Gen-la Dekyong opened the Buddha Shakyamuni empowerment with a message from Venerable Geshe-la:

Welcome everybody to the NKT International Festival. The NKT International Festivals are the special method to maintain the International Kadampa Buddhist Union from generation to generation. We should know this Union is very important. With this Union we can fulfill our own and others wishes easily. So please keep my message in your heart.
With much love and prayers,
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Gen-la asked us to contemplate the meaning of these words. Do we know how important is this Union? Do we know how it fulfills our own and others wishes?

In the morning meditation that preceded the empowerment, Gen-la Thubten had prepared us by guiding a meditation in feeling ourselves to be in the living presence of Buddha. We could hold this presence in our mind using our imagination or he said, quoting Geshe-la, we could simply gaze at the statue and experience it as actual living Buddha. And then he gave us lots of space to do just that, creating a very blessed feeling.

The whole empowerment seems like it unfolded within a rich inner absorption with Gen-la Dekyong’s soft tones drawing us into a tranquil contemplative state. In her introduction she led us into a deep appreciation for Buddha Shakyamuni, and in particular, emphasised the experience of emptiness and then guided us into it in meditation, as the basis for receiving the empowerment.

Afterwards, sitting on the lawn, there was a remarkable feeling pervading Festival. Everywhere you looked groups of people where engaged in joyful conversation, happiness emanating from a shared experience of the peace of a Buddha’s mind with which we had just connected. Gen-la ended with a strong encouragement to remain mindful. She said, ‘mostly we remember meaningless things. Now we have something so meaningful to remember: Guru Buddha Shakyamuni at our heart.’

Sunlight still pervaded the evening air with that beautiful northern Lake District light. Everywhere there were smiles, a feeling of being in a mandala, a vision of an alternative to our ordinary suffering world. It was extraordinary to be part of this International Kadampa Buddhist Union, experiencing that Union right here and now at the Festival, experiencing it fulfilling wishes and transforming the world.