So in my last blog post, "Meeting the Dalai Lama", I shared my experiences of a silent retreat in Northern India and I can whole-heartedly say it was one of the most life changing experiences of my life. To be deadly honest, I chose to go to Tushita as I wasn't quite ready for a Vipassana where you sit for hours on end meditating and you aren't even allowed eye contact with anyone for the whole 10 days.
Tushita was different in that I was allowed to smile and have eye contact with people during the silence, but also there were lectures on Buddhism making the silence less intense. I totally connected with the Buddhist teachings and love the simplicity of what the Buddha taught. On a basic level, they essentially offer self help guidance on how to be more happy and create a happier society for all.
A powerful lesson I learnt at Tushita was Impermanence; the impermanence of material objects, relationships, experiences, moments. Everything and everyone is constantly changing, ask any quantum physicist, although a chair may look like a chair when you look closely under a microscope it is just a cluster of atoms constantly changing shape and moving.
This takes a while to get your head around but when you think about it, it’s true. People are constantly changing, you cannot expect them to stay the same, and that’s why you have to work at relationships and adapt not expecting them to be your ideal partner, father, friend or companion. Same with your laptop or car, you may have splashed out on a brand new Mac or a Land Rover but one day it will get damaged or just wear out over time. In the end everyone and everything dies, it may sound a little negative but if you know me personally I am very positive and I see acknowledging death as a form of impermanence as a positive thing.
Knowing this you can recognise how precious life is, and how important it is to make the most of every second by truly living in the moment. That is where true happiness lies, not letting negative afflictions of the mind take over. It is HARD, don’t get me wrong, I’ve learnt all this intellectually but I’m still working on integrating it into my everyday life. It’s easy to practice the Buddhist principles in a perfect retreat scenario but when you go back into everyday life, that’s when the lessons and challenges come rolling in and you’re not so zen anymore. It is a continual lifelong challenge, but challenges are where the magic of transformation takes place.
"Self is the refuge of the self"
The Dharma or teachings are there, you can choose to agree or disagree with them based on what is right for you, but at the end of the day it is only YOU who can create the causes and conditions for lasting happiness and a clear resting mind.