By Russell Rodgers
One of the key commitments in vajrayana Buddhism is to experience the world as sacred. Sacred in this context doesn’t mean that some deity proclaimed it so; it just is, primordially, in the present moment of fresh, pristine awareness. In our business, however, we live in our thoughts and concepts about the world rather than the world itself, and we lose touch with its sacredness and basic goodness. Our concepts can be so subtle and pervasive that we don’t even realize that they are there. We just feel deadened and disconnected from the magical, living quality in our surroundings. At the same time, we feel haunted by the feeling that something is missing.
In 2009, we did a retreat called “Touching the Earth”, which explored our connection with the natural world in dharmic terms. This summer I thought we could dig deeper into the aspect of pure perception and self existing, natural ordinary magic. We’ll use meditation and contemplation to dissolve barriers to direct, non-conceptual experience. We’ll do a lot of awakened heart practice to connect to our fellow sentient beings in the forest and in the world at large. We’ll use the Mahayana teachings on empty/fullness to explore our perceptions and establish an authentic relationship to our surroundings. Based on our meditation practice, we’ll look into drala, the naturally existing power of places that wakes us up into sacredness.
At this time in our history, we humans have extraordinary power over nature, and at the same time, we have become more disconnected from it. Over the past many years of doing outdoor meditation retreats at Senge Ling, I have been impressed with the power of practicing in the forest to restore my connections. The meditation pavilion, screened but open on all sides to the forest makes this possible. This summer, I think the time is ripe to use the wisdom of our tradition to deepen our relationship with the world more fully. Ultimately, our place in nature must be realized from the inside if we are to make a difference to the planet. This journey is not particularly political: it’s simply a profound and deep appreciation of what we have.
Here is a message from King Gesar to his subjects in the land of Ling in the 11th century in Tibet. I think it applies today:
The world is healed or harmed each instant
In the stillness of our hearts.
Whether we struggle or rejoice, this is so.
People of Ling, this is our power and the power of all.
We must open the true kingdom in our hearts.
For more information please see our program listing for the 2011 Public Weekthün.