Looking Within: a Potent Practice

I recently shared a copper statue of the Buddha with my students, asking if this was, in fact, Buddha? Smiling, the boys gave a unanimous “yes.” I next inquired if the Buddha was within them to which they responded “no,” again unanimously.

In the same session, I asked: “Do you have a mind?” I could see confusion on the young students’ faces. Their replies were scattered. Breaking this question into simple, relatable terms, I explained that if they knew that they had a mind, then that knowingness, itself, is their mind. And, I explained further that if they thought that they did not have a mind, the knowing of not having a mind is also their mind. 

My next question, “Do you wish to be happy?” For this, I received an enthusiastic  “yes!” I explained: “This wish to be happy is the essence of love which is built into your being. This is  Buddha within each of you.”  I could see some sparks of understanding emerging within them. Next, I invited my students to engage in an exercise to experience themselves as Buddha. Eager to participate, I asked them to close their eyes and connect with the feeling of wanting happiness. I explained that this feeling of knowingness, this awareness is the true nature of our minds, which is a little Buddha within our own heart-minds.

We have been practicing meditation and opening to our little Buddha with five to ten minutes of sitting practice to begin our day, as well as at the beginning of each class period. At first, these sittings were met with restlessness, sometimes teasing and disruptive behavior. With consistent practice, however, the boys began to settle more easily. The impact of these short meditations is apparent in everything they do. In fact, one day, a fight emerged between two boys. After separating them, I asked them to reflect on how the anger felt. Despite being furious, I could see they were trying to bring awareness to their anger. The next day after sharing their experience with each other, they sat shoulder to shoulder and laughed together as friends. It is a testament to the power of awareness. 

As a teacher, it is deeply rewarding to impart not only academic knowledge but also to instill valuable life skills and dharma teachings in our students. The vision Mingyur Rinpoche has for Tergar Schools helps us establish the culture of Tergar School Kathmandu. It is a great privilege for me to witness our students actively putting the Buddha’s teachings into practice, connecting with their true nature and recognizing their essential qualities of kindness, love and compassion and wisdom.

Karma Shenden