I’ll admit it, I watch Oprah. And although it’s nothing more than an hour long commercial, I especially like her “Favorite Things” shows in which unsuspecting audience members shift from mild to manic when surprised with super-swag like free Pontiac sport sedans. Being legally blind, however, I’m pretty old school when it comes to modern gadgets.
It may also explain why the Philip Stein Teslar-- a watch that fights the draining effects of modern technology by allowing the body to flow with the rotation of the earth through a unique signal emitted from a chip – is of very little interest to me, regardless of the fact that it’s earned the coveted honor of being one of Oprah’s Favorite Things not once, but twice. Yet, when I caught word from the east wind that the chip’s inventor, Sunny Isles resident, Ilonka Harezi, was planning to host Venerable Thupten Ngodup, The Medium of Tibet’s Chief State Oracle, during his stay in Miami, I immediately snatched an interview.
It’s no secret that mediums – who act as physical vehicles by channeling the wisdom and mind of oracles (as in divine spirits, not the saucy, cookie-baking oracle from The Matrix movies) – have on occasion been able to heal humans of physical ailments. Which to my Mr. Magoo-self, is much more exciting than nabbing a pricey watch that I’d never be able to fully see.
Arriving at the ritzy condominium, The Pinnacle, I walked through Harezi’s lavish pad that included hand-painted Henna on kitchen cabinets and tabletops made from doors of destroyed monasteries. After the brief tour, I was prompted by one of the Medium’s assistants to enter a clean, white master bedroom. In the far, right corner of the room, sitting Indian-style on a plush bench was The Medium, who almost seemed to be levitating over the miles of endless sea that backdropped the chosen body of the State Oracle, Dorje Drakden, the harsh and celestial spirit protector of Tibet.
Not knowing whether or not to bow, kneel, shake his hand, take off my shoes, or even speak, I instinctively realized by merely looking at the man draped in gold and red garbs that there were far greater issues other than personal problems that he wished to discuss during his first public tour of the U.S.
One of these issues was environmental consciousness. Like most Tibetans, the innocently intimidating Medium is not the biggest fan of Communist China. Especially in regards to their gradual destruction of Tibetan land since their full occupation in 1959.
“There’s a lot of infrastructure that wasn’t there before,” he pointed out, including a dam and factories erected as a result of radical mining. Apparently the occupants have also been “stripping the forests clean and taking the wood back to China,” a sore subject for the cabinet-level member of the Tibetan Government who, when asked which aspect of nature was dearest to his soul, responded with “the forests and meadows.” Yet, he “can’t understand how anyone could appreciate the desert,” he said after revealing his love for the ocean, although he can’t swim, “it’s nothing but a bunch of sand.”
Another reason why the Medium traveled from the the foothills of the Himalayas in South India to America was to raise money to rebuild The Deyang Monastery. The monastery, in which he can trace his own lineage, was never reestablished after 1959 being that the majority of its monks were unable to go into exile.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
After a few specific questions about my condition he took off one of his wood-beaded bracelets and slipped it on to my right wrist. He then had me kneel on the zebra striped rug that laid in front of him. He began to bless me.
Although I’m not a religious person, as he chanted in Tibetan, blew into my eyes and his fingers stretched and curled like butterfly wings, I felt as in tune with my surroundings as I’d imagine I would feel if I were wearing a Philip Stein Teslar.
After the blessing, he had me recite a Tibetan chant in which I stuttered the pronunciation in my valley girl accent, making him chuckle. He told me to recite it 100 times each day for the next month. Handing me seeds from the Dalai Lama himself, he instructed me to saturate them in water before the chant and wipe the concoction over my eye lids while concluding: “After a month, if your eyesight hasn’t improved, just stop.” Insisting that regardless of what happens, to plant the seeds in my garden, “in order to further enrich the earth.” -- Elyse Wanshel