Normally you breathe while you run. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite got that one figured out. My life lately feels more like I ran for days and days and then all at once remembered to take a deep inhale, whereupon I promptly fell over from exhaustion. I’m in recovery now. From my repose, here’s what all happened.
For four days, two thousand people streamed into Dhagpo: ate on the lawns, meditated in the temples, danced on the parquet, and did Tai Chi in front of the stupa. For four days, I cooked from eight in the morning until ten at night with an hour break to talk to people about art. In addition to the usual stupa, there was also a stupa of vegetables, to inspire people over their lunch buffet.
Sleep-deprived wittiness aside, inspiration was the focus of this event. Even though I’ve been here less than three months, and I’m leaving in a week (only to get my papers in order for a longer visa!), this place is my home. It’s home to many people, from the fifteen people who live here all the time to the twenty more who work here five days a week, to the couple hundred who live nearby and visit regularly to volunteer their time and take part in study and practice. The power of this place is that it lets us feel at home, not just here, but in ourselves. The goal of the Inauguration was to bring people together to share that sense of power and possibility.
On a practical level, the goal was to raise money to continue financing the Institute. Over four days, we succeeded in gathering over 200,000 euros toward the 1.6 million that remain to pay off the construction of the building. In case you were wondering, I designed the lovely donor-meter that you see above…again with the boxes with wings, again with the explanation still to come. In addition to economic exchange, a major part of the event focused on creating connections with people to the center and the history and spiritual life that happen here.
Throughout the four days of Inauguration, there were regularly scheduled teachings, and the event culminated in a two day initiation and blessing of the wisdom deity Gyalwa Gamtso. For practicing Buddhists, this is a link to a long tradition and a step toward deepening one’s practice down the road. For visiting guests, it is an opportunity to experience a traditional ceremony and take part in a vibrant community.
For me, it was a chance to share a profound experience with a ginormous room full of strangers and friends alike, and to pause amidst the rush and realize how truly fortunate I am to have the support that I do in this life: spiritual, emotional, financial, et al.
In between the kitchen and the ceremony, that installation I’ve been talking about got finished and seen and (piece by piece) sold. Overall, it garnered around a thousand euros toward the financing of the Institute. Because so very many things have gone down recently, and because I am so very exhausted, I’m splitting this story into multiple parts. Still to come: the installation and the Institute…what do they look like; what are they for?
Much love for now.