Saturday, 31 March 2012

Love is All You Need

I spent the day down at Bodhisattva Buddhist Centre in Brighton for the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion.  It was a clear but slightly chilly day as Janet bundled us into the car at the altogether reasonable time of 9am (Have I ever mentioned I'm not good in the mornings?) and we made it to the Centre with about 20 minutes to spare.

Avalokiteshvara, Buddha of Compassion
The Centre is in what used to be an old monastery a long, long time ago (there are still some stain glass windows in) and then it fell into disrepair for a long time.  For a while it was the biggest squat in Europe before the Buddhists bought the building and started a long process of making it habitable (installing heating and fixing the roof, removing all the asbestos etc.). It's been looking amazing for a few years now, but they have been working on the furnishings and the shrine for a while. It was the first time I'd seen the shrine room since they completed some work there, and I must say, the shrine is huge! It comfortably houses an 8 foot statue of Buddha, yep, 8 foot! The photos don't do it justice, but here you go:

8 foot Buddha.  Yeah.
The teachings given by Gen Chodor were on the theme of love and compassion.  He talked about what we can do on a practical level to become more and more similar to this enlightened being who is the compassion of all the Buddhas manifested into form.  What do I need to do to be more like him? Practice loving kindness, not just on my meditation cushion on my own, but when I am rushing around in this busy world.  (Admittedly, I never really do rush about, so maybe sauntering through life looking at all the busy people would be more accurate.)  Why should I practice loving kindness? Because it makes me happy!  How? Start by looking at the kindness I've received from others.  All the things I have are as a result of others kindness: the food I eat, the clothes I wear, even my body.  As Chodor said it is our choice in our daily life whether we look for kindness or whether we look for faults in people.  If we look for kindness, then we see it all around us, all the people around us become our hero! We see heroes and heroines all around us.  When we see this it's easy to want to cherish people, to love them.  So when we realise that they are suffering intensely with sickness, ageing and all the rest of life's trials and tribulations, we naturally develop compassion and want to help out.  We extend our capacity bit by bit so we can do more and more as the years go on.  It was a very inspiring teaching, it reminded me of all the positive ways we can make an impact to ourselves and others.

After the commentary, we had a little celebration for Bodhisattva Centre's 20th birthday - with cake and everything!  I managed to get a shot before it was completely cut up:

Yes, that is a cartoon monk with a seagull perched on him, indeed
I think it was sponge with raspberry filling, now that you ask.  I'm sure that there will be other celebrations, but I am glad that we got to share a little part of happiness in cake form.

All in all, it was a very beautiful day and I'm really glad I managed to make it down there.  I left feeling more connected and very blessed.  The only thing left to top it off was seeing this amazing car on the way home:

Fantastic.  Absolutely fantastic.

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