Kadam Lucy, the Resident Teacher of Kadampa Meditation Center Colorado in Denver, explains the practice of patience and how it enables us to live in the present moment. This in turn allows us to experience deeper inner peace and access more subtle levels of mind.
No time? Well, I listened out on a walk, and my walk was very enjoyable as a result. Or listen on your work commute. And you’ll discover that it is going to SAVE you a lot of time. And stress. And sanity. Etc.
Mindfulness is about the present moment, being in touch with it, not forgetting it. Presence of mind. All of Buddha’s teachings, or Dharma, help us stay in touch with the present moment. For example, with love we focus on people who are here and now, wishing them to be happy, even if they are in another country, or even deceased (they are still somewhere). With patience we wholeheartedly accept what is happening in the here and now without thinking it should be otherwise. With wisdom we appreciate the moment by moment unfurling of mere appearance, which is arising, due to karma, like waves from our root mind.
Be here now, or we are quite capable of missing out on our entire life. As John Lennon put it:
Life is what happens while we are busy making other plans.
Where else can we be other than here? What time can we be other than now?
One of the easiest ways to get in touch with the present moment, especially for beginners, is basic breathing meditation.
Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of KMC Colorado, was a completely accomplished meditator who has spent much of his life in Tibet, India and the West in meditation retreat. He used his combined understanding of meditation and the exigencies of modern life to teach thousands of distracted Westerners everything they need to know to be successful at meditation themselves. These instructions are taken from his book How to Transform Your Life, which is available for free download!
The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practicing a simple breathing meditation. We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.
We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.
At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.
How can I get you excited about our August retreat in the Rocky Mountains?! Because I know it’s going to be incredibly good fun and meaningful to boot, but some of you have never done retreat with us and may not understand why. So,just to throw out some benefits:
1. Experience more peace of mind – go on a real break
2. Immerse yourself in nature in stunning surroundings
3. Enjoy the combination of genuine relaxation and spiritual growth
4. Reconnect with old friends and make new ones
5. Everyone is happier on meditation retreat!
Who can attend? Although some of the meditations will get quite profound, this retreat will have something for all levels of interest and experience, and you can attend at your own pace and capacity.
By late August, we will all no doubt be eagerly anticipating a welcome respite from the heat of the plains! Venerable Geshe Kelsang calls Festivals and retreats “meaningful vacations”. Some vacations promise much, but deliver little. Not this one!
In a retreat, we have a chance to go deeper, to really be able to let go of our usual busyness, preoccupations, and worries, experiencing a spacious and life-enhancing perspective. We can take our spiritual practice up a notch. Even with poor concentration, we are generally more peaceful, relaxed, and happy on retreat than in our ordinary fast-paced, externalized lives.
I have done several years of solitary meditation retreat, and love guiding retreats like this, helping people become good meditators. So I’m looking forward to it and really hope you will join me.
THE TOPIC ~ The Union of Sutra and Tantra
All Buddha Shakyamuni's 84,000 teachings are included in Sutra and Tantra.Kadampa Buddhism, or modern Buddhism, emphasizes the union of Sutra and Tantra, which provides us with a holistic, complete, and quick path to enlightenment.
I am basing this 4-day retreat on the teachings of the Summer Festival at
Manjushri KMC. The exact content is therefore to be determined, but I do know I will be teaching and guiding sessions on the really essential practice of Lamrim, the stages of the path to enlightenment (the bread and butter of a Buddhist meditation practice), and how to start integrating this into a simple Tantric practice.
Buddha’s Sutra teachings on the wish for lasting mental peace and freedom (renunciation), the good heart of compassion and bodhichitta, and the wisdom realizing the way things are (emptiness) are the foundation of Tantra, giving us the motivation and the wisdom needed to practice it. Buddha’s Tantric teachings give our spiritual practice vision, bringing our Sutra insights alive. Sutra and Tantra are mutually supportive, and both accelerate and perfect each other.
If you have any questions, please hit reply to this email or catch me at a class. Otherwise, you can just go ahead and register! Try to get your deposit down before the July 1st early bird discount.
Building a Bodhisattva Community
A letter from Kadam Lucy
Dear friends and supporters of KMC Colorado,
If any of you have passed by our building lately, you will have noticed that most of it has gone! It has been knocked down by complete strangers with sledgehammers!
This could be a major shock if we didn’t know that the builders were going to stick around long enough to build it back up again! But just as we have to dismantle the delusions in our mind, such as aversion and greed, to build the beautiful minds of liberation and enlightenment, so we have to dismantle this property to make space for a spectacular urban temple for world peace. And spectacular it will be. I am including here a picture of the recent opening of the temple in Mexico just to give you a bit of an idea – ours will not be quite as large as this, but it will be every bit as beautiful and full of people.
Which brings me to the main point of this letter – why are we spending so much time, effort, and money on this project? For people. So that we can build a community of kind-hearted, peaceful Bodhisattvas – people who want to free not just themselves but all living beings from suffering and its causes by realizing their indestructible potential for enlightenment.
While we wait for construction to be completed, rooting for our fearless leader Kate as she oversees this multimillion dollar project, and our other managers who are also working on hyperdrive, we are “popping up” all over town. Our branches are also doing really well so far, bringing meditation classes to more and more people where they are at. These branches are like the spokes and our main Center is like the hub – together they keep the wheel of Dharma, or Buddhism, turning throughout Colorado.
As Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says:
“Our intention in teaching Dharma is not just to spread Buddhism. We are trying to help the people of this world by giving them special methods to solve their daily problems and to achieve the permanent happiness of liberation. In itself, the flourishing of Buddhadharma is not important unless it benefits others. This is the main purpose of Buddhism.”
Our aim is to bring authentic inner peace into the hearts of everyone in our communities so that they too can spread it amongst their families and friends. Everyone has an indestructible potential for joy and freedom, and with our classes and other activities our sole intention is to help people realize this. This is real Bodhisattva activity; and I am so glad that you are all a part of this. Thank you.
Join us for a very meaningful day
To help us fulfill this vision and keep growing our Bodhisattva credentials, I am teaching a day course on the Bodhisattva’s way of life on Saturday April 29th. This will take place in the gorgeous Evergreen, and consist of three teachings and meditations on how to become a Bodhisattva and practice in our daily lives the six perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, joyful effort, concentration, and wisdom. We’ll have a welcome chance to discuss and hang out in a relaxing location, and lunch and refreshments are also provided. I really hope you will join us!!! Click the image for information.
Do let me know if I can help you with anything – you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots of love and prayers,
Learn More & Register
A Rocky Mountain Retreat Adventure Awaits You
A letter from Kadam Lucy
Dear students and friends of KMC Colorado,
By now you’ve probably heard that we’re doing a meditation retreat in the mountains – the first one in a few years, but following in the long and noble tradition of popular retreats held by KMC Colorado. We found a new facility that we really like the look of, near Decker; and the retreat takes place over the New Year, thus doubling up as a fantastic alternate NYE celebration! (Includes roasting marshmallows by the fire …)
We are putting this retreat on for YOU! So I wanted to say a bit about it in case you can come.
First of all, the teachings and guided meditations will allow us to discover a lot of peace and happiness, love and wisdom. There is a Kadampa tradition of doing retreats in January, and I have done them every year for 40 years. In a retreat, we have a chance to go deeper, really able to let go of our usual busyness, preoccupations, and worries, experiencing a realistic, spacious, and life-enhancing perspective that will continue to benefit us and others in 2023. We can take our spiritual practice up a notch. Retreats are the best possible way to start the New Year, and my hands down favorite times.
I hear a lot of people complaining that life is too busy – and ordinarily it can feel that way; but a lot of that feeling of busyness comes not from all that we have to get done but from not having sufficient mindfulness and mental peace. These qualities, which improve on retreat, give us all the time, space, and freedom from surplus worrying thoughts we need to do what needs to be done. Even with poor concentration, we are generally more peaceful, relaxed, and happy on retreat than in our ordinary fast-paced, externalized lives.
Secondly, this spiritual vacation will also be a great time to make and strengthen friendships with some very cool people. Our Sangha community is supportive and there for us through the ups and downs of our lives – we are very lucky to have it!
Talking of which, we are inviting families and will have some events for the kids, as well as a video link room.
Thirdly, the location is beautiful and there’ll be time for strolls and hikes and just soaking up the mountains. The facility is in the so-called “Banana Belt”, experiencing a lot of sunshine and blue skies. But bring your warm coats and hiking boots as well because this is Colorado. Accommodation is not fancy, but it is comfortable and warm; and the (vegetarian) meals will be delicious.
This is not a five-star hotel, which is just as well as it means we can keep it as affordable as possible. If you’d like to come but need some financial concessions to do so, please reach out to her at, Kate: email@example.com.
Feel free to bring The New Eight Steps to Happiness, if you have it (paper or electronic), and you can also get one in the bookstore at the retreat. If you have any questions, please hit reply to this email. Otherwise, you can just go ahead and register below! Try to get your deposit down before December 7th to get the $75 early bird discount.
To find out a bit more about retreats, check out this article: Doing meditation retreat.
Thank you for reading this. I am so much looking forward to spending this quality time with you!!!
With love and prayers,
Learn More & Register
A World of Loving Kindness
A letter from Kadam Lucy
Dear students and friends of KMC Colorado,
I hope this finds you well and enjoying classes back at the Center. Personally, I love being back with all of you in person. This Saturday (and Sunday) is a very big weekend for us – Buddha Maitreya empowerment, teachings, and practice -- so I wanted to say something about this and invite you to partake!
Buddha Maitreya is the Buddha of loving-kindness, meaning that by connecting with him we can quickly improve our own innate potential for loving kindness.
REGISTER FOR EMPOWERMENT
In general, the only real or lasting solution to our human problems is a spiritual one – if we purify and transform our minds, we purify and transform our world. In Dharma we learn to identify the real enemy of living beings – which is the delusions of hatred, greed, confusion, fear, selfishness, and so on, not each other. The best way to be happy is to develop love. And the weekend is all about love.
Every day should be about love! Love makes the world go around. Love destroys the insanity of an uncaring world. Love is a universal truth. When it comes down to it, everyone is seeking to love. Everyone needs love.
As Shantideva says:
“All the suffering in the world comes from wishing just ourselves to be happy
And all the happiness in the world comes from wishing others to be happy.”
If we learn to love others, we can achieve our life’s purpose. By relying on the blessings and Tantric practice of Buddha Maitreya, we can quickly attain the state of enlightenment ourselves, meaning that we will be able to work effortlessly and joyfully for others’ benefit day and night, even emanating countless forms.
When we practice Tantra, we see clearly how such a thing is not some fantasy, but entirely possible. Understanding the creative power of our mind and the true nature of reality, we are able to look beyond the ordinary to our own and others’ extraordinary potential and future.
Tantra gives our spiritual practice vision and brings our Sutra meditations alive. We see what it is going to be like to be free from suffering, enjoy everything with a blissful mind, and have the ability to help all living beings continually. In these degenerate times, Tantra is a vital practice for enabling us to fulfil our potential to overcome our delusions and develop pure and peaceful states of mind.
This weekend will give us a lot of inspiration and energy. It will also be a lot of fun to hang out with the Sangha!
Cannot wait to see you there!
With love and prayers,
Invitation to Refuge Day
A Letter from Kadam Lucy
I just got back from attending the Opening of the Sixth World Peace Temple and International Kadampa Spring Festival in Malaga, Spain. It was magical in many ways, not least because when you are surrounded by thousands of practicing Buddhists and meditators, you feel supported and inspired in profound ways it is hard to explain. Sangha Jewel are one of the Three Jewels of Buddhist refuge, and one thing they offer is real hope that we can, after all, solve our problems and find lasting happiness.
This coming Saturday is our annual Refuge Day – to my mind, one of the best days of our calendar! Refuge is the method for finding solutions to our everyday and long-term mental and physical suffering by coming under the care and guidance of the Three Jewels -- Buddha, Dharma (the teachings and experiences of the teachings), and Sangha (the spiritual community).
What is refuge?
Refuge is what we turn to in order to get rid of our suffering. We go for refuge because we need refuge, or protection, from our various problems, big or small. We arguably spend all day going for refuge, trying to get rid of one thing by turning to something else.
Like, just now I was feeling a big sleepy in this heat wave, so went to grab a cold drink from the coffee shop. (Passing waves of people on the street seemingly on their way somewhere, no doubt in pursuit of relief just like me.) If we are feeling unwell, we turn to medicine; if we’re lonely, maybe we turn to friends or Tinder; if we’re hungry, we eat something if we can; if we’re bored, maybe we go online; if we’re uncomfortable, we shift our body into another position. Etc. Those are relatively tame things to do – we also have a large variety of more suspect things we turn to, such as opioids or the pursuit of power, status, and extreme wealth.
You know those sped-up movies? Watching them, we can see how we’re always on the go — going here, doing this, going there, doing that. Getting up, sitting down, propping ourselves up, lying down, walking around, sitting down again. Each day is a constant pursuit of little relief hits from what are basically physical or mental aches and pains. And we’ve been doing this our entire life. In all our lives, since beginningless time.
But the interesting thing is that we have just as many problems to solve as ever, don’t you find? We have just as many physical aches and pains, quite possibly more given that this body doesn’t get more comfortable as it gets older. Not to mention the near-constant mental aches and pains. So, we’re turning for refuge to other things all the time, but they are clearly only providing some temporary relief at best.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t eat, drink coffee, get a job, surf the internet, etc. That’s not Buddha’s point. His point is, are we finding the lasting happiness and freedom that we all long for? Are these temporary refuges sufficient for us, or could we actually be doing more? Could we be getting rid of our aches and pains more effectively?
And this is not even talking about those BIG problems — namely ageing, sickness, major loss, catastrophes, and death — just the run of the mill irritations and discomforts. Coffee, the internet, power/status, and hot dates don’t even touch the big problems.
Right now the world is in a ridiculous mess. Not surprisingly, there is an increase in depression and loneliness and anxiety in all age groups. People are experiencing drought and famine and starvation. Economic uncertainty is worldwide. There is so much hatred and division. Animals are being tortured and butchered, as always. I won’t go on, you know what I mean. But we need guarantees that we will not continue to experience these awful sufferings, and an effective way to protect our loved ones from them. Refuge provides that. It is through seeing suffering that Buddha decided to leave his cushy life in the palace and attain enlightenment, then showing the rest of us how to do the same. Instead of missing the wood for the trees, Buddha has invited us to broaden our perspective and understand the whole context, see the whole forest. Why? Because all these problems have a deeper cause, one that only Dharma can touch, that Dharma DOES touch.
The three things I am really hoping everyone can take away with them are: (1) at heart you are sane and have huge potential, and nothing can take that away. (2) Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are actual sources of protection, and the closer you get to them, the safer and happier you will become. (3) We can become sources of refuge ourselves, bright lights and shelter in this dark and confused world.
Basically Buddhist refuge means that instead of turning to worldly solutions, or sense pleasures, or indeed anything outside our mind, we turn inside to the practice of Buddhadharma.
The main object of refuge in Buddhism is our own efforts in practicing Dharma: such as increasing our inner peace, getting rid of our delusions (sometimes known, with good reason, as “afflictions”), practicing patience, love, compassion, and wisdom. We turn to Dharma experience because we appreciate that it is the effective and lasting protection from our problems.
There would be no Dharma without Buddha Shakyamuni -- he taught it in our world, and Buddhas also emanate as Spiritual Guides who can guide us and bless our minds. Without Buddhas, or enlightened beings, it would be impossible to practice Dharma. And we also turn to Sangha, such as our fellow Dharma practitioners – others who are also interested in solving their problems, if you like, from the inside, not always from the outside.
This uplifting Talk & Ceremony is a wonderful conclusion to all the teachings we have been receiving at our Center this year, and a way to deepen our connection and experience by going for refuge and becoming a Buddhist, or so-called “inner being”, seeking happiness and freedom from within. For some, Refuge Day is an opportunity to receive inspiration and begin exploring the richness of this very beautiful spiritual tradition. For others, Refuge Day is a turning point in their lives where they start traveling the spiritual path as a Buddhist.
The day is divided into two parts. First there is a teaching on refuge. After a break comes the actual Refuge Ceremony, a blessed ritual meditation dating back to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni; and of course it will be up to you whether you use this to formally become a Buddhist or simply as a powerful blessing and inspiration. As well as drawing us closer to the love and protection of all Three Jewels – Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha – the Ceremony also serves as a powerful method to purify a lot of negative karma and create huge good karma.
A great highlight of the day is the Sangha community lunch we enjoy together after the Ceremony – so please stay for that as well. I very much look forward to spending time with you!
With love and prayers,
The Power & Purpose of Prayer
An Inspiring Letter from Kadam Lucy
We should pray for world peace. We have had two world wars. If there is a third world war this will almost destroy the world because every country has very powerful weapons, and it is very easy to destroy the world. ~ Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in 2001
Our world is unstable because our minds are unstable, and without the ability to stay focused on positivity they will stay that way. We all need peace. As Geshe Kelsang says:
From inner peace comes outer peace.
Inner peace comes from familiarity with virtuous objects, such as love and wisdom, which opposes and eventually eradicate our delusions. For if anyone ever doubted the power of our delusions to harm us, we can see right now how the anger, pride, fear, greed, and selfishness in the minds of even just a few people can bring about terrible decisions and mad destruction. We don’t want our own delusions to be a part of this problem.
Meditations for Inner Peace
In general, even without Russia invading the Ukraine and talk of mad fingers on the button, we are all still working our way through a very weird time. There wasn’t even a week off between Covid apparently starting to ease off and the threat of World War 3. News about the worst floods ever to hit Australians, 2022 being the year we seriously have to figure out what we are doing with Mother Earth, the growing mental health crisis, and any number of other horrors have all been pushed below the headlines by the invasion, but of course are still causing unbearable suffering. Not to mention the billions of animals tortured daily who don’t get mentioned at all. Is there anywhere in our world at the moment where peace reigns and everyone is happy?
Faced with this global instability and weirdness, it’s our opportunity to get a real sense of what Buddha has been saying all along: that life is weird. Well, he didn’t put it quite like that. He said life is dreamlike, and that life contaminated by delusions is the nature of suffering. Appearances are thrown up from our minds and our karma — changing very quickly, all the time, and not just in this life but in life after life after life.
Sometimes, not so much this month perhaps, we get settled into our relative comfort zones, our comfy corners in samsara, and we lose sight of how strange samsara (the cycle of impure life) really is. We adapt to new weird things, and I think we can forget that samsara is, quite frankly, always totally strange. From a spiritual point of view, however, weird and frightening happenings are a helpful wake-up call. Our minds and lives and futures are unpredictable because our delusions control us, not the other way around. Are things going to get less weird? Probably not, not unless we get less weird. We’re the ones creating the weirdness because our minds are uncontrolled. How do we control our minds, to keep them from going weird on us? We need to cherish others a lot more, we need compassion, and we need wisdom.
The power and purpose of prayers
In particular, right now we need to be praying for our collective world with compassion and concentration. In 2001, Venerable Geshe-la said:
“I would like to suggest that every Center organizes prayers for world peace at any time when local people can gather and pray for world peace.”
He introduced a short and very beautiful prayer practice called Prayers for World Peace, and this is what I want to talk about on Sunday, in our free event – what are prayers, how they work, how we can pray. And recently, in response to the invasion of Ukraine, he said:
“Of course, we engage in Prayers for World Peace.”
In particular, right now we need to be praying. Big time. It is so important. Venerable Geshe Kelsang has said:
"Our job is, we pray, we pray for these obstacles to be pacified. We pray for people to pacify their negativity, wrong views, their extreme views, through prayer. Our job to solve these kinds of problems is we pray for everybody to become friends. To have harmony, good relationships, to pacify their wrong views of selfish intention. This is our job. I believe it is the best method to help." ~ New York, 2006.
Last month thousands of Kadampas all around the world engaged in prayers for world peace, beaming out from Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, at Venerable Geshe-la’s suggestion in response to “the dangerous situation now developing in the world”. I sit up and take notice when Geshe-la requests us to pray for a particular situation because it doesn’t happen that often. Genla Dekyong gave a talk at that time on the power of prayers, and I will be reviewing what she said.
In general, Geshe-la has been requesting us to pray for world peace for as long as I can remember. But recent events are giving me pause. Here is some advice he gave us in 2001:
"World peace is very important; we cannot ignore this now. Once something happens, it will be too late. This world is now, as you know, very delicate, very fragile, and very sensitive. It is almost as delicate as the life of a single person; the world situation is so delicate. This is because there are so many disagreements. Political leaders are ready to fight; everybody is preparing weapons ready to fight and are challenging each other. So, we spiritual practitioners need to offer prayers because prayers are very powerful.”
He also explained three reasons why prayers are powerful and effective, which I will be explaining on Sunday. We will also do the prayers and some meditation, and there will be a chance to discuss and ask questions.
We can make a huge difference with our prayers. So, please join us. It is a free event, and we hope that many people will be able to attend both in person and online.
Kadam Lucy James
Let me explain why I say this ☺ And why I would therefore love you to attend this Buddha Vajrapani weekend. Even if you have just started coming to the meditations and teachings of Buddhism, I think you will get a lot out of it because Buddha Vajrapani gives us spiritual power.
Times are not easy for most people. We could all do with a stronger source of inner power and resilience to deal with everyday challenges and to be ready for any and all future difficulties and catastrophes, both personal and global.
One of the first insights we gain from Buddha’s wisdom is that our happiness comes from our inner or mental peace – when our mind is peaceful, we are ok, we are happy, even when things are going wrong.
Another insight is that peace is our natural state! In which case, given that we’d prefer to be happy, what is causing our unpeaceful unhappy minds?! The answer is our delusions.
As Geshe Kelsang says: “ … as soon as anger, jealousy or desirous attachment arise they destroy our peace of mind like a sudden storm destroying the tranquility of an ocean.”
Delusions cause all our trouble, agitations, and mental pain, they destroy our inner peace continuously, and they lead to all the negativity in our minds, our lives, and our world. Whenever our mind is even relatively free from delusions, we feel fine, we feel positive.
“If we did not have delusions we would experience only peace and contentment.”
A third insight is that these delusions are not intrinsic to our mind:
“Our mind is like a cloudy sky, in essence clear and pure but overcast by the clouds of delusions.”
Delusions are like clouds arising from temporary causes and conditions that cannot harm the sky. If we learn to identify, reduce, and abandon the faulty thinking involved in our delusions, they will dissolve like clouds into the clear sky of our pure and peaceful mind.
How can Buddha Vajrapani help?
So what does Buddha Vajrapani have to do with all this? Buddha Vajrapani is the embodiment of the power and skill of all enlightened beings. Although his nature is love, his aspect is fierce to emphasize his ability to empower us to abandon our delusions and negativity. He can help us pacify all obstacles through the force of spontaneous great bliss. As Venerable Geshe-la says, Vajrapani’s function:
“...is to destroy the delusions of living beings by bestowing special power upon their body and mind. Delusions are our real enemies, and are called “inner obstructing demons.”
Whenever our mind is not peaceful, there is a delusion at work. For example, when you first wake up in the morning, are you happy? Or are you already casting around outside for something to blame for why you don’t feel all that great despite the fact that nothing has happened, you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet?! Rather than going out there to find the source of our unease, we can understand that nothing out there has the power from its own side to make us unhappy (or happy for that matter); there must be a delusion at work.
So we can do a few minutes breathing meditation to allow that unease to settle into the natural peace of our mind. At this point we can check, based on our current understanding of Dharma, which delusion it is that may be troubling us – is it annoyance, is it attachment, is it anxiety, is it jealousy, and so on? Because if we can identify and reduce this delusion, peace will be restored.
But before we even do that, we have a strong anti-delusion medicine that we can apply, one that gives us pretty much instant power to overcome our delusions. We can request Buddha Vajrapani to enter our heart and give us blessings. His nature is bliss and wisdom, which can dissolve away any delusion. And within that peaceful state of mind we can check to see which delusion was operating and apply its antidote, because all delusions find their antidotes in Dharma. Once we have received the empowerment, we can even identify with being him – never a victim, only a protector.
Let me give you an example. If, from the rumble strip of noticing that your mind feels troubled, you check within to detect where you are going wrong, you may discover that this feeling is arising from inadequacy or jealousy. So first you can do a couple of minutes breathing meditation to start settling the mind, let those unpleasant feelings begin to subside. Then you can request the power of all enlightened beings in the form of Vajrapani to enter your heart. You feel your mind mixes with his, you feel blissful and empowered, and your jealousy has dissolved away like mist in sunshine. Based on this experience, once you have the empowerment, you can identify with being Buddha Vajrapani -- and how can Buddha Vajrapani ever feel jealous?! Then within that blessed, peaceful, and powerful state of mind, you can apply the antidote to jealousy, which is rejoicing in others’ happiness. You can do something similar for any delusion that may be arising. This is a fool-proof method to overcome our delusions, the source of all our unhappiness. If everyone was doing it, our world would be totally fine.
Which all goes to say that with Buddha Vajrapani practice we have found a very powerful method to help us overcome our daily delusions and find lasting peace and happiness. And then of course we can help others.
There is also another reason why the world needs Vajrapani right now. As you’ll learn, the wrathful aspects of his enlightened body symbolize not only that he helps living beings overcome the enemies of their delusions, but that he helps us overcome so called “naga diseases”, which, as Geshe-la explains, “include cancer and other diseases caused by pollution.” And pandemics! So, along with explaining everything you need to know about Buddha Vajrapani and how to use the practice to increase our spiritual power, destroy our delusions, and help others, I will also be explaining a special healing practice related to this Buddha for any of you who are experiencing chronic illness.
The empowerment consists of some explanation and a guided blissful meditation through which we connect to Buddha Vajrapani’s enlightened mind. By receiving these inspiring blessings, we can swiftly actualize our own potential for a fearless heart and gain the confidence we need to progress successfully along the spiritual path. Through the power of our courageous compassion, we can help to bring enormous relief to our suffering world.
The weekend is available online only and the empowerment is only available live (Saturday 10.30-1.30) and not by replay. The other sessions are available live and by replay. Hope to see you this weekend!!!
with love, Kadam Lucy
First get into a good meditation posture with a straight but relaxed back, level shoulders, and head tilted a little forward. Your mouth and eyes are lightly closed or, if you prefer, your eyes can be slightly open. Take a moment to settle into this posture and forget about everything else.
Feel contented to be here doing this — accessing your potential for limitless peace and the ability to help others in this troubled world — and determined to concentrate as best you can.
Spend a couple of minutes doing some simple breathing meditation, focusing on the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves through your nostrils. Tune into this, disregarding all static distractions.
As a result of your mind settling a little in this way, feel that you drop from your head into your heart – your spiritual heart or heart chakra right in the center of your chest. Feel already some space opening up, some peace. Feel as though your wave-like problems and distractions have dissolved away into the boundless ocean of clarity at your heart; just imagine.
Now, to become even more absorbed, think that everything outside your body disappears, melts into light in all directions. There is nothing out there to think about.
Now this light gathers into you, leaving behind only empty space, like a mist lifting, until all that remains is your body suspended in empty space.
Also everything up until this moment melts into light and disappears. The past evaporates like last night’s dream, for it is no more substantial than that.
And everything after this moment also melts into light and disappears. There is no future other than our thoughts about it, so let these go.
In this way, you are still and quiet, in your heart, in the present moment. There is only here and now. You are fully present, fully alive.
Now feel all the tension and weight fall away from your body. As it falls away, all your muscles relax and your body melts into light. Your body is hollow and translucent, as if you could pass your hand right through it without resistance. You think, “My body is as light as air, as if I am floating or flying.”
Then, “My body is like a rainbow body and my mind is like clear light.” Just imagine.
Now, still in your heart, imagine any problems you’re having — physical, emotional, mental, political, relationship, money problems etc. — appearing as heavy smoke or clouds. All unpleasant feelings and unhappy thoughts take form.
Think, “These are just thoughts and feelings, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t need to think them. I don’t need to identify with them. I can let them go.”
As you exhale through your nostrils, let them go. They disappear completely, never to arise again. You are breathing away your problems — with every breath your mind becoming purer and calmer. Concentrate on this for a couple of minutes and, if a distraction arises, breathe that out as well.
For the last few out-breaths, breathe out the last of the thick smoke.
Then, as you breathe in, imagine that your breath is in the aspect of blissful light. Ride this light into your heart, where it joins the inner light of your Buddha nature. Feel happier and lighter with every breath. Do this for a few minutes.
Now focus on this peaceful clarity at your heart, like a clear sky, infinitely spacious.
You can think, “This peace, however relative or slight, is the natural peace of my own mind. This peace is always in my mind. It indicates my potential for deep lasting happiness. There is plenty more where it came from. It is my Buddha nature. It is who I really am.” And feel happy about all that.
Allow yourself to abide with this peace, to enjoy it, thinking, “This is me. I don’t have a care in the world.”
Then you can think, “How wonderful it would be if everyone felt this peaceful and free, or for that matter completely peaceful and free.”
Finally, with compassion, you can spend some time getting ready for the day ahead. Who are you going to encounter offline and online? How do you want to relate to them?
These are worrying times for most of us. Even before COVID-19, worry and anxiety had reached epidemic proportions in our modern society. (You might have heard the expression “Xanax is the new Prozac”?!) If we are prone to worry, there certainly seems more and more cause for it as the days and months roll by, especially right now.
How is it that some people you know are coping fine with everything that’s going on right now, and even thriving on it, whereas others are getting overwhelmed and depressed? Of course there are various factors at play, but there are also good methods for alleviating worry and stress that anyone can try.
It is good to know that worry is not inevitable. And meditation and Buddhism can help a huge amount; they are designed to help. (Please also follow your doctor’s advice if you have very severe symptoms).
Plus, we need to try and solve our own sense of anxiety and hopelessness if we have any desire to help our world, which a lot of us do at the moment. As we have probably all noticed, it is not easy to help others when we are feeling unbalanced or unhappy ourselves.
I was interested to see that the dictionary.com definition for worry is:
To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret.
Note the word “oneself”. When it comes right down to it, we are tormenting ourselves — no one is doing it to us. This is because we are the ones thinking our thoughts. If we could control our thoughts, we could get rid of our worry. If we could change our thoughts, we could — we would — learn to be peaceful.
Break the vicious cycle
When we notice our anxious symptoms, responding to some perceived threat such as COVID-19, we think that we can’t cope with the situation, and therefore we become more anxious. This is the start of the vicious cycle of anxiety, the cycle we have to break.
If we are prone to worry, this means that our thoughts are thinking us rather than the other way around. We have inadvertently boarded trains of thoughts that are taking us from worry stations right through to panic stations. We have to find a way to get off.
We don’t have to think all our thoughts. We don’t have to give them power — the only power a thought actually has is the power we give it. If we learn to control our mind, we can think our thoughts rather than the other way around. We can transform our thoughts and we can transform ourselves.
Thoughts depend upon the thinker just as the thinker depends upon the thoughts — change one, the other changes automatically.
This is a simple but devastatingly profound insight from Buddha, which can change everything. And we can experience it for ourselves by learning simple meditation.
Meditation has proven benefits in stopping worry — including even the simplest breathing meditation that anyone can do, such as a 15-minute peace meditation that you can find here. Basically, in this meditation, we are learning to make our mind bigger so that our problems become smaller. And we are also learning that we can control our own thoughts, that we do not need to fear them.
Here at KMC Colorado we are continuing to offer all our meditations and teachings online to help people in Colorado and the neighboring states deal with these current uncertainties and provide some community. We would love to have you join us.
I hope you’re doing well ☺ I write this from a small corner of London where I am helping my poor old tired father take care of my frail mother after her prolonged visit to hospital. It does not seem very long ago that my dad was a star athlete and my mom full of life and energy, and that they were both a lot younger than I am today. A poignant reminder that our bodies are simply not built to last and that we need to put effort into gaining the refuge of spiritual realizations before we get too old.
Given that a human life goes by so fast and old age and/or death are just around the corner, the quicker we gain true freedom from mental and physical suffering and the enlightened ability to really help our loved ones in significant ways, the better. This is why Buddha taught Tantra.
REGISTER FOR ONLINE CLASS
As you may well have heard by now, for perhaps the first time in recorded human history (and maybe the last) Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments and commentaries are being livestreamed across the entire globe this Summer, making them available to everyone without our having to get on a plane, find accommodation, take weeks off work, etc. I doubt there’s anything that can replace the life-changing experience of an in-person international Kadampa Festival, hanging out with Sangha from across the world. However, this year’s unprecedented accessibility to these most profound teachings of Buddha on the highest class of Tantra is nonetheless a significant silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Am I ready?, you may be wondering. If you have been enjoying the classes and/or are already interested in Buddhism, and if you have some faith in Buddha, his teachings (Dharma), and the teachers and spiritual community (Sangha), you probably are. Please check out these two teachings I gave recently that explain the special features of Highest Yoga Tantra and what we need to engage in this “quick path to enlightenment”. You’ll discover from these whether you are ready for this adventure.
One thing to bear in mind is that, unlike most other livestream offerings this year, the empowerments can only be taken on the actual days and at certain times so we’ll need to carve out the time over a few days (Fri. Aug. 6, 3-5:00pm, Sat. Aug.7, 9am-11:00am & 4-6:30pm, Sun. Aug.8, 9:00am-1:00pm). This will help us tune in along with everyone else, have the right motivation, and maintain mindfulness – just as we would do if we were receiving these in-person. The commentary and meditations will be available as usual for a longer period.
Buddha’s teachings are divided into Sutra and Tantra – Sutra being his public teachings and Tantra given to those with empowerment. Once you have received these empowerments you will be qualified to start the Highest Yoga Tantra practices of Heruka and Vajrayogini.
Generally at KMC Colorado you receive teachings on some aspect of Sutra in every class, and these all boil down to three things: developing renunciation (the path to lasting freedom from the delusions and all suffering), the compassionate heart of bodhichitta, and the wisdom realizing the true nature of things. These so-called “principal paths” are the motivation and reason for our Tantric practice. Sutra is said to be like the runway and Tantra like the airplane flying us swiftly to the fulfillment of our deepest wishes for happiness, liberation and enlightenment.
Tantra gives our Buddhist practice vision and brings our Sutra meditations alive. We gain a vision of what it is going to be like to be free from suffering, enjoy everything with a mind of great bliss, and have the ability to help all living beings continually. In these degenerate times, Tantra is a vital practice for enabling us to fulfil our potential to overcome our delusions and develop pure and peaceful states of mind.
As I explain in detail in the Tantric Opportunity classes, we harness the power of our wisdom, creative imagination, and bliss to quickly sever the root of ignorance in our minds and break free from the impure cycle of endless deaths and rebirths. Tantra is also the most powerful method on the planet for dealing with our attachments and addictions and enables us to manifest the deepest levels of joy. You can also read more about all this in these articles: https://kadampalife.org/tantra/
After the empowerments Gen-la Jampa will give commentary, which will be more than enough to get you started. We at KMC Colorado will, of course, also support you completely in your Tantric practice! I will be giving some basic teachings on Essential Vajrayogini later in the year to help you establish a short and sweet daily practice, and on Sundays those on the Teacher Training Program will have the rather rare opportunity to study the whole book The New Guide to Dakini Land.
I could talk for pages about Tantra and how much I love it, it is my life. But instead I will direct you once again to those two classes, the short articles I mention above, and, if you still have time, the first four chapters on Tantra in Part 2 of Modern Buddhism (available free from here.) If you have any questions at all between now and the Summer Festival, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My own feeling is that this will be a one-time opportunity – Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments are given every other year at international Festivals in the UK or elsewhere (occasionally in the US); and after the pandemic will most likely only be available once again in person. So if you have any sense that you’d like to receive them at some point, please don’t miss this chance.
(If you have time for two weeks of Festival this Summer, Dorje Shugden empowerment and teachings are being offered during the first week.)
Much love and prayers,
Hello everyone, I hope this letter finds you well. KMC CO students have seen a bit more of each other in person of late, which is so nice! Look out for your invite from Kate, our Admin Director, to another party in Cheeseman Park on June 17th.
On June 4th—so-called Turning the Wheel of Dharma Day—Venerable Geshe-la is about to be 90! There are celebrations and long-life retreats planned in hundreds of Centers all over the world, including here at KMC Colorado (Fri eve June 4th to Sat June 5th); and you are warmly invited to join in to help pray for his long life and good health. There are limited spaces for in-person attendance, and the whole event will be available online. Check out the details here!
This will include a short talk about Geshe-la based on observing him for the past 40 years And I thought I’d say a little bit now about that as well …
The Dharma Wheel still turns …
Buddha Shakyamuni was the first Buddhist teacher in our particular world to show us a doorway into ultimate truth, the illusory nature of all phenomena — knowledge of which frees our mind. He also explained our limitless potential and how we can grow our huge heart of compassion for all living beings. This is a person we can trust.
In the same way, a modern-day spiritual master is continuing to turn the Wheel of Dharma with his practical presentation of Kadampa Buddhism. Venerable Geshe-la is a reliable wealth of wisdom for how to solve our daily problems and find lasting peace and joy.
Geshe-la is exceedingly quiet and humble, he doesn’t really put himself forward, much less make himself the center of attention; but his wisdom is everywhere. He is in the 23 books covering all Buddha’s teachings of Sutra and Tantra. He is responsible for 1400+ Buddhist centers around the world, including KMC Colorado, and all their teachers who are his disciples. The five World Peace Temples, portals into the Pure Land, that are being plonked all over the world — Heruka’s mandala — all come from him. All of this comes from his heart of compassion and wisdom, his enlightenment. A truly inspiring visionary, he is showing his students what it means to think big—and how to correctly imagine a previously unbelievable reality of lasting happiness.
Geshe-la was already well into his forties by the time he first arrived in England from Tibet via India to bring us – total novices -- the entire modern Buddhism. There are now hundreds of thousands of Kadampa students all over the world and he is still going strong. That might be worth remembering next time you feel you’re too old and/or that you’ve left it too late to get anything meaningful done in your life, lol.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears
All schools of Buddhism agree that relying upon a Spiritual Guide is very important. To quote Gen Rabten at last year’s International Kadampa Summer Festival:
We are here because we want new ideas. We know that if we always think what we’ve always thought, we will always feel what we’ve always felt. We want different outcomes for ourself, for our family, for our communities. We look at the tarnished history of our world, and the suffering and the injustices, and we want something different. That is going to require different ideas, new ideas, new ways of thinking.
Every day seems to bring difficulties and pains individually and collectively — do you know anyone who is as happy as they’d like to be? Why not? It’s not through lack of trying. Maybe it is because we haven’t yet travelled the path to real happiness and freedom. And one reason we have not yet travelled that path is because we have not yet followed a trustworthy guide.
Without a Spiritual Guide to lead us, we have no idea where we are going, existentially speaking. No Google map can point us the way to mental freedom. No YouTube video can show us how to fix the endless pains of our samsara. No pilgrimage to Mecca or even Bodh Gaya can land us in the invisible destination of universal compassion and omniscient wisdom.
Our Spiritual Guide can be anyone. It doesn’t matter who they are as long as they are able to guide us along the spiritual path because they’ve been there themselves, always showing us an inspiring example of what is possible. That is our Spiritual Guide, that person. We have complete choice over that – everyone in Buddhism always chooses their own Spiritual Guide, that’s how it works.
Many people consider Geshe-la to be their Spiritual Guide because he has provided them with teachings, teachers, books, empowerments, centers, temples, and so on. Based on that faith they feel some connection with him in their hearts, and through that a connection with something very profound and peaceful.
What do you reckon, if a Buddha was to tap you on the shoulder right now, or appear in front of you and say “Hello!”, would you see him or her?
As with any deep relationship, we need to allow ourselves time to get to know our Spiritual Guide on different levels. We don’t need blind faith. As it says in Joyful Path of Good Fortune:
“We need to become acquainted with someone who has all the qualifications of a Spiritual Guide, and gradually gain confidence through their teaching and example so that we can rely completely on their guidance.”
Geshe-la has brought us centuries of wisdom, he has brought us unconditional love, he has brought us eternal hope. He is the real deal. I’ve never seen or experienced anything that indicates he is anything other than the real deal. And any of his numerous disciples would tell you the same thing. The more you get to know him and his teachings, the more you realize that this person is exceptional in so many ways. And utterly dedicated to us. He said not long ago “I am always with you.” And he really is.
Check out these articles if you’d like to find out more about him: https://bit.ly/2Szy3E4 and https://bit.ly/3utyvRN
And I look forward to seeing you on his birthday.
Before you go …
While I am here, can I quickly remind you about the International Spring Festival happening this very weekend! Gen-la Khyenrab will grant the empowerment of Buddha Shakyamuni and give a commentary to the Lord of all Lineages prayer, which covers all the stages of the path to enlightenment! If these teachings are anywhere near as good as his teachings last year (which are still resonating with me a year later), I really hope a lot of Coloradans are able to join in. The Festival sessions will remain up for a while to make it even easier for people.
Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. You can always reach me on email@example.com.
Lots of love and prayers,