Sunday, January 04, 2009

Practice Day

We had a lovely practice day today, and there was the question--what turned me on to the Dharma when I first got involved? What's my root of inspiration? I can use that to remind me in the difficult times.

I think a week long retreat on the Brahmaviharas, over the winter holidays of 2002 at Aryaloka. That much meditation really changed me in a way that I hope to changed the rest of my life. I'm not sure if I could write anything brief about why meditation is so revolutionary and important to me.

On the retreat, I read Bante's book on the puja, Ritual and Devotion, and for the first time entered into the devotional practices of Buddhism, which was a revolutionary thing for me. Hitherto I was an atheist (still am on that regard) who saw any organize spirituality as generally a way for ripping people off. To be chanting was a scary thing for me, to offer an offering and bow to the Buddha was very scary to me at first. Now it's quite natural and I love a good puja. I've collected alternate pujas as well.

I didn't really connect with anyone who is still a great friend, but I met some people who are spiritual friends and had an intense retreat friendship with someone who was a bit unstable and struggled. I think that's the weakness of that retreat, when I review it, that has deepened on subsequent retreats.

I remember being so tired one day, that I fell asleep on the couch in public. I remember the silence being challenging, so I went on a walk with the troubled teen and listened to her ventilate. I remember just feeling so very mindful and alive, the devotional and intellectual elements coming together. The food was really health and tasty. There were some people who were not so positive, and I myself wasn't always positive and harmonious.

There was also interviews with meditation teachers, and I remember that being supportive, and got me to talk with other order members, got very specific meditations support.

For New Year's Eve we chanted the Vajrasatva mantra (you can get it here), and like the puja I began to see the power of mantra. Driving home I could not help but chant the Padmasambhava mantra.

So on one level I really discovered the revolutionary power of meditation, but I also began to see the pieces come together (not quite all) and begin to see the whole program, including the devotional aspects to support practice.

From that retreat, I built on various GFR retreats, and feel like I have learned quite a lot over the years, and there's a lot more to learn. I think going on a week long solitary retreat was another deep meditative experience that is another root of inspiration. Feeling the power of deep meditation is one of my roots of inspiration in Dharma practice.

So what's the roots of your inspiration?

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