I am here asking for some advice. About one year ago a member of my family, underwent surgery for a large benign brain tumour, which she has survived and at the moment seems to be cured of. Before her surgery I gave her my little mala that I bought around the time I went for refuge, about a year and a half before her illness.
After her surgery everything went well from a medical/surgical point of view but she is adamant she had a near death experience despite the doctors not ever registering 'physical death', during this strange experience she saw her mother and father and she said her mind seperated from the physical body. she ended up in a strange place where she had no body but was still aware, in this strange place she met a being of light who told her that this was the wrong time for her death and this being 'pushed' her back into her physical body. I have always been the black sheep of the family as it were, because of my interest in meditation.
After this though, she became interested in meditation and she asked if we could meditate together, at the beginning I was very cynical and judgemental as she is what you might call very 'wordly' minded or 'calls a spade a spade'. I taught her using a guided meditation CD made by my teacher. At first she said she could only manage ten minutes but the shortest session is twenty minutes, i tricked her and said yes this session is only 10 minutes. After sitting for the whole twenty minutes she declared that it wasn't long enough and I admitted I had tricked her and she wanted to proceed to the 40 minute meditation sessions.
It has been about 2 months since we last meditated together and she has again approached me to help her. When I probed a bit deeper about her motivation for doing so, she clearly stated that is was to quieten her thinking and get in touch with her natural mind, as her emotions etc are ultimately unimportant. I have to say I was completely blown away with this response, as there are some people who are buddhist practioners from my own local group who i don't think have this understanding/motivation despite practicing for many years. She went on to say that things that I can only conclude show an actual understanding of interdependence and dependant origination and i don't mean this on an purely intellectual level. She also went onto say that she carried the meditation with her at all times and despite not having a formal meditation schedule, she practiced focussing on the breath etc when she was at work or stressed. She works in mental health and she said that when her clients were having bad days she would again focus on the breath and direct that positive energy/frame of mind towards them and it would help calm them down without them realising. To say I was surpised before, when she came out with this I was speechless, she appeared to be practicing Tonglen.
This is why I am asking this forum for help because she has in a short few weeks mastered all that I can teach her and I am absolutely thrilled at that and her imploding my ignorant attitude. What I find fascinating about this is she has not read any dharma books at all, so I can only conclude that she has learned these things purely from her sporadic meditation sessions, so to say she has absorbed dharma like a sponge is a complete understatement. The only things I have told her about are stories of my own teacher and the 16th Karmapa. I would like detail of texts that may be useful but from a more secular viewpoint as I think giving her anything 'religious' may put her off but of course feel free to suggest good texts from a buddhist/tibetan buddhist perspective because as you can see I was completely wrong in my assumptions before and probably am again.
I wonder if it is her brush with death or the 'being of light' that has made her more receptive to these teachings, maybe it has nothing to do with it and I have just been underestimating her for many years which I am very humbled by and especially by the fact that I have nothing left to teach. When it comes to us sitting together and all the adversity she has been through, it brings tears to my face as I wonder who has really been teaching who.
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there