Sometimes, we are blessed to have auspicious conditions that bring inspiring teachers into our lives. Perhaps it was a book that they wrote or said at a lecture, retreat or on-line video. Perhaps a chance meeting brought you together. Whatever it was, a seed was sown that changed your life for the better. For this reason, these teachers are precious.
Yesterday I was fortunate to meet (for the second time since 2012) a teacher who has deeply inspired me and many of my friends in our commitment to practicing meditation: Urgyen Sangharakshita (aka Bhante).
This weekend I was at Adhisthana, a retreat centre in Herefordshire. It was for a short weekend retreat to celebrate 50 years of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, now the Triratna (“Three Jewels”) Buddhist Order and Community. About 50 or so people were present for the event.
We were celebrating what happened fifty years ago when Bhante started a chain reaction of ever increasing friendships of those inspired by his teachings. For 20 years Bhante had lived in India, where he was ordained and studied with a range of Buddhist teachers. Inspired by all major aspects of Buddhism, he has since written and lectured prolifically both in the West and the East. In the light of modern scholarship and his own spiritual experience, he has brought out and emphasised the core teachings that underlie and unify the Buddhist tradition as a whole. His teachings clarify the essentials and outline ways of practice that are spiritually alive and relevant to the 21st century.
In 1997 I first went to the London Buddhist Centre, one of the Triratna centres and where Bhante once lived. Since January 2009, I started going regularly. I really appreciate what I have learned since then, the friendships that I have developed and the love, joy and light that has been a deep inspiration, including for the research into mindfulness, becoming a mindfulness teacher and also, more recently, becoming one of the support yoga teachers at the LBC.