Many people here are new-age hippy types, but many are Buddhist. Some of them have a visible case of Believer’s Pity- they know the stuff, you don’t, how crap that must be for you! Whatever, I wanted to worship with them, to see what I might gain from it.
If Ariabandhu, whose Sanskrit name means “Noble friend”, feels such pity I do not notice. He lives in a semi-monastic community and tells me something of his worship. After chanting, they share something of their feelings or experiences. For example, in Cambridge he had been irritated by all the fences and keep out signs along the river. He does not like being controlled- who does- and they shared about that.
The opening ceremony, full of singing and dancing, had Buddhist content. I spoke to one of the Rituals Team as we queued for dinner. How do you design rituals? Well, myth speaks to the subconscious, and they use elements of myth. She let me choose a card with a saying on it: Dave got “Walk a mile in my shoes”, which tickled him, as the cards are left in people’s shoes, outside the workshop spaces. I got “May all blessings be yours”, which I burned in the ritual fire at the closing ceremony. Spread the love, and make no idol of the physical object.
Lying in the meditation tent, I found, All that makes me one is a story. Let that story be compassion. I left the card behind, though I make sure to squirrel away the sentiment here. Going outside, I found a Rumi quote tied to my sandals: Love said to me, All is Me. I tied it to Lucy’s guy rope.
Someone said you can lose yourself in the singing, in a crowd. I am pleased to sing, but I am always present, watching myself.
At the opening, a woman with a loudspeaker and entourage processed through the camp, with instruments and singing, pausing to shout (we followers echoed) Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, and All sentient beings, We invite you to the opening ceremony. Join the parade! I did. We processed to the Ritual Space, where we danced and sang, and processed through gates to a central fire pit.
I wanted to worship, and on the Friday evening there was the Dakini Puja. A Dakini is a fire spirit, born out of the charnel grounds at the edge of towns- something of the phoenix in this story- which can “cut off your head” and leave you in your heart. We crowded into the meditation tent, where we learned two mantras. Then a woman chanted an account of the Dakini Vajra, and we repeated her words. As we chanted the mantra, we could go up to the altar, to make an offering, or just kneel.
I went up, and followed the way of kneeling and prostrating. By kneeling to the power, I gain its gifts. By offering obedience, I gain its instruction. I am never carried away, but I am buoyed up by this. Click to enlarge: