Day two of retreat and the last full day of the Festival. Between occasional, sudden and short downpours the sun has shone on us as we continue to shine the sun of our faith on the snow mountain of our Spiritual Guide, to feel the rain of his powerful blessings pouring into our hearts and uplifting our minds.

Kadam Morten has encouraged us not to fake it, but to take time to build the profoundly compassionate intention of bodhichitta in our hearts, following the step-by-step instructions we have received. Doing this here, in this blessed place, with this great assembly of sincere, good-hearted spiritual friends, it feels easy.

There’s a strong feeling amongst everyone here that it’s time to really put the teachings into practice, to get real, to be authentic. That is what you feel in the Temple during the sessions – a host of meditators all connecting with the same pure wishes, all mixing our minds with our Spiritual Guide’s advice practically: it’s so powerful to meditate together. As Kadam Morten says, the Spiritual Guide’s inspiring blessings are the wind in our sails, blowing us swiftly along the spiritual path.

In the afternoon and evening, we meditated on emptiness. Realising that the limited, impure, suffering self we normally see doesn’t exist, we can understand how we can really change on the most complete and liberating level. We can be whatever we want to be: we can be enlightened Buddhas!

As people start to pack up and get ready to leave, all around the Festival carries on running: the cooks continue to cook, the cleaning teams carry on cleaning, the car parking attendants continue their heroic efforts to prevent cars from getting stuck in the mud – everywhere you look you see the happy faces of Festival-goers cherishing others. The whole Festival depends on the kindness of others!

Doing these Festival jobs shows us directly from our own experience how Modern Buddhism can really work in our daily lives. As Kadam Morten quoted from How to Transform Your Life, “Activities such as cooking, working, talking and relaxing are not intrinsically mundane; they are mundane only if done with a mundane mind. By doing exactly the same actions with a spiritual motivation, they become pure spiritual practices.”

As we leave tomorrow we will carry this special experience we’ve gained at the Festival back to our homes and our busy lives. We can be like the legendary jewel Venerable Geshe-la describes in the text that purifies any water it is placed into. By trying sincerely to keep our good hearts and pure intentions and to practise the wisdom that correctly identifies ourselves as mere appearance, not other than emptiness, we will bring peace and meaning to all our relationships, spreading compassion and wisdom throughout the world.

What an incredible gift we are bringing back from the Festival, for the whole world! This is the great kindness of our Spiritual Guide, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. Geshe-la has given us directly 40 years of kindness! As Gen-la Khyenrab said, may there be 50 years, 60 years, 70 years – 100 years!