Gen-la Dekyong’s final teaching of the Festival includes a beautiful summation of the essence of the training the mind teachings we have been receiving, the ability to transform adverse conditions into the path. Quoting Venerable Geshe-la she says, “Unhappiness is meaningless.” Therefore when unhappy minds arise instead of following them we should think: “What is this difficulty teaching me?” It is teaching us that others are hurting worse, enabling us to respond with compassion. Or it’s helping us to recognize that the only reason we are experiencing this suffering is because of our self-cherishing. Therefore ‘I must abandon self-cherishing and cherish only others.’ In this way we learn ‘to use our suffering as fuel for the vehicle on the path to Enlightenment.’ Gradually we can even learn to enjoy our suffering. ‘Imagine being a person who thinks, I need more difficulties. Give me your suffering. I can use it!’

Gen-la shares with us the inspiring and powerful quote that Venerable Geshe-la gave us at the time of the 9/11 tragedy, saying we need to be referring to this and learning from it at this time of so many tragic occurrences. “Kadampas are never shocked by suffering,” Gen-la says. ‘Rather we learn from it “how Dharma is the truth”, as Geshe-la writes.

She concludes, again with many quotes from Venerable Geshe-la, with a strong encouragement to ‘deeply think’ about the kindness of Je Tsongkhapa and Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche in giving us this precious Modern Buddhism. When Geshe-la contemplates the kindness of Je Tsongkhapa he determines to repay this kindness by helping Dharma to flourish throughout the world. Gen-la encourages us to think the same with respect to Venerable Geshe-la, in particular by cherishing our Dharma Center.

In the afternoon we have the first session of retreat led by Gen Devi, the Resident Teacher here at Tharpaland and someone deeply familiar with leading retreats. In her gentle encouraging manner she guides us in the meditations of the absorption of cessation and equalizing self with others in conjunction with the Avalokiteshvara practice. It’s lovely to have time to take these teachings to heart.

In the evening we have a wonderful Offering to the Spiritual Guide practice with a tsog offering, especially dedicated to world peace and the long life of Venerable Geshe Kelsang. Gen Rabten reads out a stirring dedication, and afterwards there is great enjoyment as the practitioners partake of the tsog offerings and enjoy one another’s company in this beautiful environment.