Summer Festival 2018 welcomes over three and a half thousand people from fifty-two countries.
‘Welcome’, Kadam Bridget says as she begins the evening Introduction to the Festival, ‘ welcome to the 26th International Summer Festival.’
And welcomed us, which is what you feel from the moment you arrive at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Center. The sun is shining, the smiles are out, an inner and outer warmth is everywhere. As you are greeted by old and new friends from other Kadampa events you feel yourself being gently uplifted by the pervading loving friendliness. It’s a sweet reminder: you can open your heart fully here. You are back home.
Kadam Bridget gives us a quote from Venerable Geshe Kelsang from a previous Festival:
‘Modern people are very intelligent but they are missing something.’
(What? Bridget asks, What are they missing?)
‘They are missing Dharma.’
Kadam Bridget proceeds to give us lots of excellent advice, interspersed with quotes, personal examples and her always amusing anecdotes, on how not to miss the Dharma on offer here at the Festival.
‘Listen well because you never know when that Dharma will surface in your mind … just when you need it.’
‘Take the teachings as personal advice.’
‘At the Festival, teachings are everywhere. Let everyone and everything be your teacher.’
She also reminds us to look after ourselves while we are here, to take the time to digest the Dharma we are receiving and to sometimes just be still.
And, oh yes, to volunteer!
She gives us so much practical advice and concludes that we will leave the Festival ‘spiritually more confident.’
Back to Ven Geshe-la’s quote on how people are missing Dharma:
‘How wonderful if they had the opportunity to listen to the Dharma and to practice it and in this way avoid wasting their precious human life and lead meaningful lives.’
This is our opportunity right here, right now. Welcome.