Walking through the beautiful woods there was the startling appearance of a man wearing face paint. He smiled and said, “Perfectly normal”. Then behind him was a gathering of at least 30 or 40 laughing children and more adults, all wearing face paint and clearly about to embark on some elaborate game.
For the kids the Summer Festival is a wonderful experience. Everyday they enjoy wonderful international friendships and are entertained by skilful magicians, clowns, acrobats, participate in games and shows. All of these activities are put on by festival volunteers. For these volunteers, this is a festival of cherishing others.
Gen-la Khyenrab moving yet at times humorous teachings on developing and enhancing cherishing love included reading excerpts from How to Transform Your Life:
‘Wherever we look we find only the kindness of others. We are all interconnected in a web of kindness from which it is impossible to separate ourself.’
Of course, the festival makes that web of kindness easy to recognize. One Kadampa student brought her 60 year old mother to the Festival, the first time her mother had participated in a Kadampa event of any kind. She told her daughter, “With everyone you meet here, you feel their kindness.”
It’s incredible that an event of such magnitude can be run by volunteers but it’s the truth. Some people, the festival cooks, the car park attendants smiling in the rain, the security staff patrolling the camp site at night, the behind the scenes organisers put in long hours, and, in some cases, months of preparation, to be able to give this beautiful festival to the world. And as the cafe volunteers serve you or pick up your used plates, as the stewards guide you to your seat, as the toilet cleaners ask you to wait until they’ve finished cleaning, you feel their kindness.
Gen Devi’s morning meditation was on being a Bodhisattva and practising the 6 Perfections. Here we are training in doing just that. We are together experiencing the heart of Buddhadharma, cherishing love. It’s magnificent to participate in such a society. It gives hope. We need this experience.
The Kadampa student’s mother left the festival the other day to return to her country determined to come to future festivals. Her daughter said, “You know what my mother’s takeaway from the festival is? ‘I can change.'”
We need this.