Day 1: Summoning the World to Buddhahood

On Sat, 18 March, 2023 - 20:43
Vidyamala's picture

It is beautiful to have the privilege to practice with this wonderful group on the ‘Summoning the World to Buddhahood’ retreat at Adhisthana. We gathered for the first session last night in the shrine room with others joining us online. We went around and introduced ourselves and it was powerful to hear everyone’s connection with the Bodhicaryavatara – for many a much loved and seminal text.

I recalled my first encounter with the text in 1987 when Nagabodhi led a weekend on it in New Zealand. I had only been coming to the Auckland Buddhist Centre for a matter of months and didn’t really understand a single word. But I was entranced to find myself in the atmosphere that Shantideva evokes: an outpouring of uncompromising Dharma, devotion and powerful transcendence of petty self-concerns. It feels quite extraordinary to be here again with Nagabodhi 36 years later on the other side of the world! Both of us much older, wrinkled and with grey hair of course, but the longing to receive Shantideva’s message undimmed for us and the others here.

After introducing ourselves Nagabodhi and Saddhanandi went on to introduce the retreat more fully. They have both led many retreats on this theme and have a deep love and knowledge of the text. I know that they, and the others on the team, will take us on quite a journey this week. Nagabodhi recounted how he often feels challenged to the point of sleeplessness by the relentless drum of Shantideva’s teaching and I find myself feeling a certain amount of trepidation as we begin – and I welcome that! I want and need to be challenged.

To end the evening Dhivan led is in a simple three fold puja. The day ended with a strong sense of having embarked on a powerful journey with intrepid companions – into the great mystery and beyond.

Today we gathered in the shrine room at 10.30 to listen the verses being read aloud of Chapter 1: Praise of the Awakening Mind. After a period of silent reflection Nagabodhi then skilfully and elegantly unpacked the key themes, drawing on his own understanding of the text as well as the implications for us of Bhante’s particular emphasis on the Bodhisattva Ideal – an ideal which he describes as “the most sublime ideal ever devised in the human race”. [See my notes: Page one and page two]

Nagabodhi posed some juicy questions to help us reflect on the preciousness of human life stressed in this chapter: “what is the point of life? Who are we really? What are we really?” And he began to unpack the deeper implications of anatta that are so central to the Bodhicaryavatara.

So we are well underway and coursing in the current of the Dharma together – for the sake of all beings.

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