What:Sangye Menlha is the common name of Bhaisajyaguru, also known as the Master of Healing or the Buddha of healing.
Why:The veneration of Medicine Buddha (Sangye Menlha in Tibetan) is considered a powerful method not only for healing and increasing healing powers, but also for overcoming the inner sickness of attachment, hatred, and ignorance.
Benefits:It is believed that meditating on the Medicine Buddha can help decrease physical/mental illness and suffering.
Day 1, 23/09/10 - Sangye Menlha, Glastonbury
Mid morning, after copious cups of tea I began my drive from Taunton to Glastonbury, passing en route Burrow Mump; a distinctive feature of the Somerset landscape. The hill, approx 24m high holds a dramatic stance above the flatness of the surrounding Somerset Levels.
On top lies the ruin of St Michael’s Church. The views from here are expansive and far reaching but pale insignificance when compared to the view from its bottom. Low lying clouds surround it like a lamb’s wool rug; from within a silhouette rises, mystic and great like a pimple protruding from the chin of earth’s flat levels.
Continuing my short journey I reached the village of Compton Dundon; captured immediately by its unique character. Like a model town I was transported to the days of Catherine Cookson & the Gambling Man. Here in this Oldie, worldly place, stone cottages and charming thatches lined the narrow village streets.
I arrived at the Earth Spirit Centre at lunchtime, meeting almost immediately the ladies who I had shared my Reiki adventures with in Nepal a year previous. On entering we assisted with creating and decorating the Gompa. Thangka’s were hung from any available nail that had stood the test of time; the stone walls undoubtedly had many a story to tell. Tibetan carpets were vacuumed and laid across the floor; ornaments representing the Deities were adorned with white silk scarves, incense burned near the altar.
By mid afternoon my stomach was sounding like a baby Orca separated from its mother. Situated nearby is a local pub, the Castlebrook Inn. This is what I can only describe as a typical Somerset rural pub. Three old geezers were sat at the bar; clearly avoiding whatever tasks they’d anticipated would fill their day. With a broad Somerset tongue they spoke of people nowadays being ‘a slave to the wage’ how in some way or another they had all been rent-boys to something or someone. It was lovely to just sit in the large fireplace, content to listen to the ramblings of this quaint little village. Topics ranged from shopping; the quality of glass from which to drink the local ale and the extortionate cost of dentures.
Above me in the inglenook fireplace a small sign was pinned to the beam. In bold writing it read: Cost for answering the phone – 25p ‘Who?’ 50p ‘Never heard of them’. 75p ‘They’ve just left!’
One of the chaps asked where I was heading. ‘I’m off to do a weeks practice at the Earth Spirit Centre’. ‘You be careful my luv there be some weird uns down therrr, I did some breathing practice therr last week, see what twas all about…thankfully still alive!’
So there it is, evidence that the good old rural charm is still alive and kicking hidden within the realms of middle Dundon!
Later in the day I ate an evening meal with the Reiki girls, the food here is vegan and although I found myself excited by the meal names the taste somehow proved an anticlimax. Initial thoughts of, ‘oh I’d never think to mix those fruits, herbs and salad leaves together’ which were then followed by informed thoughts of, ‘…and I never will again!’
Karen asked if one of us would be prepared to monitor Rinpoche’s water through the teaching practice. Vacant glances were exchanged followed by little if any speech. Suddenly and without recollection of how or when it happened I discovered I had been nominated; worse still that my nomination had been accepted.
When the Rinpoche’s teaching began I found myself desperately distracted by the pressures of water duty. Cramp had seized my legs with the ferocity of a ravenous animal; with one microscopic movement the light tingle had transformed into the dense weight of mahogany… my body and mind were completely at odds.
How on earth, with a set of legs now rigid with lactic acid was I suppose to quietly and discreetly rise. Stoop in my approach to Rinpoche’s cup; fill it with a trickle of water that would sound of anything but that of public urinals. Return the flask, making sure it was concealed behind the thrown. Reverse backwards so as not to turn my back on Rinpoche and resume my cross legged position on the floor; without of course showing any glimpse of the soles of my feet to either the Deities that were positioned on either side of the room or to Rinpoche, positioned at the front – Argh!
The only thoughts gracing my mind were the numerous ways in which I could and would fudge this up. Somewhere within my 30yrs of existence there must be some injunction, some suppressed notion hidden in my psyche telling me how I always do things wrong. Fantastic, why I ask does it choose now, in a Gompa full of people to rear its head, protruding with the vulgarity and eagerness of a tightly held turd.
Never before had I watched someone drink with such concentration, watch and internally process each gulp to calculate with precision how many gulps would constitute the cup needing to be refilled.
Once I’d got over my water struggle I found myself intently captured, not by what the Rinpoche was saying but by his appearance. In this Gompa, lit only by candles I found I was looking upon a ‘changing man’. Not the Paul Weller kind or a simple change in someone’s expression but Rinpoche’s entire appearance (on at least two instances) appeared to completely transform. Was this the manifestation of previous lives or had the water duty psychologically scarred me? I simply couldn’t say but at one point I felt an essence of familiarity, felt as if I recognised the person who was sat delivering these teachings. No sooner had I tried to focus on exactly what, where, when or who I was seeing, the moment had passed and I was left with no precise recollection or understanding of what I had just witnessed.