As you may know, I have just spent a few wonderful days at the New Kadampa Tradition‘s Summer Festival, held annually in Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, in Ulverston, UK.

I have had such a lovely time, I can’t begin to tell you! I met some old friends and caught up on their news, and I met a whole bunch of new friends too. Someone even managed to guess my identity and say ‘You’re Vide Kadampa aren’t you?’!! Well that caught me off guard! Of course I confessed, and they kindly agreed to keep my little secret, for which I am very grateful.

All visitors to the Festival (over 3000), from all over the world, all had one thing in common – a love of pure Dharma. My favourite thing was to sit down next to someone in the dining tent and just smile and say ‘Can I ask you a Dharma question?’ Without fail they smiled back and said something like ‘Sure!’

Where else can you do that?!

On the way back home in the car I was talking to a good friend and he said that he had not realised quite how much he missed being in the company of fellow Kadampas – fellow spiritual travellers all following the same path. Normally in our every day lives, we are around people who are not on our spiritual wavelength. When we get to evening meditation classes we start to find people who we feel more comfortable with. But when we come to a Dharma Festival or Celebration, we are among people who are deeply on our spiritual wavelength, and there is an undeniable feeling of being amongst the closest of family. I found the festival to be deeply nourishing and wholesome.

Every moment I was there was filled with meaning. When I looked at all the people working voluntarily to make the festival work, I rejoiced from the depths of my heart. Working for others (in my case, a bit of food carrying this year) was incredibly satisfying. Seeing so many ordained people providing a good example was truly inspiring. Just being in Manjushri itself reminded me of the years of hard work put in by hundreds (if not thousands) of volunteers.

And the temple itself – well – words almost fail me. Such a sublimely beautiful temple.  Modelled on Heruka’s Mandala, every aspect of it has meaning. As I gazed around its columns, walls and roofs, I saw its meaning and it almost moved me to tears.

My whole festival experience was spent in the company of gentle, caring and loving people, and that surely is the true sign of the Kadampas. People who are putting Buddha’s teachings into practice in their every day lives – caring for others, considering others, working for others.

So I would like to thank, from the very depths of my heart, everyone at the New Kadampa Tradition for working so hard to make the Festival (and many others – just as special – throughout the world) happen.  And none of this would be happening at all if it were not for Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Thank you Geshe-la.

p.s? for more about Kadampa Festivals, read this blog post written by Luna Kadampa.