Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Om Ah Hum

Up at sunrise

After Phillip Island I made my way over to the town of Monbulk, which is in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges. For the next eleven days I worked for food, accommodation and teachings at Kadampa Meditation Center, which is a Buddhist temple. Some of the work I did included
whipper snippering, pulling black berry bushes and sycamore trees (which are considered weeds), organizing and boxing up left over garage sale items and various cleaning duties. I met lots of interesting people and had to deal with a few personally challenging situations. While there were some people I didn't mesh too well with, I met two German girls there who were also working visitors. I enjoyed their company and also came to cherish a few of the residents at the temple. 
Gettin dirty with the whipper snipper

Three of the teachings I attended were led by the resident teacher, Dornying. A lot of the lessons were based around the concept of 'self cherishing', which means that a person may think they are supremely important or they may think too much about their own needs and desires. The Buddhist's believe it is the core of all suffering and they say that everyone has some level of self cherishing. This is why a person may become insulted by what someone else says or does to them. If there is no self cherishing, there are no buttons for people to push, it is what causes the thought "this shouldn't be happening to me". I enjoyed the teachings because it gave me a new way to think about and deal with my thoughts, emotions and actions in a (hopefully) more positive and productive way. I was also lucky enough to be there when they had a weekend workshop, which I was able to attend for free. The workshop was about mantra recitation, using the mantra 'Om Ah Hum'.

We had some fun too!

While I didn't personally agree with all of their practices and beliefs, I found the experience, on the whole, to be interesting and a valuable learning experience. I think if you are curious about a certain type of religion, immersing yourself in a community of people who have fully dedicated their life to their practice is the best way to learn about it.

No comments: