It is wonderful to start the day meditating with several thousand people in the temple. In his gentle way Gen-la Jampa reminds us of what we will be focussing on (the new Guru Yoga prayer from the Oral Instructions). Having set us up, when we reach the appropriate point in the sadhana, we enter directly into the meditation. The experience of meditating together in this way can’t be described, and of course everyone’s experience is unique. But one thing’s for sure. It is profoundly beneficial and blessed.

In the morning class, Gen-la Dekyong explains how to realize the self correctly, as a mere appearance to mind not other than emptiness. Quoting Geshe-la she explains that this type of understanding is not commonly known but is an oral instruction. Teachings like this show how important Dharma is to modern life. It is because of misperceiving the self that living beings experience hallucination-like sufferings in samsara life after life. If we correctly perceive the self as the union of appearance and emptiness there will be no suffering. But without Dharma teachings how will we ever correctly identify the self? That’s why, as Gen-la concludes, everybody needs Dharma.

As Gen-la is teaching you can hear a background murmur as the row of translators immediately translate her words into 13 languages (including the recently added Finnish, Russian and Hindi) so that everyone from the 53 countries represented here can hear the Dharma in their own language. It’s moving to contemplate that the teachings of the Wisdom Buddha immediately appear in these many different aspects. As a result these teachings will literally travel the globe. Everybody needs Dharma. Due to the kindness of Venerable Geshe-la more and more people are being given access to it.

As we settle into the Festival, we feel the Festival settling into us. The sense of peace and happiness increases. The sense of optimism and possibility … not just for ourself but for our world. We feel ourself changing, through the power of the Dharma, the Sangha family, and the blessings that permeate the Festival. Our sense of our self changes. As a result the notion of one day realizing the self correctly as a mere appearance to mind not other than emptiness no longer seems farfetched. Quite the opposite. If we keep practicing, keep creating the causes, the effect of wisdom will arise. And then we will be able to teach and truly help others. Because everyone needs Dharma.