Thursday, May 8, 2008

Transcendental Rowing Lessons

I attended a wonderful Bhuddist meditation and dharma talk this evening put on by one of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's Kadampa Meditation Centers at a local Anglican Church. This is a regular Thursday evening event, and I have attended it on and off for a few years now. It used to be taught by a Bhuddist monk, and then by a wonderfuly radiant Bhuddist nun. Now it is taught by a wonderful lay teacher in the New Kadampa Tradtion from our local center.

This week's dharma talk was on "Understanding our Resistance to Change". (We finished April's talks on "Responding Skillfully to Conflict" a week late due to the Church's Spring Rummage Sale.) As I understand it, our resistance to change is one of the fundamental roots of samsaric suffering in the unawakened mind - change, or impermanence, being one of the inescapable features of this human life according to the Bhudda's teachings, along with the emptiness and insufficiency of the phenomenal world. (I recall Chuck, one of my great spiritual friends and first teachers, fiercely echoing Eckhart Tolle's admonition. "Resist nothing!" Chuck would almost shout in his thick, Glaswegian accent.

That our mental resistance to the inevitability of change causes us great emotional suffering was the gist of the teacher's talk this evening. With merriment, she recalled with pleasure how her own teacher would say that one of the West's favourite nursery rhymes was actually written by a Bhuddist. I think he was probably making it up when he told her that, but I too smiled with inner glee when I thought of those lines we would sing in rolling harmonies as children. As the school bus, or our family car would travel the many miles between anywhere in Northern Ontario, we would often sing the lines everyone knew by heart, each person joining in one after another: "Row ... Row ... Row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, Merilly, Merilly, Merilly ... Life is but a dream." How true!

I didn't know that as our family car rolled mile upon mile down Highway 17 to get to the next town or city, that we were all actually entering a transcendant stream. I thought it was actually about rowboats. . . . And so the Dharma Wheel Turns!

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