English Sutra Study Class Student/ Educator
My experience with Buddhism is brief, only about 10 years. One of my first encounters was a brave step into a local Chinese temple which turned out be challenging due to the language barrier; despite great compassion shown by the Reverend, I didn’t persevere too long. Around this time I turned to books for my first real lessons in Buddhism buying a number of popular and readily available books and devouring the small collection at the local library. I then discovered the global Buddhist community on the Internet and gobbled up bandwidth listening to podcasts and searching the enormous number of texts online, however, this resource is so vast I wasn’t able to tie the threads together in a meaningful way.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I had my first Dharma conversation with a friend, followed by a second, then a third when she mentioned that her temple runs English Meditation classes. I was keen to find out more, so shortly after, I visited Bao Lin Chan Monastery for the first time.
Meditation, peacefulness, quietness has been appealing to me for many years however I have found technique an obstacle, never quite finding the state of mind which I thought I should be in. I was hoping meditation would somehow turn off a busy life for a while and escape reality. My life is busy. I have a family and great friends, I am an educator of a mainstream Primary School and school for Deaf and Hearing Impaired children, I am a tai chi practitioner and instructor and I have many interests which all seem to compete for the hours in a day. I just craved the opportunity to turn off. I thought that is what meditation would do for me. So off to the Bao Lin I went.
It has taken a while but I am beginning to understand that in fact, my craving for escape through meditation was probably misguided or ignorant. Instead of turning off through meditation I am actually turning on and connecting more authentically with reality than ever before. With the combination of meditation techniques along with the Dharma lectures, the Abbess has helped me to more readily accept the way things are and use meditation to heighten awareness and understand the true nature of things. I have been guided to reflect on how Buddhism applies to my day to day life.
As most of my waking day is spent at school my thoughts naturally gravitate towards my role as a Principal, and I can always find an application where the Dharma lectures provide both insight into and a way to perfect practice through my work. These include using mediation to seek the reality of complex matters; breath counting before making significant decisions or chairing important meetings, as I have found that it brings many benefits like slowing my heart rate, calming my mind and helping me to achieve a positive frame of mind which combine to help me make wise and well-considered decisions. I also try to focus on compassion when dealing with difficult people so I can keep their wellbeing as an important outcome and reflect on what I need to learn from them.
Respectful and kind relationships are great foundations for a vibrant learning community and there are clear similarities between the Four Tenets of Chung Tai and the core values for relationship building I strive to cultivate as a principal. At our school, we endeavour to build partnerships with parents so that we may build on children’s natural talents that have been lovingly and thoughtfully shaped in the home and pre-school. I have great faith in my teachers’ ability to create a harmonious environment that will enable children to reach their academic potential and achieve success throughout their school education.
Coming to the Bao Lin has enabled me to experience the combination of Dharma, meditation, and lectures in a meaningful way that has led to a significant impact in my life. I am reflecting on my work at a deeper level than ever before. I am astounded just how relevant and necessary Buddhism is to everything I do.
I appreciate the great kindness of my Dharma friend, Angelina, for introducing me to the Bao Lin Monastery.