Saturday, 31 March 2012

It's Earth Hour Tonight

Tonight, at 8:30 p.m., it's Earth Hour.

WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that’s quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the planet. It’s about appreciating the brilliant world we all share – and how we need to protect it. Not just for an hour a year, but every day.

Last year over 8 million people took part in the UK alone, alongside hundreds of major landmarks including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the iconic Piccadilly lights. And this year is set to be even bigger with landmarks across the world confirmed to join the big switch off, from the Sydney Opera House in Australia and Christ the Redeemer in Rio to the Empire State building in New York and the Eiffel Tower in France.

- Go Beyond the Hour.....................

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Tibetan Monk Burns Himself to Death in Protest Against Chinese Occupation

A young Tibetan monk has become the latest to set himself on fire in protest against China's occupation of Tibet. He died in the main street of his home-town Chashang Raruwa.

Lobsang Sherab, a 20 year old Buddhist monk died after setting himself on fire yesterday evening in Ngaba county, Amdho, north-eastern Tibet. Sources said armed Chinese troops and police arrived and took his body away, ignoring repeated pleas to hand it over to his family members.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Tibetan self-immolation - Latest Protester Dies

With the news that the latest Tibetan to set fire to themselves protesting Chinese occupation and suppression of Tibet has died, I make no apologies for featuring the following harrowing documentary.

The Tibetan activist, Jamphel Yeshi, set himself on fire on Monday at a protest in the Indian capital, Delhi against the visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao for Thursday's summit of the Brics nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

NEW MOON - Thursday 22nd 2012

One might defeat alone in battle
a thousand thousand men,
but one who gains self-mastery
is by far the greater hero.

Dhammapada v. 103

This verse is not an endorsement of violence of any kind. It is about recognizing that which is truly worthy. When the ego sees itself as a hero there are problems. Dhamma says none of ego’s achievements are that important. What truly matters is the task of dropping our attachment to, and identification with, the personality structure. If in our practice we demonize ego, we only make the task harder. Self- mastery is not served by merely judging the unhappy experience of limited being. It is about investigating until we come to see the way things actually are. Ego has its place. It is a convention or habit of perception that has a natural function. The mistake we make is to assume that it is who and what we are.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Buddha in Kenya

Now this is a bit different......
Two tall Samburu warriors light the fire for the World Peace ceremony in Kenya in front of a reclining Buddha statue.

The 10th anniversary of the UN Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) was celebrated in Laikipia, Kenya earlier this month.

The Global Peace Initiative has a three-fold focus: Deepening inter-religious dialogue; leadership training for youth and raising environmental concerns. It also aims to raise awareness of global issues such as climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and conflict.

Following the lighting of the fire a Fire and Water ceremony was performed by Her Holiness Shinso Ito head of the Shinnyo-en school of Japanese Buddhism. The ceremony created by Shinso Ito is based on an ancient fire ritual (Homa) performed in various forms in Hindu, Tibetan and Japanese Buddhist and Jain traditions.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

More Horses Die for Entertainment (and Money)

The Cheltenham Festival is in full swing and a jolly time is being had by all except, unfortunately, the horses five of whom have been killed already this year.

This story from the Guardian.........

The RSPCA has described itself as "very concerned and upset" by the deaths of five racehorses during the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival. In a statement issued on Thursday morning, its equine consultant, David Muir, said the deaths showed "the unacceptable face of horse racing", while another RSPCA spokesman expressed continuing concern about whip use by jockeys.

"Any death on any racecourse simply cannot be justified," Muir said.

Oil, Islands and the Buddhist Connection

With today's announcement of significant oil finds off the Irish coast also comes this story concerning the re-establishment of Buddhist temples on the potentially oil rich Spratly islands off Vietnam.

Vietnam will send six Buddhist monks to the disputed Spratly islands, a senior monk said Tuesday, ahead of the anniversary of a bloody battle with China over the hotly contested archipelago.

The monks will re-establish three temples abandoned by Vietnam in 1975 but have been recently renovated as part of the communist country's drive to assert its territorial claims over the potentially oil-rich islands.

"Our plan to go to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands was approved earlier this month by Khanh Hoa province officials and we will depart as soon as the navy can take us there," Venerable Thich Giac Nghia told AFP.

The six monks, who all volunteered for the posting, intend to stay for up to a year on one of the larger islands following a request from its Vietnamese community -- mostly military staff and small-scale farmers and fishermen, he said.

"Most of the (Vietnamese) people there are Buddhist. We will try to improve their spiritual lives and encourage them to overcome daily hardships," he said.

The announcement came the day before the 24th anniversary of a March 14, 1988 Chinese attack on Gac Ma Island -- another of the larger Spratly Islands under Vietnamese military control -- which killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers.

Beijing says it has sovereignty over essentially all of the South China Sea, a key global trading route.

Its claim to the Spratlys competes directly with that of Vietnam, and the two countries also have a long-standing dispute over the Paracel island group.

Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines also claim all or part of the potentially oil-rich Spratlys.

All claimants except Brunei have troops based on the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which have a total land mass of less than five square kilometers (two square miles).

The Philippines and Vietnam have recently complained of increasing harassment of their fisherman by Chinese vessels in the region.

One-third of global seaborne trade passes through the South China Sea, which is also believed to encompass huge oil and gas reserves.

Northern Petroleum Plc has announced that they have been awarded the rights to carry out oil drilling opeations in two areas off the shores of the Isle of Wight.

Initially exploration will be carried out there, “to evaluate the oil and gas potential of the mapped well-defined prospect that extends from the Isle of Wight into the English Channel,” say the company.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Population Question - a Comment and More

Again in relation to an earlier post I felt I should highlight this comment from Richard (A Quiet Watercourse), on our item, Civilisation faces ‘perfect storm of ecological and social problems’.

"Overconsumption and the ever rising population are the major factors in the coming storm, we have too many people and not enough resources. This will be very apparent in our oil supply before anything else, indeed, it can already be seen.

The above post is great, I'd like to add that we also need to act to limit the power and influence of greedy multinationals, let's not overlook the role of the corporations in trampling all over everything."

Richard rightly identifies the probability, if not certainty, of conflicts arising over our ever diminishing resources. As he points out this may well involve corporate big business as well as nation states.

Ray Parchelo, in a paper entitled "A Mind to Fight: Conflict Resolution and Buddhist Practices", has this to say......

Buddhist teaching begins with an affirmation of an inseparability of all beings and a commitment to non-harm. It constructs all conflict as a mis-perception, one which contributes to the suffering experienced by all. Hence it seeks resolution through awakening to the shared experiences and purposes of all parties.

Basically, "we're all in it together".

Tibetan Flag Flying on the Isle of Wight

Further to our last post I now have a photo of the Tibetan National flag proudly flying for all to see along the Newport Cowes road. Thanks Jenny and many thanks to "the flag man"!

Friday, 9 March 2012

53rd Anniversary of the Tibet National Uprising

Further to a recent email from Jenny in Cowes I can report that tomorrow, Saturday 10th
March, it’s the 53rd Anniversary of the Tibet National Uprising. Jenny has asked Mr Jackman who is known locally as the Flag Man and lives along the Northwood to Cowes Road if he will fly the Tibetan National Flag in honour of this day, to which he has very kindly agreed. Mr Jackman has a huge collection of national flags which he displays atop a flagpole prominently positioned in his front garden

Therefore, if you are driving in the vicinity on Saturday, you will see the Red and Yellow flag with two Snow Lions proudly flying as jenny's contribution to advertising the Tibetans plight and for all the Tibetans who are not allowed to fly their National Flag in their own country.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

FULL MOON - Wednesday 7th March 2012 - Magha Puja

As water falls from a lotus leaf
so sorrow drops from those
who are free of toxic craving.

Dhammapada v. 336

The sorrows of life readily convince us that they are the most
important thing. They seem to demand a huge amount of attention.
However, the Buddha teaches us that mindfulness and wise reflection
are most important. If mindfulness practice is mature, we will be able
to observe suffering when it arises without becoming too fascinated by
it. We will also be able to reflect on the reality of the moods we
have, not just be sensitive to them. They are not ultimate – they come
and go. And there is a cause for their arising. Once this cause is
recognised, the Buddha says, suffering simply falls away.

With Metta, Ajahn Munindo

Magha Puja Day (Fourfold Assembly or "Sangha Day")

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Poem That I Like

Growing Old

What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.

Is it to feel our strength -
Not our bloom only, but our strength -decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?

Yes, this, and more! but not,
Ah, 'tis not what in youth we dreamed 'twould be!
'Tis not to have our life
Mellowed and softened as with sunset-glow,
A golden day's decline!

'Tis not to see the world
As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
And heart profoundly stirred;
And weep, and feel the fulness of the past,
The years that are no more!

It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.

It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion -none.

It is -last stage of all -
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves,
To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost
Which blamed the living man.

Matthew Arnold

“There are five things which no one is able to accomplish in this world: first, to cease growing old when he is growing old; second, to cease being sick; third, to cease dying; fourth, to deny dissolution when there is dissolution; fifth, to deny non-being.”

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha

Friday, 2 March 2012

Mindfulness - Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater?

The West Wight Sangha subscribes to Tricycle magazine and as such have access to their excellent website. There is currently an on-line discussion on Western Buddhism which is particularly relevant as we have also been discussing the current trend for simplified, sanitised mindfulness stripped of its Buddhist roots......

In "Buddhist Training for Modern Life" (Interview, Spring 2012), Segyu Rinpoche, the founder of the Juniper School, discusses how Juniper is extending the lineage of Buddhist transmission in a way that is suited to a Western understanding. In this community discussion we will be exploring culturally appropriate ways to transmit Buddhist teachings to Westerners. How do we avoid, on one side, the danger of mimicking cultural artefacts that have little meaning in a new place and, on the other side, losing the potency of the tradition? What is the benefit of holding a lineage for ourselves and others, and how do we meet the responsibility of doing so?

Follow the discussion HERE.