The Sunshine Festival

The morning began with the practice of the Yoga of Buddha Prajnaparamita. Gen Rinchung led a beautiful meditation, guiding us to a pure mind of faith in Buddha Shakyamuni, visualized with Great Mother Prajnaparamita at his heart. She encouraged us to sunbathe in Buddha’s blessings. From this one simple but profound meditation, we develop and enjoy a special experience of inner peace – such a happy and beneficial mind to take into the meditation break.

At the beginning of the morning teaching, Gen-la Thubten said that this festival would likely become known as “the sunshine festival” because there is plenty of light outside due to the sun shining and there is also plenty of light inside due to receiving Prajnaparamita’s wisdom blessings. So true!

He then gave an inspiring teaching on the importance of the preliminary practice of going for refuge and promising to accomplish a Buddha’s enlightenment. Gen-la encouraged us to not just parrot the words of the refuge prayer but to actually develop a heartfelt feeling of needing protection through contemplating the suffering consequences of our previous non-virtuous actions.

Gen-la also encouraged us to overcome the ‘island’ mind – the ignorant mind that thinks we are independent, like an island. He read from How to Transform Your Life, “Without others, we are nothing. Our sense that we are an island, an independent, self-sufficient individual, bears no relation to reality.”

This truth is so apparent as we look around the festival. Everywhere we look we see kindness – people volunteering and helping in so many ways, without which this festival would not be possible. Each one of us depends upon the help and support of our Sangha friends as we cannot practice Dharma without others.

The afternoon teaching was so engaging, punctuated by moments of laughter and valuable insights. Gen-la said we need to become professional requesters of our Spiritual Guide. He said asking that comes from sincerely wanting spiritual attainments enables us to receive the powerful blessings of Buddha. He explained that when the curtains are opened in a house, the warmth and light of the sun comes in transforming the house. In the same way, when we make faithful requests of our Spiritual Guide, the warmth and light of Buddha’s wisdom fills our heart, transforming our mind. This is essential for the success our meditations on the perfection of wisdom.

Tomorrow, we very much look forward to receiving teachings on the Heart Sutra.

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