In August we were very fortunate to welcome Daniel Arias from America as a much needed full-time volunteer for our centre. Below you can read his first impressions of Norway.
NORDIC KMC team
Retrieving memories can be nice…but also a challenge.
Since I have somehow managed not to say a word about my first 3 weeks in this heavenly abode called Norway, I will give three key memories that has brought me to this current word.
Ready, (ehh…looks a bit cold), set…(i’m not sure)…GO! I’m in the water. The elegant and soothing water that fits between Oslo proper and Nessoden became the perfect place to shed the grungy goodness of a hard days work. Why would I need to jump into the water you ask…? In short, during the first few days at the lovely home in the garden groves at 21 Sjølies Vei…we worked!
With a tag-team of Bodhisattvas, we scraped old paint, painted, re-painted, fitted wood for roof tops, cooked and cleaned. Such humble and beneficial work. Working with purpose, working with love. I cannot say enough about how delightful the whole affair was — with delightful afternoon meals such as homemade pizza and ten-minute siestas, it had all the necessary ingredients!
This. In preparation for what? A special guest was to arrive one week after my arrival. The General Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition was paying a visit to Norway for the 1st-ever Nordic Dharma Festival in the history of time! During her weekend talks she said “there will only ever be one 1st Nordic Dharma Festival.” And how nice it was — a bounty of joyful effort by many people to provide the basis for the powerful teachings that Gen-la Dekyong gracefully shared.
With lightness and purpose, she expounded upon the poem of ancient Kadampa meditation master, Geshe Langri Tangpa, called 8 Verses of Training the Mind. The teachings reveal the path to Enlightenment but essentially encourage us to cherish others as the gateway to that path. In a few short teachings, the entirety of the work from the week before, that of which I could still see on my paint stained fingers…made sense! Humbly and happily working for others is the essence of our time here on this collection of water, dirt, air, and fire. It makes me happy to know that I fell into the right place at the right time. Gen-la’s visit poured the fuel into the boat of this current voyage to the point where I know clearly that the main purpose of my time here is to help the local center flourish. And I humbly accept!
And to today! I’ve determined working for a Dharma Centre is like a long term retreat! This from a journal entry on my first night in Norway…August 19th…
“Arriving at the house, I quickly realized how it was a manifestation of what Mar and I have been trying to create for a few years. On a small scale it is a Buddhist Community, with a shared living space, compost, organic foods, tea pots, small attic living spaces and warmly lit living spaces. We had a delicious dinner of buckwheat, freshly picked garden greens, a lichen concoction, steamed squash, and tofu. It appears that i’ll be right at home here. The area is quiet and peaceful and it should be very conducive for a spiritual practice! O’ joy :)”
Many people shared with me that Admin work is challenging and heavy, but on the contrary, my commute is a 20 minute ferry ride, my co-workers are kind and loving people, and my job is to get the word out about the benefits of meditation and Buddhism! How wonderful.
I truly hope that everyone can find meaning in their days through learning to keep a peaceful mind and wishing to benefit others. And if you have the time and wish, make your way over the pond (or up the hill) to visit Norway. You’ll be warmly welcomed!