The diamond is the the most precious, beautiful and virtually indestructible of all gemstones. In order to reveal that beauty, a painstaking mining process, which often begins digging blindly, and looking for “kimberlite pipes” — a type of formation made from potassic volcanic rock, in which diamonds are frequently found. Once a diamond-rich location is discovered, the process requires more digging, removing layer-upon-layer of surface vegetation, rock, tar and other “debris” from the piece, until the raw diamond is exposed. And of course the final steps involve the lapidary cutting the raw diamond skilfully to best expose it’s flawless radiance.
Our spiritual journey is often like that… It often begins with blind “digging”… searching here and there for something that makes sense. Many times, we think we might have found something, and dig deeper in earnest, only to discover that there’s nothing of substance there. We might rely on “popular myth” — like the diamond miner, who relies on where he “heard” there might be diamonds. But reliance on these myths and legends — stories of imaginary external creator gods, their “evil” opponents, and the cast of saviours and other supernatural heroes — might bring temporary comfort, or lull us into a convenient justification to not have to do any real “heavy lifting” spiritually, since our legendary “super friends” are going to “save us”, but they won’t bring happiness. And they certainly won’t alleviate suffering.
Eventually, our spiritual quest will bring us to something that makes unquestionable sense; something logical, rational, and methodical, which has nothing to do with the biggest obstacle to spiritual growth — religion. And this new spiritual “kimberlite pipe” will yield countless diamond clusters, which will be revealed only as we engage our practice of scraping away layer-after-layer of dirt (distractions and unwholesome thoughts), sediment (the “left-over” crap, guilt and superstition that came with “religion”), and tar (our attachments and aversions).
As we begin the Tibetan Year of the Metal-Rabbit, you have a brand new opportunity to set out on a fresh mining expedition. The Year of the Rabbit is said to be a time of transition into peaceful, virtuous and harmonic times. It is a period of time when we should procede with caution, clarity of purpose, and mindfulness. If we do so, the “fertility” of the Year of the Rabbit (and you know how fertile those little furry friends can be!) will be ours.
I predict that for those serious about their spiritual path, this will be a year rich with the realisation that the power to achieve lasting contentment comes from within each of us, and requires an understanding of how our minds control our behaviours, our perceptions, and thereby our results.
For those of us involved in the Contemplative Order of Compassion, our challenge continues to make the determination whether the stated purpose and vision of the Order is something we value, and wish to support emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially. This year presents us with an incredible opportunity to create a very unique, dedicated and flourishing Dharma Centre in Hummelstown. We were offered a chance to move into a 1025 square foot commercial building that would make a beautiful Dharma centre and office for Sanctuary – the Tenzin Yangchen Centre for Contemplatives in Dialogue. This beautiful centre would be ours for less than $1200 per month, including utilities. But until there is a concerted effort from the local community to want to organise, support and cultivate a meaningful spiritual community here, it will not happen.
On a nationwide scale, the potential to expand our Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen Virtual Dharma Centre will bring new opportunities in this year, including a chance for a corporate benefactor to underwrite the nominal costs of our video production department, so that video darshan and in-depth teaching series can be made available to thousands of students in remote areas, and throughout the world.
I leave you with a Losar blessing that was inspired by a talk I once heard from Master Thich Nhat Hanh:
May you recognise that the Enlightened Mind of the Buddha and the Compassionate Heart of the Gnostic Christ live and reveal themselves every day. May you always see yourself as a continuation of the Buddha’s mind, and the compassionate heart of the Gnostic Christ. May your efforts create the causes for the Dharma of the Great Master Je Tsongkhapa to flourish, and restore a clear, luminous and perfect awareness in the hearts and minds of all who hear it. Until suffering exists no more, may we diligently strive to realise Enlightenment, and return endless lifetimes to serve those in need.
And may the Tibetan Year of the Metal Rabbit bring good health, healing, mindfulness, awareness and prosperity to each and every one of you.
khenpo gurudas sunyatananda
Drawing on the essential teachings of the great spiritual teachers, philosophers and freethinkers throughout time, Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda (retired Archbishop Francis-Maria Salvato, O.C.) has been regarded as a provocative, revolutionary “voice of reason” within the field of religion and spirituality, since 1983. Having the distinction of being one of the few openly non-theistic, openly-gay and post-denominational thinkers ever to serve as Bishop-Exarch and spiritual leader of the autocephalic Eastern Catholic Franciscans in North America, Gurudas is the author of more than 600 articles, eight books and currently serves as the spiritual advisor for a non-theistic, intentional spiritual community, The Spiritus Project. He can be reached at: http://dharmadudeunplugged.com
Copyright ©2010, Khenpo Gurudas Sunyatananda (The Most Reverend Dr. F. Francis-Maria G. Salvato, M.Sc., O.C.). All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced, blogged, quoted or distributed, provided the entire copyright including contact information remain intact. It may NOT be altered in any way, without express written permission.”