Here’s another story.
A great example of the power of Dharma to help us change, grow, transform.
And how no conditions are ever unsurmountable if we just keep at it.
Thank you Katy.
A beautiful view
I first came to Compassion Centre 18 years ago but only went to one class and didn’t go back, concluding it “wasn’t for me”. 14 years ago my friend I knew through yoga suggested we went to a meditation class – I was struggling with anxiety about a friend of mine who was dying from a brain tumour. Richard was teaching the class that night and he blew my preconceptions away immediately, with his light hearted humour and that he was kind when he received any challenging questions from the “audience”. So I went back. We did class discussion every week and the people around me in Sherab’s Tuesday night class became family…I used to describe that it felt like “going down the pub” but without the booze and with much more meaningful and directed conversation. I could not believe that all these people felt the same way that I did: that something was missing from life and I could not believe that finally there was a solution. Initially I attended the classes with Sherab and didn’t meditate at home, until Sherab said “you do know you are supposed to do this at home too” and I can clearly recall the first time I sat down to meditate in my flat, feeling very self-conscious and strange about putting a cushion on the floor. I can also recall how I did not want to prostrate ever, until after I had meditated. That friend who was dying of a brain tumour showed me up however as he was a hardened scientist and he prostrated immediately on going into the Centre in what turned out to be the final part of his life. Slowly, gradually Dharma became woven into my life, and I recall a point when I thought “I now can’t imagine my life without Dharma” and that it had become my central reference point. It felt as though I had had a withered seedling at my heart that I hadn’t known was there, and that meeting Dharma had poured water onto this and it had started to grow into a strong stable tree. I always loved the phrase in Joyful Path “From tiny acorns grow huge oak trees”.
Fast forward to year 14. I have been benefiting from and working for the centre over the years (if you stand still long enough, someone will find out what you can do to help!) and it has become fully accepted by family, friends, colleagues that I am Buddhist and I am now even married to one. I have been going to the international festivals for all those years and I feel part of a strong and stable Kadampa family. I have been amazed and inspired by many people I have met along the journey and I often ask myself ‘how I turn the next spiritual corner – how do I progress further’? Sometimes my mind becomes ordinary again and internal progress plateaus or even reverses. It is easy to become busy helping progress the centre instead of progressing my mind.
I have noticed since this recent isolation retreat that something new has happened. After a month of life quietening down, my tasks minimising to engaging in more Dharma practice with a new regularity, this morning I woke up and all my thoughts were mixed with Dharma again (this has happened previously but I hadn’t noticed that it had waned). Hearing my alarm I got out of bed and before I opened the curtains I thought “each morning I rediscover the ‘real’ world” and then realised “each morning I recreate my world”. I walked over to my orchid and thought “look how much it is growing” and then realised “I need to grow my realisations”. I looked out of the window to see seagull poo on the newly cleaned glass and thought “samsara is suffering”, I saw three windows on the house over the road and thought “there are three principle aspects of the path”, I looked at the neighbour’s overgrown garden and though “if I don’t control my mind it will become unruly”, I went to look at my phone and thought “do I have any messages?”
And there was a message: “Are you feeling any better today?”
Yes I am.
My conclusion: Keep weaving dharma into your day and you never know when the next beautiful view will come’