Two nights ago I found out that Toni Packer had passed away back on the 23rd of August. My heart sank yet my mouth smiled. I didn’t smile at her passing, no, but smiled because of my gratefulness for her. I had become aware of her through the book Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America by Lenore Friedman. Toni’s clarity and, above all, honesty, shone straight into my heart. I had met her 10 years ago during a retreat at the Springwater Center in rural upstate New York, which she helped set-up. (She basically founded it, but she would probably have none of that talk!). Simply put, she was a person I would gladly cut my arm off for (As Eka did for Bodhidharma).
A month or two ago, I began thinking about her teachings again, and started re-reading her book The Work of This Moment. Her honesty in her words kept resonating in my mind, in my heart, over this past month or two. This prompted me to, among other things, to write the blog post How important is sitting meditation?
So I ask myself, was this reconnection with her, at the time of her death merely a coincidence, or synchronicity or something else, something more subtle and deeper? My brain says that statistically speaking, it is coincidence, my body says its synchronicity yet my heart says it’s something deeper. Does it matter? I don’t need an answer, and as Toni would want from me, just be honest to my inquiry…. Why do I want an answer in the first place? Does the answer really matter? If so, in what ways?
My heart, does not feel sadness, though my brain does. When I think about that she has died, my brain is sad. But when I feel with my heart, those neurons that live in vast numbers in heart muscle, they feel and think differently.. they feel embraced, warm and full of incredible love and wisdom. Yes, she has had a profound effect on my life.
I send my condolences and love to Toni’s family, friends, loved ones and to everyone who has been touched by her utter honesty and wisdom.