Om mani padme hum
Om mani padme hum is a Tibetan Buddhist mantra that literally translates to "jewel of the lotus," meaning something like "purity of all living beings," or "for the sake of goodness." It can be a simple reminder, a phrase of motivation, or a sort of forgiveness (when, for example, I accidentally sweep up a moth). It's a prayer for the Buddha of Compassion. And it's amazing how powerful this simple group of words has become for me over the past ten days.
At Tushita we got a chance to really examine our "crazy monkey" mind and its inner workings, through meditation and teachings. The mornings and afternoons were based around the Buddha's essential teaching of the Four Noble Truths. We also had an hour of "breaking the silence" through small discussion groups after lunch.
As we came to familiarize ourselves with looking at our minds, I started to really appreciate my breath and my aliveness, and returning, or "retreating," to the cushion for Ondy's guided meditation- whether it was an analytical Tong-len, a visualization, or a morning mindfulness meditation.
Around day eight of the silence I was really just beginning to miss music, my admitted attachment... as in, I was totally craving it. In the evening the group was seated in the gompa, watching a video of His Holiness giving a teaching, when the power goes out and the Dalai Lama freezes, laughing in mid-point. Sure enough, my cry for music was met when everyone in the meditation hall began to sing the om mani padme hum mantra, twenty-one times. It was very awesome.
A few of the many other moments that stick out in my mind include...
- the walk around the forested ridge that we took on day seven, visiting the hermitage huts of long-term meditators and stupas that recognize highly-realized lamas
-the silent smiles that constantly connected the participants (fifty students of all ages and all walks of life from twenty-three different countries!!!)
-yoga before lunch, led by a good-humoured Dutch teacher
-the mischievous monkeys that swing along waving prayer flags and steal our cookies
-the candle ritual this past last evening, where each person places three candles around Lama Yeshe's stupa, one for the world, one for a chosen place or people, and one for ourselves
Encountering the Dharma at Tushita has been truly amazing, and the atmosphere there was one of total calm and connectivity... but of course "with every meeting, there is a parting." So now, we've checked out from this Buddha supermarket, with a cart full of concepts like duhkha, samsara, clarity & awareness, shunyata, shamatha, impermanence, renunciation, karma, equanimity, and many other foods that we can bring into our "precious human" day to increase happiness, for ourselves and for other beings.