On the last day of teachings before the retreat, festival goers soak up the incredible opportunities that NKT Festivals provide: appearances of inspiring international Sangha, Buddha’s teachings in the World Peace Temple and an environment that feels like world peace.
We began the day perfectly with a meditation guided by Gen Devi on exchanging self with others moving away from the mountain of self and over to the mountain of others. Thus preparing our mind to soak up the teachings on Ultimate Bodhichitta that were to follow.
Gen-la Khenyrab explained what many people experience when they meditate on emptiness. He said if you already know emptiness and you meditate on emptiness but find that your delusions remain then this is a sign that something is not working.
He said that we should understand that this is quite common as we have karmic obstructions to realising emptiness due to following self grasping for so long. To overcome this we need to create the right conditions in our mind by collecting merit, purifying and receiving blessings.
Gen-la then helped to increase our faith in emptiness and our determination to practise these teachings even if it takes many years by explaining it is the method to solve our problems and end suffering permanently. He highlighted Je Tsongkhapa’s instruction:
The knowledge of emptiness is superior to any other knowledge,
The teacher who teaches emptiness unmistakenly is superior to any other teacher,
And the realisation of emptiness is the very essence of Buddhadharma.
Gen-la illuminated many examples to help us practise emptiness in our daily life. Using the analogy of the rainbow, he said all phenomena are like rainbows, appearing to us when the conditions come together but when we search we cannot find them. Deeply inspired after the teaching people everywhere were talking animatedly about how their enjoyments were merely an appearance to their mind.
Whilst enjoying all these dream like appearances, we know that they were created by conditions coming together – the pure intention and wisdom of our Spiritual Guide Venerable Geshe-la, the faith of his disciples and the work of everyone before and during the festival.
Now we are beginning to understand Geshe-la’s message to us on the importance of the Festival for maintaining the International Kadampa Buddhist Union from generation to generation and easily fulfilling our own and others wishes.
Really, there’s nothing like a Kadampa Festival for giving our life clear spiritual direction. And consequently for helping us to recognise the importance of our own regular daily practice when we return home, and of helping our Dharma centres there to flourish.
Now we can enjoy two days of retreat to further take the teachings to heart.