Arriving for the Festival is always an amazing experience. If it’s your first visit, you are stunned by the grandeur and sheer size of Conishead Priory, home of Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, and the beauty of the temple and the grounds. If you are festival veteran, it’s a fiesta of greetings, as you reconnect with your international sangha family, hugging friends from the US, from South Africa, from Brazil, from Europe, from Hong Kong, and the list goes on and on.
Gen Togden in his heartfelt introduction to the Festival said that there are more than 40 countries represented here at the Festival, and proceeded to read out the names of each one, giving us a strong sense of a global family, and bringing the point clearly home: this is an international festival! It’s moving to contemplate how everyone here is striving for authentic and pure happiness, and at some level working to help Dharma flourish in their areas and countries.
“Why are you here?” Gen Togden asked. He said that first timers are probably arriving with great curiosity and a sincere wish to engage. But those who have been before – in some cases many times – perhaps have less focused intentions. As he said, the answer ‘because I always come’ isn’t very qualified. He said, ‘Please think: what do I need from this Festival to help me with my spiritual life? What do I want to take back to others? And then sincerely wish, ‘I will get that.” Gen Togden stressed the need for confidence – confidence that pure happiness, enlightenment and even world peace are possible. And related from his own personal experience how it was only after he attended his first Summer Festival that he realised that these attainments actually are possible.
After the teaching, with an extraordinary red sky as backdrop to the temple, people filed out, a sense of optimism and anticipation filling the air. The Festival has begun!
For more information on Kadampa Festivals visit – http://kadampafestivals.org