After the evening session (the fifth session of the first day of retreat), a retreater said to me, ‘What a wonderful first day!’ I asked him to elaborate. ‘When you do retreat you begin to understand the meaning behind the words. A word like ‘liberation’. We say this word a lot, but in retreat you begin to hold the actual possibility of permanent freedom in your mind, and it’s amazing. You begin to feel the meaning of it.’
Also, ‘with each session you feel how the objects of lamrim expand your mind. You feel your horizons growing. It makes you realize that normally we live inside such a narrow view.’
I asked another person, how was your retreat? ‘Awesome,’ she replied. ‘I’m loving Gen Tubchen’s presentation. She’s giving us so many different ways of transforming distractions into objects of meditation. The meditations on renunciation are affecting me deeply.’
In the morning meditation, Gen Tubchen, in her gentle yet incisive manner, guided us into an experience of the clarity of the mind, helping us to dissolve all distracting concerns into that expansive clarity. On the basis of this experience, in the second session we were led to contemplate the basic Buddhist view that the happiness and freedom of our countless future lives are more important than the happiness and freedom of this one life. This then led into two powerful meditations on renunciation, and finally a contemplation on cherishing love: Because I am just one and others are countless we develop the belief that the happiness and freedom of others is more important than my own.
Gen Tubchen gave us the wonderful advice to see the mind as a clear sky and the distractions as clouds within it. We must stay with the sky so the clouds dissolve and the sun of our beneficial minds can arise.
It’s an amazing experience to meditate on these powerful life changing states of mind together with more than a thousand other practitioners. The inward focus is palpable, and the sense of blessing and uplift pervades everywhere. During the breaks, the energy of the Festival is less extrovert, but still full of joy and heartfelt sharing. We are being changed, and in turn our change is affecting everyone else. What a wonderful offering of gratitude to our Spiritual Guide, and what a powerful gift to the world.