I’m a dharma practitioner in the Tibetan Mahamudra/Dzogchen tradition. I’m student of Lama Shenpen Hookham, who is the founding Lama of the Awakened Heart Sangha, based in North Wales. Lama Shenpen is the principal teacher of the Living the Awakened Heart training, a unique home study Dharma course starting with ‘Discovering the Heart of Buddhism‘, an experiential training in Tibetan Buddhism designed especially for Westerners.

I found Lama Shenpen’s course a few years ago when looking for a genuine teacher and training in Tibetan Buddhism, after I deciding I wanted to pursue meditation and Buddhist practice more seriously, when I found myself feeling really stuck. I was so thrilled to find such an authentic, genuine teacher with a strong, close connection to an amazing teaching lineage, who is able to give genuine transmissions of the teachings. It’s so important to find a good teacher, so I feel very fortunate I was able to find Lama Shenpen and become one of her students.

I’m studying the Living the Awakened Heart Training, having starting with the Heart of Meditation course then Discovering the Heart of Buddhism (DHB). I have also recently, after two years, progressed to Trusting the Heart of Buddhism (THB) the next course, which takes the core subjects and therefore your training, commitment and practice, much deeper. I love DHB though, its structure is spiral learning so you can keep coming back to those teachings again and again, getting deeper into it each time. I can already see how much I’ve expanded my understanding over the last few years.

What I loved about joining the Awakened Heart Sangha was that it offers the full package – an amazing, authentic teacher, a supportive community of likeminded practitioners and a lifetime path of practise within the Tibetan Buddhist traditions of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, as part of the Kagyu/Nyingma schools.

This blog started as a way of documenting my thoughts, experience and progress of my study and practise while recovering from colon surgery due to Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. It started as a private blog to keep myself busy and to keep focused on relating my experiences to my Buddhist practice.

Thanks to Lama Shenpen’s Discovering the Heart of Buddhism course, I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able utilise the experience of my illnesses and surgery as a focus for my practice – using the obstacle of my illness ‘as the path’. As my recovery from surgery progressed, I realised how much I enjoyed writing about my practice within the Awakened Heart Sangha, and feel (just about!) confident enough to allow the blog to be public, although I do prefer to keep myself fairly anonymous. My Dharma name is Lodro Tashi.

Kushalamula_Dharma_BlogI live with my husband in the UK and enjoy pottering around on my little allotment, dabbling with art and music, amongst other things. Due to my health I can’t work full time but I’ve worked in various jobs over the years, as an administrator, freelance arts writer/author, curator, events organiser and freelance social media marketing/promotion. I’m currently using any skills and experience I’ve picked up over the years by helping the Awakened Heart Sangha with online, website and promotional support, as a way of giving back to the sangha and utilising my time productively and mindfully, using my Dharma work as practise too.

Kushalamula is a Sanskrit, Buddhist word that translates as ‘Roots of Goodness’. It’s a word that after I’d read about it, it kept popping into my head all the time, so it seemed the obvious choice for me to use here. Kushalamula relates to ‘punya’ or ‘merit’ – which is often misinterpreted.

One of my main inspirations for wanting to practise Buddhism is so that I might be of more help/benefit (and less of a hinderance!) to those around me and beyond, which ties into the idea of one’s (karmic) actions having ‘roots of goodness’. It also ties in with the Mahayana Refuge and Bodhisattva Vow of working towards awakening for the benefit of all beings.

Here’s a quote from the book about the ‘Samantabhadracharya Pranidhana’ by Lama Shenpen Hookham, which is part of the Avatamsaka Sutra, a Buddhist scripture. In the introduction to the book and explanation of the Pranidhana (a wishing or aspirational prayer) Lama Shenpen explains what is meant by Kushalamula:

“Kushalamula, literally ‘Roots of Goodness’. Goodness here refers to karmically wholesome actions that arise from and give rise to wholesome states of being. They are like roots spreading out into the ground of our being…It is as if we were trees whose power and strength lay in their roots. A well-rooted tree is not easily destroyed by storms, frosts, drought or setbacks of any kind. It may lose all its leaves and look withered and dead – but then because of its good roots it springs back to life again and again. We own these roots in a more real sense that we own anything else in life. They are our true wealth and they go with us from life to life. So it is meaningful to dedicate them for whatever purpose we choose.”