There is so little I can say to convey the experience of these last few days. A group of three hundred diverse people from all over the country and the world stood on a patio in the hot Colorado sun and softly sang Hallelujah. It was beautiful.
Three days ago I began the program Practicing Peace in Times of War with Pema Chödron and Richard Reoch. I cannot explain what has changed in three days, except to say I have. In the coming days, I will be filling this blog with summaries of their talks, observations, thoughts, and memories. By way of introduction, I have a few things to say first.
Pema is a wonderfully warm and humorous lady who cares deeply. She speaks from wisdom and experiences, truly listens, and engages with her audience and her surroundings in a complete way. Richard Reoch is a hidden jewel of a man with a soft voice and a wry wit set to keep us laughing through our tears. Together, these two drew out the shared stories of heartache, war, pain, death, love, joy, and wisdom from their audience in a way which deepened both my compassion and my estimation of the limits of human suffering. I do not cry and in the memory of this weekend, I feel the pressure behind my eyes.
Noble Silence is a practice in which I had never engaged. I found it at its highest a great practice in letting go and at its ‘lowest’ a fabulous source of unending humor.
For now, let me share only an anecdote, fresh from but an hour ago. At the ending of the final talk, our Program Coordinator, Paul, stood and thanked both Pema and Richard for their wonderful teaching. He referred to Richard’s talk from the evening before by describing him as a “Magnum Force” of peace. Richard responded by throwing the contents of his water glass at Paul.
Lucky enough for Paul, he was quite a ways away, being on the opposite side of the rather large shrine from where Richard sat. Unlucky for Richard is that between Paul and himself sat Acharya Pema, who promptly retaliated with her water glass dowsed on Richard, and she did not miss. She followed that up with threatening to throw the entire pitcher on him, under which pressure he gracefully surrendered. These are our great peacemakers.
Shortly I head to dinner and then to The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya for a peace vigil. I understand we also have the good grace to be witnessing a meteor shower these past several nights, which is supposed to be at its highest glory this evening. Until tomorrow, I shall end as we ended all our sessions, with the word of Shantideva.
And as long as space remains, and there are beings to be found, may I too, likewise remain to wash away the sorrows of the world.