BUDDHA'S STORY IS ALSO OUR STORY
A beautiful, heartfelt account of last weekend's Scottish Dharma Celebration by an inspired student
Set in the historic location of Stirling, people travelled from all over Scotland and beyond to attend this year's Scottish Dharma Celebration.
There are clear skies, snowy hills and deer peacefully roaming in the grounds as we arrive, greeting old friends and making new ones.
In the introduction Gen Tubchen, Resident Teacher at KMC Glasgow, encouraged us to enjoy a spiritual holiday from our ordinary busy minds and gave a beautiful clear teaching on how to develop faith in the existence of enlightened beings and our own potential for enlightenment.
The next morning we had the opportunity to meditate on this potential with Kelsang Osung, Resident Teacher at KMC Aberdeen, who encouraged us not to be a toe dipper but to allow ourselves to plunge into this mind of faith. She listed the many qualities of enlightened beings, how their minds are completely pure, free from obstruction, radiating compassion and completely pervasive. Then she encouraged us to follow Venerable Geshe-la's advice to rejoice in the complete purity of enlightened beings, to believe they are present and to wish to become just like them.
With the sun streaming in over the beautiful shrines prepared by KMC Edinburgh, everything is bathed in light.
During the empowerment we listen to the story of Buddha Shakyamuni and how relevant it is to us today. Kadam Bridget helps us to realise Buddha's story is also our story. She explains how we can bring Buddha's teachings on the four noble truths into our modern lives, and transform daily life into the spiritual path.
Then it is time for the actual empowerment, which Kadam Bridget gently but powerfully guides as a blissful and profound meditation. By the end we all feel a special peace in our heart and feel much closer to Buddha and our own potential for enlightenment.
In the break there is a walk up a nearby hill to the Wallace monument, looking out over ancient battlegrounds to the highlands. The air is clear and invigorating and it is a great opportunity to meet different people attending the festival.
In the following teaching sessions Kadam Bridget shares Buddha's first teaching on the four noble truths, given in the deer park at Sarnath. The teachings are extremely deep and profound, looking into the sixteen characteristics of these four noble truths and how they are our practical application of refuge. We dive into the truth of suffering, impermanence and karma to develop the mind of renunciation. We are blown away by Venerable Geshe-la's words, ‘the prison and the prisoner are the same’, recognising our own bodies and minds, contaminated by delusions, are our samsara. 'Just as bubbles in water arise from the water itself and not from outside, so our painful feelings arise from contaminated aggregates and not from outside.’
We begin to long to lay down our burden and put an end to suffering by accomplishing actual cessation - seeking an oasis of peace, complete freedom from turmoil, actual liberation - through the realisations of emptiness and selflessness. Complete transformation, made possible only because we are ever changing and impermanent.
To conclude the weekend the ordained sangha retook their vows, just like the first disciples of Buddha. Then having had a very rich weekend, irreversibly transformed by our spiritual activities and appreciating our great good fortune, we each began our journey onwards carrying the teachings and renewed spiritual strength in our heart.