Reminiscences of living at Vajraloka
I lived at Vajraloka for 21 years but the memories that I cherish most are the years from around 1986-1990 . It was a very creative time during which the community were working together at unpacking and elucidating the essential spirit and teachings of Sangharakshita into contemporary language and practical approaches to meditation.
We always attempted to stay true to Bhante’s teaching and from that came an era of creative communication and exploration which carried on for many years. It was during that time that we started giving a series of foundation courses on meditation. We went into every detail of every aspect of meditation for the regular meditator. They were very thorough and far-reaching in their scope and people came from all over the movement for them. We brought a fresh approach to the methods and traditional teachings, so they became alive and relevant. There was great emphasis on developing and clarifying approaches that are now an essential part of our vocabulary and which we take for granted.
These approaches just seem obvious now but at the time they seemed radical and were sometimes approached with caution. For example emphasising an experiential approach to what hindered your meditation rather than the theoretical approach seemed radical. Around this approach there were a number of teachings that all hang together. Out of being present and alive to your experience came the need to be open to what is really here. This highlighted that meditation is not about jumping over yourself or pushing to get somewhere else. The implication of this is that you always work from where you are.
Out of this we developed a number of teachings about working from where you are. It seemed very important at the time to make the whole process of how you began meditation alive and vibrant rather than mechanical or just a going through the motions. Ideas and teachings about intentions, effort and awareness came and went, very often building on each other. Some teachings would last for only a short time but often gave rise to clearer and more effective teachings, which are now embedded in our communal knowledge. Each formulation often become clearer and more effective and very often truer to the spirit of the meditation in question. This was not about innovation for innovation’s sake.
Different people with different temperaments and characters seemed to need to hear the same thing from different points of view and in different ways. The richness and diversity of the community helped us to speak to those different needs. At the time we all felt that we were individually changing by hearing each other communicate the spirit and principles from their own point of view. I really loved that about the community, you could see changes and differences in people from one year to the next as we came to the point that we could all teach from each other's points of view. We became much more rounded as individuals and weaknesses turned into strengths. During questions and answers, community members would just know who was the best person to answer any given question. We didn't even have to look at each other, it was a delightful expression of working together as a community, helping each other to become fuller and richer within ourselves.
Spirit of Meditation
- Vajradaka's meditation website