I’m Shakyapada. I was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 2017 and my name means ‘she who follows the Buddha’s Path’ or, more poetically, ‘she who walks with the Buddha’. This poetic version fills my heart with joy because each day I really do feel that I am walking with the Buddha and it is so wonderful.
I was born a long long time ago in 1944 and for much of my life I was a workaholic managing a fairly large printing company, running ultra distance races and generally doing all that I could to avoid facing an unwanted truth. In fact, I was trying to avoid some serious gender issues which eventually caught up with me in 1995 when I gave in and transitioned to female.
This solved the big problem in my life but it turned out that, even though I now had everything I could ever want in my life - a comfortable gender, a great partner, a nice house, enough money and good friends and family - I still felt dissatisfied. Life was still not behaving as I wanted it to. For sixty-five years I had tried to organise the world in the way I wanted it to be - and after sixty-five years the world was still not cooperating!
So I began to realise that maybe the world (and other people) were never going to co-operate. My strategy for happiness was not fit-for-purpose. So, more in desperation than anything else, I bought a CD about guided meditation and began to learn something called ‘The Mindfulness of Breathing’. I gave it my best shot, meditating every day. The effect was quite extraordinary and very soon I had a lightbulb moment when I realised that it was much easier to accept the way life was rather than to get into conflict with it. It was much less painful to accept the difficulties of life than to continually fight them.
Through meditation I began to learn acceptance, tolerance and kindness to myself and others and my life began to ransform
Bodhipaksa, who led the meditations on that CD, turned out to be a Triratna Order member so I looked for my nearest Centre, went on various introductory courses, fell head over heels in love with the Buddha, the Dharma and the sangha and within a few months asked to become a mitra and commit to being a Buddhist. That was 2009. I have changed a lot since then but I am still working on myself and still changing. And it feels so good!
Now, as Chair of a small Buddhist Centre in York, much of my practice involves bringing meditation and Buddhist practice to others. This feels like such a privilege and a glorious way to live my life. It brings me constant delight to see this practice transforming the lives of others, just as it is continuing to transform my life.