubbing fears behind our altruistic white coats.  Since we have no such fears, we are free and proud to wear our desire to serve.  It’s as if the sun came out to shine on our faces.  Then we meet our old classmates, and it’s the same thing again!  We shine from within, instead of lurking inside, ashamed of our perceived business or professional failure.  What a great reward, being able to feel like a child again.