By Juan Garzón Vergara

Juan came to the Abbey for our one-month winter retreat on Medicine Buddha. A first-time visitor to the Abbey, he sent us this reflection on his journey during the winter retreat. He said, “The following words are inspired by what I learned, meditated and what you generously taught me.”

Samten Regan and Venerable Thubten Tsultrim connect before the procession to the Hall.
  1. Start from where you are
    Don’t blame yourself for the past
    Don’t be tied down with expectations about the future
    What you have now is enough
    “Good enough, dear”
  2. Nothing is permanent, everything changes
    Nothing is concrete or solid
    What we have are castles of sand
    that will fade away.
    What begins, will end.
    Let it go, nothing is guaranteed.
    Only death, unpredictable and certain.
  3. The world of “I”, “me” and “mine”
    is the seed of all trouble
    and suffering.
    That “I” that you seek to defend
    does not exist, it is empty.
    The character that you have invented,
    that approves or disapproves of others
    it’s just another label
    to feel safe.
    Don’t try to change others, accept them
    and change yourself.
  4. Do not run from your fears
    Open the door to them, let them in
    Abandon your armor
    The more you protect yourself
    the more vulnerable you will be
    Your world will become narrow and dark
    Give space to the unknown
    Act with more curiosity and less fear
    Do not judge, who are you to do it
    Let the world speak to you, listen to it
    When the resistance is gone
    your fears disappear.
  5. You don’t have to make everything a drama,
    don’t take yourself so seriously
    If you wrote a letter
    whenever you are upset or distressed
    and send it to you by mail,
    when you receive it, everything will be over
    Stop building stories.
    What you feel, what shudders you
    will become a memory
    It will no longer be because it does not exist
    Let it go.
  6. Whenever you can, help others
    or at least do not harm them
    Connect with the suffering of others
    and you will discover yourself.
    Open your heart
    That is the courage of compassion
    start by understanding your pain
    share and reduce that of others.
  7. Your “enemies”
    those difficult people
    and adverse situations
    are your teachers
    They trigger the karma that you haven’t worked out
    They are a mirror that reveals your weaknesses
    They are a treasure to be cherished.
  8. Everything you have has been given to you.
    Your body, your name, your knowledge
    everything comes from others.
    There’s no reason to be so proud of yourself
    nor to protect so much something that does not belong to you
    Acknowledge the generosity of others
    Thank them with love and compassion
    You will realize that it is the best way
    to appease your ego.
  9. Nothing external will give you happiness
    Just moments that will come and go
    even if you want to make them permanent.
    Don’t expect others to fulfill your wishes
    No one is to blame for your dissatisfaction
    If your happiness depends on others
    if it’s out of your control
    You will never have it.
    Take responsibility for your own experience
    Your tranquility is in your heart.
    Every moment is perfect.
  10. Patience, everything is a process
    changes take time
    There are no shortcuts, no magic formula
    Life is wonderful and also painful
    Let it go
    Heal your wounds
    Don’t jump with your aversion or attachment
    whatever comes
    keep your heart open
    Be nice to yourself, drop expectations
    embrace your motivation.
    Learn to pause, to breathe
    Give space to others and yourself.
    In the meantime…enjoy.