Saturday, May 22, 2010

My First Buddhist Celebration

I drove with two friends for an hour to get to a small unitarian church where a Buddhist celebration was being held. When we finally got to our destination I saw two Buddhist Monks standing outside of the church. I began to feel very nervous. I had no idea what they would think, was I underdressed? Was I too white? But when the three of us got to the stairs, the monks gave us nothing but welcoming smiles. I smiled back at them, and said "hello," cheerfully. I could tell that within these walls there was no judgment. We walked in and found a seat in the back of the small church. It fit the three of us in comfortably. There was a long alter where many monks sat. I couldn't believe such a scene. I had never before seen so many monks. It was absolutely beautiful! the first thing that we saw was a beautiful dance. It was almost like Yoga in the way the dancer's body was alligned and the poses that she danced. It really was a spectacle. After the dance an older monk gave a Dharma Talk which is a teaching. He talked about how we are all ignorant beings. I didn't understand very much of what he was talking about, but I do understand that we are ignorant. Then he started talking about other things which don't really remember... oh well. After the dharma talk there were two more dances and then we listened to a chant. The chant was called the Maha Prajna Paramita in english it is known as the English Heart Sutra. We listened to it in Sanskrit and then recited it in English. A friend of my sister's joined us in the middle of the program. When we were reciting the Sutra , I swear, our little group was the most into the whole thing out of the audience. We chanted loudly, without care. And why would we care? We were in a place where this kind of stuff is the norm. So why not sing it loud? Be proud of who you are! I loved every moment of it. After the chanting we did a loving kindness meditation. It was truely wonderful. The monk who was leading the meditation told us to tell ourselves that we are happy, well and peaceful. We silently repeated this to ourselves. After a few moments of silence, the group of monk began chanting in Sanskrit. It was one of the most rivoting things I have ever experienced. The monks chanted for the rest of the meditation. When we were finished, I felt so elated, so calm. It is something that is too difficult for me to put into words. After the meditation we walked around the town and chanted carrying lanterns and flags. The whole thing was a wonderful experience. I look forward to going next year. I wish I could describe it all in detail but it would take me forever to write and be too long.

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