The temperature may have cooled but Gen-la Jampa warmed our hearts with his meditative and and deeply heartfelt teaching on affectionate love and compassion. Quoting Geshe-la, Gen-la asked the challenging and topical question, ‘ With so many people causing harm how can we develop a warm heart of love towards them?’ The answer: Because they are our mothers and they are harming us only because of their delusions. ‘Delusions are our common enemy. The faults of person’s enemy cannot be the fault of the person.’ Gen-la Jampa said where we see ‘a bad, horrible person’, the Buddhas see ‘ a suffering mother overwhelmed by delusions.’ Therefore the only correct response is love and compassion.
This led to a wonderful contemplation on the power of wishing love to bring about world peace and solve all our problems. Gen-la Jampa advised us, “When you find yourself caught up in some small anger problem, or caught up in a mind of dissatisfaction, put down your phone, create your own minute of silence, and solve your problem with Dharma. Develop wishing love, thinking ‘How wonderful if everyone had the pure happiness of Enlightenment. May they have this. I myself will make this happen.’ ‘Go for refuge to love’, he advised.
In the afternoon, Gen-la Jampa’s concluding teaching, on Guru Yoga, was like a long guided meditation on the kindness of the Spiritual Guide. In particular he spoke about the kindness of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. He said, ‘Look at the Dharma books on your bookshelf. Think of the wealth of wisdom and practices contained within them. Look at the prayer booklets, contemplate the Centers and Branches, the teachers, the Buddha images. Geshe-la has given us a happy life, a spiritual life … he’s given us Modern Buddhism.’
Here at the Festival we see that kindness in everything: sitting in the extraordinary Temple surrounded by our Sangha friends …are they not all gifts to us from our Spiritual Guide. Without Geshe-la we would have no Sangha friends, no Buddha, no Dharma. All the opportunities to create merit that the Festival provides … are they not gifts to us from our Guru? The magnificent Manjushri KMC, the gorgeous woodland paths and the beach along which we contemplate … are they not all special emanations of the Spiritual Guide. The whole Festival itself that brings joy to so many people and helps Dharma flourish throughout the world – is it not the most beautiful gift to us from our Spiritual Guide? From this point of view, just being here at the festival is like a form of Guru Yoga that naturally brings with it powerful blessings.
How can we ever begin to repay this kindness, Gen-la Jampa asked. The answer: By practicing and then sharing this wisdom. By helping to distribute Dharma. By cherishing our Center. We concluded with the new special prayer to Venerable Geshe-la as well the long-life prayer, and the focus and devotion in the temple was palpable.
Afterwards a friend said to me, ‘I can’t wait to help set up a branch in my local area.’ Yes!