Friday, 28 December 2012

FULL MOON - Friday 28th December 2012

As an elephant
resolutely drags itself from a swamp,
uplift yourself with the inspiration
of cultivated attention.

Dhp. v. 327

The energy of inspiration can be generated by wise reflection. With the right kind of effort, insurmountable situations can be managed; the unendurable can be endured. Inspiration has the power to transform our lives and our world. When wise reflection shows us that heedfulness helps and heedlessness hinders, our hearts respond by inclining towards the wholesome. Balanced awareness rightly reveals the extent of the task we have ahead of us; with our inner world obstructed by ignorance and our outer world fraught with injustice.

But the important question is how do we meet these tasks? It is not more force that is needed, but careful consideration of cause and effect. If clear seeing and kindness were to motivate us, the swamp of heedless habits would appear less daunting. Cultivated attention shows us what works and confidence naturally follows.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 20 December 2012

End of the World, again

Well it's time yet again to post my last post. As you all, presumably, know by now, it's the end of the World tomorrow.

Yes December the 21st 2012 is the end of the Mayan calendar and therefore everything else. But how did it all start, it's all to do with the ending of the 13th Baktun and something to do with the "Holy Lord", now where have I heard that before?

Panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America (makes you wonder what part of END they don't get). In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

NEW MOON - Thursday 13th December 2012

A master is one who has let go
of all craving and clinging to the world;
who has seen the truth beyond forms,
yet is possessed of a profound knowledge of words.
Such a great being can be said to have finished the task.

Dhammapada v. 352

Letting go is not something we do, it is something which happens when we see how what we do causes suffering. So long as we are caught in trying to let go, the me which is trying creates imbalance. But to not-try isn’t correct either. What can we do to fulfil the great task of finding freedom? What does it mean to make right effort? One aspect of right effort is examining the kind of effort we are already making. We enquire: is what we do a form of self-seeking, or does it come from a deeper, quieter place; a simple interest in what is true? We know we want to be free from suffering, but does the way in which we want actually help? Even wanting to be free can create obstructions if we cling to it. Our aspiration to see ‘the truth beyond forms’ can support right effort, if we slow down, remember kindness, and look into how we are receiving our present experience.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Meditation Effective Against Colds & Flu

New research published in the “Annals of Family Medicine,” has proved that Buddhist meditation is effective at preventing winter ailments such as colds and influenza.

The study divided 149 people into three groups: One performed mindful meditation, another group jogged regularly for eight weeks, while the third group did nothing.

The researchers then followed the health of the volunteers through the winter from September to May, although they didn’t check whether or not people carried on exercising or meditating after the eight-week period.

The participants were observed for cold and flu symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing, and sore throat. Nasal wash samples were collected and analyzed three days after the symptoms began.

The study, found that meditators missed 76% fewer days of work from September through to May than those who did nothing. Those who had exercised missed 48 per cent fewer days during this period.

In addition, meditation can reduce the duration or severity of acute respiratory infections by up to 50%, and exercise by up to 40%.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Salafist Leader Calls for the Destruction of the Pyramids and the Sphinx

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, a leader of Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafist party, recently called on Muslims to destroy the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx as a religiously mandated act of iconoclasm. "The idols and statutes that fill Egypt must be destroyed. Muslims are tasked with applying the teachings of Islam and removing these idols, just like we did in Afghanistan when we smashed the Buddha statues," said Gohary, who claims to have participated in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001.

According to Ian Straughn, even while Egyptians are very much aware of “the role that these ruins play in the economy and various state efforts to represent Egypt as a modern-day heir to one of the world’s great civilizations,” there is “a palpable discomfort with this promotion and glorification of a pre-Islamic past.”

(Ian Straughn is a postdoctoral fellow in Islamic archaeology at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University.)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

International Network of Engaged Buddhists Issues Statement on Violence in Burma’s Rakhine State

At its Executive and Advisory Board meeting this month, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists ratified a statement condemning ongoing violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state, and calling for the Burmese government and religious leaders to work toward a resolution.

“We hope that it expresses the concerns of Buddhists around the world who are witness to the communal conflict and violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state,” said Hozan Alan Senauke. “Clearly this conflict must be resolved by the Burmese peoples themselves, but this statement affirms that INEB and Buddhists everywhere care about the well-being of Burma’s emerging democracy and of all its peoples. We send our encouragement and faith in the Buddha’s great way.”

Conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State: A Statement from the International Network of Engaged Buddhists

Since June 2012, violence between communities of Rohingyas and Rakhines in Rakhine State has resulted in hundreds of dead and wounded, thousands of homes and shops razed, and more than 75,000 displaced and impoverished.

The roots of this conflict are hard to untangle. They go back at least decades to the period of British colonial occupation. But current hostility also speaks to a scarcity of land and economic resources that manifests as communal hostility. Undoubtedly there has been violence and provocation on both sides. We commit ourselves to open-minded investigation of the past and present sources of this violence.

Although some Rohingyas have lived in Myanmar for generations, if not for several hundred years, the former military regime’s 1982 law excluded them from among the nation’s many recognized ethnicities, denying the Rohingyas citizenship and basic rights. As they are driven from their homes, neighboring Bangladesh prohibits the entry of them as refugees, and also denies citizenship to Rohingyas presently living within its own borders. It is not surprising that the United Nations views the Rohingyas as “one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.”

We feel for the families of all sides of this conflict, and have compassion for the people of Myanmar who are suffering and trying their best to resolve this issue.

We call for the government of Myanmar, and the leaders of the Buddhist Sangha and other religious leaders, to play an active and nonviolent role in resolving the conflict in Rakhine state. Central to this is to grant humanitarian assistance and work towards tolerance and respect for all of Myanmar’s diverse inhabitants. We also call on Buddhist monks across Myanmar to set aside fear and the delusive religious discrimination; to honor the Buddha’s role and example by being peacemakers for all people. May all beings — Buddhist, Muslim, Eastern, Western — and all peoples of Myanmar recall the Buddha’s vital message:

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world; by non-hatred only is hatred appeased. This is an unending truth. — Dhammapada, 5

Adopted and ratified at the annual INEB Executive and Advisory Board Meeting, November 8-9, 2012 at the Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship in Yokohama, Japan.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

FULL MOON - Wednesday 28th November 2012

On hearing true teachings, 
the hearts of those who are receptive, 
become serene, 
like a lake, deep, clear and still.

Dhammapada v. 82

It is said that immediately following his Enlightenment the Buddha was disinclined to teach. Perhaps he thought there was no point, seeing the extent to which we insist on creating suffering for ourselves and each other. And how we further compound that suffering by blaming others for it. However, despite the evidence of our foolishness, thankfully, on noticing our suffering the Buddha eventually responded by teaching Dhamma. When selfless wisdom sees suffering, selfless compassion is the response. When the Buddha observed beings lost in habits of liking and disliking, he did all he could to help them let go. Awakened Ones, being free from liking and disliking, have an unobstructed view of all experience. It is not that they don’t feel as we feel, they just don’t get lost in experience.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 22 November 2012

British Buddhist Monk Dies in Self-immolation Protest

A British man has become the first Western Tibetan Buddhist monk to die from self-immolation.

David Alain, 38, who had taken the dharma name Lobsang Tonden had been training for the past five years in the Nalanda monastery near the village of Labastide-Saint-Georges in south-western France. The secluded monastery has 25 monks, including five Britons.

He killed himself at Nalanda Monastery, by dousing himself with petrol and setting light to himself. His action was, apparently, a gesture of solidarity with Tibetans who have died by self immolation protesting against the Chinese occupation of their country.

In the past week alone, at least nine Tibetans were reported to have self-immolated in protest against religious and cultural repression by the Chinese authorities.

In all, 74 Tibetans have now set themselves on fire since 2009 demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile since 1959. (Chinese state media are reporting that two more Tibetans have died after self-immolating in protest of China’s occupation of Tibet. Thirty-five-year-old Tsering Dongri (identified by other sources as Tsering Dundrup) set himself on fire near a remote gold mine in Gansu on Tuesday. A man in his 20s, identified as Wangchen Norbu, self-immolated later on Tuesday at the home of his brother, a Buddhist monk, in Qinghai Province ).

Tonden was very conscious of the Dalai Lama's plight, having met the spiritual leader last year when he visited the monastery.

Nalanda is a Gelugpa monastery associated with the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Traditions.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The monkey is Reaching

One of our Sangha members sent me this piece from Zen Mister's blog and I thought it was another good item to share.

The monkey is reaching
For the moon in the water.
Until death overtakes him
He’ll never give up.
If he’d let go of the branch and
Disappear in the deep pool,
The whole world would shine
With dazzling pureness.

-Hakuin Ekaku

My wife, daughter and I were sitting by our neighbor’s pool. I was reading a copy of the Shambala Sun.  My daughter was lying in the sun on the pool deck. I started reading the above poem to my wife, as I found it a brilliant illustration of our inability to let go and experience awakening.

As I read, Until death overtakes him/he’ll never let go, my daughter, who I didn’t imagine was paying any attention, but who absolutely loves monkeys, chimed in, “No he won’t”.

She saw the truth in those words. The monkey wouldn’t let go. She was totally present as I read the poem.  Likely more present than my wife or I. Her interjection demonstrated just how I was thinking of enlightenment and holding tight to my branch.  Until death overtakes me I may never let go.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Search for New AfB President

I have just received this from the Alliance for Bhikkhunis and thought that it made sense to publish it to as wide an audience as possible.........................

The Alliance for Bhikkhunis (AfB) is currently searching for an individual to assume the volunteer position of President. The President is AfB’s ambassador to the world as well as its bridge builder. The board is looking for an individual who can visit bhikkhuni monasteries and viharas as well as travel to national and international conferences. The President is AfB’s eyes and ears on the ground. The candidate will be an excellent speaker as well as listener. A caring and empathetic person, the President is someone who enjoys connecting with others whether in person, phone, or via Skype or email. We are looking for someone with a deep and sincere dedication to the ongoing revival of the Bhikkhuni Sangha.  The President would work closely with the Board and Executive Vice President. We are requesting a two-year commitment.

Please forward this email to anyone who might be an appropriate candidate as well as to individuals within the larger Theravada community who may know of possible candidates. Please direct any questions or recommendations to Susan Pembroke at

For all of us on the board, we do this work out of love and compassion. Our work itself is a manifestation of our practice and dedication to the Dhamma. In being a part of the AfB community, we aspire to take what we have learned on the pillow and bring it into the world.

Susan Pembroke is committed to mentoring her successor for as long as needed. She, along with the board, will surround the incoming President with guidance and boundless support, and great appreciation for the invaluable donation of time, talents, and energy the incoming President will bring.

With metta and gratitude for your help filling this important position,

The Alliance for Bhikkhunis Board

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Purple Poppy in Remembrance of Animals Killed in War

Further to the previous post; in times of conflict, animals have been used as messengers, for
detection, scouting and rescue, as beasts of burden and on the frontline. They have been used for companionship in the trenches and continue to be subjected to warfare experiments in laboratories. And yet they are rarely mentioned in remembrance ceremonies.

To commemorate all those animals who have died as a result of human conflicts, purple poppies are sold here in the U.K. for armistice day.

Click here to read Animal Aids booklet,

Animals: the Hidden Victims of War

Sunday, 11 November 2012

White Poppy, Red Poppy

Today is Remembrance Sunday, this year actually falling on the 11th of November.

Over the past two weeks there has been a minor exchange in the letters section of the island's newspaper, the Isle of Wight County Press. Last week Chris Murphy from Freshwater wrote advocating the wearing of the white Peace Poppy which "challenges the beliefs, values, and institutions that make war inevitable. It represents an alternative view of security, and how to achieve it without violence. It commemorates all victims of war, combatant or civilian, friend or foe."

This week D. Penberthy of Niton responded, calling the white poppy an insult, "Whether or not the white poppy man has ever served in the armed forces or has lost members of his close family who died defending his right to denigrate their efforts, is not known. One thing is abundantly clear, to advertise his beliefs on Remembrance Sunday is to insult all of those who died in the defence of his freedom."

A typical case of the reaction cutting in before the reading..... Mr. Murphy's letter states, "I believe wearing a white poppy is in no sense disrespectful of those who have fallen in war. Indeed the Peace Poppies were originally made and distributed by the widows, sweethearts, sisters and mothers of men killed in the First World War."

Also on a local note, I know that one local worthy, a Councillor, refused to purchase a poppy on the basis that he "didn't know anyone killed in the war." The proceeds from the sale of poppies are spent helping the living, the survivors of conflict and the families of those killed.

As a Buddhist, this morning I stood in the garden, wearing a red poppy, listened for the maroon fired from Yarmouth precisely at 11 o'clock, stood in silence for two minutes and remembered the fallen and maimed of all wars.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

First Buddhist Senator Elected!

Following on from our previous post, those of us on the other side of the pond may have been unaware that elections to the Senate and House of Representatives, collectively the Congress, were also taking place (these occur every two years).

In Hawaii, Democrat Mazie Hirono beat former Governor Linda Lingle in the race for the Senate, making Hirono the first Buddhist to serve in the house.

Hirono, who was born in Japan, practices the Jodo Shinshu tradition of Buddhism.

"Ultimately, politics comes down to 'how does it impact me?' or 'how am I included?' It will mean so much for the upcoming generations of Buddhists."

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Two Elections, Two Results - Obama & Welby

President Obama

Gay Marriage

Women Bishops

Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, the new Archbishop of Canterbury

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

China bullies Japan Over Dalai Lama Visit

We've reported several times in the past on China's bully-boy tactics against other sovereign nations (and Leeds!) who dare to invite his Holiness the Dalai Lama to their countries. The latest victim of this intimidation is Japan. However, I don't suppose that it might also be an excuse to lean on Japan in relation to the "disputed" Senkaku Islands?

China strongly opposes all forms of support from any country or any individual for the Dalai Lama's separatist activities, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a regular press briefing on Monday.

"The Dalai Lama is merely a political exile who has long been engaged in activities to split China under the disguise of religion," Hong Lei said in response to a question regarding the Dalai Lama's 10-day trip to Japan, which started on Sunday.

The Dalai Lama's international activities aim at colluding with international anti-China separatist forces to undermine relations between China and other countries so as to split the nation, according to the spokesman.

This from the "infamous splitist" himself.................  “China needs Japan, Japan needs China,” said His Holiness as he faced a group of 20 or so reporters, both Japanese and international, in a conference room in a hotel in Yokohama. “East needs West, and West needs East.

Every country on this planet needs others. So a small disagreement or divergence of interests should not affect basic relations. That’s short-sighted, narrow-minded. We should think more broadly.”

For more on the Leeds story Click Here.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

FULL MOON - Tuesday 30th October 2012

There is no fear if the heart
is uncontaminated by the passions
and the mind is free from ill-will.
Seeing beyond good and evil, one is awake.

Dhammapada v. 39

The idea of fearlessness is deeply appealing. However, rather than seeing it as a remote goal somewhere out there, could we consider it as the most natural state within? From such a perspective, the states of fear we regularly endure can be considered as unnatural; not who and what we are. Surely it is unawareness that allows greed and resentment to contaminate our hearts, giving rise to fear. If we further add fuel to these fires thinking, 'It shouldn't be this way', this doesn't help. What does help is to make the right kind of effort to develop awareness and trust in the Buddha's Awakening.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Talks by Ayya Khema

I occasionally get visitors to this site who have searched for "Talks by Ayya Khema". She is one of my favourite teachers and is sadly missed.

All of her recorded talks are now available on Dharma Seed at this link Talks by Ayya Khema.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Meteorite Buddhist Statue a Fake

You may have seen the story of a priceless Buddhist statue looted by the Nazis in Tibet in the 1930s that was carved from a meteorite which crashed to the Earth 15,000 years ago. The relic bears a Buddhist swastika on its belly – an ancient symbol of luck that was later appropriated, and reversed, by the Nazis in Germany.

There were only, it turns out, a few slight catches. According to two experts who have since given their verdict on the mysterious Iron Man, it may have been a European counterfeit; it was probably made at some point in the 20th century; and it may well not have been looted by the Nazis. The bit about the meteorite, though, still stands.

According to Buddhism specialist Achim Bayer, the statue bears 13 features which are easily identifiable by experts as "pseudo-Tibetan" – and which sit uneasily with speculation by researchers last month that it was probably made in the 11th-century pre-Buddhist Bon culture.

These include the 24cm-high statue's shoes, trousers and hand positioning, as well as the fact that the buddha has a full beard rather than the "rather thin" facial hair usually given to a deity in Tibetan and Mongolian art. In his report, Bayer says he believes the statue to be a European counterfeit made sometime between 1910 and 1970.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dalai Lama "Swears"

An audience of students at Brown University in Rhode Island, were surprised when at the end of a speech on world peace, the Dalai Lama appeared to utter the "F" word.

The Buddhist spiritual leader's thick Tibetan accent led to confusion at the end of his talk when he pronounced "forget" in his traditional manner, but the crowd burst into laughter— they thought he swore, saying "f--- it."

Caption screens in the auditorium were showing subtitles of the event, and a stenographer transcribing the speech also appeared to think His Holiness had uttered the words, 'F**k it'.

The exiled Tibetan leader was in fact urging listeners to share his thoughts with others if they found them interesting. If not, he said, they could “forget.”

'If you feel these points are not much relevant - not much interest - then forget.'

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

British Troops Converting to Buddhism

Buddhism is experiencing a huge upswing in the armed forces, according to reports. Since 2005, the number of servicemen and women practising Buddhism has risen from 200 to 3,800. Out of which 2,800 are Gurkhas, whose home nation Nepal has pockets of Buddhism, the Daily Mail reported.

And the other 1,000 are British, many of whom converted after joining military service.

It is thought that the reason behind this upward swing is that Buddhism allows service personnel to escape the stresses and strains of military life.

"Buddhism has a different perspective about things," Dr Sunil Kariyakarawana, the Buddhist chaplain for the armed forces, said.

"The military is a very stressful place. People go to war, that is one factor, and have to fight. Personnel see a lot of suffering in theatre. People are finding that Buddhism can help with these mental agonies.
"It is laid back and they can practise their own way," he added.

Monday, 15 October 2012

NEW MOON - Monday 15th October 2012

Do not rest contented because you keep all the rules and regulations, nor because you achieve great learning.

Do not feel satisfied because you attain meditative absorption, nor because you can dwell in the bliss of solitude.

Only when you arrive at the complete eradication of all ignorance and conceit should you be content.

Dhammapada v. 271-72

Reading or hearing such profound teaching might give rise to a sense of urgency in practice - or it might cause us to give up because we feel we can’t do it. How we engage ideals determines whether we are strengthened or weakened by them. The ideals themselves are not responsible. It matters that our ideals accord with Truth, but it also matters that we don’t mistake an image of the goal for the goal itself. The Buddha wanted us to aim high; as high as can be and then further, but he didn’t want us to grasp the ideal and ignore our lowliness. The image of the goal offers direction, like a compass - and of course, we don’t spend all our time looking at the compass. So long as we are heading in the right direction, we practise with 'this', which is directly in front of us.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Monday, 8 October 2012

Buddha in New York

Floating off shore at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, is a 10-foot high inflatable statue of the Buddha.

The art installation, titled “Floating Echo,” is by the Korean artist Chang-Jin Lee and will be on display in the East River until March the 3rd, 2013.

According to Sharon Otterman in the New York Times, people are definitely noticing the Buddha image, Brian Polanco said, “In the background, you see the whole entire city, and he’s just quietly sitting on the water. It puts some perspective on things.”

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Temples and Homes Burned

Late Saturday there were a series of arson attacks on Buddhist Temples and homes in Bangladesh, near the southern border with Myanmar. At least 20 people were injured in the attacks.

The violence followed the posting of a Facebook photo of a burned copy of the Quran. The rioters blamed the photo on a local Buddhist boy, the boy said that the photo was mistakenly tagged on his Facebook profile.

Following on from the recent violent demonstrations over an amateurish video denigrating the prophet Mohammed it would be all too easy to dismiss this as just another example of senseless religious aggression against "the other". However, it is obvious that the indignation felt by Muslims has much deeper roots than the perceived offensiveness of a picture of a burning book or a tasteless movie.

The film, "Innocence of Muslims", an anti-Islam video was apparently made by an Egyptian-American based in Los Angeles, one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, reportedly a Coptic Christian. It's the American connection that's most significant here. America's military involvement with the Islamic world, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. and it's continued support of Israel is hated by large numbers of Muslims who, as a result, are all too ready to see such nonsense as this pathetic film as being part of an orchestrated attack on Islam and to react in what they perceive as the only way open to them.

The same is true of the violence against Buddhists in Bangladesh where there has been heightened tension following violence over the border in Myanmar (Burma), between the predominantly Buddhist Rakhine and the Rohingya – a Muslim minority with South Asian features, in Arakan province during early June.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

FULL MOON - Sunday 30th September

Remove the bonds of affection
as one might pluck an autumn flower.
Walk the Way that leads to liberation
explained by the Awakened One.

Dhammapada v. 285

We will not free ourselves from attachments by holding to opinions about how life should be. And ‘life’ here refers to everything: self, others, material possessions. Even religious opinions lead to suffering if we pick them up in the wrong way. Rather it is by recognising, at the time we are doing it, how we hold on to things.

Why do we resist the reality of change? Change is constant yet we don’t see it. Walking the Awakened One’s Way to liberation means examining our relationship to all experience - the agreeable and the disagreeable. Every single moment of our life is an opportunity to learn how to let go, let be and understand.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Annual International Bhikkhuni Day 2012

Today is the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day. The date is chosen because the first bhikkhuni, Bhikkhuni Maha Pajapati Theri, the Buddha’s stepmother and aunt, ordained during a full moon in September, the occasion marking the start of the Bhikkhuni Sangha.

It is a day on which we pay respect to the Bhikkhuni Sangha and acknowledge its essential role in preserving and spreading the Dhamma. We remember prominent bhikkhunis and their unique achievements and contributions.

It is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to becoming the skilled, adept, learned, and purified disciples the Buddha intended us to be.

For more information visit Alliance for Bhikkhunis

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Defence, Aid and Ethics

On this morning's Today program there was an item on the statement by David Cameron last night when he repeated a promise that Britain will spend more on aid to the world's poorer countries over the next few years. The former Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch Brown and the Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth debated the prospect.

While Lord Malloch Brown supported the initiative, saying that it was in our best national interest to improve the prospects of poorer nations, Howarth argued that the money would be better spent on the armed forces and that "nothing leverages influence in this world more than strong defence if you are able to carry a big stick you can speak softly".

I was instantly put in mind of the Emperor Ashoka, who conquered most of what is now present day India in the 3rd century B.C.

He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka was a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism.

There is some argument as to whether Ashoka disbanded his army completely but if not it was only ever used in policing actions against wild tribesmen who were posing a threat to villagers. The captured tribesmen were not executed, as would have been normal practise at the time but were instead educated in an attempt to civilise them.

He pursued an official policy of nonviolence (ahimsa). Even the unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished. Everyone became protected by the king's law against sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of vegetarianism. Ashoka also showed mercy to those imprisoned, allowing them leave for the outside a day of the year.

He attempted to raise the professional ambition of the common man by building universities for study, and water transit and irrigation systems for trade and agriculture. He treated his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics and caste. The kingdoms surrounding his, so easily overthrown, were instead made to be well-respected allies. He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and renovating major roads throughout India. After this transformation, Ashoka came to be known as Dhammashoka (Sanskrit), meaning Ashoka, the follower of Dharma.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The 17th Karmapa, Another Political Prisoner?

With all the recent publicity surrounding the long overdue and welcome release and reinstatement of Aung San Suu Kyi, the story of another "political prisoner" has gone largely unnoticed. Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism resides in India, "the Worlds largest democracy".

However he is forbidden from leaving India and travelling abroad without the permission of the Indian government. In fact it was only in March of last year that he was allowed to leave Dharamsala and take a month-long pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, and to Varanasi, the Buddha's winter retreat. His Holiness is viewed by many as the natural successor to the Dalai Lama as leader in exile of the Tibetan people.

He was recently described by dissident Chinese author Liao Yiwu as being a virtual prisoner. Liao said that he had invited the Karmapa to visit him in Berlin where he now lives after having escaped from China. He went on to say that he didn't hold out much hope that his Holiness would be allowed to make the trip.

Friday, 21 September 2012

International Day of Peace

Today is the U.N. International Day of Peace. Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

This year, world leaders, together with civil society, local authorities and the private sector, will be meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to renew political commitment to long term sustainable development.

It is in the context of the Rio+20 Conference that “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future” is the theme chosen for this year's observance of the International day of Peace.

There can be no sustainable future without a sustainable peace. Sustainable peace must be built on sustainable development.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Maitreya Project Relics Visit UK

Back in 2007 when we started this website, one of our first stories was that of a World tour of Buddhist "relics". The tour is in support of the Maitreya Project. The Eventual aim being that the relics will be enshrined in a 500-ft/152-m bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha to be built in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India.

What goes around, comes around, and the exhibition has returned to the U.K. being at the Edinburgh Festival.

 As a Western Buddhist I, along with many others, am a little uncomfortable with the whole "relic" thing while, at the same time, being enthusiastic about the whole Maitreya Project.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

NEW MOON - Saturday 14th September August 2012

Bemoaning your own lot
or envying the gains of others
obstructs peace of mind.
But, being contented
even with modest gains
pure in livelihood and energetic,
you will be held in high esteem.

Dhammapada v. 365-6

This simple truth easily evades us. Sadly we are too quick to admire and emulate those who are not particularly wise. Here a very wise Teacher is holding up a mirror and asking, ‘Do you see what you are doing? Can you understand why you are unhappy?’ He is not criticising us, not condemning us, but neither is he letting us get away with our habits. Out of compassion, he urges us to see the consequences of our unawareness. At times it can appear there is always something more we need to do, more to gain, more to get rid of. Even the spiritual life can seem like a tedious treadmill. Always believing however in the way things seem, is not the way to peace. In place of self-pity, contentment could also appear if we were to stop heedlessly comparing ourselves with others.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Note - Calendar Changes

For those of you following event dates on our Island Buddhist Calendar page, our Autumn Retreat Day has been rescheduled to the 14th of October. This is because there is a trip to Cittaviveka, the Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst, on Sunday the 21st of October, the original date for the retreat.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Alliance for Bhikkhunis

I've just received the following communication from Susan Pembroke, President of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. I thought that the easiest thing to do was to reproduce it in its entirety, so here it is.......

Dear Supporter of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis:

I wish to thank all of you for taking the time to subscribe to our site. In so doing, you acted on a loving intention to stay informed about bhikkhunis and to offer consistent encouragement. Simply spreading the word about bhikkhunis and their current challenges can have an enormous impact on how women are treated. I also wish to thank our kind and compassionate donors. All of us have many dear-to-our-heart causes that tug at us.  Please know that we feel highly honored to be trusted with your precious funds.

I would especially like to thank the U.K.-based Camellia Foundation for their 1,000 pound grant to cover the operating expenses associated with sponsoring the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day. Thank you so very, very much! This exceptional gift allows us to direct all the donations from the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day right to bhikkhunis. Additionally, this donation was a morale booster to our largely volunteer staff that works many hundreds of hours to keep the Alliance for Bhikkhunis (AfB) humming along.

We believe this year’s event, which honors Sanghamitta Theri, will again inform as well as inspire. We also hope this day of meditation, reflection, and sharing of ideas, knowledge, and experience will lead to conversations about how to create more just, compassionate, and awakened societies. This is what the Emperor Asoka strived to do after his conversion to Buddhism. He charged his diplomats and emissaries, including his cherished daughter Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta Theri, with the task of implementing the highest Buddhist principles. When Sanghamitta Theri journeyed to the beautiful isle of Lanka, she made sure ordination was available to all women regardless of their social class. This remains a stunning achievement, given the status of women at that time. Bhikkhuni Sanghaitta Theri accomplished something that is not possible 2,200 hundred years later for many women who wish to ordain.

What motivated me to create the Alliance for Bhikkhunis in 2007 and continues to motivate me comes  from observing firsthand the challenges faced by women who wish to become bhikkhunis. For hundreds of years, women in Theravada Buddhism have been denied their rightful place alongside their brothers.  Some brave women were imprisoned or punished for seeking ordination. Due to the absence of institutional approval and support, many ordained women still struggle to find adequate housing or obtain other needed requisites, their ongoing perilous existence is physically threatening as well as emotionally distressing.

We want the best for all monks, male and female. Fortunately, because of the work of many caring individuals, lay as well as monastic, things are slowly beginning to change.  More women around the world are being ordained.  However, they still struggle with issues of housing, medical care, and the basic requisites. That is why Alliance for Bhikkhunis continues its advocacy on behalf of ordained women.

Some of the things your support has helped us to do in the past year include:  paying for health care premiums and medical and dental care for bhikkhunis who have no health care insurance, donations toward a new cooking and eating trailer for a bhikkhuni community in Northern California, contributions toward the building of dormitories for nuns in Sri Lanka, toward a meditation hall for a bhikkhuni community in Canada and to a vihara producing a video to educate people on the struggles of women monastics.  Our contributions are not major, but they provide a little help.

Yet, there are so many more requests we receive that we don’t have the funds to support:  bhikkhunis in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand who find it difficult getting their basic needs met, or assisting a monastery in California that is struggling to pay things like fire insurance and taxes.

AfB is still in its infancy. We are a work-in-progress and welcome your suggestions. Please see the August installment of Present on our home page to read newly-published articles as well as learn about changes in the magazine. Let us know what you would like to see in the magazine.

If you haven’t visited our 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day page, please take a moment to do so. We will continue to be adding content over the next week or two. We have a variety of rich and moving talks and articles that will enable any individual or group to design a day that best fits their needs.

Feel free to select any day in September, October, or November to schedule your event or simply mark September 29th as a day to meditate along with us.

Please also visit our Firstgiving page. The Firstgiving page is a safe and easy way for individuals to raise money. Like any pledge-a-thon, we suggest you invite family and friends, and fellow practitioners, to sponsor a day of meditating and learning. If twenty family and friends can donate $5 to $10 each, that can raise many thousands of dollars if dozens of people are doing the same thing.

Here is a link to my Firstgiving page to give you an idea of what the page looks like. I know many of you personally. We’ve corresponded over the years. Please consider taking a moment to donate to my page. To be honest, I would feel shy and awkward asking for myself, but I am at ease asking for bhikkhunis who cannot ask for themselves.

We will send your donation to any bhikkhuni monastery of your choosing and let the recipient know the gift came from you. Just let us know how you would like your donation used. If you don’t know bhikkhunis personally, you may also specify a country: Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Germany, Canada, U.S., Vietnam, Nepal, India, Indonesia, or Cambodia. You may also ask that your donation go toward funding our magazine Present which we offer free of charge. We have chosen to bear the operating costs so that anyone, anywhere has access to our magazine and digital library.

On our wish list is the construction of an archive for our site. As we continue to offer more articles in our digital library and publish more issues of the magazine, it becomes increasingly difficult to locate subjects. The IT costs for the archive are estimated to be about $4,500.

Another crucial way of helping is becoming a volunteer. The AfB is a caring community of practitioners. We work to create a culture that reflects our practice and values.

Please forward this email to people who might be interested and wish to offer their support.


Susan Pembroke

Thursday, 6 September 2012

god doesn't Do Democracy

At the American Democratic convention a clear 50/50 divide in votes magically gives god a two thirds majority...........

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

FULL MOON - Saturday, 1st September

Sorry about this but this is a bit late but as Ajahn says "This verse is always true" ..............................

The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts.
The flavour of Dhamma surpasses all flavours.
The delight of Dhamma transcends all delights.
Freedom from craving is the end of all suffering.

Dhammapada v. 354

This verse is always true, wherever we may be in our practice of Dhamma. For those near the beginning of the path to liberation, it is wonderful to have confidence in the map you hold in your hands. Others further along the way will know the uplift and joy which even small moments of truth may bring. And realized beings who have reached the goal are nourished by the delight of freedom from this burden of suffering. When our habits of getting lost in craving pull us down, the beauty of the undefiled heart is hidden from view; life tastes bland and we forget the many gifts we have received. At those moments, imagine the teacher’s smile and gentle reminder, ‘Begin again, one moment at a time.’

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Incidental Dharma

Incidental Dharma references from two recent events.

Last night saw the spectacular opening ceremony for the London Paralympic Games, the theme of which was Enlightenment.

NASA has recently announced another mission to Mars scheduled to blast off in 2016, the new project is entitled InSight.

It will be a lander, which means it will sit in one place. InSight builds off the successful Phoenix lander, which found ice water near the Martian north pole. In fact, this new craft will be very similar to the Phoenix, except for a few additional capabilities. InSight, which is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will study not what is on the Martian surface, but what is below. So the lander will be equipped with a drill and a seismometer, built by Germany and France, respectively. The InSight lander will drill down 5 meters (about 16 feet) into the surface of the planet and record the internal temperature of Mars and measure seismic activity. We know virtually nothing about the internal workings of the Red Planet. Even though it’s rocky, it has no crustal plates and no global magnetic field, as Earth does. It is not even known if Marsquakes shake the surface of the planet.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Don't Inflict "Creationism" on Your Children

This needs no comment from me except to say that, unfortunately, creationism isn't unique to the U.S.......................

William Sanford "Bill" Nye, popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, mechanical engineer, and scientist.

For Christians who read the Genesis account literally, or authoritatively as they would say, the six days in the account are literal 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution. Young Earth creationists use this construct and biblical genealogies to determine the age of the Earth, and typically come up with 6,000 to 10,000 years.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Less Than Two Weeks until Buddhist Picnic

It is now less than two weeks until the annual island Buddhist picnic on Sunday 2nd of September, starting from 12:00. This year's will be the fifteenth and there have been changes to the "usual" format (very Buddhist, anicca and all that). With the Ventnor Botanic Gardens now under private management an entrance fee of £5 per person is being charged and we felt that it's a bit expensive for a picnic. Consequently we have decided that the 2012 picnic will return to the Duver at St. Helens.

Bring vegetarian food to share and any toys, games etc. to keep everyone entertained.

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Friday, 17 August 2012

NEW MOON - Friday 17 August 2012

The clear seeing which knows
that which is flawed as flawed
and that which is pure as pure
can lead beings to transcend misery.

Dhammapada v. 319

The Buddha’s realization gives us a vision of life lived free from misery. Even if surrounded by those caught in the vortices of greed, aversion and delusion, the Awakened Ones remain in a state of vitality and awareness. The path of practice leading towards this state however, might require we find our way through swamps of doubt and over oceans of craving and fear. What is asked of us as we travel through this inner terrain is to simply see clearly that which is right in front of us. If we feel like we’re drowning in desire or consumed by anger, practice asks us not to create stories about how life could be, but simply to know it for what it is: grasping at desire is like this; it does not lead to freedom. Grasping at anger is like this; it does not accord with well-being. And then too, to see how letting go of grasping leads to contentment.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tibetan Wins Country's First Olympic Medal

Here's a story you might have missed..... 21-year-old Choeyang Kyi, the first Tibetan to participate at an Olympics won a bronze medal in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk Saturday.

Beaming her way through the finish line, Choeyang said she felt honoured to participate in the Olympics as a Tibetan.

"I'm extremely honoured to take part as the first representative of the Tibetans at the Olympic Games and to win a medal," the Associated Press quoted Choeyang as saying.

Tibetans gathered to cheer Choeyang waved Tibetan flags along her route past the Buckingham Palace. Choeyang said she heard Tibetans cheering for her. "I heard it! Really. I heard a Tibetan cheering me on. At the time, I looked backward but couldn't see who that person was," she said.

Lodi Gyatso, a Tibetan living in England was one of the Tibetans who carried banners that said “You go girl, we Tibetans are with you.” Lodi said he had mixed feelings in seeing Choeyang’s participation in the Olympics. “As a Tibetan, I was very happy to see a Tibetan woman making history in this important event, but I was bit saddened at the same time that her win raised China’s flag at the award podium.”