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This week I have continued to gather inspiration comes from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s latest book “In love with the world” and a passage that I read…

rest on the bridge

Why did this strike me? Those of you who read this blog regularly might spot the reference to the bridge as being significant - the name I was conferred when I recently took the Bodhisattva vow has invited me to contemplate how I manifest as Champe Sampa, or “Bridge of Maitri”. In this memoir, Rinpoche provides a vivid account of his leaving the monastery and going out on a wandering retreat. Here, the bridge he refers to is that of the transition from home to homelessness. In the Buddhist teachings, any such transition is referred to as a ‘bardo’ - although most often bardo is associated with the intermediate state between lives on earth: birth to dying, dying to death, death to re-birth. Because of the synchronous use of the metaphor, so timely in my processing and contemplating, it made me sit up, it made me take note.

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bridge over troubled water

Last week I shared how I had taken the Bodhisattva Vow while on retreat. It is the second vow on the Buddhist path, one that takes a practitioner in to a second 'vehicle' (or 'yana') and switches focus from working on self to working on self-in-relation-to-others. As a relational therapist, this is in so many ways what I have already chosen to do with my life - serve others and help them to help themselves. BUT, as inferred in my new name (the name conferred that marks taking the Bodhisattva Vow) "Bridge of Maitri", there is something about going beyond; taking my service beyond my working role as therapist. The same would be true in my role as a educator of new therapists too.

Well, that is one way I am interpreting "bridge": I don't know what Judy, the preceptor of the ceremony, had in mind when she came up with that name for me. I spoke last week how of I felt I needed to reflect upon what this name meant to me, how do I wish to manifest through the name Bridge of Maitri.

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looking out to sea

I’ve just got back from a 9 day retreat out in the US at a beautiful conference centre near Maine, New England located right on the Atlantic Ocean. When I say ‘right’, the ocean lapped to the shore just 50m from the meditation hall. An amazing and consistent reminder to awareness to rest and come back to the present moment. I’ve had a wonderful experience, perhaps one of the ‘best’ retreats I have been on - the place, the people, the programme, the teachings, the teacher, the discussions. Even though it is nice to be home, I was truly sad to leave. Perhaps the defining feature was the step I made in taking the Bodhisattva Vow on the final Friday. Whilst something I had been wanting to take for that last 2 years, taking the final decision still felt like a leap: the depth of commitment, the unknown of what that might require and lead to. No wonder the Bodhisattva is considered a warrior.

The retreat is in its 7th year; the brainchild of a community practicing under the Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche who continue to study his teachings deeply together even after his death back in 1987. The retreats are based on material in the Three volumes of “The Profound Treasury”, a collected works of CTR edited by Judy Lief. Judy, much reknowned for her writing in the Buddhist world, was the teacher at the retreat. I have studied quite a bit with her through online courses, so to be studying and practicing under her directly was the original pull to attend: and I was not disappointed. I appreciated her ‘gentle fierceness’, clearly someone who has a command of the teachings and is able to present them to others in a way that inspires and feels workable.