Donovan shares his transformative experience with the practice’s dedication and prayer, initially finding it foreign to prioritize others over himself. The concept of dedicating the entire hour-and-a-half practice to all sentient beings felt powerful, challenging his previous self-centered perspective. The practice helped him realize the value of every being and shifted his mindset from considering only himself and his immediate family to appreciating the importance of others.
Despite occasional challenges in attending the Wednesday practice, Donovan finds warmth, support, and enlightenment in the collective dedication to every sentient being. He emphasizes the positive impact of the practices within the lineage and the Bon tradition, acknowledging their significant role in shaping his life. Virtual gatherings via Zoom further strengthen the sense of community, allowing Donovan to connect with the faces, smiles, and wonderful individuals who share this tradition.
Christopher reflects on the theme of compassion within the community over the past three years. He acknowledges the challenge of extending compassion, emphasizing that it’s sometimes easier to feel compassion for a maggot or a worm than for someone who may be attacking you. The community, diverse for Salt Lake City standards, includes LGBTQ individuals, Latinos, and African Americans. The fellowship actively engages in social justice efforts, including participation in Black Lives Matter activities.
Christopher delves into his personal understanding of compassion, recounting a pivotal moment with his wife when he realized that his compassion was initially driven by self-interest, seeking a favorable outcome for their relationship. He emphasizes the shift in perspective that true compassion involves recognizing another person’s suffering independently of one’s desires or expectations.
The practice manual includes a profound statement on compassion that the community recites every Sunday. It emphasizes the absence of respect, disrespect, responsibility, judgment, anger, bias, or prejudice in compassion. The focus is solely on understanding and alleviating the suffering of others, detached from personal agendas.
Christopher shares an affirmation or prayer about compassion borrowed from Robert Aitken, highlighting the transformative power of even the briefest moments of compassion. The fellowship aspires to move towards a physical sangha to embody compassion through various activities such as hospice work, aiding the homeless, feeding those in need, and participating in suicide prevention efforts. Christopher emphasizes the importance of not viewing people as projects but engaging in compassionate action as brothers and sisters. He advocates for the courage to look directly at suffering, asserting that Buddhism is a path for warriors who have the strength to witness and address suffering in the world, emphasizing that compassion doesn’t always have to involve grand gestures but can manifest in the smallest acts of kindness in everyday life.
Jackie delves into the Bourne tradition, centered around the Bodhisattva vow—a commitment to self-liberation for the benefit of all sentient beings. This concept of service to others resonated deeply with her, aligning seamlessly with the way she had lived her life even before encountering the bumper tradition. The emphasis on kindness and service to others, ingrained in her upbringing, became a natural fit within the Bourne tradition.
She reflects on the inherent human inclination toward kindness, citing scientific evidence of increased endorphins and killer T-cells when engaged in generous acts. Jackie sees kindness as a fundamental aspect of human nature, and the Bodhisattva vow, for her, merely verbalizes and solidifies the commitment she was already embodying. The vow becomes a way to formalize the compassionate ethos she had internalized throughout her life.
Jackie believes that individuals, by embodying the Bodhisattva life, have the power to influence change starting at a personal level. Quoting Chick Moran, she emphasizes that personal transformation ripples through families, communities, cities, and eventually permeates the state, country, and the world. The Bourne tradition, with its focus on the Bodhisattva vow, aligns with Jackie’s belief that peace begins with individual actions, creating a positive energetic influence that can extend globally.
Gou reflects on people’s initial motivations for pursuing the path of balance between body and mind. Some find satisfaction at the plateau of tranquility, appreciating the benefits in their lives. However, Gou emphasizes that others, driven by a deeper longing, continue their journey through more extensive studies and intensified practice. While some may find contentment at the plateau of oneness with mind and body or unity with the environment, Gou stresses that this is not the ultimate goal.
Gou delves into the concept of enlightenment, simplifying it as the realization that the ego or self is absent. He underscores the need for continuous effort and exploration, challenging the notion that reaching a blissful state is sufficient. Gou encourages a commitment to the practice, even for those who may have temporarily diverted from it, emphasizing the importance of understanding one’s Buddha nature and original face. Despite the modern tendency to disregard thoughts of the next lifetime, Gou asserts that the practice should persist, ensuring spiritual growth and avoiding regression.
Annual update on progress of project.