The Sakyong In Krakow by Mio Sylvester

Legend states that Kraków was founded by Krakus, a Polish prince, who built the famous Wawel palace over the slain dragon Smok Wawelski’s lair at the foot of Wawel Hill. Krakow has always been the spiritual and intellectual centre of Poland. The Enlightenment was started by Nicholas Copernicus – a Polish student at Kraków University – removing the Earth from the centre of the Universe and placing the Sun at the centre of the Solar System. It was the heart of the East European Jewish community for hundreds of years before the Second World War and the Auschwitz museum is only 42 miles from the city centre. It was the city in which Oscar Schindler had his factory and Pope John Paul II had been a parish priest and archbishop before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Last month, the Sakyong taught for the first time in Kraków proclaiming a “new enlightenment” of the Great Eastern Sun of basic goodness and teaching that “countries have feelings and hold trauma too”, adding “no place I have visited has not suffered.” With great kindness, he taught about basic goodness and answered many questions about meditation, human dignity and the need for confidence in our basic goodness. He also observed that “Tibetan people are a practical people who would not have meditated for more than a thousand of years if nothing had happened” which clearly struck a chord with the practical Polish audience.

The Sakyong had also invited Archarya Barbara Märtens to teach shamatha mediation. She patiently explained, like a Vajra-mother,  right posture, view and soft gaze and referring to imaginary strings and falling feathers to the many new meditators eager for instruction.

The Polish sangha had worked for some years to bring this wonderful event to fruition and while everyone cannot be mentioned here, three are particularly noteworthy: the joint co-ordinators Ania Bartys and Magdalena Grudniewska as well as the translator Bartek Kociemba.

As the participants left the Krakow Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University, the question that had been asked of the Gautama Buddha came to mind : “How do you stop a water drop from evaporating?” “By throwing it into the sea” came the reply. The Sakyong had given many teachings to a deep and appreciative Polish audience, in particular he had recognized their human dignity. As the sun shone on an autumn Sunday afternoon and the sea of faces dispersed into Kraków and beyond, the wind rose and dragon clouds danced above.

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