Dharma Day is a special day for Buddhists all over the world, including Business Analyst Mark Carr and his wife Julia, who lift the lid on what it means to them and how you can get feel enlightenment from the tradition too...
Daily Yoga and Meditation practice helps me to embrace the fullness of what life has to offer. I did not get here on my own however, it was my wife, Julia, a Buddhist Nun for many years, who introduced me to meditation, a practice integral to Buddhism.
Even though Julia is no longer an ordained Buddhist she still lives by the teaching, and has taught me what Dharma Day meant to her and the Buddhist traditional she was part of.
Living as a Buddhist Nun for 10 years means that although Buddhism is a religion, it was more a way of life that still influences the way she lives each day.
At the heart of the practice of Buddhism are the three Jewels; Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
Buddha means ‘Awakened One’ and reminds us of our own potential to wake up from an experience of suffering and find lasting inner peace. We all have the potential for this.
Dharma means protection, in particular protection for the mind, if we protect our mind by cultivating positive and beneficial states of mind such as love, compassion and patience and reducing our negative states of mind such as anger, jealousy, greed etc. we can learn to reduce and eventually be free from suffering. This is something that we can practice in our daily life on many different levels and not just something for when we sit in meditation.
Sangha are spiritual friends, people that inspire us to be our best. It is good to look at examples of people who inspire and influence you to be your best self.
In the Buddhist tradition Julia practiced with she celebrated 'Buddha’s Turning the Wheel of Dharma Day' or Dharma Day each year – it was an opportunity to remember the kindness of Buddha who taught a path to liberation and enlightenment.
Buddha demonstrated how to wake up from suffering himself and attained enlightenment, as a result of requests from others Buddha arose from meditation and taught the first Wheel of Dharma. The teachings are likened to a wheel that moves from place to place in accordance with the changing conditions of those that the teaching reach, for example the teachings here in the West will be presented differently from those in East.
So, what can all this mean for us in our daily life, especially when we are so busy both at work and home?
If we can appreciate Dharma (protection) or appreciate the importance of protecting our mind, we start to see our mental habits that cause us to be peaceful, as well as those that cause us to be unpeaceful. We can see how we can start to create new ‘paths’ in our ways of thinking – just because we have always reacted or thought in particular way doesn’t mean we have to continue, we have the freedom to change.
We may think that suffering is ‘out there’. It is perhaps what someone said or did, or didn’t do that makes us happy / unhappy. Buddha taught that all happiness and suffering comes from the mind, which means we have a choice in each moment to how we respond to our circumstances. Change your Mind, Change the World.
We can learn to train our mind, starting with the small things such as the photocopier not working or the vending machine running out of your favourite treat and building your way up to happily work with a challenging colleague. We can see these as gifts to help us to train. Like anything, the more practice, the better we get.
Change your Mind, Change your World. Namaste.
Not the most wonderful time of the yearEmilton pens his fond memories of the season and reminds us to be mindful of those who might not be celebrating this year