For quite a while now I have been feeling a strong desire to re-connect with my Buddhist practice and to take my study of the teachings of the Buddha (the Dharma as it is called) to another level. A year or two ago I was attending Vajrayana Institute, a local Mahayana Tibetan Buddhist gompa, and making some halting attempts at getting a regular meditation practice happening. I'm not sure why drifted away from it, too much attachment to all the daily distractions of this life I guess.
I discovered a couple of weeks ago as I was checking their newsletter that the first unit of a 14 unit, 2 year Discovering Buddhism course was starting in July. Oh happy day! So last night was the first night of the course, an introductory evening and it was lovely.
I arrived to find the library and the entry to the upstairs gompa packed with people! As it turned out most of them were here for the introductory night, but some were more experienced students and practioners who were making their way through to the back garden, to light some lamps around the stupa in celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday. Looking out through the library windows I could see hundreds of little oil lamps illuminating the stupa and people walking slowly around the stupa lighting lamps and queitly chanting. It was a moment of beauty to be treasured.
It was so wonderful, and a little daunting as it had been a while, to walk into the gompa. The mood in the gompa was very hushed and a bit uncertain. I guess for 90% of the people there this was the first time that they had set foot inside a Buddhist centre, and especially the first time they had sat in a ritual space with all the statues, pictures and curious paraphenalia that Tibetan Buddhism involves.
The information session was... well, informative. Many people hung around afterwards to pay for the course, chat and drink tea. One of the ladies who enrolled for the course was until recently a presenter on a long running children's television show here in Australia. I couldn't help but smile watching her chat with another woman, who kept insisting that her "face looked familiar, I'm sure I know you from somewhere...".
So all in all a good evening. I left feeling glad that I had made the decision to sign up for the course, and for the decision to focus back on studying the Dharma.
Happy birthday Your Holiness!