i was first exposed to buddhism as a teenager and though this is definitely not for me – all that focus on suffering ! growing up in a catholic family suited my devotional /wild girl nature quite well. it was great having a channel for offering flowers, saying prayers for others (in latin and in english), offering up both happy and sad things to jesus, serving others and not just the self. there were also some role models of women going against the materialist culture and facing obstacles because of that. what wasn’t so great was as a maturing teenager not being met intellectually when i asked questions about the religion. unfortunately, the answer was always ‘ it is a matter of having faith’. this was not enough for me, so i started to look elsewhere especially yoga and meditation. at age 20 after a little study of buddhism, and more questions answering my own instead of pap answers, i had the wish to have a buddhist meditation teacher. this took 20 years to manifest ! in the meantime i explored the eight limbs of yoga deeply and while appreciating many aspects of it i still felt dissatisfied intellectually, emotionally and socially. when i came across buddhism again in my early thirties i felt it was intellectually stimulating and the practices was deeply satisfying.
I think the way that I when I saw that picture, a green Tara is like, That’s so beautiful and everything I wanted, I just gazed at this picture and I wanted to copy it. And then underneath was the Tara mantra, and it’s like, Wow, what’s that? Oh, that’s Tibetan script. That’s the mantra. What’s the mantra? So it was like this just almost a magnetic quality to those, to those images and to that what was really what was there. So I can only expand it in terms of like a previous connection. Same as when when I was 15, we moved into a new house, my parents and an old house. And on the bookshelf was this book Yoga for health, beauty and Joy. I think it was called and I just picked it off the shelf and read it. I thought, I’m going to start doing this. So I think previous connection, you know, I can’t explain it any more than that because I was a lazy teenager. You know, I did, as Bryant did, the minimal amount of work to get through school. My friends, you know, they were I’ve moved further away from my friends and school. So I think previous connection is what it is for me. Same as when I was leaving Auckland. I wanted to have a Buddhist image to take with me. I didn’t have anything apart from my little hand-drawn green Tara. So I went to a Buddhist center and rifle through their posters and there was no Buddha. There was no green Tara. There was just all these. I didn’t know who they were, but the closest one was this orange one with this sword. I thought, Oh, oh, I’ll take that, because that looks pretty interesting to. Again, it’s like a curiosity and a just a resonance with a. So I bought there, took it home, got it framed, put on my wall, and it was only later that I realized it was only later that I realized that Harrison her eminence at some crucial hours was sucking lineage and Manju Sri is the main energy, one of the main energies of succulent EJ. And yeah, and my teacher when he when I met my teacher, Lama Chetak, when she first empowerment, I had with bunch sheep empowerment for speech. So I think I was just guided, you know? And yeah, just gently guided towards my heart wish, which was, you know, when I was 19, sitting on the beach thinking, life is wonderful, but it’s like with, how do I navigate it? How do I be of service of my life without being enslaved with that thing, without sacrificing, you know, how do I have liberation as well as be of service? So. That was the question, and then I thought, well, I guess a teacher would help me with that, and so I thought, Oh, I hope I find a teacher . I want a teacher. I want a teacher who’s going to teach me Buddhist meditation. So. I think because I’ve done yoga meditation myself a little bit, and then in my mid-twenties, I started going to an ashram and I got more into yoga and I really enjoyed that. But I didn’t have any relationship with the teachings had to scratch around for the teachings. And even then, there was no heart really. And I can best explain that in a dream I had. So the night, the second night I was on this ashram, I had this dream and then my dream, the teacher said, Go to the vegetable garden and bring me back some peppers. I want some peppers for the cooking, for cooking capsicums. OK, so I’ll go down. I picked these peppers. I’m looking for a blue pepper. I want a blue pepper. So now it’s only green peppers and yellow peppers and red peppers. It’s no blue pepper, but I want a blue pepper. So I picked up these other ones and took them back to the teacher said, Here you are. But there’s no blue pepper says there are no such thing as blue peppers. I said, Well, I want one. I’m going to go looking for one. So what was this dream about? So, you know, 20 years later, I can say, I know what it was about. You know, it’s about blue being the color of the heart and the and the Tibetan Buddhist way that fighters the fire, that a throat is red and the heart is home blue like the sky, so empty, like the sky, limitless like the sky. So that was a little dream I had, which was like I had lots of dreams. But it really helped me to trust that I was on a path that I was being guided myself was guiding myself in a way my higher self was guiding me. It’s the way I would have talked about it than that time, I suppose, whereas now I’d say my inner guru was guiding me and to resonating into finding resonance with what, whatever. And then to make connection and be diligent, you know, because if you spend a long time looking for a path when you come across, it’s like, Well, I could go to the beach today, or I could wash my hair later. But you actually you do your path. You know, you do. You practice and then everything else comes into place as the yogis say, you know, do you practice? Everything is coming?
Part of what I like about Tibetan Buddhism is the involvement of the body, so, you know, the Tara Puja or Tara Sunday when I was engaged with it, set the mood trees are just so beautiful, you know, it’s like you’re sitting down with just kind of dancing, you know, and it’s. And what are they about? Well, they’re about, you know, off making offerings to is practicing generosity. You know, if somebody comes to your house, you ask them a drink, you know, you can some if the dusty you, the shells they you want to use the toilet or some food or some pretty flowers on the table. And this light a candle because it’s getting dark and maybe like some incense, because the rubbish is a bit smelly. So it’s like the ritual has meaning and that it’s like, it’s what you would offer any guest. And even though we are going into the into the shrine and the Buddhas are there, maybe it’s their house. It’s it’s your place of practice. So you make offerings, not because they need it, but because you need to practice being generous. You need to practice treating everybody with respect. And so if you make the offerings on the shrine with the right awareness, then you’re going to be making offerings to everybody you meet with better, you know , better awareness. Yeah. If you’re on a practice as a passionate people, for people who have very alive emotions and very alive senses and don’t want to be renouncing the world and sitting in a cave straight away so that they’re designed to engage, they the very the alive body. Yeah, and their life mind, you know, and like, when you’re training your mind into meditation, people think it’s like a course and sedation. It’s not. A sedation is different from being calm. You know, you can be calm in the middle of a storm, in the middle of a fire exit or middle of an earthquake or middle of an orgasm. There can be a sense of calmness within in the middle of that that you’re still fully engaged, but you just not you’re not losing it. So, yeah, being calm and awake and aware is the training of meditation rather than being sedated or relaxed. There are two different things. And so you take that base of having a mind that can be calm and focused. And then you add in these complex rituals or complex visualizations that are or complex rituals that Buddhism is, that’s the vehicle for reaching enlightenment very quickly by not denying the body or the passions or the mentality, but engaging it and expanding it and saying, yes, play with these things and see the emptiness of them. See how they come and they go, how they form, how they break. Everything is made up in the universe like that. Things come together. They have their time that come together for lots of different reasons, lots of different input. It’s not all about you and what you have to do and take responsibility for it. Just just part of it. Do your part really well. There’s all those teachings and body on it that I really feel supported by. Because, yeah, I could be a bit neurotic and self-obsessed. I’m a bit more neurotic and self-obsessed. If it weren’t for that, I think, but I think a lot less happy, you know? So it’s nice to feel that, to feel the joy of being alive, you know, of being fully alive, not just in my own little bubble. So I found the chin raised at practice had a lot of teachings in there about impermanence and about devotion and about refuge and about, you know, there were like just teachings and the practices and the practices were all sung. So my teacher, Lamassu, the composer, is a translator, not as a translator, but a poet. So he’s taken the Tibetan liturgy, translated it and give it at the same meter so that we can chant it in this in English and the same way that is done in Tibet, which means it’s lyrical. It’s fun to do. You know, it’s not sitting there in a monk. It’s it’s sitting singing, you know, and and others around you singing. Your voices are blending and it’s beautiful. So I guess beauty is a really big, important attraction to me of Tibetan Buddhism. You know, the beauty of the gong for the colors and the shiny statues and the beautiful flowers and the the harmonizing of colors and and the movement of the body and frustrations. You know, all those things are really enabling the senses to encourage you into practice rather than deny the senses and sit on your cushion aside, come come to this sensual, sincerely delightful place.
So you asked me earlier, like what sort of pivotal point was there that you leaned into the practice and really felt that support? Hey. Yeah. So I guess for me, it was like when my child was born and holding this beloved little creature in my arms and breastfeeding at night sitting up and I’d do my to a day to practice what I was doing that because, you know, I didn’t want to fall asleep so special, but I didn’t want to be anxious. I just wanted to be relaxed, so I would do to practice. And then I would think, how can I protect this little one from the pains of life? How will I, you know, the the pangs of being a parent, how do I love as fully as I can? And how do I protect myself as well as protect my little one from, you know? And that’s when I started to hear Tara just say, there’s no protection, just baby with that fear, because you will learn about it all as you go, you know, and you will learn to be fearless. And I thought, Well, that’s nice. But now looking back, that’s sort of what I did really. It was like just to keep it simple to deal with what’s in front of you, to be as kind and gentle with your little one as you can be. And that was a big step actually to be to take the path of nonviolence and raising my child, to not be the bully, not to be harsh, not to, but to excite as well and encourage and to praise, you know, to be very positive all the time with the child. I think that’s the biggest thing that the dam has given me, really. And I know my son is 24 and we talk about what that was like for him, and he really appreciates the fact that his brought up in a way that he was. I was encouraging him to be who he was in a way that was going to be good for him. And not to be who I think he should have been. Yeah. So I’m really grateful that I had the Dharma before I started embarking on that big voyage of being a parent. Yeah, but at the same time, I still do my practice every morning or in the middle of the night or whenever, because it’s the practice is there to help you engage as not as not to replace engaging with the world as to help you engage in a skillful way with the world and to look after yourself within that and not to get caught up in the and all the and all the difficulties of the world and all the difficulties of a problem. You know, it’s like to get an overview to get an understanding that everything changes in your.
On Fruit of practice
Well, I feel more light hearted than I was when I was 25. And I feel like I have a an understanding, a wider understanding of of the preciousness of human life, how precious and rare that is and. And how ignorance, you know, and ignoring the facts can make us deeply unhappy, you know, and we need to we need to be really. We need to look at the facts of our lives and to bring analysis to our lives and and to observe what happens in our lives, and I did this and I did that and what really was the benefit of that? We need to be able to be. Yeah, really. Review our lives, I think, as well as keep our aspiration there. We need to be able to review and to analyze things. Yes, certainly, I think on the path to enlightenment, you know, and I. Yeah. I love seeing the teachers getting older and older, but there’s still a huge amount of light in their eyes and they are not fearful of death. You know, it’s like, Well, we’ve done this so many times, it’s going to keep on doing it until everybody’s free of the fear of death. So, you know. Oh. Yes, sir, I feel way less fear and confusion than I did in my twenties and thirties. You know, I think there’s two types of happiness and hedonism, which is happiness that comes through pleasure through the pursuit of pleasure, fun, fine wine, food, friends, climbing mountains. And then there’s the economics ahead in comics and economics. Or something of that dynamic is when you have happiness remaining through doing something meaningful. So is the best example. It is like becoming a parent. You know, maybe like five minutes of passion and pleasure for the rest is let go. The rest is is rearing a child, you know, and having happiness from seeing the child develop and seeing you develop as a person, as you parent the child and seeing your relationship develop or go through crises and get through them as you, you know, as you develop so you can see that you’re growing and you’re helping others to grow through this relationship that through this family that you are making. And so that the happiness of that which is happiness, remaining love and happiness through pleasure. And I think that’s quite a succinct way of of talking about the two ways of seeking happiness. But I love it. That and the tie dancing, you know, we have this dedication song at the end. May all beings be happy. May all beings be free. And the mudra for happy is the same mudra that we use for wisdom. You know, so true happiness only comes from wisdom. You have to. We have to find the way you have to understand what happiness is and how to create it. And it’s not just plucking the grapes off the vine, you know, it’s like cultivating the mind and not grasping to anything because that’s the main cause of suffering. We all want happiness, but we create causes of unhappiness. If we don’t, if we’re ignorant of how to create happiness, we have to learn to cultivate true lasting happiness because it’s yeah, most of us will just go for that pleasure, for no pleasure for me, pleasure for my body. Whereas fasting means that happiness or pleasure, happiness in the future, for myself and others, and happiness of the mind, you know, content in mind, meaningful, contented mind. Yeah. The other thing is that different from in the from when I was in my twenties, I have a bigger understanding of karma and departments, you know, and I know that you can heal from your past actions. You can make good. You can confess you can regret. It’s okay to regret things that weren’t so good. As long as you act on it and resolve not to do it again, or you somehow make up for it in whatever way you can. You know that I think it’s foolish to ignore the fact that we make mistakes. When we’ve done that, we stuff up, you know, we need to acknowledge that we do stuff up. But there are ways to make things better. And I didn’t know that so clearly when I was in my twenties and thirties, really? And the dummies taught me that, you know, comma and de fundaments, we can clear them away, we can work at them, we can change our comic, make the best of every moment and build up marriage and we can. And that’s enjoyable thing to do. It’s not like just going putting your money in the bank and hoping it’s still there when you want to get it out of sight. Hey, if I actually did the best I can and then let go of it and share what I have and let go of any resentment, or if it’s no big deal, just let go of it, keep on just giving, then it’s easier to just keep receiving this new stuff that comes because it’s always coming our way, really? Yeah. That’s a bit of a rave, but there we go. So I feel much happier, you know? And more. I feel happier to be. I think I’ve given myself permission to be as big and as happy as I want, as I can be. You know, and it’s so what people think. I’ve got a poly and a complex or, you know, whatever. My mother used to hate it when I was. I was such a party and I said, Well, what do you like? You know, it’s it’s OK to be positive and to be, yeah, as creative and positive as we would like to be.
On function of Sangha
Well, this is two things in that, really, because we have the center, which is right in the middle of town, so it’s people walk straight past the door and we have the Central Zone for practices. And anybody can come in, you know, don’t be a card carrying anybody. You just can come in and sit quietly while practice is happening. And so we always start with refuge, prayer and then read through teachings or meditation, and then we start the practice, meditation practice. So maybe half the people who come in to Samatta meditation practice, they don’t have any teachings in meditation, but they can come and sit down and just be in that space dedicated space. So that’s about the interface with the person on the street who just is curious, you know, and they can just come in and and and sit while we meditate and then talk afterwards and we have a library that they can look at. We have regular meditation courses, eight week meditation courses that we have training for two hours a week for eight weeks. And the idea is to get you sitting on the cushion and doing practice. So it’s created with that aspiration. Here and then. So that’s like the interface side between a Gamper and the outside world, people come in pretty easily. And then the Gompers also there to as a repository for all our statues, for our teachers, for the images, to be there and for us to come together and do practice together. So Wednesday night, we do try and raise practice and people say, What’s that say? It’s a practice where you imagine that you are the Buddha of compassion, infinite compassion. So you just come and sit and see what it feels like to imagine yourself as bad. And then from that place to do mantra and to bless the world and to fill yourself up, you know? So again, it’s quite easy for people just to come in. And if they come in two or three times, they may say, Look, you know, next time a teacher comes to town, get the empowerment and then that’ll make it sell it and your being. So it’ll really work much more strongly. And then there’s the yeah, and there’s a rehabilitation center that they do mindfulness training, and every week they come and join into our meditations and they’re on that sitting in that center for maybe two months. And it can be a really good way of reinforcing that. You know, there are places in the community where you can go and just sit and be in silence and learn about meditation, and it’s lovely to see the changes in people over that time period. And then, of course, you know, we come together and do more deep practices like white tar or, um, you know, non-drug practice, go and have a coffee afterwards if it’s on a Saturday morning or we sit there and talk afterwards, and that’s that sense of community that we’re, you know, we’re sharing lives. We have a bit of a chat. We have a meal together now and then. So that service, but it’s just it’s also community, and it’s and it’s nice, it’s like we can talk about our spiritual life and there’s a lot of people we can talk about that easily without me going. But that sounds a bit religious or why is it so traditional? Or, you know, that sounds a bit much. Can’t you just do like half an hour a day rather than two and a half hours a day? Or, you know, it’s just nice to be among people who you can who recognize that it’s worth getting up early in the morning. Do you practice? Then you go to your job and that supports you in your job. You know your nine to five job, whatever it is, and helps you to keep your heart, you know, open to people and to keep your perceptions of what’s happening humming.
Yeah, I guess when I was younger and my service fee was to be a warrior, lots of ways, you know, to be on the streets and how we make change happen and standing, you know, in the face of adversity. But that came from a place of strength rather and an understanding that, you know, just like me, we want we want the same things that we are approaching it differently. You know, it came from a thing of me and other. And I think what the Dharma teaches you strongly is like, it’s all a dance American beach on different sides of the coin so easily. And so it’s really important that we respect the other as much as we respect ourselves and to be aware that what we’re doing and saying about somebody else where we’re supporting that same thing in their self. So if I start criticizing and badmouthing and blaming something outside of myself, then I’m I’m reinforcing something within myself that’s like that as well, you know, so it’s way better to like with a child, you know, you notice what little sticks they’re doing to improve and you notice the thing your special wish for them and that you would help like to help them to fulfill, you know, their wish, whatever that is. And isn’t it the same as mine and just the whole skillful means of engaging with love and jumping on to one side of the fence? And you’re on the other, and we’re just going to somehow, you know, we’re going to get a bigger army, then you’re going to get in the end. I don’t know. I kind of explain it better than that, but that the whole thing is skillful means within Buddhism is such an important thing that you you have compassion and then you need to be skillful about how you, how you how you express that wisdom, how you act on your wisdom or not act on it, you know. So it’s just like a big question, really, that you don’t have to have it. You don’t have to have it all sorted out, but don’t have to have all the intellectual arguments. Pets up there. You can just sit there, a person who is engaging for whatever reason, and maybe they’re caught and you may be a little bit freer so you can do your job is to help them to become freer or to reflect, but to stand on your freedom and to enjoy that rather than trying to impose it. I don’t know if that makes any sense. It makes sense to me. I guess. Yeah, it’s like it’s weird. But I heard myself saying that when I was 20, whatever, $0.20 a pop. But actually, there was a woman in my life. This old woman, about 5060. She was saying, You know, just don’t just be gentle with yourself, you know, and go and lean against a tree. And, you know, just imagine that you are the roots of the tree putting energy down the earth and you are the trunk of the tree limb leaning into yourself and you reaching up to the stars and taking all that moisture and wisdom and just letting it come into yourself. That was a beautiful meditation that a friend gave me when we were at the end of some because I know big protest we’ve done and it was really calming. So she held that for me that you got to look after yourself while you engaged, whether it’s on the frontline of a riot or whatever, or if it’s, you know, going to the play school again and mixing with the moms, you talk about the makeup and the, you know, whatever you know, just you got to just keep it gentle, be gentle on yourself and find the thing that’s going to ground you and help you to be more, um, attached this attached to the outcome, you know, really? Yeah. Just to to do what is helpful in the moment.
On Tara Dance
The Tara Dancing is like Tara was the star for me from quite early on. And then I persevered with the Tara Puja thing, you know, sitting down the cushion, doing the 20 to, you know, the twelve to 22 verse prayer twelve times because my teacher translated into English as, Oh, this is actually quite beautiful, you know? So that was engaging with them that way. And then after doing that for five years, Viola said to me, You know, this woman in Hawaii who teaches a dance version of this said, Well, how can that be said? I don’t know, but you know, you’ll find out about it, I’m sure. So goodness. seven years later, I was in Nelson and saw the poster for Tara Dance. So that’s the Tara dancing, if I want to know about that. So in the Tara Dance, you really encourage them to see the person in front of you as Tara to imagine that you can see the Tara in her heart. But if you can’t this, OK, just imagine that person in front of you as a Buddha, you know, so you’re actively changing the way you see things when you take part in the practice. And so you’re seeing the one in front of you as Tara as well as yourself. And then you seeing the pace that you are as a beautiful realm, you know, is beautiful. This flowers everywhere, but you’re exaggerating that and making it not material. But like, that’s beyond the walls of what you can say is the whole place is beautiful. So it’s actually a more profound way of doing practice, I think, than for what a lot of people are doing when they’re sitting on their cushion imagining. But not actually. Not not using the whole body to walk for to be in that, to be in that environment somehow, if you’re walking and and and imagining that you’re drawing an entire energy and then on your heart and with your arms, your blessing, you’re engaging your whole body. You’re not just you’re not just imagining it in your mind, you’re engaging by doing the actions of blessings, by doing the actions of concentrating it in your heart. So it makes it way more powerful. I find it very powerful and beautiful balance to the of practices, you know, and it makes me happy. You know, you’re moving your body and this walking pace. It’s no stress. It’s very this very calming. And, you know, every practice that we do is, well, actually. Yeah, I always do it with doing refuge first and bodhichitta. I know a lot of other people don’t do that, but to me, I know the power of if you take refuge first and be very aware of why you’re doing it, then that adds to its benefit, both to yourself. Rather than just being a I’ve got five minutes to spare. Just, you know, do a dance like this, the beginning and the end, you know, and make them make them both good as well as what’s in the middle. Yeah.
Happily, happily, my teacher lives on the other side of the Tasman. I live thousands of miles away and comes to our places twice a year, and I think this the Tibetan saying good to have a teacher who lives two mountain ranges away from you, so you’re not involved with the day to day life of that teacher. You see, you have contact in a meaningful context. So he’s coming to give need to retreat or you’re going to ask a question or to make offerings. So when I first met my teacher limited it, um, I was so impressed with his his oh, everything about him really like. The way he started his talk, so quietly, so humbly, and then he would start to talk more animatedly and then engage with people and then be obviously having a very happy time. So he was talking as if he was streaming energy through him and and he would talk about his own teacher and the great respect he had enough he had for his own teacher last night. He and he was just delightful here. Be so serious. So, so into what he was talking that he would switch it with humor. And, you know, a lot of Tibetan teachers do that. I haven’t had a lot of experience of other Buddhist teachers, but my experience is mainly with Tibetan Buddhist teachers. And there’s this ability to to lighten things up and then to give the message, you know, or vice versa, to give a message and then to lighten things up and do that repeatedly. So my own teachers, Democratic members say beautiful like that. And within a year of meeting him, his teacher came to our city as well has in its target teacher the show and seeing the two together saying this beautiful guru, student or guru son relationship was totally inspiring. Just the love, the mutual love, the mutual need, you know, like the aging teacher at 80, Ford needs the teachings to be held well by the next person, and the next person needs to receive the teachings and needs the warm breath of the teacher to explain everything and and to the question and answer thing. And and and that’s the essence of the teacher and all the teachers that have gone before that. So I had this living example of his eminence of literature, Empeché and in loving passing on and loving rejoicing and all that his heart son had created in Australia and New Zealand. That was really beautiful. And then when I saw his honeysuckle ritson, when I first see him in Auckland and this serene, beautiful embodiment of a bit of a refugee, you know, someone who was crowned as a as a king, really at 14 and then four days later fleeing his country, being a refugee and then as a young man, as a teenager, having to hold this hundred year old lineage in hundreds of years old and in his hands and with his teachers and supporters, and then make it strong. And so reading the reading, the biographies of the of the people I’ve met or all the nieces, you know, like reading the biographies of Graham Bashir, who lived here in Seattle, it’s like totally inspiring, you know? And then to meet her eminence Dublin today and just just to see that same. Blindness and strength and clarity and commitment, you know, not as a as a you must respect me sort of thing, but just as an ordinary, everyday, precious thing that everybody is precious. And but those who’ve been had the training since they were little or been blessed with the teachings at all, they’re more precious because they can inspire us. They can show us that can help us navigate, you know, and we’re not going to take over our canoe and, you know, take us to where we didn’t really want to be going. They’re going to say, where do you want to go to meet this and you need this and come back and see me? Well, off you go. Yes. So it’s been lovely to meet wonderful teachers and to have. Yeah. To see that just the simplicity or the power of who they are, you know, that’s inspiring. Yeah, and the yeah, that the humility, the emptiness of who they are, you know, they’re not sort of saying, gimme, gimme gimme. It’s like, tell me about yourself. You know, they want to know who you are. They yeah. Oh, you think you?
I think what I found at the ashram, you know, lovely people and the practices are great, I love moving my body. I was trained as a dancer, as a kid, you know, the gymnastics, you know, high jumping and really athletic and, you know, very active. So I love yoga and that it’s like brings strength and flexibility and breath. But the books that I read, like I said, I didn’t have a teacher for a long ten years. I didn’t have a teacher for 15 years, really. I started practicing yoga at 15, didn’t go to take teaching to the yoga teacher to us about 28 or something. So I was just doing my own thing and. Yeah, so people are nice, but a little bit. I don’t know. I just couldn’t find. And I’m thinking, maybe it’s just the intellectual. There was no intellectual study of there was no engagement of the mind. It was like clearing the body, cleansing up the diet, doing karma, yoga, being devotional. Those things, but no. And the meditations of working with the charterers, but I started reading the books as like, Oh, does it make sense to me? So what it was like? So what I want to know? I want to know more. I want to be inspired. Yeah. And I didn’t find inspiration in the life of the Guru so much. Oh, that’s not true. Christian matéria his last pretty inspiring and what Jessica is doing as well. You know, and and the yoga teacher in town that I sense, and he’s a lovely guy. But is there the sense of other, you know, like whatever you’re doing, you’re doing for the sake of others? That’s the thing that tripped it for me, you know, into Buddhism is that curiosity about that. So why are we dedicating the practice? All we dedicating to other people would benefit from what we’re doing. Why? Because we’re all connected. Oh yeah. You know, hippie bill again. No, we are, you know, whatever we do affects other people. So if we start to polish up our minds and activities and train our mind and that creates a different field in us, it’s not just for us to feel better. It’s for us to have a beneficial effect on whatever we come in contact with. Yeah, that’s like inspiring. Yeah. So it’s that aspect of it’s not all about me that I found really inspiring about Buddhism because you can just become more and more self-obsessed and more and more neurotic through a practice that doesn’t actually say, forget about yourself and do it for other people, you know, so. And yoga is great for calming a busy mind like mine, you know? And but it’s I think, what would I be if I didn’t have the relaxation aspects of yoga? What would I have been, you know, but to really expand my consciousness of my thinking or to challenge my mind? That’s what Buddhism has done for me. You know, it’s like whatever question you have there, Mate ten more questions that can come from that. You only have a short life, really. It’s only like, you know, maybe 90 years if you’re lucky. And so when do you stop practicing yoga for you, just for your physical health? Or, you know, it has to be in a way that enables your mind to enable your mind to grow? Then it’s about developing a body and clearing channels and get everything going so that you can actually just sit and not have to go walk, walking for health or eating for health or anything. You can just breathe and and be with your mind. And that’s that’s the trip. Yeah.
Afternoon that my mother died, she died that morning. She died an old people’s home, you know, she’d been there for three weeks. Not interested in starting a new chapter of her life? No, she was out of it. So, you know, kind of Catholic family. So I said, when you come and, you know, do saw practice. So he came and sat in the sitting room with my mother’s body was in the coffin there and it was so beautiful what he said, he said, You need to think about all that your mother did, all the good things that your mother did. And um, think about that as a cushion that’s carrying her forward, you know, out of this life to where she’s going next and then think about any negative things that you did towards her and forgive yourself, let go of any negative things that you have in relation to her. Any negative thoughts, either from her side or your side. Let them go and just make this cushion of positivity that she did so well as you carry her through. So nice. Lovely thing to say.
How has the path manifest in your daily experience?
in my early 30’s a flatmate took me out to the buddhist temple to receive teachings and empowerment on green tara from h.e. sakya jetsun kusho -la. her teachings, though through a translator, really resonated with me and at that time i also decided to commit to buddhism as a path and see how it went for me, so i took refuge at the end of that weekend. soon i had committed the tara practice to memory and could do it while out walking or driving as well as sitting on my meditation cushion. now thirty years later it is still a foundation practice for me and i also dance and teach the tara practices in a meditation style. these forms of mindfulness all support my aspiration for all beings to be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
I love seeing the teachers getting older and older, but there’s still a huge amount of light in their eyes and they are not fearful of death.
What are some of your practices/rituals that you do to support your spiritual development (meditation/prayers and etc)
vajrayana morning practice with contemplation, meditation, visualisation, mantra recitation seated in front of my home shrine. at the end of the day, a shorter vajrayana evening practice too , sitting up in bed. wearing a wrist mala reminds me to see all as the buddha, all sounds as mantra, all thoughts as emptiness – like a clear sky. when walking or moving between one activity and the next i often will recite mantra internally, or some prayers – eg shantideva’s enlightenment thought.
Which sangha do you normally attend ?
phuntsok choeling, napier nz. pretty much as soon as i met my buddhist meditation teacher i became involved in the small local sangha, meeting weekly for samatha meditation then adding in chenrezig/ avalokitesvara practice of compassion. over the years being part of the committee to develop our centre as a place for sangha and newcomers to practice and learn together has given me a way to contribute to the wider community. our teacher and spiritual director lives in australia so it is up to us to keep the shrine, texts and practices alive, polished, meaningful, and available to others.
What is your primarily profession?
registered naturopath and medical herbalist. using the power of herbs to resolve rather than suppress illnesses, freeing the body/mind with yoga, meditation and other exercises. encouraging patients to develop a compassionate view towards themselves.
Do you think your personality or background influence the lineage/practices that resonate with you?
vajrayana is for people with a passionate, inquiring, courageous nature and requires an understanding of renunciation and a functioning awareness of others – we are all in this together – and our minds can be free and happy no matter the circumstance !
On tantric practice
You know, all those things are really enabling the senses to encourage you into practice rather than deny the senses and sit on your cushion aside, come come to this sensual, sincerely delightful place.