As Gen-la Kunsang reminds us today, death can come at anytime …and in the Lake District so can the rain! Festival goers get out their raincoats, umbrellas and rubber boats, and scarves and hats come out to ward off the cold. But the smiles on everyone’s face are as warm as ever, and the Festival remains full of delight.
Gen-la Kunsang tells a story from a previous Festival in Portugal, when nearly 10,000 Kadampas descended on the tourist town of Cascais for a week. Towards the end of the week a taxi driver, who no doubt had had a busy week, told one of the festival goers, “Please say thank you to the organisers from us. We have learnt so much from you. We now know that it is possible to live in peace.”
Gen-la Kunsang, teaching on the individual lamrim meditations of the initial scope, asks us to imagine what our lives would be like if we actually believed ‘I may die today’, as the meditation on death states. She says we would naturally find the time to practice Dharma without laziness; we would naturally avoid negative actions and engage in positive ones, we would naturally focus on things beyond this one life, freeing ourselves from worldly concerns.
It would be like being at the Festival! Everyone is volunteering to be of service for everyone else. Serving food, providing security, cleaning, cooking, directing cars etc etc. all with kind smiles, even if the volunteers are standing in the chilly rain, naturally practicing Dharma and directly experiencing the benefit of that practice manifesting all around us. Yes, a peaceful life is possible, and a meaningful one, creating future peace for ourself and others, creating liberation and enlightenment.
A few quotes from Venerable Geshe-la, given to us today by Gen-la:
Please understand the preciousness of the jewels I am giving you. I am giving you diamonds and you think it’s glass. I am giving you gold, you think it’s metal.
The Festival helps us to begin to experience the preciousness of these Dharma jewels. Come rain or shine.