Sometimes the life can surprise you. There happens something that you have not planned, and it leads you to unexpected situations and places. You are supposed to do something else but all of sudden you change your mind and things happen. Do you know what I’m talking about?
This happened to me on the second day when I moved to Malaga in May. For a while I had dreamed of going again to taichi & qigong classes but at the studio I found out that the class was canceled. By surprise on my way home I found a Buddhist meditation center.
I step inside, and there was a meditation class about to start. I joined them, why not as I have practiced daily for years. After meditation I heard that they would be a silent weekend retreat called “Tantra y Vacuidad” which means Tantra and Emptiness. It was in Spanish, but it sounded interesting, the place looked beautiful and situated only 30 minutes from Malaga so I decided to join them. I had no time to research what was this Buddhist school and tantra, but anyway I knew that it is different from what I practice in our Sangha.
On Friday evening I laid my bag to a bed in the dormitory of the meditation center in the mountains near the small village called Alhaurin de Grande.
The introduction speech was starting. We gathered in the main lecture hall, the doors opened, and the Master Kelsang Rabjor entered to the hall. He said few welcoming words, and the songs started to play which were supposed to lead us to meditation mood. He talked beautifully about the basic principles of Buddhism. How to stop suffering? How to find the inner peace? La paz interior. How to let go the old karma? How to cultivate happiness, love and peace of mind? Then all of sudden it dived deeper. Everything is impermanent, so the death is inevitable. We have to accept it. I know, I know. But how? By meditating to death, and finally heading to samsara and nirvana, we were told.
I could not concentrate anymore and was thinking, when he’s gonna stop talking. What we’ll gonna have for dinner? Hopefully something good, I was hungry.
That night I did not get much sleep. Some neighbours talked aloud till midnight. It was a silent retreat and the silence in the center at 10pm. I woke up at four and my mind was running fast. No more sleep.
On Saturday the sky was grey and it was cold. Where was my nice meditation retreat in the beautiful mountains, near the nature? Yes, it was there but I had dreamt of the sunshine. The weather was the same for everybody but I was disappointed.
We had four lectures and meditations during the day. In the first lecture we contemplated who we are. When the Master talked more about the death and the impermanence of life, it felt natural. It is something we should accept. Our death is inevident, and the moment it arrives is unsecure. We had to meditate with the thought “Maybe I die today”. I thought is it useful to be ready, what good is there in that? But I know it can happen. All of sudden. Am I ready?
The lectures continued with the same theme but went deeper step by step. Who am I? Do I owe this body? What is my mind? How do I see myself every day?
It is a good question. We see ourselves outside, and think that the others think the same way. It’s not like that. The Master talked a lot about the mind and how it creates illusions how thing are and also creates an image of who am I. It leads to suffering. I understood what he was talking about. I had been there.
We learned the techniques how to empty our mind. How to meditate on empty mind and the thought that all the object are empty? There is no way to force the mind to be empty. It comes with pacience, wisdom and compassion. It comes by understanding the others and their suffering. This is a beautiful thought too as we are full of ego, use our elbows and do not know – or are interested of – who is the other person, and what he has gone through. Too often we just walk over the others. Meme. mememe. Me. Me and my ego. I want this and that. Fuck the others. I’m hungry, I go first to pick up the food.
We meditated many times. Some of the sessions succeeded well but in some did not. In the evening I was nearly falling from my chair. In the end my head was hurting and my brains exploding. He spoke really beautifully and wisely but the continual vague songs somehow irritated me, and I did not like the feeling. That was the feeling that should vanish, fade away. I could not stop it, not there or in many other situations to tell what, how, and how long something lasts. Things are not under my control but it can make me feel irritated. There is a long way to learn away from that. During last moments I felt like the blood was rushing to my brains, and veins were about to explode.
In the evening the noise in the house continued. At 11pm I was so tired and frustrated that I dressed up and went to the garden to listen from where it came. My neighbors, of course, two Spanish men. I knocked to the door and shouted “Silencio, por favor!”. The stopped talking. Was I happy or ashamed? I did not sleep.
On Sunday the sky was clear, the weather was warm and beautiful and my mind was calm and happy. I took a cup of coffee (yes, there you can get some!) and went to sit in the garden. I was admiring of the beautiful nature, flowers, trees, butterflies, garden, sky. The lecture was a bit about the tantra but still I did not get it at all. I decided not to force my mind to reveal the secret practice immediately, and it was a good decision. That is just what we were studying at. The pacience. The subtil energy. The pure mind. How to turn the innocence to wisdom.
During the weekend I realised that the retreat was by the school of Kadampa and Mahayana Buddhism which is using tantric methods and dharma to finally turn ourselves into the being that can help the others to avoid and stop the suffering. It talks about nirvana – which is quite far from my purposes.
That’s why it was a surprise for me to join this retreat as I was not earlier too interested about that kind of approach, it felt strange to me. I do understand now it better but still… I have to admit that I rely more on basic dharma teachings
and practices which I think more philosophic way, although also with a spiritual approach.
Anyway all these are beautiful practices, and I’m happy that there are different ways and traditions, for different needs and people.
I came home and I was calm. I respect hugely everybody’s own commitment. Great people. Wise speeches. Pure mind. Inner peace. Compassion. Love. Respect of the other people. The gratitude of life.
Did I find a bit more some inner peace? Did I get a slightly purer mind? Could it happen in a weekend, if we try hard? As my mind was aching, was I not trying enough?
That is how we are taught. We should have everything at once, we are impacient and restless.
I learned a lot about me. I understood that I have come a long way, stydying and practicing nearly 20 years but thSere is still a long way to go. I admitted that I have to practice daily but in my own way which makes me more calm and content.
I also learned that we have to go over our limits to learn new things about ourselves and the others. Only after that we can truly make clear decisions what we want, not from ignorance but by insight and wisdom.
La Paz Interior. The Inner Peace.