Festivals, as Gen-la Jampa reminded us in his first talk by giving us Venerable Geshe-la’s special Festival message, are essential ‘for maintaining the International Kadampa Buddhist Union’ for future generations. There are many levels of meaning to the term Union, but one of them is clearly that at the Festival we act together as a collective, a union of practitioners from throughout the world. We meditate together, eat together, listen to Dharma and generate virtuous minds together, discuss, socialize, and work together, create virtue together. We are, through being here now, creating the International Kadampa Buddhist Union for now and for the future. Being at the Festival is powerful and it is creating powerful good karma. And you feel it. One woman, attending her first Festival, told me she was amazed by the friendliness of everyone, from people throughout the world!
The Festival is expressing World Peace and creating World Peace all at the same time. It’s a beautiful example for a world that very much needs it.
And so the day begins with a union of meditators, guided by Gen Ananda, meditating on the deep and expansive clarity of the mind. Then Gen-la Jampa continues to give us all one precious Dharma Jewel after another as he fills his talk with published and unpublished quotations from Venerable Geshe-la, as well Buddha, Shantideva, Atisha, Geshe Chekawa, Milarepa. Wonderful!
In the morning Gen-la Jampa helps us to generate together the ‘joyful mind’ of renunciation (joyful because we are leaving behind the ocean of samsara and going to the bliss of perfect freedom), and to generate the determination to practice the Three Higher Trainings as the method to accomplish this freedom. In both talks he encourages us to overcome distraction, in particular by transforming both good and bad experiences into objects of meditation. He says, quoting Geshe-la, “Kadampa practitioners who do this will have no distractions as all distractions are transformed into objects of meditation. Such a person can achieve enlightenment very quickly.”
In the afternoon, Gen-la Jampa helps us to explore the faults of self-cherishing. Another jewel from Venerable Geshe-la: ‘You must be tired of self-cherishing. The self-cherishing plan and activity doesn’t work. Thinking my happiness and freedom are important and then looking for happiness and freedom in the ocean of suffering doesn’t work!’ In this way, together, we generate the determination to stop our self-cherishing and instead to cherish others.
In the evening we gather in our World Peace Temple to do Wishfulfilling Jewel with a tsog offering. An international assembly unifying their minds in prayer and aspiration. There is no doubt these prayers reverberate throughout the world and into the future.