Today I am travelling from Manchester, via Munich to New Delhi in India. I am just descending into Munich as I write this. I was up at 3.45am to get to the airport for the 7am flight and so when I just did my practice, a lot of it was drowsy, with regular nodding off and an odd glimpse of Mindful clarity.
The sky is a beautiful azure blue criss-crossed by the white cloud trails of other planes. It never ceases to amaze me that such a heavy thing as a plane can glide through the sky – the reality we live is strange and wonderful.
It is a sunny day in Munich airport, clean, organised, straight lines, lots of glass, shiny surfaces and lots of light and space. Lovely relaxing massage music in the lady’s loos. Organised with comfy seats.
I am travelling alone, but feel quite calm. I am meeting my friend Kathy at the airport in Delhi and trust all will be well. There are several MA tutors flying out to Delhi this week: myself, Kathy, Ian, Alan and Vin. We are going to attend the second year of Mahamudra teachings with Situ Rinpoche. It’s a 6 year course with an annual teaching retreat and a daily practice commitment. We were all here last year, but I am hoping it will be less of an adventure this year.
Last year, it was a sleepless overnight flight to Delhi (watching lots of movies), followed the next night with a sleepless overnight train to Gaya, where we arrived at 3am. Then the next night a sleepless night in a stiflingly hot room being bitten by mosquitoes and then another sleepless night as my roommate spent the whole night throwing up. The majority of us were ill and for many of us this continued for several months after we returned home. So at the teachings, where I had won a seat in the front and at the centre (seat places were raffled), I spent most of the sessions nodding off and in fear of falling so deeply asleep that I fell off my cushion right in front of Rinpoche. I took lots of notes and at one point in my notes, the writing tailed off into the phrase ‘carbon monoxide poisoning’ and Rinpoche was not teaching about that!
Not to mention the toilets! Suffice it to say, I regulated my liquid intake to make sure I could use the toilet in my room. The one time I used the toilet at the temple I was bitten by a mosquito and you can use your imagination for the location of the bite!
Despite this, at the time it felt like an adventure and not an ordeal! We had an amazing time with excellent teachings, lots of laughter and mornings and evenings meditating along with Buddhists of all flavours underneath the Bodhi tree in the location where the Buddha became enlightened – sometimes I have to pinch myself.
This year is easier, with the teachings located in a 5 star hotel in Delhi and a request for as many of us as possible to stay there so as to make the facility hire affordable – I didn’t need to be asked twice!
So this year it is a daytime flight, taxi ride to hotel, a few days to prepare for the teachings with help from the pool and spa – as I say, sometimes I have to pinch myself.
There will be about 800 of us attending the teachings – many familiar faces that we know from Samye Ling and Samye Dzongs around Europe and from South Africa and Iceland. I am feeling a bit sorry for this posh Hotel about to be descended on by a hoard of scruffy hippy Buddhists (In our old sweat pants that provide space to sit cross legged with comfort – or is that just me!) Although, we are all very kind and friendly.
Anyway, I wanted to talk in my blog this week about motivation.
Last year Situ Rinpoche made it clear that we should do everything with the Bodhisattva motivation: to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. I aspire to this although I don’t think I really understand it.
In my work with the MA, I aspire to have the motivation to benefit our many course participants, but it is all too easy for me to prioritise my own personal interests and to prioritise making money, so that the MA remains financially sustainable. I trust that so long as our focus is benefiting our course participants, the finances will sort themselves out (fingers crossed – however I will continue to monitor the finances – so maybe not 100% trust!) Often, I don’t see until later that I have lost a focus on my prime motivation of benefiting our course participants.
So, I am cultivating a habit of remembering my motivation each morning and keeping it in mind through the day (with reminder alarms on my phone). Then at the end of the day I am reflecting back and rejoicing in all the beneficial things I did that day in the service of my motivation. Then reflecting back on all the things I did that day that contradicted my motivation and (not beating myself up about it!), aspiring to do something different next time.
Kathy and I have a plan to cement this new habit during our two weeks together in Delhi. Why don’t you join us?
The first step is to be clear about your prime motivation and then go from there.
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