Listening to the teachings from Khenpo, one of the high monks at Neydo Monastery this weekend was a blessing. Buddhism has always been a deep interest of mine since first coming to Asia in 1994, and being a student of Vedanta philosophy I often see similarities. In fact sitting there crossed legged listening to the teachings if I closed my eyes I could have thought I was in a Vedanta theory class, until I opened them again and saw the speaker was a Tibetan monk. So what is Buddhism? Well what it really comes down to is ones view and ones behaviour. A Buddhist will practice what we call in Vedanta, Ahimsa, or non-harmfulness. This means causing no injury to any other life form in thought and deed. Even if a mosquito is biting you, we have to skilfully learn to brush it away without hurting it. Our thoughts are very powerful things that create vibrations so it is important to be mindful of what we are thinking. There are 3 jewels, which are often depicted within Buddhist art, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sanga. Dharma means spiritual teachings or the spiritual path and Sanga meaning community. We are encouraged to take refuge in all three, but taking refuge in the Dharma means to train ones mind, it is important not to just follow blindly but to enquire about and contemplate the teachings before absorbing them. Our minds are polluted by three main pollutants; ignorance, anger and hatred, and greed and pride. When the mind is polluted we cannot get out of samsara, the circle of birth and rebirth. So by training our mind we can aim to give up our negative qualities and turn them into positive qualities. But this is not possible overnight, it takes practice, we can’t just give up pride just like that, again and again we have to practice patience and to develop compassion. Compassion is the antidote. If we can understand our own sufferings and pain then it is easier to be compassionate to others. It is not an easy thing to have deep compassion straight away, we need to work at it and develop the wish to give happiness to all sentient beings. Establishing compassion on a deep level will begin to bring long lasting happiness and not a temporary happiness that comes from external objects. We have to inquire about ourselves, we can do this through meditation, to know what it is about ourselves that has to be abandoned and what is to be taken up or developed. Khenpo says that staying is solitude is an essential part of practice to come to such understandings. So going on retreats is important to be able to be with ourselves and dive deep into our hearts. He advises us to dedicate all our good merit and all the good things that we have achieved to all sentient beings and not to waste a minute and to practice in a meaningful way.
So there you go, roll out your mat, light a candle and sit with yourself, meditate on yourself and see what you can find, then all the wonderful blessings you have dedicate to all living entities.
Pranamaya yoga centre are running weekend retreats to Neydo Monastery each month please check their website for details; www.pranamaya-yoga.com
Have a beautiful day
Om om shanti om
Mangala / nicky.