My daily practices are really a set of “skillful means”. They are so effective, it’s startling, and addictive in the best of ways. Have you ever meditated or done yoga or gone running for several days in a row, developed a deep sense of well-being, then stopped and felt a kind of crash within a couple of days? I’m experiencing that when I miss a day, and that’s what I mean by “addictive”. I’m chanting the Vajrasattva Mantra each morning right now, and I swear, traffic lights are green more often, other drivers are courteous, and positive and helpful things just seem to happen spontaneously. When I miss it, I feel vaguely grumpy, and everything in my life just seems more difficult. There is magic here. I’m an MIT-trained guy, I believe in physics, and I don’t understand it. But I’m happy to say, publicly, this is a Really Good Thing for me.
So…I’m a part of a remarkable project, a documentary film on Vajrayana buddhism. The film will be called “Turning Inward”, and it will take six years to make. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the guy in the foreground, in the striped shirt. This is a photo taken during one of our classes, and you can see part of the main altar on the right, some of the thangkas of deities and enlightened beings hanging on the walls…and the range of folks I study with. There are people here in their twenties, in their nineties, new members, folks who have been practicing for decades. I’m relatively new to this, only studying for a few years.
If you click on the photo, you will be taken to a 15-minute video, the first part of the project. The main website is TurningInwardMovie, where you can see a three-minute trailer, a video of Lama Palden, and other commentary. This project needs funding, and the team is looking for donors who can contribute $1000 or more towards the total cost. If you can afford it, please consider supporting this. I truly believe that this film will help others find their own path, and will spread concepts and teachings that can help the world. Did you ever wonder why His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is so revered? This film will help you understand the profound gift that Tibetans are offering, the spiritual technology that they have refined over many centuries. I don’t see this as a religion so much; it’s more of a viewpoint, a way of looking at ourselves and each other and our world that really serves us all.
This short film was shot last December, when we were only three months into our studies. I just saw it for the first time a month ago, and it’s rather startling to see myself as others see me, to hear my voice as others hear me. I live a rather ascetic existence, alone in my wonderful house with my needy and affectionate cat. The film offers me a window into the lives of the other folks I’m practicing with…we meet for our teachings and our retreats, and see each other in the sangha, but really don’t know what each other’s lives are like. I practice with people that collect fresh eggs each morning, garden and play with their kids each day, sing frequently, live in very different and wonderful places. I feel a lot of pleasure as I contemplate the marvelous and mysterious collective that we are.
There is a deeper part that the film brings through. The interviews were powerful, and I said some things, talked about the practice, in ways that inspire me. I had forgotten what I’d said, and it is a rare thing for any of us to see ourselves in a profound place, and feel impacted. It is quite stunning for me to just watch, hear what I had to say, and take it in as though coming from an actor on the screen. It’s great for me to know that I can be inspiring. I would like to do more of that.
Coleen, Michelle, Don…I am so impressed by your story-telling skill. You force me to see what I’m doing in a different, bigger way. Thank you for doing this.