With Kindly Curiosity: Vajradevi
Vajradevi - who is leading the Pathways to the Beautiful Mind retreat - has been strongly influenced by the receptive and transformative power of mindfulness.
She has been meditating for over 30 years within the Buddhist tradition and is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. She has also studied with the Burmese teacher, Sayadaw U Tejaniya.
How did you come to Dharma practice?
In my early 20s, I was travelling in Asia and was curious about meditation. Once I got back to the UK, I went to the London Buddhist centre on a six day retreat. I wasn’t looking for religion, as I had given up religion. Yet hearing the talks (which were on the Noble Eightfold Path) on that retreat, I felt as if I was coming home. That was 35 years ago; I was 23.
Up to then, I had been seeking freedom but only externally. I didn’t even know that there was the possibility of an inner freedom. So I sought
freedom through travelling the world and through skydiving. As soon as I went on that retreat I very quickly realised that looking inwardly was not only possible, but much more rewarding than trying to find freedom from external circumstances.
Tell us about a book that's inspired you
There have been so many at different times and in different ways!
One recent book that inspired me was by Mingyur Rinpoche, called In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying. He describes his life as a monk as one of privilege in terms of being protected from the uncertainties of life. He wants to explore life without that protection, so decides to go forth and leave his life without telling anyone where he will go. He leaves from Bodhgaya and within a few weeks he is really sick and facing death. The book is about how he faces death and practices letting go and facing fear. I love the title, In Love with the World, as this is the fruit of going through that process of facing death and the freedom to love the world that he achieves through it.
What does your daily practice look like?
At the moment, I try to sit twice a day: before breakfast, then again after breakfast. I have an open practice that has the flavour and elements of awareness, compassion, wisdom and curiosity.
In addition, I practice through my daily life through being aware of whatever I am doing and how I am doing it. My work currently includes writing a book on meditation, so my mind is on practice a lot, which feeds into my own meditation practice.
Who or what is inspiring you currently?
I’m reading a rather difficult, though rewarding, book by Bhikkhu ÑÄnanandha called The Magic of the Mind: An Exposition of the Kalakarama Sutta. It is largely about consciousness and looking inward.
It is about looking at that mind objectively, using the image of consciousness as a magic show. I’ve been inspired by looking into the relationship of consciousness and objects for a long time.
Picture of Mingyur Rinpoche by Gazebo