I believe that we each possess a unique gift which is so intrinsic to who we are that we are not even aware that we possess it. I think that Daja's unique gift was not just the ability to see the highest self in everyone he encountered, but to allow each of us, while we were in his presence, to see and be that highest self. I can't imagine any drug, any aphrodesiac, or any supernatural power that could compare with that wonderful, unique gift. I also can't think of anyone else I've ever met who had such an enlightened way of looking at the world and the ability to share that with everyone he met. It's no wonder that so many of us miss him so deeply. Like many others, I still feel his presence, his spirit, and hear his laugh, and with time, I will come to recognize that his essence is alive as ever, but boy, it sure would be good to be able to hug him.
I've never been much with writing but I feel an overwhelming urge to honor my friend. I actually became friends with his wonderful uncle,Al Greenberg first. I owned a gift shop & purchased Al's beautiful Judaica. He was going to be in Boston visiting Daja & Phuni along with his wife Charlotte. I invited them all for lunch at my home. We had a great time & I then took them to The Ayurveda Retreat at the top of my hill. When Daja & Phuni opened Karma I went to visit them there. I bought a beautiful bracelet but more special than that,his book.He wrote a few words & autographed it. I treasure it and the visits we had. I saw him once more wen I delivered his Uncle Al's Judaica to his store. Daja was warm,caring and a sensitive soul.He didn't have an easy childhood,and I can't help but think those wounds stayed with him.He had a caring wife,family friends but a fragile sensitive soul. It was what made him so instantly likeable. His warmth was evident upon meeting him. May he be at peace. Sandy Easley
What’s in a name? The name at the top of the program at the Newton Cemetery read, “Daja Wangchuk Mizu Meston.” The Tibetan community knew my cousin simply as Wangchuk. To us, he was always Daja. A 1981 article in People Magazine identified him as “Thubten” -- and then captioned a photo, “Daja Mizu Greenberg.” While his choice of Meston as a surname was a frequent side topic of conversation in the family, in our hearts, we knew that People Magazine had nailed it. He was one of us. The fact is, he was one of any community with which he chose to affiliate. Everyone claimed him, proudly, as our trip to Boston this past week affirmed. He had that irresistible effect. I’m flashing back to that Michael Jordan marketing campaign for Gatorade some time ago – “Be Like Mike.” But Gatorade had nothing on my cousin. Whether you just met him or grew up with him, the natural impulse was, “Be Like Daja.” What a standard he set. I’m thinking about the bird he tried to rescue after it slammed into the window of a Chicago art museum… or the algae sucker he donated to that creek in Bell Canyon... the comfort he offered my mother in her last days... the Tibetan cause that, for him, was always more personal than political... the Luddites he rescued with his uncanny ability to lay hands on, on anything electronic... the life stories he shared with the kids at Oakwood and, later, the folks at CAA -- perhaps one of the few never to pitch Hollywood, and whose life story simply could not be embellished. I recall that ineffable moment in Tel Aviv, almost a year to the day that he left China physically shattered, when we all learned on CNN that his effort to stop the World Bank loan funding Tibetan resettlement had succeeded. We saw that exterior -- that steady, giving spirit... one honed by the harshest of upbringings -- and recognized it as what we in the West take to be Buddhism in action. And it was. Yet, as a soul residing in two worlds, there was much more beneath that exterior. He was Buddhist as outcast... When he and Phuni were living at the Walker Center near Boston, I remember him retrieving pages of faded Kodachrome prints, taken during his adolescence... remarkable photos of two worlds converging, then colliding, in one person, one kid who seemingly left Nepal grounded and ready to teach by example, without even thinking about it. I first met Daja, not at our house in Westchester in 1989, when my folks were working overtime to expand our tight family circle and fervently wanted us to bond with Larry’s son. I met him in 1972, at Langer’s Deli, when my grandmother eagerly brandished a black & white photo of this kid with a mop of blonde hair – my new first cousin, who at that time was making his way across Central Asia with his parents. It was interesting information, but about as remote as Afghanistan itself. Who was he? We don't know that as well as we thought we did, or as much as we still want to. We know a great deal more about what Daja did – how and why he did it, the impact he left on those he encountered. What is most inexplicable about all of this is that he knew he was loved. He knew it. That’s why we didn’t quite get the discussion about the subtitle of his book, “My Journey to Forgiveness.” Forgiveness? Simon & Schuster was adamant about it; we believe he was as well. We saw instead a journey of acceptance, bridging two cultures, so we voted for that. A week ago, that discussion suddenly came into painfully sharper focus. It seems now that the one person Daja couldn’t bring himself to forgive was himself.