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Bringing the Dharma Alive: A Weekend with the Ven Pannavati

24 Feb 2018 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to Diane Powell for this sharing.

Last weekend the Dharma was brought alive by Venerable Dr. Pannavati during a non-residential retreat she lead at our Tampa Practice Center. Venerable Pannavati is a Buddhist monk and teacher based in North Carolina who travels throughout the United States and internationally to preach the Dharma. “Preach” is an apt word both because she is a former Christian minister and also because her animated, expressive presentation was imbued with a quiet but absolute conviction and passion for the truths of the Dharma.

Like our teacher, Fred, Venerable Pannavati has studied and practiced in multiple Buddhist traditions, and her teachings drew upon her broad and deep knowledge of the Dharma as well as her own experiences of transformation and realization. In one moment she would share a story from ancient Zen or Tibetan teachings to demonstrate a point. Then in the next moment she could break into a burst of hearty laughter-- preceding a story she was telling on herself, an example illustrating how she had to learn a truth of Dharma the hard way: an open sharing of her own personal history and past struggles, all for our benefit.

The topic Sister Pannavati chose for the retreat was a familiar one to many of us--Non-Self, which was the focus of the FCM January Retreat and is also the theme of our current Dharma Path Intensive.  The teachings she brought to us on this topic could have come straight from the Intensive: that the self is a core source of our suffering, that we need to know the self before we can be free of it, and that understanding the true nature of the self is the way to our liberation.  Her presentation was a wonderful combination of wisdom teachings—that we must understand deeply the illusive nature of self, and the concrete and practical-- that only through mindfulness can we begin to know the self and the reminder that the self can endlessly justify its afflictive reactions.

The retreat topic and teachings were familiar, but the form in which they were presented was completely unique and fresh. The Dharma flowing through Ven Pannavati was joyful, authentic and radiated both love of the Dharma and love for all of us who were there absorbing her presence and teachings.

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