Diving for Pearls with Maggie Kay
A Return Visit
Loch Voil in the Scottish Highlands was dark and glassy-smooth, reflecting a dynamic 3D sky full of pretty, plump grey and white clouds. Long and deep, the loch (loch being the Scottish name for lake) stretched for miles in both directions; the awe-inspiring wraparound panorama completed by green forests and soft low mountains. It was August 2013 and I was standing on the exact spot by the Dhanakosa Buddhist retreat center in Scotland where I had waved sparklers in the air 20 years before, tracing my new ordained name into the winter night. However, this time, I was standing on the loch side, ready to let the name Srimati go.
I declared out loud my intention to “lovingly lay aside my Buddhist name, Srimati,” and threw a large pebble into the water with a definitive splash. Then I made my way to the retreat center itself where I discovered, by sheer chance, that the shrine room was available as they were between retreats for a few hours. I took the opportunity to go inside and conduct my own private ritual in the very same sacred space where I had been publicly ordained and had my ordained name, Srimati, announced in 1993.
Speaking out loud although I was alone, I thanked Triratna, Sangharakshita, my preceptor Sanghadevi and all my spiritual friends, and formally put my Buddhist name down. With a final bow to the Buddha statue on the shrine, Srimati, ‘Radiant Mind’, ceremonially became Maggie Kay, ‘Pearl Fire’, again. On our way up through Scotland a week before, Pat and I spent a night in Mauchline in Ayrshire, in the home town of my maternal great-great gran, Mary Kay. Feeling deeply connected with my mum’s lineage and the name Kay that we shared and I was about to take back, I shed a tear as I toasted my ancestors at our evening meal.
In the morning, we visited the house where Mary Kay lived and gave birth to her daughter (also named Mary Kay) and to the ‘big house’ where she worked as a dairy maid. Being a single mother, she eventually allowed her toddler to be adopted by my great-granny Reid who was an informal midwife and healer in the district and had no children of her own.
Pat and I then went on to Mauchline cemetery and spent a peaceful and meaningful hour there. Pat left me alone to wander and muse and I meditated for a while. The spirit of the younger Mary Kay, my gran’s mum, came powerfully into my awareness as though she was speaking to me. She told me that my name change was purposeful and welcome, that I had some ancestral business to complete and that becoming Maggie Kay again would help me do this. It would also help get my teachings about inner wisdom out to those who would benefit from them, something that was part of my soul purpose should I choose to fulfill it.
Continuing on our trip, Pat and I spent a lovely few days with my mum on the small island where she now lives with my stepdad Jim. When Mum took me in her arms to greet me she murmured, “Aw, welcome home, Maggie Kay,” with special affection. She was delighted that I was reclaiming the names she had lovingly given me at birth. I surrendered into her warm embrace like a child. It is not that I was ever aware of being estranged from my family, but in that moment, I felt like a returning prodigal daughter.
We spent the last night of our special holiday at a hotel near the retreat center, the very same hotel where Pat shared with me his “walking away from themselves” meditation experience in 2002. It seemed significant that we had stayed there after Gran’s ash scattering ceremony, and here we were again to change my name back to Maggie Kay. The following morning we called in at the retreat center on the loch where the retrieval of my original family names became complete.
Letting Go of Srimati
It was unusual for resigning Order Members to keep their Buddhist name (actually, it was unusual for Order Members to resign at all), but when I resigned from the Order in 2002, I felt I was still Srimati and couldn’t imagine going back to my old name. Everyone knew me as Srimati, it was even on official documents, and the name was very precious to me. So I asked my preceptor, Sanghadevi, if I had her blessing to keep using Srimati and she said yes. As far as she was concerned, as long as I was still aspiring towards spiritual enlightenment in some way, she was happy to give her blessing. I thought her attitude reflected the true spirit of Buddhism – practical, nondogmatic, and tolerant – and I was glad to leave the Order with good grace and a beautiful name.
By 2010, however, I started considering dropping Srimati and reverting to Maggie Kay, a version of my original name that both honored the past and was fresh for today. One way or another, I kept tripping over the ‘Buddhist-ness’ of Srimati and was increasingly wondering if having an unusual, hard to remember, Indian language spiritual name put a barrier between me and the people I wanted to reach with Thrivecraft. Plus I wasn’t a Buddhist anymore, so why have a Buddhist name?
One or two close friends had strong feelings that a change to Maggie Kay was right, notably my dear friend and coach buddy, Terry Brightwater, whose deeply insightful support proved to be invaluable during the process of change that followed. My mum had never been keen about my being called Srimati instead of the names she had christened me, and believed Maggie Kay would be better for my professional work.
However, changing my name because it would be good for business wasn’t enough of a reason for me. It needed to be more personal and meaningful than that. In the end, a challenging communication with a colleague catalyzed the change. As I contemplated why I was so stirred up about the issue (with the help of a session with my dear friend and healer Bill Tucker), I came upon the realization that I was still unconsciously but powerfully ‘renouncing’ the material world, something that was inherent in my ordination vows.
Speaking with Pat about my insights, he suddenly voiced what had also come upon me that very morning, “I think it might be time to stop being Srimati.” As soon as he said it, I knew he was absolutely right. It was time. By putting down the name Srimati I was finally breaking the Buddhist vow of renunciation. And by picking up my old name, I was welcoming myself back into the world again – spiritually and materially – and reopening the power and magic of my natural human and family inheritance.
Always Me, Not Me
As a baby, lying in my cot in my attic bedroom, I can remember how the room looked through the bars of my cot – the sloping ceiling, the skylight window, the cream painted woodchip wallpaper. But what is strange about the memory is that, despite being a tiny baby, unable to walk or talk, I felt then EXACTLY as I feel now.
It was the same essential ‘me’ looking out of the cot, the same big, wise, loving me that I always was and I always will be, a timeless, limitless, deeply contented free consciousness, not fettered by anything. And once that memory came back to me, I could recognize that same essence, that knowing, that never ending ‘me-ness’ throughout every stage of my life. I can feel it right now within me. It is always there. Paradoxically, one of the most profound insights I ever had (which came on a retreat, not long before I was ordained) showed me that there was no ‘me’. I realized that “I did not own my life.”
Those were the words that came to me. What this means is that I can step outside of my life story and my identity with it and see myself as though I am someone else, without any particular investment in it. Certain features and circumstances come together – personality, history, habits, talents, physical body, challenges, relationships, anxieties, conditioning – and result in how I experience life in any given moment.
That’s all ‘I’ am: a temporary participant in a unique moment of ever-changing conditions. There is no ‘I’! This perspective is quite hard to describe, but the result of it in my life, when I am in touch with it, is that I feel free to be absolutely brilliant or totally terrible (or somewhere in between) and it doesn’t matter! If I do amazing things, I can enjoy and appreciate them because it is ‘not me’ and being big-headed or modest is irrelevant. If I fail or do badly at something, likewise, I can feel compassion for the poor soul who messed up as it is ‘not me’. Well it is me, but only because ‘I’ am embodying that particular combination of circumstances and energies in that moment. Anybody else would be the same in the same conditions. So it is not something I need to pin my sense of who I am or my selfesteem on.
So through my various names and identities – Margaret for my first 11 years, Kay throughout my teens and 20s, Srimati for the next two decades and then Maggie Kay since 2013 – I have been experiencing this paradoxical sense of being essentially the same ‘me’ and fundamentally ‘not me’, all at the same time.
Fortunately, Buddhist wisdom is full of these paradoxes, for example, Ashvaghosha’s well-known observation that: “Nothing really exists, nor does it not exist, nor at once does it exist and not exist, nor at once doesn’t it exist and not exist.” And so I am at home with this consciousness expanding style of contemplation and have arrived at making sense of the question, ‘who am I?’
Dive for Your Pearls
When we connect with and recognize our true, never ending, ever changing, formless self, we open a channel to our inner wisdom. More than this, we connect with THE true, eternal formless wisdom of the universe – whether we meet it as inner or outer wisdom. To do this, we need only drop down for a moment into silence, dive into the deep ocean of peace, and there our oysters and pearls will be waiting.
Once we have made this dive a few times we can relate to our everyday personality, our habitual self, with a bit more loving detachment, wearing it like a set of favorite clothes rather than mistaking the clothes for who we really are. We learn to trust the silence of the deep and the wisdom that speaks from there, hearing its voice when we are back on the surface more and more clearly.
Directed by that wisdom and adorned with its pearls, we can enjoy our adventures on land, and our unique personality finds more and more joy and healthy expression, however we choose to do that. And this, of course, equips us to find and attract the best and most fulfilling relationships.
I hope you have enjoyed my story and tips and are feeling inspired, encouraged and supported – wherever you are in your own exploration of love and wisdom. This book is packed with teachings, so feel free to reread it again and again. And if you haven’t done so already, do revisit some of the practical guide chapters, and try out the recommendations that appeal to you.
If there is one new thing you take away from reading this book, however, I hope it is this – take a few minutes every day to tune in to your inner wisdom. Use my ‘Ask Your Inner Wisdom’ guided meditation, or just simply ‘pause, breathe and ask’ on a daily basis.
As you may discover, such a simple but powerful wisdom practice can yield many treasures – clarity, peace, fulfillment, creativity and confidence, to name a few – not least the ability to find and attract your own true love and deep dive together in this wondrous ocean of life.
I wish you all the best with your adventures. Happy diving!
Known as the Inner Wisdom Coach and formerly an ordained Buddhist, Maggie specialises in meditation, mindfulness, law of attraction, metaphysics and spiritual intelligence for life, love and business.
As well as coaching one-to-one, she trains accredited Thrivecraft life coaches and meditation teachers and runs retreats and workshops for soulful entrepreneurs, coaches and well being professionals.
In 2016, with her son Jamie grown up, Maggie established Thrivecraft Home Hub, a riverside country retreat in Cornwall, UK, where she lives with her soul mate husband, Patrick.
Her new book – Diving for Pearls: A Wise Woman's Guide to Finding Love (O Books) – is a highly readable true love and spiritual adventure story laced with tips and teachings on meditation, Buddhism, inner wisdom and relationships relevant to all.
Maggie's vision for the future includes taking Thrivecraft worldwide via a new online academy; continuing to mentor coaches, well-being professionals and meditation teachers to grow and prosper their businesses; producing audios of her full range of guided meditations; and writing further books to inspire and support everyone to create rich, happy and fulfilling lives.
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Thrivecraft with Maggie Kay
Wisdom. Inspiration. Self-belief.