Meeting My Teacher’s Teacher - Kylee Stein

I’ve changed.  I don’t know if others see or understand the full impact of these changes, but the past five years have been transformative. It wasn’t all for nothing. There were many players and events that were the catalysts for these changes: a devastating car accident, my teacher Raj Patra, his wife and partner Kelly, yoga teacher training, my ayahuasca journey in South America, backpacking India and meeting Dorje Andrey Lappa, my teacher’s teacher.

The journey began in 2013 when I called Ali Valdez, my friend’s teacher, to inquire about her yoga training program in Seattle. She usually didn’t accept people into her program she had never met, but since one of her students vouched for me personally and for my practice, she was willing to accept me into the program. I also called and inquired about training at Yoga for Life around the same time. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue something local in Portland or up north. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because less than a week later I was in a car accident that would temporarily derail me from this path.

Years later, the difference is shocking. I quit my corporate job, I graduated teacher training and I devoted my personal and professional life to the pursuit of yoga. I traveled to the depth of the jungle to do psychedelic drugs and “find myself” (I failed). I backpacked alone in India in search of connection to those who are “connected” (I succeeded.) I ventured to Nepal and sat in the presence of Dorje Lappa (I panicked). I couldn’t take full breaths; I couldn’t stop the constant stream of tears falling down my face. I was terrified and excited all at once. For what? I had no idea.

Despite the rush of emotions, I had a surreal moment sitting there listening to Dorje Lappa speak. I heard every word he said, and as profound as every word was, what really impacted me was a single thought: “I am right where I am supposed to be.”

On the first day of teacher training, Raj imparted this same wisdom. If we were in that room, it was because our karmic journeys had led us all there. As a result, we were right where we were meant to be right in the exact moment we were supposed to be there. And I believed him. The cynicism I had long cultivated through my education and life experiences dissipated. I didn’t even have to question if Raj was right. My head and my heart just believed him.

When I thought about my first meeting with Dorje Lappa, I didn’t know what to expect. Would meeting him instantly confirm that I was meant to study with him in this life? It didn’t. Would I feel intimidated and terrified of him? I did. Would I feel an outpouring of devotional love to the father of the lineage of yoga I consider myself to be seeking? I didn’t necessarily. I did, however, feel a profound connection.

I can’t tell if that connection was to him as a person or to something much, much bigger. But in that moment, I knew I could trust each day moving forward that I was where I was meant to be. Meeting Dorje Lappa, knowing the indirect impact he has had in guiding my life—only to make it more beautiful and purposeful—instilled an ultimate trust in me. It was a real-life reminder that I don’t control my life. The past doesn’t matter, the future doesn’t matter. They don’t matter because they’re ultimately out of my hands. You, too, might find that one day a Buddhist Monk from across the world has found a way to change your life without knowing you, even if you didn’t seek him.

As we sat with Dorje Lappa, I had a “small world moment.” I recalled my chat with Ali; I remembered the very first phone chat with Raj. I could almost see the past two years play out in fast-forward speed on the movie screen in my mind. Somehow, it had all led to this meeting. It was so bizarre to think that, long before Raj ever mentioned his teacher, Dorje Lappa was somehow, from all the way across the world, putting things in motion that would ultimately guide my life. It almost felt like he was the puppeteer pulling the strings of my life without knowing who I was. This human man has impacted my life in such a positive way, from all the way across the world, without ever meeting me. The power of that realization was overwhelmingly humbling.

If there was ever a symbolic “last straw” that encouraged me to surrender to the path of yoga, it was the moment I sat in Dorje Lappa’s presence. It was hard and verifiable evidence that I can’t control my journey, I can only surrender to it. I must trust in the knowing of universal love. After all, universal love will always guide me to exactly where I’m supposed to be at exactly the right moment.