This was our last retreat of 2006, and it was a wonderful retreat. Thanks to Jennifer for great teachings and for helping everyone to end the year with hearts open and minds clear. To benefit from retreats you have to be present, you have to participate - it is not enough to just read the newsletter. But here are a few snippets anyway …


1. STRONG DETERMINATION, the ground under our feet


The first strength is strong determination. Strong determination to do what? To live life fully and totally, to open our hearts, which is needed if we want to live life fully and totally.


We want to stay with what is safe and secure. We want things our way. Ego says: have it your way. To live in reality that is unpredictable and insecure, we need courage, confidence and wisdom. We need strong determination. To have strong determination, there must be clarity and knowing.


2. FAMILIARISATION with the path


Relative Bodhichitta refers to our relative personalities, habits and conditioning. Become aware of your habits. Become aware of your conditioning. Everyone has their own hit list – our top 10 thoughts that make us suffer. If you don’t want to suffer, you must practice not suffering. If you want to be happy, you must practice happiness.


Our minds are already trained. Mind training is about re-training our minds in more effective and enlightened ways. Ask yourself, what is my orientation? Is it towards my habitual patterns, living in a pleasant but sleepy fogginess? Or is it towards the brilliance of my own awareness, my own awakened nature?


During meditation practice we start to familiarise ourselves with the nature of reality, which is fluid and spacious. Spaciousness refers to the infinite vast space within which everything happens. Make spaciousness and inclusiveness your new orientation. Start to build up a new set of habits based on opening up rather than closing down, and this openness will in time become habitual.


3. SEED OF VIRTUE, the reality of our enlightened nature


Ultimate Bodhichitta refers to our innate enlightenment and unconditioned wisdom. Virtue refers to our enlightened potential / seed that is already within us = our basic goodness. But holding a seed is not the same as enjoying the fruit. The seed must grow into a tree > which gives fruits > which gives more seeds.


The seed of virtue is always present. It is totally indestructible. It can always be cultivated. The method is to cultivate what uplifts, and abandon what degrades. There is no other recipe. When we cultivate our own happiness, we cultivate the happiness of all, because we can’t do it alone, we are all connected. When we cultivate our seed of virtue, it has a ripple effect, which spreads to all that we come into contact with. 


We build confidence in our own enlightened nature by staying present, and catching glimpses of it more and more often. When we stay awake, our innate enlightenment is activated and becomes available to us.


4. ABHORRENCE clears away obstacles


This strength is about clearing obstacles on the path. Start understanding what makes us suffer, what are the causes of suffering.


Allow yourself to open wide enough to contain the obstacles, knowing that there is space for them. If you can stay present and accept, if you can stay connected to reality, your wisdom will be activated, and it will guide you towards your own sanity.


Develop the confidence to stay. Gradually your tolerance for your painful habits and reactivity, righteous indignation, blaming etc will start to get less, and your seed of virtue will start to take their place.  


5. ASPIRATION gives the journey wings


Aspiration is different to affirmation. We are not trying to force things using will power. We all know that this doesn’t work. Aspiration is an orientation – we keep turning towards it, we let it be our compass. Then transformation happens naturally.


An open heart is not attached to the outcome. This gives us freedom to fly. This frees us from hope and fear. A great deal more is possible than our limited hopes and fears. The whole of reality becomes available, not just the very small part that constitutes our preferences.   


To open your heart wider and wider, make the aspiration every day. Practice every day. Retreats are valuable opportunities to learn and practice. When you leave retreat, know when your next retreat is.


May we live long and be free of illness

Enjoy freedom, great resources and happiness

Next life, may we meet in the pure realm

May we always practice Dharma and benefit beings.





J SAT CHIT ANAND namaste to you Buddha-to-be! 

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