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Tuning In to the Buddhafield

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by Kamalashila

Tuning In to the Buddhafield
by Kamalashila

Audio available at: http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/audio/details?num=LOC443
One of a series of talks on the theme of “A Force for Good in the World” given in the
Dharma Parlour at the 2010 Buddhafield Festival in Somerset, UK.


Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if there are any. Welcome to this talk. I just have
a couple of words introducing Kamalashila and then hand over to him.

I’ll just tell you one reflection I’ve been having this morning and it just seems very
relevant. When I joined Buddhafield I kind of thought I was going in to the simple life -
you know, close to the land, woods and water, and stuff like that. And I kind of realized
after a while, after some difficult experiences, that it was not really the simple life at all,
it was the elemental life. Life was not simple, life was elemental - there was wind, rain,
earth, fire, space. And simplicity was just to stay in your flat and watch tv, to make
yourself a cup of tea and flick the switch and if you wanted to do something else you just
pushed the button, it’s really simple. So I hope you’re enjoying the elemental life.
Whether or not that’s part of Kamalashila’s talk I don’t know. It’s called “Tuning In to
the Buddhafield.”

Before I hand over I just want to say three things about Kamalashila, because he has been
a Buddhist and a practitioner for many, many years. So I just thought I’d mention three
things he’s done over his many years of practice. So one was helping to start our main
meditation centre, Vajraloka, in the Welsh Hills thirty years ago - opened as a meditation
centre. It’s celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, I believe. But when Kamalashila
moved there it was just a ruined Welsh farmhouse with nothing. You know, the walls, I
guess, but not much else. And they chose to move there, I’m not sure why, in the middle
of winter together with thick snow on the ground to get going. There was no water
supply. I heard stories of having to dig a trench right down the hill, across the bridge and
up the valley the other side to pipe in their water. So, anyway, he did that - pretty
elemental. Lived there for many, many years as Chairman of Vajraloka - kind of getting
it going, as well as the building work - and there it is today, it’s a great meditation centre.

The second thing was, some years later feeling some kind of impulse - some kind of inner
impulse - to go on a long solitary retreat. So he took some time to set that up, to kind of
get out of all the things he was into, but he eventually did that and went to Tipi Valley in
Wales. Just put up a bender in a remote corner of Tipi Valley, which is in a remote part of
the world, and did an eighteen-month solitary retreat. And I think he loved it so much he
just stayed on and on and on afterwards and ended up living there four years. So quite a
strong experience, I think, for Kamalashila. And I didn’t know him well before, but I
think he just came out of that different - something happened to Kamalashila. He was just
in touch with some different perspective. I remember one thing he was saying when he
came out is “the elements are our friends,” - the elements are our friends. So in Wales, I
mean, what do you get? Winds, water, et cetera, et cetera, but “the elements are our
friends.” That was the next thing.

And then the third thing is kind of still in process, and maybe this will be part of his talk.
After that long solitary retreat he had a strong impulse to form community, to come
together in community. So from solitary to community, and I think he’s been on a quest
for community ever since. It led him to join Buddhafield, which is a great big kind of
network and community. It led him to Ecodharma up in the Spanish mountains - a new
retreat centre we started. And now, by some mysterious chain of cause and effect, it’s led
him down the mountain to go and live in London. But something to do with community
there, an eco-community. You know, a “close to the elements” community. So, his talk
is called “Tuning In to the Buddhafield.” I have no idea what he is going to say. I hope
he does. I would just like to hand over to Kamalashila, and ask you to welcome
Kamalashila - “Tuning In to the Buddhafield.”


Tuning in to the Buddhafield

Well, I don’t know what to say after that! And I just hope my glasses don’t slip off my
nose, and that I can read my notes that have been written in the last couple of days - in
very elemental circumstances, in pencil.

Well, I would like to start by making clear that what I’ve got to say about the Buddhas
and their field of influence - their fields, their Buddhafields - it isn’t all from my own
personal experience. Or rather, it is all from my personal experience but it’s more like
how I interpret my experience in my own particular ways. You know, I read it - I assume
we all do this actually - I read my experience in all kinds of ways. I read the signs, if you
like, that come to me. Just for example, in modern life we‘ve become accustomed to a
very defined account of the world around us. It’s based on a fantasy that we exist as
concrete, unchanging individuals whose world is simply what it seems to be - something
that can be measured in terms of time and space.

But Buddhism takes a very different perspective on all that. The Buddhist vision of
reality is that, basically, everything is alive. It’s a little bit like Lokabhandu was saying,
“the elements are our friends,” I’d forgotten that one. Everything is alive, and each
individual can awaken to this - you know, the nature of Reality. So when we hear this
little phrase, “the nature of Reality,” it has a very particular meaning because when we
start to think about the “nature” of something we start getting into the territory I’m going
to try and get into in this talk.

(We use) this word “nature” in the sense of a characteristic quality of things, and I think
this is the best and most meaningful use of the word “nature.” You know, the word
“nature” can very easily slip into being used in a highly conceptual, abstract and also
romantic way. So I can say, “I like nature.” I can say that. Or I can say, “I like being in
nature,” and you know what I mean by that. “I like being in the woods,” you know, “I
like being in streams. I like streams, I like landscapes, I like skyscapes.” I can even like
rain.

But woods and streams are just a part of nature in that sense. You know, because nature
is everywhere - something Lokabandhu was also pointing to in his introduction - nature is
everywhere. It’s in the city just as much. The sun and the moon still come and go. The
seasons come and go. Day still follows night in the city. Stream and landscape even are
still there in the city. They might be buried under quite a lot of concrete and all that, but
it‘s there. It‘s there, nature is there as powerful as ever. So nature in this sense of the
word is everywhere. It’s also in our body. It’s our body, and it is also our mind. In
Buddhist terms it is dharmaniyamata. You don’t have to remember that, but it’s the
ordered or natural aspect of all things. All things have a nature in that sense. So when I
say, “I like being in nature,” I really mean, “I just like being out of the city” or “I just like
it when it’s just me and a few other people around - just me and a few other human
beings around.” And there are lots of other non-human beings.

That’s what I mean when I say, “I like nature,” because all words are abstractions. All
words are abstractions because words are pointers to experience. They just point us to
experience rather than the experience itself. That’s the nature of words. But some words
are more abstract than others. And nature in this sense, “I like nature,” is a highly
abstract and vague idea or concept. It’s a very flexible concept, put it like that. And so
that’s why I like the way we use the word as in “the nature of something.” The nature of
fire is to be hot, yeah? People have particular natures. It’s in the nature of jeans to, after a
year or two, have holes in the knees, isn’t it? You know, it’s their nature. Grass grows,
rain falls, grass is green, rain is wet. It’s their nature. Everything has its particular nature,
its particular set of qualities - the way it works, the way its particular conditionings come
about.

So that’s certainly the Buddhist way of looking at things - in other words, in terms of in
all the conditions that bring stuff about. Or you could say the way things emerge from
their unique conditionings that surround them. There are all kinds of natures in this sense.
You can see many different realms of life with their different natures. Buddhism singles
out of the infinite number of different natures of things the famous Five Niyamas, or
natures you could say.

There’s matter in the sense of the elements of earth, water, fire and air, the planets,
gravity, ...

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