When you first meet or see Mudita Tuell she busts up all your stereotypes right away. You see, she’s an Italian blond, and she’s a Buddhist! I have never met a blond Buddhist before if my memory serves appropriately!
I was introduced to Mudita because she is a co-worker with my wife; Mudita goes through her day providing nursing support to those who are facing imminent death. I think she’s a wonderful employee by simply knowing Mudita’s spirit and what she brings to her job. She has a wonderful, kind, compassionate, serving-spirit which isn’t just something she puts on for other people—this is who she is.
She is also an artist who does great paintings and collages using paper and mementos that are visually-revealing, and are contacts perhaps for healing, meditation, and other spiritual practices. Mudita considers herself a healer. This no doubt is a combination of her own personality and her Buddhist beliefs. She uses crystals and other Buddhist artifacts in her healing process. Sometimes she directs you to other rituals, chants and prayers that are a part of her engaged Buddhist social activism.
As I wrote earlier, Mudita’s essence has the blessing of many multicultural paths; part of this inner model that resides in her Buddha-Heart is by way of where she has lived her life, and has experienced life along the journey. The beginnings of her life were phenomenal because her father wanted to join Mudita and her mother in India, and lived in Europe at the time. Her dad literally made his way overland, from Italy to India, and her family was reunited!
A very significant event of loss happened early in Mudita’s life; when her brother was about seven years old, he died of a very strange and deadly disease. The loss of her brother at such an early age impacted her life immensely and was very traumatic for Mudita. Perhaps this is part of the reason she felt her life leading into the beautiful lotus flower of healing. Mudita isn’t just a healer, but she is a “wounded healer,” a term coined by Henri Nouwen, who worked in a kind of monastic setting that included many residents with disabilities; Nouwen had to first find his path, direct himself along it, and use his understanding and experiential base of suffering and compassion to do the kind of caretaking work he did each day of his life. In short, he was an icon of a person who is a wounded healer. He deserves the credit for creating this term.
Eventually, in the course of her family’s migrations---via Nepal, Tibet and India—she had yogis and gurus who taught her what she knows. For example, one of her teachers was a renowned artist using Calligraphy as his main genre in the work he did; she was taught the arts and skills of art, simply by having this man as her mentor, and learning his style. She then moved to Italy to live near a Buddhist Temple which she says was amazing. At one time she even lived in a trailer, here in the U.S., on a Native American reservation; this was a time of extraordinary peace for Mudita.
The next point of significance for Mudita was emigrating to the U.S., seeking to make a home here. She attended college in California, and ultimately wound up in Austin, Texas. She loves Austin because of all the varied activities of the Live Musical Capital of the World, and in general, the positive, life-giving vibe of a vibrant arts community here.
Personally, I’m a Buddhist disciple—I practice Buddhist practices and philosophies, but I’m not really ready to claim that I’m an official Buddhist (whatever that is). Like Alcohol Anonymous, I study the Buddhist disciplines, take away what I can from them, and leave the rest. Perhaps I’m more of a Universalist. My spirituality is based in Mysticism, and as I observe various spiritual and religious systems, I believe that all of the great faith traditions said, in essence, the same thing: one can contact what is divine and the unlimited, formless being, through your inner person via the window of some form of meditative, contemplative, and the inclusion of certain rituals. This is where the universal river meets; many of the earmarks of any group’s structure were added much later, after the founder of the religion died; the farther we go away from their initial revelations and teachings, the more conflictive and extreme seem to be the intra/inter-related creeds, dogma and doctrines of the faith traditions of the world. And some of them miss the mark—this leads to more confrontations and conflagrations—on the extreme ends of the continuum.
Mudita, as one who grew up in Buddhism, has helped me understand more of the practical, day-to-day ways that can lead me away from suffering, pain, trauma, and a general “de-centered” and aimless mindset. The fruit isn’t wellness or good karma, yet as I have been seeking to live out the principles of Buddhism, I’ve learned from Mudita the impermanency and inter-connectedness of all created life forms.
My path has been very useful to my own wellness; I’ve been a part of Mindfulness Groups sponsored by the VA, who are starting to use more alternative health care models, and interactions with other Buddhists and Buddhism. Thank you, Mudita, for your support in my own healing process and in your own! People like us will continue to alleviate suffering in the world, and, who knows, our karmic actions may actually help change the consciousness of this planet. The Way (Dao) and other Buddhist writings suggest that the possibilities are infinite. So, why don’t we go and see what’s happening around us in our world?