19th January 2017 – Meeting a Monk for the First Time
We started lining up for lunch at exactly 14:00, and knowing that the chef and his helpers started cooking it as soon as they finished our breakfast, I appreciated every single bite I was eating.
A bus was waiting for us, and after a 20-minute ride to town, we arrived at the Mahabodhi Temple Commitee. We sat patiently in the library, waiting for Venerable Kabir Saxena to come in at any minute. In the meantime, Dhirendra Sharma gave us a taste of who we were about to meet and what the session was going to be about.
The monk stepped into the room and requested us to change our seating and form a circle instead of sitting in a linear position; energies in the room changes and I started feeling more close and connected to everyone around me. He started off by explaining the obvious but not so obvious truth; that we are all beings trying to live a happy life during our existing days. And he slowly initiated an introduction to Buddhism and how it shows us a path we can walk on to find the happiness we are searching for.
He told us about the foundation of Buddhism, also known as the 4 Noble Truths;
- Life has inevitable suffering
- There is a cause to our suffering
- There is an end to suffering
- The end to suffering is contained in a path
He taught us briefly about following this path, not only to avoid personal suffering and find inner happiness, but also to share this with others by love, kindness and compassion.
He ceased explaining so that he can answer any questions that we had, and after that, we had a 20 minute mediation session. We closed our eyes and first focused on our body posture; then on our breathing and then concentrated on gratitude and on shifting the positive energy we created during this meditation session to people we care about and to people that need it.
I personally try to meditate every day, only for a couple of minutes, but this was my first guided meditation done live by an actual monk; I was in high spirit. A couple of minutes into the session I was nodding off; his voice so soft and calming, the library so quiet and still, my mind so silent and peaceful. And when it came to an end, he said, ‘I hope that your mind is now calmed, and that those that needed a rest, had one’. I didnt feel bad for nodding after all, probably nor did the library guard who was snoring. He ended the meditation session by explaining how important meditation is in our daily lives, and how we can change our mind by starting to calm it and eventually become enlightened like Buddha.
We showed gratitude as Dhirendra lead us to say something each at the very end of our meeting, which we did. I could see that everyone was so thankful that the monk took hours of his day to speak to us and to teach us so gratefully about a philosophy that could change our lives. We were also well aware that he was very ill and he did not complain even once, nor did he want to stop communicating positive energy with us.
We ended our visit by going to the secretary’s room to show gratitude towards him for allowing us to have this beautiful experience. He told us that he himself had been volunteering for 9 years and at that moment I felt motivated and happy to know that what the monks teach and preach, is very well practiced.
I left the place happer that I entered it; my mind was clear yet filled with positive thoughts, my body was filled with energy to change the world and my soul was filled with love and compassion. Because although Buddhism is not new to me, I felt happy to listen to the wisdom I started listening to 3 years ago. I felt ecstatic to hear these teachings face to face for once, instead of on YouTube videos. I felt happy that we all got the opportunity to experience a different religion, and I’m sure that it opened some minds to find inner happiness, and to understand that we are may be different but we all going through the same challenges and we are all walking the same path. Today was about that and about becoming aware to cease from sticking to just one religion that we grew up with, and to build and live our on philosophy made up of the benefits we see in different religions.
A man once told The Buddha, “I want happiness.”
The Buddha replied, “First remove ‘I’, that’s ego. Then removed ‘want, that’s desire.
And now all you’re left with is Happiness.”
by Brenda Casha, Right to Smile Volunteer