by Jillian

As often happens, people practice enthusiastically for a while, and then as time goes on their enthusiasm lessens, their practice and study of the Dharma goes by the wayside, and they return to their previous habits in many areas of their lives. This is what happened to Jillian, and she was stuck like this for a couple of years. Nevertheless she decided to attend a week-long Chenrezig retreat at a temple in Singapore and this is what happened….

I have been very motivated recently from an experience during the annual 100 million Om mani padme hum group retreat in Singapore. It was the first time in years that I felt so humbled and like a student again. Having that feeling helped me answer a question that I had when I entered the retreat – what is the best things for me to do so my Dharma practice can be truly effective and beneficial.

During the time of chanting the mantra in the middle of the retreat, I thought about some of my teachers. I felt very touched and humbled by their guidance and I felt that I must not lose this precious opportunity. I thought, “I have to be a good student because otherwise I’m wasting their time if I don’t practice properly.” After that, I chanted mindfully and clearly. I relaxed and opened my heart to experience those “present moments.” Those were a wonderful few hours that I bathed in white light and felt the negativities flowing out from my lower body and feet.

Connecting with my teachers again in my meditation has brought me confidence that the Buddhas are merciful and have not forgotten me. I feel a lot more grounded and calm and my commitment to continue on the path is renewed. I am grateful to those few hours of good karma ripening; learning with a humble attitude and trust in the Teacher, opening my heart and entrusting myself to the Teacher. It gave me confidence in the existence of infinite wisdom, enabled me to understand that obstacles build skills and wisdom, increased my mindfulness and determination to live the Dharma in my actions, thoughts and words. It also helped me to forgive, to be focused and not distracted by worldly pleasures. The importance of learning the Dharma to understand more ways of achieving the right practice became clear. Relying on the Teacher is having a tutor that helps me to learn by example and faster, I know I never really left the path and I am glad of the spiritual support. So I hope sharing this experience with you will also make you joyful! I could not bring myself to sleep without completing this email.

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A few weeks later, another email arrived:

Thank you for your encouragement. I am very happy to be back on the path, knowing that that’s the right thing to do and very grateful for the good karma. Recently I realized what purification means in reality. It means forgiveness; forgiving the people who have hurt me in this life, because I had planted the seeds and therefore was reaping the results. Then I have to forgive myself too; that’s what karma is about. My reactions to these situations will create the next batch of karmic seeds and that’s a major decision—What kind of experiences do I seek and what karma do I need to create to bring those about?

I had never realized how each action, each word and each thought in every moment of my life causes my endless rebirths. Therefore, I am much happier today to realize the beauty of mindfulness and that the ripening of ‘bad’ karma is actually good karma in that it brings opportunities to learn how to strengthen the mind and develop wisdom and joyous patience. I realized I can end ‘bad’ karma if I do not react with anger or retaliation when difficulties come my way. Instead if I develop deeper understanding from the situations and learn empathy and compassion for the other party, the situation will get resolved. This is important to work towards.

‘Bad’ karma are mirrors to my past mistakes. They are my Teachers leading me to enlightenment as I purify my past misdeeds by understanding and learning from them. Having the awareness of what’s happening this life itself is already a great blessing so my prayers these days are to live with courage and stamina and with genuine regret for my mistakes. It looks like as understanding grows, compassion is a by-product.