There is a dakini story related to the life of Naropa, a famous master of Tibetan Buddhism. He had been a learned scholar until he had a surprising encounter with a strange looking dakini. She told him, you understand the words, but you don’t understand the meaning. In other words, his understanding was merely intellectual and he was missing the crucial point. In the story she has a gloriously non-normative body, deformed, and crooked in all these places, and also visibly aged. Her very body was revealing something of the messy, somatic, wrinkly nature of life. After this he practiced Chakrasamvara meditation which led him to the visions of where to find his teacher. That was the beginning of an epic journey of awakening that has been told and retold for hundreds of years.
That profound search for meaning speaks to a tender human experience – the realization that there is more than what we know, to yearn to know it and sometimes to rip open our lives to go find it.
Everyone’s journey in the dharma is different. We all come to Vajrayana Buddhism for a variety of reasons, but the longing to know more, to see further, to know the genuine meaning of what we are and what reality is – that is what so many of us all have in common with Naropa. We don’t want to know just the words, we want to know the meaning.
But to know the meaning takes time, it takes practice. It is more than just a peak experience once a year or once every few years when we go on retreat. To actualize this part of self that loves to learn and grow requires something ongoing and deep.
When I was first teaching I struggled with how to meet this need, because I teach householders, and householders can only take short periods out of their life to go on retreats. How would we study the epic works of Vajrayana or proceed through the entire sequence of esoteric contemplative practices in just a few days? And then a few of us started meeting online. I have a handful of students who met with me for a decade online, every week. And thats when I started to see. We would gather for retreats with a large group and those students, the ones who had been studying with me weekly online, had a practice that was light years beyond those who didn’t. Their understanding of the principles, the practices, the obstacles to practice – it was unmatched. They went deeper in retreat. They had insights into the ground of being because they had been primed for practice. And the strangest most wonderful thing was that, we knew eachother so very well. I felt close to them and them to me because we had dialogued week after week about the dharma, I knew their questions and doubts, and they even knew mine. I started to see what was possible through online training. And that is when we started going into the longer, more epic studies like that of Finding Rest and Ease. We were able to take our time, because from home, they could make the time for a couple hours a week. The profound results of online practice and study speak for themselves. Anyone who doubts it should meet my sangha, a group of new and advanced practitioners, but who, on a regular basis pursue the genuine meaning.
As we step into 2024, our leadership team has seen the potential of what we can do online. We are in the midst of a complete technology revamp, to make it even more accessible and supportive to our dharma friends everywhere. We want to invest in a future where our team can come to your living room, where I can continue to meet with you one and one, and where you can interact with your fascinating and brilliant dharma friends. I invite you to help me make this possible by supporting our fundraising effort with a donation this year, to celebrate the embrace of Buddhism and technology and to enable the continual unfolding of this benevolent, generative effort that we have made.
Our goal this year is to raise $50,000 to revamp our online platform to fulfill this potential at the next level. We can’t do that without your donations! We are a grassroots organization and all of our funding is based on individual donations. I hope you will remember us in your end of year giving and of course, if you cannot, then we also enjoy the continual support of good will and prayers, the positive energy that has kept us going for all these years! So please feel free to give however you can. I look forward to a new year of programs and to meeting each other again and again.
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