I was fortunate to spend a week this month on retreat with a teacher who had kickstarted my personal exploration of the Buddhist path a few years ago. By then, I'd been studying Buddhism for a while, but it had been largely intellectual until I did a weekend program with him, and later a weeklong retreat.
Since then I've seen him mostly for weekend programs and kept up with his podcasts and books. Sitting with him again in person was a push my practice needed -- and an opportunity for reflection on where I am and where I had been.
"Buddhism saved my life," I told him one evening after a session where several people shared their stories. (This was a retreat that emphasized building sangha; we were silent for half the day and spoke during the other half.)
Maybe I was being dramatic. Maybe not. Buddhism definitely helped me see and change negative patterns of thinking. It let me be touched by joy as well as suffering, to see the inseparability of the two. Suffering exists; it feels good to admit that, to not try to talk my way out of that. It arises from causes and conditions. It can be eased.
Today, July 20, is celebrated in Tibetan Buddhism as Chokhor Duchen, the anniversary of the Buddha's first teaching, which was on the Four Noble Truths. This is also known as the first turning of the wheel of dharma.
I am personally deeply grateful for the teachings, those who teach them, and those who study them. My all beings everywhere without one exception benefit.