There’s an indescribable quality to meditating together with nearly 2000 practitioners in the Temple. Although each one of us is focused on our own mind, it’s communal, our meditations lifting each other, making it more powerful and blessed. And because we are all absorbed in the same object of meditation – in this case, the loving wish to make others happy – and connecting to the same Spiritual Guide, Guru Buddha Shakyamuni, the impact is visceral and creates a feeling of peace, joy and connection that pervades the entire Festival. It’s amazing to be part of something so powerfully beneficial.

Following the morning meditation, Gen-la Dekyong encouraged us in her teaching to come to a clear conclusion: I need to practice Buddha’s teachings. The sign of attainment of this would be that there is never a moment when we aren’t practicing Dharma. She distinguished between intellectual knowledge and actual experience, quoting from Geshe-la: ‘We need the inner protection of spiritual experience.’ Furthermore she said, ‘In every activity we should be practising our wisdom views and intentions. Every activity should be meditation. Never think that a busy life and Dharma are contradictory. The union of Dharma and daily life will naturally happen if you love the instructions’. The main point was that if we understand that authentic happiness comes from a peaceful mind we will decide that we need to practice Dharma, as only Dharma can give us inner peace.

Connecting this message with this afternoon’s teaching on death and karma made for a powerful combination. Gen-la spoke eloquently and passionately on the necessity of meditating on death every day. She said ‘the quick path of Mahamudra cannot bear fruit without it. It is the foundation for the house of Dharma.’ She said, ‘ Make this meditation your best friend’ and in this way refuse to allow our laziness of attachment to keep the door to the temple of Dharma realisations shut. We left the teaching empowered with the truth that “I may die today.”

In the evening the temple was packed for the Wishfulfilling Jewel puja with tsog offering. Inspired by the teachings, one could feel everyone connecting deeply with this joyful practice. And there it was again – that indescribable feeling of meditating and practising with nearly 2000 people – of feeling your ordinary experience and environment transformed, like the temple has become something more, an actual mandala of a Buddha. And in that moment enlightenment feels not only possible, but close.