The kind of peace that is like cotton wool headphones plugging you into another soundtrack. Where air and space take the place of busy sound. Where we can begin to slow down the cogs.
We pulled up the long driveway through the pine trees, and out into the sun where we saw our first glimpse of the temple. Glinting with golden vajras on the roof, this astonishing design set to the mandalas of Heruka and poised atop a hill so that it overlooks forested views beyond.
We got out the car, stretched our legs, and padded over the grass to sign in, and then over to the marquee to eat our first communal, veggie dinner. It was quiet, not too many people about and all the while, I was aware of the peace permeating every pore of body and mind.
You get it just by arriving and standing in the grounds.
That night, Gen Jampa gave the introduction to the IKBU-NKT US Festival 2014. (These festivals take place annually, find info on the next one here.)
He spoke of how this place is a home for those walking the path. A place to come in, sit down and connect with enlightened mind. A representation of mandala designs, enlightened eyes suggesting the world beyond samsara. This world lies deep in our own minds, if only we can learn to access it.
I was lucky spend the festival staying at the offsite home of Joann and her husband David, both accomplished artists who live a life of absolute artistry. They have a labyrinth in their garden and all around hang bells that David builds, sending sound into the wind. It's a house close to lakes and deep in nature where every morning the sun brought rays of brilliant peach light to illuminate the walls of my room.
For five days, I sank into the enlightened teachings.
It was all around me in the hundreds of Kadampas who came from all ends of the nation to hear some of the most realized teachers discuss this thing called peace and how we can develop it.
I met a community of mind-trainers over lunch and dinner, after meditations and walking the grounds. There were the heart-opening teachings of the powerful nun, Gen-la Dekyong.
The festival was structured around the empowerment of Je Tsongkapa, the 14th century Buddhist teacher in Tibet who unified the teachings of Sutra and Tantra and caused an entire generation (and many subsequent generations) of Buddhists to practice the path with immense practicality.
The peace was with me as I opened my fridge to pull out milk for a cup of tea. It lay in the trees outside my window that had by now manifested small green buds. This peace was appearing all around me. And I deeply felt the truth of that teaching: that a peaceful mind is a happy mind.
My job now is to keep this peace coming, by picking up the designs and starting to build that temple deep within my own heart.
By rising each morning and spending concentrated time in meditation to harness my mind to the stake of positivity. To use mindfulness continually throughout the day to pull me away from stress and worry. To realign my focus with wisdom and love and to learn to stay there, moment by moment.
In that space, we find home.
Photo credit: Whoever the kind soul is who took photos at the US Festival, I hope you don't mind me pasting your work here! Thank you.