Retreat day 1. It’s an amazing sight. More than 1500 people gather together in the temple meditating on Kadam lamrim. Where else does this happen in the world? It’s an amazing experience. The air of concentration pervades the temple. The silence during the sessions is breathtaking.
Gen Rabten leads the retreat with great clarity. He sets out the structure of each session, and explains the main points for us to meditate on. In each session we establish a peaceful mind before beginning the Heart Jewel prayers preparing us for the meditation. As we sit absorbed, Gen Rabten reads out the appropriate section from Venerable Geshe-la’s How to Understand the Mind describing the actual meditation. And then he leaves us to it.
In the second session on Precious Human Life, he describes how this contemplation and meditation will help us to develop self-confidence. It’s easy to get discouraged if we focus on our faults and delusions. We think of our delusions as unstoppable monsters but he reminds us how our Spiritual Guide is not at all intimidated by our delusions. Everyone who ever got enlightened was deluded. We can do the same!
During the breaks, the cafes are filled with the buzz of people discussing the meanings of lamrim, relishing this precious opportunity to meditate together. People drink their coffees and teas on the lawn or wander about enjoying the grounds … and the welcome return of the sun.
Not to belabour the point but … how fortunate we are!