reflections upon a day of Dharma retreat

I had the great good fortune of engaging in another retreat day today, with a great company of fellow retreaters, and under the expert guidance of a true Kadampa practitioner, one who is, for me, infinitely more authentic, and with far greater integrity and compassion, than the vast majority of so-called Kadampa teachers within the tradition that I was once so recently part of. Once again, as on the previous retreat day I attended, I was able to engage in plenty of meditation and share my feelings about it afterwards with others in the group in a totally egalitarian, compassionate, and non-judgemental atmosphere. It felt like being in a  perfect Dharma centre, one that was open, tolerant, and free from any hierarchical  boundaries. There was no need for deference, no need for submission to authoritative definitions of exactly what should be done and how, only a willingness to submit to normal rules of care and consideration for others within the group in the same way as we should anywhere else in society. There was no organisation to subscribe to, no pressure on people to do anything other than participate in any way they felt comfortable with. Any volunteering that needed doing happened spontaneously and enthusiastically without any need for people-management. The warmth and kindness in the room was palpable and the conversation very focussed on the Dharma. If only it could always be like this! But, on reflection, that it was like this today is enough. For every day like today is a confirmation of what is possible, of what a Buddhist sangha can be like, of how one can feel totally at home in a community freely coming together to study and practice Dharma without trying to impose limits on one another’s expression of that Dharma. It was very liberating to be with the band of Dharma practitioners I was part of today, a band which was quietly getting on with the business of enlightenment one meditation at a time. I am rejoicing in today for all it is worth, for the memory of such a day as today will be added to all those other positive memories I have that will help to ignite and sustain the bliss of loving-kindness within my heart that will one day hopefully blaze into the full radiance of spontaneous bodhichitta. I have nothing but gratitude for all those who helped make today such a special day of refuge in the Dharma.

4 Comments on “reflections upon a day of Dharma retreat”

  1. Nick cope says:

    Hi Andy,
    I’ve been following the blog since earlier in the year, after dropping in on gossip on the Kadampa Survivors Forum, which I check out occasionally, just to keep up on what’s been happening since my own retreat form engagement in NKT activities…. I’m assuming your teacher today was Kelsang Sonam? Please send my very best wishes, I read about the turmoil in Hastings with such a feeling of déjà Vu … I was one of the residents in Southampton so many years ago when he was our resident teacher, and thanks to all the troubles in Hastings contacted him once again through this site… And have been following your own blogs ever since… Again with a sense of déjà Vu and schadenfreude …. Some things seem so familiar from the mid 1990s. In recent years I too have formed a closer link with theravadin teachings which has been refreshing and challenging in inner ways… And continue a love, appreciation and engagement with Kadam Dharma… I am so pleased Sonam continues to be such an inspirational teacher and wish everyone so. Much benefit from such a special connection. I am currently based way out of things in China… Please send all my love and respect to Sonam..
    Nick C xxxx

    • andydharma says:

      Many thanks, Nick, for your comment and kind words, which will be passed on. Perhaps you would like to do a guest post for us sometimes sharing your thoughts about, for example, Theravadin teachings and how they can complement and enhance Kadanm Dharma? Best wishes for your own practice.

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