If you like it, it’s a blessing. If you don’t, it’s cultivation.” The unforgettable words of Venerable Yifa will stay with me for life, evoking all the lessons learnt throughout the month we spent in China with the Woodenfish programme. Alongside the history of Buddhism and Hinduism, and aspects of Chinese culture such as Tai Chi, Kung Fu, and calligraphy, we learnt compassion, patience, generosity, and the beginnings of wisdom. Through the practice of meditation, we learnt how to quieten the noise of our minds, and appreciate the moment of each breath. As Kim Dembrosky explained, each breath is a moment that you have never experienced before, and that you will never experience again.
To live mindfully in the present moment enables peace of mind. It allows each of us to take a step back from our thoughts, and consider our actions, enabling us to always act from a place of good intentions. The experience showed me, among many things, that whatever I am doing, I must do it to the best of my ability. I am a student now, so I must study diligently. When I graduate this May, I must apply myself wholeheartedly to any endeavour I choose to pursue. It is the combination of this diligence and compassion that I am most grateful for.
In conjunction with the educational and personal value, the month spent at Woodenfish facilitated the meeting of 45 people from all over the world, to share opinions, cultures, and experiences. We will never have the same experience with anyone else in the world, which is part of what makes our relationships so special. The Woodenfish experience in its totality is undeniably one of the most important experiences I have had, and will ever have. It showed me the extent to which the human mind can be focussed, how much can be achieved when the mind is tranquil, even when the body is tired, and how important it is to reduce suffering in ourselves in order to reduce suffering in others. I recommend the Woodenfish with utmost sincerity, irrespective of what you are looking for. Through the Woodenfish programme, I found confidence in my willpower, focus in my efforts, and compassion in my thoughts. The experience of the Woodenfish programme is ineffable – why not try it for yourself?