This morning we went to Oasis. Normally, on Sundays, we have a service here at La Ville au Roi (Eleusis) and sometimes people from Oasis come here, but today we went there as they were having a special day. Lama Wangmo gave a Dharma talk in the hall. It was a good workout for our understanding of the French language to try to follow it. Her topic was 'Unconditional Goodwill'.
The presentation began with a variant upon the Buddhist refuge. She then talked in general about what it would mean to 'live' the principle of unconditional goodwill and this led on to consideration of the obstacles that stand in the way of doing so. In her manner of presentation of these ideas, Lama Wangmo likes to use figures taken from fairy stories and she talked about the 'wicked fairy' that we each have inside ourselves as a way of introducing the Buddhist notion of the Three Poisons - greed, hate and delusion. In this context she then introduced the Tibetan practice of Tonglen. This too was accompanied by a fairy tale story about there being a sick princess who could only be cured by a magic apple. Three princes went to rescue her, one by one. Along the way they met an old woman who asked each in turn "Where are you going and what do you have in your basket?" The first prince, anxious not to lose the apples before getting to the princess, said "I have some frogs that I am taking back to the pond." The old lady (who, of course, really is a witch) says, "So shall it be!" and when the prince gets to the castle of the princess all that is found in his basket are frogs. The second prince sets out, meets the old women, and tells her that he just has food to feed the pig. "So shall it be!" When he arrives he only has pig food in his basket. The third, youngest prince sets out and meets the old woman. "Where are you going and what do you have in your basket?" "I am going to see the princess. I am taking her an apple. The apple will cure her illness and I am going to marry her." "So shall it be!" And he goes to the castle, rescues the princess and marries her. This story illustrates the power of innocent straightforwardness.
we were all charmed by the talk and afterwards we all gathered for a pot-luck meal on the terrace. There was to be an afternoon session, but most of our party had taken as much French as they could manage in one session, so we said our goodbyes and made our way home.