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Oceané drove her little red hatchback along the scenic beach road to the walking track a few suburbs away. A warm and still autumn day, the bay blue a mirror of the luminous sky. The external environment calm, was in direct contrast with the intense feelings of desperation and frustration Oceané felt deep within her heart.  Oceané did her best to control the anxiety frustrating her peace. Her thoughts brooded over a recent conversation she had with Noah, when he related to her Alfred’s plans for her future.  

Noah revealed to Oceané that Alfred had confronted Noah when he was in Melbourne on a short visit from interstate to see what his views on Oceané’s work and career choices were. When Noah made it clear to Alfred he felt Oceané’s work at Shambhala was beneficial and worthwhile, Alfred could do nothing to contain his anger, and threatened to bring an end to Noah and Oceané’s relationship if Noah refused to stop Oceané from working at Shambhala. He also attempted to force Noah to see that Oceané cease her relationship and friendship with Rinpoche. 

As Noah conveyed to Oceané what had transpired, Noah remained calm and relaxed, but Oceané was more worried than ever at the unexpected hostility being directed towards her just because of her involvement with Buddhism, Rinpoche and her quest for inner peace and enlightenment.  

Oceané’s expression darkened as she wandered confused, trying to establish how her work at Shambhala, which involved constant giving and generating goodwill towards people in need, could be so despised by people who she had always grown up believing had a good heart.  As her veil of ignorance was removed, a hitherto unknown side to her mother and stepfather became clearer, smashing into painful pieces her innocence. Oceané now viewed a stepfather, full of greed, seemingly motivated by selfish concerns unmasked, supported by a mother who showed no resistance to acting as a weapon against Oceané in her fight for spiritual freedom and independence. 

She still couldn’t quite believe that her quest for true freedom, for enlightenment and peace would stir up so much angst and hatred from her family, but in her heart she could not see how this hostility could continue for very long. Surely, Oceané thought to herself, they would come to see the sense in my decision making and realise there is nothing to fear. In the meantime, I must persevere and prove to them the true value of the spiritual path. To Oceané, the only way forward was to place an unwavering faith in the faultless guidance she received from Rinpoche by putting into practice the advice and commitments of the Buddhist teachings.

Oceané stopped walking, out of breath after a long climb up the undulating cliff top. She sat on a lone bench perched high above the calm bay below. Looking forward towards the distant skyline of Shambala, she felt invigorated and strengthened by her walk, pausing in silence to take in the panoramic vista that lay before her. Focusing on her breath, she began to still her mind from the constant thoughts and concerns which, earlier in the day she felt would overwhelm her. Taking refuge, she prayed silently before heading back towards the car and to a future far less certain than Oceané could possibly imagine.  Taking one step at a time, she meditated on the breath doing her best to remain present in the moment, making her mind become one with her breath to bring calm into a world that was presenting her with a relentless stream of obstacles she was unprepared to deal with. 

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2023

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