Welcome to another enlightening session of Idanim Inspirations, where the Co-Founder of Idanim, Raman Mittal engages in a thoughtful conversation with Renuka Singh, Director at Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre. Renuka Ji is a renowned sociologist. She has been working in the field of woman studies, cross-culture dynamics, diaspora and Buddhist teachings for over 40 years.
She was initiated into Buddhist and meditation practices by some of the most respected teachers including His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Renuka Ji, a dedicated practitioner of Buddhist principles, generously imparts her knowledge and perspectives regarding the life-altering potential of meditation. During this discussion, she also relates her personal journey and how she discovered meditation while actively engaged in empowering women.
Join us as we explore the principles of Buddhist teachings and their potential to bring about positive change in your life.
What Led You to Explore Your Mindfulness Journey?
Renuka Ji took us back to her college days, where she began her journey of mindfulness. While pursuing her doctoral studies at JNU in Delhi, she encountered certain experiences that could not be explained. Despite her extensive readings in Western psychology and Indian philosophy, she felt a sense of dissatisfaction. She wanted a teacher who could explain the mysteries behind her experiences.
These experiences marked her learning journey, which began with a deep dive into Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism. In the pursuit of understanding, she even authored a paper on the Feminine principle within Tibetan Buddhism. Her quest for knowledge eventually led her to His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1986.
She recounted her first interaction with His Holiness, Dalai Lama, a moment that left a mark on her path to mindfulness. His teachings and logical insights deeply inspired her. His Holiness conveyed a profound truth: "No amount of reading will help you start meditating." It was here that Renuka Ji's personal journey into mindfulness truly began.
Can You Share Some Teachings from His Holiness The Dalai Lama?
Renuka Ji shared that the abundance of knowledge and teachings could not be summarised in a few sentences. She later briefed the Dalai Lama’s teachings by breaking them down into three key aspects: morality, concentration, and wisdom. The key message emphasized the importance of nurturing compassion rooted in wisdom. Cultivating an altered mindset in your daily life is essential, as it serves as a path towards attaining enlightenment.
Furthermore, Renuka Ji stressed the significance of the concept of emptiness and wisdom. To illustrate emptiness, she used a simple example of a table. At first glance, it appears as just a table. But upon closer examination, you realize it's composed of countless particles in the universe, interconnected and interdependent. Understanding this interdependence is key to grasping the essence of emptiness. While it may be straightforward in theory, truly realizing it can be incredibly challenging.
Regarding wisdom, she pointed out that it involves acknowledging that what we perceive with our eyes is not an absolute reality but more like a dream. Our personal perspectives lead us to assign labels to everything we see.
Can You Share an Incident with His Holiness Dalai Lama That Had an Impact On Your Life?
Renuka Ji described her meeting with His Holiness as a significant turning point in her life. She shared that, after spending 40 minutes with him, all of her lingering questions and doubts seemed to simply fade away. It was as if a fog had lifted, leaving her with complete clarity and no contradictions.
In that precious moment with the Dalai Lama, Renuka Ji found herself profoundly transformed. She explained the concept of the three gurus – the inner, the outer, and the secret. The outer guru, she said, plays a crucial role in helping us develop the skills and qualities that are reflected in them.
The secret guru, on the other hand, aids in cultivating these qualities and skills, utilizing methods tailored to one's unique needs and preferences. Renuka Ji's experience with the Dalai Lama illustrated the power of such encounters in fostering personal growth and understanding.
How has Your Academic Journey Intersected With Your Journey of Self-Discovery?
Renuka Ji embarked on her mindfulness journey during her PHD studies. She mentioned her research paper dedicated to the intricate layers of the female psyche, with a particular focus on women residing in Delhi. Her research was directed towards those women who were achieving remarkable success in their careers and flourishing financially yet found themselves grappling with dissatisfaction emotionally and spirituality.
She delved into the spiritual journeys of these women, walking a path that strayed from conventional religious structures. In her book, "Women Reborn," she pens a captivating quest to understand the spirituality of urban women. The brilliance of her work lies in her innovative approach to spiritual methodologies in autobiographical narratives.
She also talked about a dedicated chapter that includes men in the conversation, featuring the wise Dalai Lama and one of his students. Renuka Ji's book ultimately reaches a powerful conclusion: it delineates two distinct spiritual models – the masculine and the feminine.
In the realm of masculine spirituality, the pursuit often involves letting go of worldly attachments or making profound sacrifices to attain spiritual goals. On the other hand, Renuka Ji highlights a unique facet of feminine spirituality. Women who embrace this path don't necessarily surrender or forsake their worldly responsibilities. Instead, they seem to navigate the challenges of daily life, including career obstacles, while simultaneously nurturing their spiritual selves.
It's essential to note that these models aren't exclusive to gender; men can indeed adopt the feminine model of spirituality, and women can explore the masculine path. Renuka Ji's work serves as a thought-provoking canvas, urging us to ponder the intricate interplay between spirituality and our daily lives, transcending the confines of gender expectations.
How has Your Exposure to Diverse Cultures Influenced Your Views on Mindfulness?
From a cross-cultural perspective, Buddhism undergoes a fascinating transformation as it spreads to different geographical regions. For example, Korean Buddhism and Italian Buddhism exhibit notable distinctions. When we delve into the practice of meditation, its essence is predominantly shaped by the teachings and guidance specific to the Buddhist practice you follow. The methods and characteristics of meditation will vary based on these teachings.
Your personal journey is profoundly influenced by the qualities and methods you embrace within your chosen tradition. The cultural context in which you practice Buddhism will naturally leave its mark on your spiritual path. Nevertheless, it's important to recognize that the fundamental truth or ultimate reality sought in Buddhism remains unaltered. What differs are the diverse methods and paths that guide individuals towards this shared destination.
What is the Vision of Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre?
Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre, founded in 1979 by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche, is a place of great significance. Its primary purpose was to introduce Tibetan Buddhism to India, fostering the understanding of wisdom and compassion among people. In doing so, the Lamas aimed to express their gratitude to the Indian people who had provided them refuge.
Over the years, the center has evolved into a global focal point where teachers from all around the world come to practice and share their knowledge. One notable transformation is the shifting demographic of its visitors. Initially, the center attracted an older crowd, but in the last decade, a surge of interest from younger individuals has been observed.
This can be attributed to the increasing stress and anxiety concerns in modern life. Younger generations are turning to mindfulness and meditation as effective tools to navigate the challenges of contemporary living. The center's teachings, including those imparted by the Lamas, as well as its weekly pooja sessions, discussion groups, and morning meditation routines.
Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre's commitment extends beyond meditation. It actively engages in charitable work, supporting cancer patients, facilitating child education, and aiding those in need. It is also known for organizing special sessions featuring teachings by the Dalai Lama.
What are Some Key Teachings You have Shared in Your Books?
Renuka Ji has touched upon some fundamental themes that she often explores in her writings: interdependence, impermanence, and the nature of suffering. These themes are the cornerstone of personal growth and expanding one's consciousness.
When she was asked about a famous quote from one of her books, which reads, "If you want to know what you were doing in the past, then look at your body now. If you want to know what will happen in the future, look at what your mind is doing now," Renuka Ji shared that this quote was inspired by the teachings of His Holiness. It delves into the concept of Karma - the idea that your current physical state is a reflection of your past actions. Your body's shape and condition are like a mirror reflecting your life's history.
To glimpse into your future, she advised, look within your mind. Understand the nuances of your moment-to-moment consciousness. This is where the practices of mindfulness and meditation play a pivotal role. It's an essential aspect of self-awareness that everyone should embrace. Think of it this way: Your thoughts and beliefs are the architects of your future reality. If negativity dominates your thoughts, it shapes you into a person with harmful tendencies. On the other hand, positive thoughts mold you into a compassionate individual. In essence, you are the creator of your own destiny.
What is Your Advice for People Starting their Meditation Journey?
Renuka Ji's wisdom is a simple yet profound idea: taking care of your body is important, but looking after your mind should be the top priority. Prioritizing your mental wellness is crucial for a balanced and fulfilling life. One way to achieve this is by making mindfulness a daily practice.
Renuka Ji also pointed out some common mistakes that people tend to make in their mindfulness journey. One of the most prevalent errors is expecting immediate results. It's important to understand that cultivating a healthy mind takes time, patience, and consistent effort. So, remember, don't rush the process, and be gentle with yourself as you work towards a happier, more mindful life.
Renuka Ji's insights have shed light on the essence of Buddhist teachings and how they can be integrated into our daily lives. Watch the full conversation to gain a fresh perspective on the life-changing potential of meditation.
Our podcast series, Idanim Inspirations, dives into enlightening conversations with spiritual leaders exploring their remarkable journeys toward mindfulness. Here, we share the profound insights and life-changing experiences that have guided them on their paths. Through these conversations, we uncover insights and experiences, offering enlightenment and inspiration for all. Get ready to discover a wellspring of inspiration and wisdom as we bring these conversations to your screen.