4. Introduction to Damma.

Beyond the Veil Book

 

Introduction to Damma.

In Christmas of 2008 I received a lot of gifts. My father and mother teamed up to buy me a beautiful bespoke Savile Row suit. I received Turnbull and Asser shirts, theatre tickets, jumpers, DVDs and all other manner of expensive presents. As is customary, I also received less expensive or exciting items: socks, books and stationary. My stepbrother had given me a book written by his meditation teacher, Guy Burgs, called ‘Beyond the Veil’. I did not care much for spirituality. In fact, I cared for it very little. I despised anything that could not be explained in a logical, common sense manner. I considered myself a champion of straight-talk. I hated vegetarians, which I deemed an unnatural and effeminate habit, and had an active loathing of the anti-hunting lobby (I was a keen pheasant shooter myself). I had received one of the best educations that the country had to offer. Three of my brothers had been educated at Eton. Myself and my other brother went to Stowe. I had prided myself on breaking the rules at Stowe, which eventually resulted in me leaving before being ejected, and I found my way to Dean Close, where I achieved three ‘A’ Grades in my A Levels. I short, I was extremely arrogant, and thought that I knew everything that there was to know about, well, everything.

The next day I went on the Boxing Day shoot. I went for a fitting for my new suit a few days later. Beyond the Veil had gone to the bottom of the pile.

It was not until six months later that I paid any attention to the book. It had someone managed to come out to Los Angeles with me. It had an attractive oriental looking binding which complemented the dark bamboo fittings in my bathroom. It thus made its way onto the counter by the sink until one day I picked it up and decided to give it a read.

The content was unlike anything that I had ever read before. I will not try to replicate any of it here, as I would do it a great injustice. Its stories were unbelievable, in the truest sense that they were extraordinary. They defied everything that I had learned in school and in books about possible and impossible, true and false. It was the kind of book that would make Richard Dawkins go red in the face with anger. And yet, for reasons that I could not explain at the time, the stories rang true to me. I believed them. And I found an ever-growing sense of excitement and peace within the book’s pages.

Burgs is an ex-monk who became the first Englishman, perhaps the first Westerner, to complete every one of the Buddha’s forty meditation practices. He learned meditation from some of the most attained teachers of today, Merta Ada of Bali, The Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw of the Burmese Jungle Monastery and H.H Kyabje Dodruchpen Rinpoche. He returned to his native country to teach these practices, and the peace that can be found within them, to others.

 

Burgs

The book explained about happiness: how peace and happiness are the ultimate aspiration of every sentient being. All beings wish to be happy. We just get confused about what it is that will bring us happiness, and it is this confusion that causes us to suffer. Finding our way back to happiness is the journey of finding our way back to the heart. We let go of attachments; see the impermanence and emptiness inherent in all conditioned things, and then give in to it utterly. It is the way of the yogi.

Although the majority of the concepts discussed in the book were completely new to me, they seemed extremely familiar indeed. It felt like coming home to an old friend who I knew well but had ignored my whole life.

The moment I finished the book I felt a deep yearning to return to England to meet this teacher. I emailed his assistant, booked myself on a Vipassana (Insight) retreat and booked my flight for November that year.

May all beings be happy.

 

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