Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche even describes boredom as a necessary part of our meditation practice: “Boredom is part of the discipline of meditation practice. This type of boredom is cool boredom, refreshing boredom. Boredom is necessary and you have to work with it. It is constantly very sane and solid, and very boring at the same time. But it’s refreshing boredom. The discipline then becomes part of one’s daily expression of life. Such boredom seems to be absolutely necessary. Cool boredom.”
This is the story of a retreat I did at Karme Choling in the winter of 1977. That retreat was a bone rattling experience for me, but I was too young at the time to fully appreciate how it was going to change my life. Well, here I am on the fortieth anniversary of that retreat, and it certainly did change my life, so it might worth sharing a bit of that story before I fade away.
The Potala Palace in Tibet and Puto Shan near Shanghai in China are powerspots of worldwide renown, but it is less known that they are mirrored from Mount Potalaka in South India, the sacred abode of the noble sage of transcendental compassion, Arya Avalokiteshvara. With the wish to shed more light on Mount Potalaka, Levekunst requested Mattia Salvini, an outstanding poet and Sanskrit expert, to compose a pilgrim’s guide. Enjoy his description, poetic praise of the holy place and his Sanskrit chanting.
We may not call them addictions or think of them in that light and yet habits, what ever they may be, have a hold upon us. Addictions imply that we are not free, that we are not unfettered. Whether we are addicted to TV, to being in love, to running in the park, to smoking, to our mobile phones, to music, to anything whatsoever. Yes, we can even be addicted to meditation.
In The Heart of Lo Gekar, the ancient story is re-imagined from a woman’s point of view. In the hours after the battle ends, our heroine senses something more than conquest. She senses that the battle is not yet over. We follow her up the mountain trail where we see her find the demon’s heart, cast aside yet still beating, on the mountainside where the gompa will eventually rise.
Observe with mindfulness. If we become accustomed to this kind of observation, our vision of the world and of ourselves will change subtly, we will be freeing ourselves from the bounding chains, the clinging and we will be enjoying the events in the present moment, here and now, while they last, letting them go and allowing them to fade away until they become a simple memory.
Padmasambhava however used it as a place of practicing Vajrakilaya, and if you have the right karma, you will see some relevant images in the cave walls. There are also various rock formations which have Buddhist, Hindu and in some cases Kirat, mythology attached to them, such as the two rocks just inside the cave door, which are meant to be the the body and head of a demon decapitated by Padmasambhava.
Most of our life in the world is the mind directed outwards. For most of us, this is how it needs to be, but we know there is this whole inner world of ours that is the foundation for the quality of our entire life, and all our relationships. If that inner life is thriving, healthy, enriched, liberated, illumined, then everything we do gets that benefit.
“I learned that well-being and happiness are things that have to be obtained from within yourself. No one is going to give them to you. You have to learn to be wherever you are and to appreciate that, to be with it and be happy with it, not to hope for anything else at that particular moment. ” In these words, Lama Tashi summed up the experience of his three and a half years of retreat, traveling through the Himalayas of India and Nepal.
Many ancient Asian meditation practices have come to the West since the early 60’s. But are they of benefit in this modern day and age? We have lost our groundedness and centeredness due to being more in our heads, we constantly ask why, how, who, what, when? And therefore we are always analyzing and over thinking things.