Sunday, March 23, 2008

dharma celebration

I'm not a morning person. I love my sleep. So, getting me out of bed at 6am is quite a task. And that's what I was faced with yesterday morning - but I knew it would be worth it. Atleast, I hoped so. I pulled my weary body out of bed and tried to wake myself up enough to drive into the city. There were huge roadworks and detours going on near flinders street station, it seemed like they were digging up the entire tram tracks. So after getting slightly lost I found my way back, parked and made my way to the station where I was meeting a friend. In the end she was late too, so we both settled in for the long train ride to Belgrave. It's beautiful up in the mountains, the air gets cooler and crisper and fresher and something happens to your stress. It dissolves. I feel the same way wherever I reconnect with nature.

When we arrived at the centre meditation had already begun, so we quietly removed our shoes and entered the temple. Yesterday was a big turnout, with around 140 buddhists from all around the world converging on this small place. Add that to the 20 or so resident monks and you had quite the gathering. What I noticed immediately on entering this place was the immense feeling of calm that washed over me and stayed with me for the entire day. In between the meditation, the blessing, the empowerment and the teachings we had a lot of time to walk around and just talk to people. Or more so for me - to listen. Everyone has their stories and when we take the time to listen to them and ask about them a wonderful thing happens. We become more connected. As Gen Kelsang Rabten said "we are all equal. Your happiness is not any less important than mine." Rabten is The National Spiritual Director of Kadampa Buddhism in Australia and he was incredible. He had such an amazing presence and warmth and everyone in the room was drawn to his wisdom. I'm not going to claim to be a practicing Buddhist. If I learnt anything it was that Buddhism is a giant iceburg and I only know 1/100th about it. Some of the teachings were very indepth and some things I questioned slightly, but that is the great thing - they welcome that!

I decided that if I was going to go along I was going to make myself try new things, so when we were called upon to approach Rabten (who was at the time channelling a buddha named White Tara) and recieve a blessing of empowerment I followed the crowd and went along. When my turn came I knelt down infront of him, my hands in the welcoming/prayer position. He held a deity cup on my head, chanted some lines and rang a bell a few times. The sound waves coming off that bell right near my head combined with the chanting and the entire day gave me a bit of a headache, but apparently that is normal. Do I feel any different today? I actually do. My mind feels clearer and I feel calmer (but I was already pretty laid back so much calmer and I'll be asleep). I didnt realise that there was singing in Buddhism. I knew about the chanting, having watched Tibetan Buddhist Monks in action - but I didnt get the singing. See, I thought that Buddhists were about not praying to anything, because they didnt think of buddha as a god... but some of what I saw yesterday contradicts this. More questions. And I look forward to discussions about it and finding out the answers.
My journey continues..

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