Letter from the Editor

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Welcome to the summer edition of the Mahasukha newsletter, and for those of you that had the good fortune to attend the Great Retreat Teachings at Diamond Mountain, welcome back!  Thank you to all of the teachers and volunteers for making these amazing, truly unprecedented, teachings available.  Dear lamas, please stay.

After hearing the teachings from the Great Retreat online as well as finally meeting Geshe Michael Roach in person, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on all the lamas in my life.  I’m filled with so much gratitude for everything they’ve done for students like me.  Teaching isn’t a job, it is a lifestyle choice.  In choosing this path, these holy beings give up the precious moments of their lives for their students.  Imagine the time it takes to read the texts, translate them into English, to make them accessible to students of all levels, to travel, to run Dharma Centers…all of this and more is done with love and joy.  All of this is done to help us become the best people we can possible be.

How can we pay our teacher’s back for their kindness?  The answer seems easy…simply follow their instructions.  Do what they say, and do it with joy in your heart.  However, if you’re a cosmic kindergartener like me, this isn’t always so easy in the age of instant gratification and Facebook.  Or, in my case, it’s sometimes hard to stick with your practice in the middle of a move.  This is the ultimate irony, since I renounced homeownership in favor of having more time to practice in rented digs.

What do you do when you find your practice is faltering?  How do you deal with the realization that you were completely attached to your old meditation spot…yes the one that doesn’t exist anymore! The best advice I’ve gotten is to stand up, wipe the dust off your seat, and then sit back down on the cushion regardless of its current location.  The other thing I’ve been keeping in mind as I create a new practice in a new space to constantly think about what I want to give up and what I want to take up.  Considering I gave up my little green bungalow, most of my furniture and possessions, my little garden paradise, as well as the last vestiges of my dream to pursue a Ph.D., I’ve got giving up covered.

Now its time to take up.  After all that renouncing, I feel like it’s time to start anew.  I’ve started by reviewing a teaching given by Lama Claire and Lama Darin on how to live a sane life, which is outlined in this month’s “On the Road” feature.  If you still have an alarm clock, if you still read the news for infotainment, if you still watch TV on a daily basis, please review the 14 components of a spiritual life and take it to heart.  After three weeks of following this advice, I’m starting to create inner and outer balance once again.  In Toronto, Geshe Michael taught us to do the coffee cup meditation every evening to promote sweet dreams (in my case it’s a glass of water).  Now, as I get into bed and my head sinks into my fluffy pillows, I think about all of the nice things I’ve done for other beings during the day.  As I visualize myself in these interactions, I dedicate these good actions to manifesting the thing I want the most:  to have teachings in person and a real live sangha.  Already, it seems to be working!   I will be travelling to LA to meet with all the wonderful teachers and students of the Mahasukha Center and attend the vow ceremony on August 27th. My heart is already so happy, and I’ve just started on this journey.  Really and truly, do what the teacher asks.   Keep them in that spot in your heart, and watch your world transform.

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