Taraloka Retreat Centre

Tonglen Retreat: Sunday

On Sun, 23 March, 2014 - 13:06
Saddhanandi's picture
The day started with two meditations, held within the silence of early morning - dawn rises quietly in front of the large shrine room windows at Taraloka.

At 11am, I focused on the teaching of the Absolute Bodhicitta. In Tonglen it is sometimes called the stage of ‘Flashing Bodhicitta’. It’s taken me a few years to relate to this aspect of the practice as I’m such a practical sort-of-girl and I need things to be concrete and tangible! But I’ve also come to understand how I lose perspective in my engagement with life, and how limiting that is for me. Contemplating Absolute Bodhicitta, is a way of establishing a ‘Big Mind’ approach and it can therefore free me from some of the ‘self-ing’ tendencies that can colour my actions. Sometimes this larger perspective comes from my connection with my yiddam, the Buddha Shakyamuni, and it takes place in the ‘cave of my heart’: in this way, it becomes a sense of being ‘resourced’ and I’m grateful to Prakasha for his teaching on this approach.

This stage of Tonglen can also be a stage of connecting with our heart-wish: our deeper values and vision, and I used the story ‘The Myth of the Return Journey’, from the White Lotus Sutra, to illustrate this process of ‘returning’ to ourselves

At 4pm, a led sessikon in Tonglen.

I’ll end with a quote from Sangharakshita that we had last night in the puja:

We may say that the Bodhisattva himself is like a prism, like a glass prism, and the Bodhicitta is like pure white light shining through the prism. And the vows of the Bodhisattva are like the different coloured lights which emerge from the prism on the other side. So you’ve three things: you’ve the prism, representing the Bodhisattva; the pure white light, representing the Bodhicitta, shining in; and all the colours of the rainbow, as it were, shining out, representing the Bodhisattva’s Vows.

We can pursue this sort of comparison even further. We can go so far as to say that this pure, white light of the Relative Bodhicitta streams from the sun of the Absolute Bodhicitta. And we can further say that this light, this pure, white light of this one Bodhicitta, shines through hundreds, and through thousands of individual prisms.

And as it shines through them all each one produces its own particular set, its own particular combination, of colours… We see therefore in this way that provision is made both for unity and for variety. We see that the Bodhisattvas all participate in one Bodhicitta. This is the source of their unity, its one Bodhicitta shining in the midst of them all, shining through them all, they all participate in it. It manifests itself in them all in different ways. But each Bodhisattva expresses that one Bodhicitta in his own way, or in her own way, and this individual expression in terms of life, and work, and career, and activities - this is what we call, this is what we term, the Bodhisattva’s Vows. …The vow is an expression in terms of the life and the work and the activity of the Bodhisattva. It’s not even just a question of the Bodhisattva’s conscious willing, not even a question of his conscious intention. To change the metaphor we may say that the vows of the Bodhisattva are so many sparks, as it were, struck from the Bodhisattva’s total being - not just from his mind, not just from his will, but from his total being under the tremendous impact of the Bodhicitta.

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