We have some exciting news: Wake Uppers Joe Reilly and Brian “BK” Kimmel were ordained as Dharma Teachers of the Order of Interbeing. The Lamp Transmission took place during a beautiful ceremony at Deer Park monastery in early October, 2021. Both Joe and BK have been active in co-creating and co-organizing the Wake Up movement in the United States from the very start. Below we share with you their transmission gathas, some personal reflections of the ordinees and a video recording of the ceremony. Enjoy!
Brian Otto Kimmel
Chân Liên Định – True Lotus Concentration
Receiving the Lamp was a way of saying yes to this path
The Earth of this body remembers.
With every breath, every step
On this long road home, I am arriving.
At the feet of the Cosmic Mountain
I hear the voice of my True Home calling.
Whenever I sing with this insight of
Remembering, I am already home.
The beaded drop on lotus leaf now glides
In concentration learning how to fall
Not long nor short in action it arrives
And chants in silence water’s native call
Hello Dear Wake Up Friends,
Above are two gathas, the insight gatha that I presented to the Sangha, and the transmission gatha that I received from the Sangha during the Lamp of Wisdom Transmission Ceremony. At the closing of the ceremonies if you watch the recording, you have the chance to see and hear the beating of the ancestral drum. I still feel the drumbeat resonating like stars combusting in the cosmos.
I am a second generation Indonesian/Minahasan living in the United States of numerous cultural belongings and heritages. My mother was born in Jakarta and emigrated through the Netherlands with her siblings and her parents, my grandparents, in the early sixties when she was still in grade school. This was during a time of upheaval and change. In the United States, the civil rights era, and a time calling for the end of wars, military occupations, and the reconfiguration of colonized nations post world war II. Both of my maternal grandparents, raised in Indonesia, then called Dutch East Indies, had been civilian prisoners of war. They experienced hardships that they never wanted me to even imagine. This was part of their motivation and dream of earning American citizenship, they saw it then as a way out. Though as a young person coming to retreat and for the first time meeting Thay and Sister Chan Khong, practicing stopping with the sound of the bell, I could feel that the war my grandparents lived through was a part of me. And I sought to end it.
I had experienced my own kind of wars as a child. I was queer and my gender was expressed in a way that did not fit the societal perceptions of being assigned male at birth. I succumbed most of childhood to intense ridicule, bullying, and abuse. One could say that I was susceptible to this because of these identities and because the war was already in me, and I sought a way out. I suffered many years from an early age with mental illness including depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress. By the time of my first retreat, I knew well that I wanted to end the wars inside of me, and aspired to joy and peace. This was the practice, the mud and the lotus of this path. I wrote Thay at my first retreat about this aspiration. This aspiration has not changed much now that I have received this Lamp of Wisdom.
Learning to be present with generosity of spirit and an open heart for the instabilities and change we face in this world and on this planet heating up is itself a formidable path. So this receiving of the Lamp of Wisdom can be an encouragement for us all to keep waking up and engaging on the path together. Each generation is faced with the responsibility of learning how to be present with what they have inherited, and what to do with this inheritance. And, it is all of our contributions that help manifest this world. Future generations can look back at what we have done and decide for themselves how to live.
Receiving the Lamp was a way of saying yes to this path. Say yes to the responsibility of taking good care. Some of the final words of Thay Phap Dung in the ceremony who transmitted the Lamp to me were to not go it alone. Be a sangha flowing as a river.
I am happy to have you all on this journey with me. I hope that we can continue learning to love one another, cherish this path, and make the most of life while we are able, singing and dancing in joy and facing our sorrows and conflicts with peace.
True Ocean of Respect
I want to sing and share Dharma that helps us reunite
From the sea of fire and confusion
I invite the ancestral heart to sing
And guide us back to love
It turns out the path has been there all along
In every step, in every breath and song
When I feel like I might be all wrong
I’m reminded that we all belong, come on!
Deepening our roots, searching for the truth
Everything is changing nothing’s absolute
Love is all embracing no need for substitutes
My mind’s no longer racing with thoughts I can’t compute-reboot!
Peace is every step, peace is every breath
Seeing beyond birth, seeing beyond death
Opening our hearts so love can manifest
Inviting all our relatives to grow our happiness-yes!
Dear Thay, dear Siblings,
As you can see, my insight gatha became an entire song! Singing and songwriting are my primary modes of Dharma expression, and thanks to the encouragement of one of my mentors Peggy Rowe Ward, I sang my gatha and it grew into three verses.
For me the invitation to receive this lamp transmission has been a call to better see myself and our Sangha with the eyes of interbeing. There is a part of myself that does not feel worthy of the title of “Dharma Teacher.” I am no Buddhist scholar and am not at all perfect in my practice efforts. I am no big deal! Yet I have been on the path now for some years and have offered my sincere heart to this Beloved Community, who has in turn given me their trust and love. When I look with the eyes of interbeing, I know that there is no separation between myself and our Noble Fourfold Community. We inter-are. The conditions have arisen to invite me to be of service in this way, and I was able to accept because of my fellow Dharma siblings who were invited and also had the courage to accept. This was something we were able to do together, as a Sangha. I aspire to continue to build inclusive Beloved Community that creates a safe and healing refuge for all to join, especially those who share the same wrong notion that they are somehow unworthy or do not belong. I want to sing and share Dharma that reaches beyond the conditioning that divides us and helps us reunite with ourselves and with one another as fellow humans on the healing path.
In gratitude and respect,
You can watch the video the lamp transmission here:
Joe’s transmission starts at 58 minutes
BK’s transmission starts at 1 hour 31 minutes