By CHARNER REESE
Seventy beings came together on Zoom recently to participate in a Daylong skillfully led by Diane Powell and Ken Lenington, where we deepened our understanding and practice of the Dharma so beautifully explained in Shantideva’s poem, The Way of the Bodhisattva. The focus of this retreat was on diligence and meditation, two of the Six Paramitas.
Knowing that wholehearted practice of the paramitas will bring us to the “other shore,” I sensed among our virtual community a heightened desire to learn and practice together the teachings being presented that day.
Particularly meaningful for me was the guided meditation on equalizing self and other, where Diane first read and explained some of the poem’s verses relating to this practice and then invited us to meditate, just as Shantideva did so many years ago:
Strive at first to meditate
Upon the sameness of yourself and others.
In joy and sorrow all are equal.
Thus be guardian of all, as of yourself.
Diane instructed us to choose someone in the online community to gaze upon, guiding us with specific reflections to contemplate as we looked into the eyes of another being, and in doing so, as Shantideva said in verse, “embrace a sacred mystery:”
Those desiring speedily to be
A refuge for themselves and others
Should make this interchange of “I” and “other”
And thus embrace a sacred mystery.
Suffering has no possessor.
Therefore no distinction can be made in it.
Since pain is pain, it is to be dispelled.
What use is there in drawing boundaries?
And so, why not identify
Another’s body, calling it my”I”?
And vice versa, why should it be hard
To think of this body as another’s?
So I chose the Sangha Sister in the Zoom square next to me. And as the guided reflections were stated one by one, I considered them as they related to her. One might think it would be difficult to do this virtually, but in fact that sacred truth of interbeing was experienced in those brief moments.
Once the guided meditation concluded, Diane asked us to do this meditation regularly, both in formal meditation and in daily life, because as with every practice to transform our minds, it is an ongoing process. And so the process continues. May all beings be happy!
A deep bow of gratitude to Ken and Diane for leading this retreat.
Charner Reese has been a member of FCM’s Tampa Sangha since 2011.