“Didn’t you just gasp?” Gen-la Dekyong asked. And yes, that’s exactly what I did. For a first time visitor at KMC France, home of this year’s International Kadampa Fall Festival, the initial view of the arched gateway, adorned with the traditional deer and Dharma Wheel, with the chateau in the background, literally ‘takes your breath away’, as Gen-la described. There’s an actual Chateau with a lake, exquisitely roofed and renovated outbuildings, spacious grounds surrounded by woodland, and, to top it all off, a moat! Quoting Venerable Geshe-la who visited here in 2008, this is “our chateau, our palace … where we need to become King and Queen Heruka and Vajrayogini.” Gen-la further described it as ‘so French yet not really in France. Rather it is in modern Kadampa world, where a French chateau can be unified with Heruka and Vajrayogini’s palace.’
Arriving in brilliant autumn light and warm sunshine the usual hugs of welcome were combined exclamations of delight in the surroundings. It’s like stepping into a fable or a fantasy, some said. Definitely a magical place for the Festival and to receive the empowerment of Buddha Vajrasattva.
In her inspirational introduction, Gen-la Dekyong asked us to ‘make the Festival about our own wish to purify.” “Cleaning our body or our house will never solve our human problems.” To do that, she said, quoting Modern Buddhism, we need to “clean ourself” through purification. She explained clearly how non-virtue is the cause of all suffering. In particular she emphasized, based on Venerable Geshe-la’s most recent book, The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra, how holding wrong views that reject Dharma cause most of the obstacles we have towards Dharma. Why can animals not understand Dharma? Not necessarily because of not understanding the language, because some animals can understand human language. No, it’s an effect of rejecting Dharma in previous lives. Why do most humans have no interest in Dharma? Why do those who have some interest still experience obstacles in understanding, in taking it to heart and in experiencing joy? Why do we experience discouragement? Because of the imprints of having rejected Dharma.Therefore without purifying, how will we ever make real progress?
Gen-la concluded by saying the practice of Buddha Vajrasattva is the most powerful and swift purification method. And we all left very inspired for tomorrow’s empowerment.
Still time to book for part of the festival at kadampafestivals.org/fall.