Monday, 29 August 2011

NEW MOON - Monday 29th August 2011

Like a fish which on being dragged
from its home in the water
and tossed on dry land
will thrash about,
so will the heart tremble
when withdrawing from the current of Mara.

Dhammapada verse 34

Probably we can all relate to this image. It's about how it feels when we attempt to let go of our habits. The current of Mara is the force of distraction and no matter how hard we try in practice, our addiction to distraction seems to return - sometimes subtle, sometimes coarse. The more intense our resolve to let go, the more convincing the obstructions can appear. This is not necessarily something going wrong, it is natural. We are all in this together and it can help to remember we need each other's support on this challenging journey.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Saturday, 27 August 2011

8,000 Menacing Tweets Sent to Leader of Buddhist Group

Here's a somewhat disturbing Buddhist related story from the New York Times concerning obsessive, hateful behaviour.

Even the Buddha of compassion might have been distressed to be on the receiving end of the diatribes that William Lawrence Cassidy is accused of posting on Twitter.

They certainly rattled Alyce Zeoli, a Buddhist leader based in Maryland. Using an ever-changing series of pseudonyms, the authorities say, Mr. Cassidy published thousands of Twitter posts about Ms. Zeoli. Some were weird horror-movie descriptions of what would befall her; others were more along these lines: “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.”

Those relentless tweets landed Mr. Cassidy in jail on charges of online stalking and placed him at the center of an unusual federal case that asks the question: Is posting a public message on Twitter akin to speaking from an old-fashioned soapbox, or can it also be regarded as a means of direct personal communication, like a letter or phone call?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Tibetan Master Visits London, September 2011

Chogyal Namkhai Norbu is one of the last great living Buddhist Masters. Trained in Tibet, Namkhai Norbu speaks English & has been teaching in the West for over 30 years. Legend has it that the Dalai Lama gave him a golden pen, stating he was to write as much as was humanly possible! His books on the Tibetan philosophy of Dzogchen are considered modern classics & have been translated into all the world's major languages. This is a rare opportunity to attend a series of unique London events, by a living Dzogchen master

'My Reincarnation' : Sneak preview of feature length documentary with Q & A's from Director Jennifer Fox
5-8pm, Sunday 4th September, Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA

'The Light of Kailash: Tibet and Zhang Zhung'
6:30pm-7:30pm, Friday 9th September, University of London, The Brunei Gallery, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H OXG
Part of an all day SOAS Conference on 'Bon, Shangshung & Early Tibet'

Free Public Talk:
'Introduction to Dzogchen'
5.30-7pm, Saturday 10th September, Camden Centre, Euston Road, London NW1

'Dzogchen Atiyoga Teaching Retreat' with Chogyal Namkhai Norbu
10am - 6.30 pm Sunday 11th September - Monday 12th September, Camden Centre, Euston Road, London NW1

For more information, prices, tickets & further links see

For further press information contact Gaynor O'Flynn mobile: 07968 759696

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A Poem That a Sangha Member Likes, and so do I

May 2011 was the 150th anniversary of the Indian poet Tagore. I have just been reading this poem which I thought was apt for us:

Look to this Day;
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie
all the verities
And realities of your Existence:
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendour of Beauty.
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision;
But to-day well lived
makes every Yesterday
a dream of Happiness,
And every To-morrow
A Vision of Hope.
Look well to this Day.

With metta

Monday, 22 August 2011

‘Invisible Snow’, Mopping up Radiation with Sunflowers

This is a short film (4.5 mins) about a Buddhist monk, Koyu Abe, who instigated the planting of millions of sunflowers and other plants, beginning at his temple,Joenji, and spreading out into the surrounding area. The flowers are believed to absorb the radiation coming from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Letting Go

Here's an item from the New York Times Opinionator section by Abby Sher entitled "Selling My Mother’s Dresses". As she says in the piece, "The more I read about Buddhism while the stock market dips and flips, the more I feel like I have to practice non-attachment".

I moved from Chicago to Brooklyn in July of 2004, just in time to watch my mother die. That wasn’t why I moved back. She was supposed to be getting better; the chemo was working. I came because I’d rented an apartment with Jay, this cute guy I’d started dating, who was originally from New York too. But a week after pulling up in a U-Haul, I found myself cleaning out my childhood home with my siblings. Our parents were both gone now; anything that we couldn’t take with us had to fit in a 20-cubic-yard Dumpster.

I could barely squeeze the little I saved into the one-bedroom Jay and I shared. I didn’t even try to unpack the boxes of my parents’ books, the bags of my mom’s dresses. Jay (who held me up at the funeral and painted our place all my favourite colours and quickly proved to be much more than just a cute guy) had to shimmy sideways to get between my father’s easy chair and my mother’s broken desk.

I was claustrophobic from the mountains of photos and misplaced knick-knacks, and yet I found myself drawn to someone else’s cast-offs.

We hadn’t lived there more than a month and already I was claustrophobic from the mountains of photos and misplaced knick-knacks. So it made no sense when, out walking one Saturday later that summer, something caught my eye — a pale green scrap of fabric — and suddenly I was steering Jay toward someone else’s cast-offs. My first stoop sale.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Tibetan Monk Burns Himself to Death

Yet another Tibetan monk has burned himself to death in protest against the Chinese occupation and suppression of his country. 29-year-old Tsewang Norbu from a monastery in Tawu, south-west China, drank petrol, sprayed petrol on himself and then set himself on fire, shouting, 'we Tibetan people want freedom', 'long live the Dalai Lama' and 'let the Dalai Lama return to Tibet'

It was the second such act in the area in the past five months and appeared to reflect resistance to increased Chinese repression of loyalty to Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Security forces detained about 300 Tibetan monks in western China for a month amid a crackdown sparked by the previous self-immolation, according to exiled Tibetans.

"Today's news exposes how desperate some Tibetans feel," said Stephanie Brigden, the director of Free Tibet. After the self-immolation in March, she said Chinese authorities "deployed troops on to the streets, imposed curfews, undertook house searches and set up military road blocks."

Monday, 15 August 2011


The latest Thought for the Day by Vishvapani has just been uploaded to our Audio section. In this reflection he speaks of the recent riots and of the dignity and humanity of Tariq Jahan.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

14th Annual Buddhist Picnic only Three Weeks Away!

The next Island Buddhist Picnic is just three weeks away! We will all be meeting up on Sunday the 4th of September at the Botanic gardens in Ventnor. The picnic will start from 12:00 onwards so bring plenty of nice vegetarian food to share also Feel free to bring along family, friends, dogs (none of them have to be Buddhists!) oh, and games!

We will be in the picnic area next to the children’s play ground, those of you who couldn't make it last year may not be au fait with where in the gardens we'll be meeting.

No worries, the picnic area can be seen on the extreme left hand side of the map below.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

FULL MOON – Saturday 13th August 2011

The active mind is difficult to tame,
flighty and wandering wherever it wills:
taming it is essential,
leading to the joy of well-being.

Dhammapada 35

If you are practising properly it will be difficult. There is no need to feel bad just because you are struggling. This is how it is for everyone who is aware. Remember, it is our habits that make it hard, not reality, not Dhamma. So we regularly resolve to align all aspects of our life with Dhamma. Remember too, the more firm our resolve, the more difficult the practice, so modesty in our ambitions can be a good thing.

With Metta,

Ajahn Munindo

Calls for Female Religious Equality Spread

Following on from our story of the 1st Annual International Bhikkhuni Day it's interesting to note the increasing number of calls for the ordination of women priests within the Roman Catholic church. Just as within the Thai Forest tradition of Buddhism, women have been ordained in the Catholic tradition of Christianity against the dictat of each institution's leadership.

More than 150 Roman Catholic priests in the United States have signed a statement in support of a fellow cleric who faces dismissal for participating in a ceremony that purported to ordain a woman as a priest, in defiance of church teaching.

There has been a “Call to Disobedience” issued in Austria in June by more than 300 priests and deacons. They stunned their bishops with a seven-point pledge that includes actively promoting priesthood for women and married men, and reciting a public prayer for “church reform” in every Mass.

In Switzerland, Markus Buechel, bishop of the diocese of St Gallen, has said there was huge pressure on the bishops to discuss women's ordination. "We can no longer evade it," he says.

And in Australia the Catholic Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, has been effectively sacked by Pope Benedict XVI over doctrinal disobedience for his support for ordaining women priests and other liberal reforms.

Back in the States, just as within the Forest Tradition, people have gone ahead and by-stepped the restrictions by just doing it! The RCWP is an organisation of Catholic women priests, in their own words they are "an international movement within the Roman Catholic Church. The mission of Roman Catholic Womenpriests is to primarily spiritually prepare, ordain, and support women from all states of life, who are theologically qualified, who are committed to an inclusive model of Church, and who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to minister within the Roman Catholic Church."

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The 1st Annual International Bhikkhuni Day

The 1st Annual International Bhikkhuni Day is on Saturday 17th September 2011,
from 9am - 5pm, and in the UK a meeting will be held at
The Buddhist Society, 58 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1PH.

The Bhikkhuni Day is a global, grassroots effort, sponsored by the Alliance for Bhikkhunis, and devoted to honouring Mahapajapati Gotami, the founder of the Bhikkhuni Sangha. On this day, supporters will gather at various venues around the world, to celebrate their spiritual legacy, learn about the history of prominent Buddhist women, meditate and raise funds to support bhikkhunis, via a meditation pledge-a-thon.

The home page of Alliance for Bhikkhunis ( contains details about the day on the bottom right-hand corner of the page - together with a link to the brochure for the day:

All those who would like to attend the London meeting are very welcome. Those who would like to attend but who live too far away, are encouraged to set up a local meeting of their own, and can contact me, Josephine Snell, at for details on how to do this. Setting up a meeting has been designed to be incredibly easy to do, and there are resources on the AfB website to help, plus my support via email. Ideally, we would like to end up with groups all over the country...

Those who are planning to attend a meeting, or who are unable to attend but would like to support the day through taking part at home, are invited to set up a FirstGiving page via the Alliance for Bhikkhunis' website - see
- so that they can help raise funds through the meditation pledge-a-thon. Alternatively, supporters can sponsor people who already have FirstGiving pages of their own.

It would be really helpful if you could you let me know, via my email address, if you plan to attend the London meeting or would like to attend one elsewhere, so that I can start to get an idea of numbers and can put people from outside the London area in touch with each other.

With many thanks for your interest, and much metta,

Josephine Snell
(Member of the AfB committee for International Bhikkhuni Day)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Taliban Fingers and Angulimala

Claims that a British soldier cut off the fingers of Taliban insurgents as trophies during combat operations in Helmand in Afghanistan are being investigated by the military police.

The soldier, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, is alleged to have severed fingers from dead insurgents during his unit's tour, which ended in April.

This story has striking similarities to the story of Angulimala whose name in Pali literally
means "finger necklace". Angulimala had been told by his teacher that he had to collect one thousand little fingers in order to graduate. He became a feared bandit and wore his growing collection of fingers in a garland around his neck. The story goes that his thousandth victim was to be the Buddha who he spotted coming towards him one day. This powerful and athletic serial killer, who had already successfully resisted several attempts to apprehend him, grabbed his weapons and dashed out to murder the Buddha and complete his score.

He expected to easily overtake him and quickly finish the job but then a very strange thing happened even though the Buddha was only walking, serenely and unhurried, Angulimala, despite his formidable strength and speed, found he couldn't catch up with him. Eventually, exhausted, angry, frustrated and soaked with sweat, Angulimala screamed at the Buddha to stop.

Then the Buddha turned and with neither anger nor fear, speaking quietly and directly, he told Angulimala that he, the Buddha, had already stopped. He had stopped killing and harming and now it was time for him, Angulimala, to do likewise. Angulimala was so struck by these words that there and then he stopped; he threw away his weapons and followed the Buddha back to the monastery where he became a monk.

Angulimala is the name of the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy service which was founded by Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo, who in in the late 70's set up a small monastery here on the Isle of Wight.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Sadako Sasaki and the Paper Peace Crane

As mentioned in our previous post about today being the 66th anniversary of the dropping of the first atom bomb, "Remembering Hiroshima",  volunteers at the Kamloops Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple were hard at work decorating the temple with paper cranes.

The origin of this practise is the story of Sadako Sasaki, who was a little girl of two when the atom bomb exploded near her home by Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima.

In November 1954, Sadako developed swellings on her neck and behind her ears. In January 1955, purple spots had formed on her legs. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with leukaemia. She was hospitalized on February 21, 1955, and given, at the most, a year to live.

On August 3, 1955, Sadako's best friend Chizuko Hamamoto came to the hospital to visit and cut a golden piece of paper into a square to fold it into a paper crane, in reference to the ancient Japanese story that promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. A popular version of the story is that Sadako fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her.

With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955 at the age of 12.

After Sadako died, her friends and her schoolmates published letters so that they could raise the funds in order to build Sadako a memorial to her and the other children in Japan who had died due to the effects of the atom bomb. In 1958, the monument was complete. It was a statue of Sadako, and in her hands is a golden crane. This monument is located at Hiroshima Peace Memorial, otherwise known as Genbaku Dome. The plaque that is on the memorial states, "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world."

The origami crane has now become an international symbol of peace.

“I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world”
Sadako Sasaki

Friday, 5 August 2011

New Feature - Notes

I've decided to add a new "Feature" in the form of an occasional "note" informing the reader of any recent additions to our other pages (accessed from the cream coloured menu bar at the top of this page).

By way of introduction, here's the first......

NOTE - The latest Dharma talk, shared with the Newport Soto Zen group was "Unholy Emptiness by Stephen Batchelor". It is now available on our Audio Page.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Remembering Hiroshima

On Saturday it will be the 66th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. I came across this story of how people in the Canadian city of Kamloops and it's neighbouring cities of Kelowna and Vernon are taking part in a marathon chanting session to commemorate the August the 6th, 1945 atomic bombing.

Rev. Yasuhiro Miyakawa Sensei will hold a 12-hour chant at the Kamloops Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temple on Poplar Street on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“He’ll be chanting non-stop — no "bathroom breaks", no anything,” said Daniel Heslop, the temple’s secretary.

“Others can join in for as much or as little as they like or they can just sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.”

Volunteers were hard at work this week decorating the temple with paper cranes.

“The origami cranes are going to be set out everywhere in the temple, basically,” Heslop said, estimating the number of cranes at about 15,000.

He went on to say that Saturday will mark the fifth year Miyakawa has hosted a similar event — in Kelowna in 2007, in Kamloops in 2008, in Vernon in 2009 and back in Kelowna in 2010.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Tzu Chi

Having just received the latest newsletter from the Tzu Chi Foundation, the Taiwan-based Buddhist Relief organisation, I came across this article from the Guardian.

Yeh Ci-xing wasn't expecting a tectonic shift in her core values or the genesis of major lifestyle changes after picking up an in-flight magazine. They aren't intended for that. What they did contain, particularly in 1988, were pithy distractions from the boredom, bad food, and secondhand smoke-filled cabins that were the hallmarks of long-haul flights.

"I was so moved by an article about Tzu Chi that I signed up within a few days of touching down in Taipei. And I've been with them ever since," says the full-time volunteer for Taiwan-based NGO Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. "I've learned to expect the unexpected."

And so have millions of others.