A Kagyu Monlam is a special event to spread the seeds of loving kindness and pure motivation, to activate their power, bringing genuine peace, love, happiness and well-being into the world.
If you had asked me a few years ago if I would be attending, and participating wholeheartedly in seven-days of Buddhists prayers at Samye Ling, I would likely have said “not for me”. I was still mostly thinking with my head. My heart was too far out, not waving but drowning. Sigh!
As I did not get on this Dharma path entirely by my own efforts, it makes sense that the decision to go to the UK Monlam was also supported by spiritual friends. With encouragement from Lama, and the ever-loving community in Zimbabwe, I got a rail ticket and booked a room. I told no-one how nervous I was. Sigh!
A year at the Centre, with a stronger practice, the support of Lama Zangmo and a whole bunch of newer dharma friends has made me more willing to ‘loosen’ my heart from the tight grip of disappointment and try new things. My denial that I had signed up to spend a whole week saying prayers, in a language I barely have a grip on, manifest itself in my reluctance to pack a suitcase. So, at 2.30am on the morning of my departure I sat bolt upright in a panic, packed a small suitcase with not enough, then packed my large suitcase with everything, then packed the smaller suitcase again after some sense gained from a large cup of coffee. Sigh!
So how did it go? I LOVED IT!!! Several prayers moved me to tears. I always read the English but at times the language was not the issue, the collective motivation was tangible. I felt hope, I felt joy – I also felt lost and confused. I sat between Xiao (an old hand from the Indian Kagyu Monlam) and Paul (taking refuge at the end of the week). Between us we figured out where we were, got lost together, felt our hearts pound when the conches were blown, and the drums beaten. Gosh!
By the end of the Monlam I could begin to feel its purpose. We started each day with The Ritual of Mahayana Sojong and a lighter head. Every day the Umze said “page 117, 117”, The King of Aspirations, recorded with a special tune, yet one I was familiar with thanks to a retreat in Zimbabwe with treasured monk, Samten Drime (he lead us in a much faster chant so I was on it, and it is beautiful). Another prayer with a special tune that struck the heart was page 427, An Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet. Then there was page 221 “The Aspiration “The One Who Taught the Truth…” with the monastics resplendent in their yellow hats, that ends “dzam bu ling de war dze du sol / We ask that the world be made happy!” Emaho!
If you want to access the book, and just read the prayers, you can do so here.
Much love, and courage for the things we resist.
Here are some of us; Lama-La, Joe, Cindy, Lydia, James, Simon, Linda, Xiao, Deep, Laura, James, Matt, Colin (and me)!