Tuesday, 29 May 2012

New Buddhist Centre for Southampton?

Following on from our previous story about the biggest Buddhist Temple in Europe opening soon outside Paris comes news that a new Buddhist centre is planned, just over the Solent from us, in Southampton.

It's not quite on the same scale but the plan is to convert the Plume of Feathers Pub in the St Mary's area of the city, which has been boarded up for several months, into a meditation centre.

The Triratna Buddhist Order's Southampton group has submitted a planning application to develop the pub. (Triratna refers to the Triple Gem of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Dharma and Sangha. The group were previously known as the FWBO, Friends of the Western Buddhist Order.)

Leader Dharma Modna declined to comment on the proposal until the planning application had been heard.

Local councillor Sarah Bogle said: "I think it's a really novel idea. I was surprised, to be honest, when I saw the planning application but also I thought why not? It's at the heart of the city, it is a multi-cultural area, it's very easy to access if anyone is coming into the city.

I welcome this sort of development. It's an interesting use of a building - a complete change of use which I definitely support."

Monday, 28 May 2012

Tibetan men in First Self-immolations in Lhasa

For the first time there has been a self-immolation protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet in Lhasa itself.

Two men set themselves on fire in the Tibetan city of Lhasa on Sunday, Chinese state media said, confirming earlier reports.

One of the men died and the other "survived with injuries", Xinhua news agency said. The self-immolations are thought to be the first in Lhasa and the second inside Tibet. But they follow a series of self-immolations, mostly involving monks and nuns, in Tibetan areas outside Tibet.

"They were a continuation of the self-immolations in other Tibetan areas and these acts were all aimed at separating Tibet from China," Hao Peng, head of the Communist Party's Commission for Political and Legal Affairs in the Tibet Autonomous Region, was quoted as saying.

The man who died was identified as Tobgye Tseten, from Gansu province in China. The other man, named Dargye, survived and was able to talk, the Xinhua report said.

An earlier Radio Free Asia (RFA) report had referred to the men as monks and said that the incident took place outside the Jokhang Temple, a well-known destination for pilgrims and tourists.

The Xinhua report said the self-immolations took place on a busy street near the temple. Downtown Lhasa was crowded with people celebrating a Buddhist festival, it added.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Europe's Biggest Buddhist Temple to Open Outside Paris

With lest than a month to go until its official opening on 22 June, workers are adding the finishing touches to the biggest Buddhist Temple in Europe, situated in a special eco-friendly zone, just outside Paris.

The huge 8000 m2 construction in Bussy-Saint-Georges is built mostly in glass, wood, and unrefined concrete dotted with roof gardens. It is set amid extensive grounds filled with fruit trees.

The structure houses both a place of worship and a Buddhist cultural centre, and was designed by the Frédéric Rolland firm of architects.

An area open to the general public will include a vegetarian restaurant, and space for regular calligraphy workshops, meditation sessions and activities such as oriental tea-tasting.

The building is fairly neutral in its style, with no pagoda-style architecture, and little decoration, but in the main area sits a huge Buddha, 5 metres tall, weighing 8 tonnes and made from white jade.

“The statue was hewn directly into a mountain in Burma [Myanmar] and then transported to the port of Marseilles, which at the time was on strike,” recalls architect Polly Rolland. “We had to organise a special convoy, and arrange cranes to position the Buddha inside the temple, before finishing the roof, because the statue wouldn’t fit through the doors.

Eighty per cent of the16-million-euro project was financed by Fo Guang Shan, a Taiwanese monastic order, and the remaining funding came from donors.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Drop-in Lunch-time Meditation

Mark from the Lake Buddhist group is running a weekly session in Newport........

Drop-in Lunch-time Meditation
Create some space and inner peace

Starting June 1st
12.30 – 1.30

Drop-in and stay as long as you like
Beginners welcome
Friendly guidance available
No charge, donations to the upkeep of the hall welcome

Unitarian Hall, Newport
Unitarian Meeting House , High Street, NEWPORT, Isle of Wight, PO30 1SS
(Opposite County Hall)

Contact Mark on 07936232233 for more information

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Note - New Vishvapani, Thought for the Day

In this talk Vishvapani talks of our connection to nature and how it’s essential for the planet that, one way or another, we all cultivate our "gardens".

Listen to it here in our Audio Section.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

NEW MOON - Sunday 20th May 2012

Those who are foolish and confused
betray themselves to heedlessness.
The wise treasure the awareness they have cultivated
as their most precious possession.

Dhammapada v. 26

We all forget ourselves from time to time and become lost in
confusion. What matters most is how long it takes to remember. We
can’t rid ourselves of confusion just because we don’t like it.
However meditation can help. When we make effort in formal practice to
come back to our object of focus, over and over again, we are building
a certain kind of strength. Even though we might not see it at the
time, valuable potential is growing within consciousness. Meditation
can appear boring and might even seem pointless. But energy never
disappears. The good effort we make to remember to return to our
meditation-object can come back to us in daily life as spontaneous,
here-and-now awareness. Where we might previously have forgotten
ourselves and become lost in heedlessness, we suddenly find ourselves,
alert and at one with what is happening. Such awareness is indeed a

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dalai Lama Speaks of Chinese Poison Plot

Following the recent news of a Chinese plot to poison the Dalai Lama there was an interview with His Holiness on this morning's Today program.

Sarah Montague spoke to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who has been presented with the Templeton Prize, honouring an individual's exceptional contribution to "affirming life's spiritual dimension".

Listen to Sarah's interview here.....


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Note - Vishvapani on Wesak and Munch's "The Scream"

In his latest talk, Vishvapani contrasts the image of Edvard Munch's "The Scream", which recently sold for £74 million, with images of the Buddha and his enlightenment.

This was broadcast on Saturday, the night of which marked Wesak. It can be heard at the "Thought for the Day" page of our Audio Section.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Happy Wesak to Everyone

May all beings be happy and safe.

FULL MOON - Sunday 6th May 2012

Victory leads to hatred,
for the defeated suffer.
The peaceful live happily,
beyond victory and defeat.

Dhammapada 201

Those who live beyond victory and defeat are called 'the peaceful', not because they are devoid of feelings. They are not 'beyond victory and defeat' because they have somehow escaped all feelings of pain and loss. What they have escaped is the con trick of self. Self is like a rainbow: from a distance it appears real and substantial, but as you get closer to it, you start to see it is not so solid after all. If we hold too tightly to our sense of self we get lost in confused views about how to find lasting happiness. We believe that winning is all that matters, not seeing that in the process we cause suffering to others. If we hold too loosely to our sense of self we likewise get lost, this time from a lack of boundaries which leads to being overly sensitive and lacking in confidence. Self-respect and self-confidence are the natural consequence of a life lived with integrity and understanding.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Afghanistan Opens Exhibition of Country's Rich Buddhist Past

Afghanistan, which achieved global notoriety for cultural barbarism when the Taliban blew up the ancient Bamiyan Buddhas, this week opened an exhibition highlighting the country's rich Buddhist heritage.

In sharp contrast to the religious intolerance behind the destruction of the Buddhas 11 years ago, the immaculate exhibition is on display in the National Museum, itself rebuilt with international aid after being destroyed by civil war.

Afghanistan's rich cultural heritage is the result of Greek, Persian, Central Asian, Islamic, Mongolian, Chinese, Indian, Russian and British influences on the country. Due to continuous wars and political instability heritage of Afghanistan also suffered. Overlooked by living history represented by the ruins of the neoclassical Darulaman Palace on a neighbouring hill -- also a victim of war -- the interior of the museum is a sanctuary of quiet arches and marble floors in a violent land.

In the entrance hall is a replica of the Great Buddha of Bamiyan, one of two giant standing statues carved into Bamiyan cliffs in Afghanistan's central highlands in the sixth century.

But the polyurethane copy is a poor substitute -- unlike the surviving treasures dating from the second century AD that dedicated museum staff managed to hide and protect through 30 years of conflict and turmoil. One statue shows a lean-torsoed Buddha, reflecting the art of the ancient Greeks introduced by Alexander the Great, who staged one of the many invasions of Afghanistan over the centuries, said museum curator Surkh Kotal.

Others show damage inflicted by Taliban fanatics who destroyed many of the museum's artefacts before their regime was overthrown by US-led troops in 2001 for harbouring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Among the items spared -- many hidden in secret vaults outside the museum -- are relief carvings depicting the Buddha's life and other artefacts from former Buddhist monasteries in Afghanistan, mainly south of the Hindu Kush mountains.

One of those behind the protection of the treasures is museum director Omarakhan Massoudi, who joined the museum 34 years ago.

"I'm happy we preserved some masterpieces through a difficult time in our country," Massoudi told AFP, recounting how a decision was made to move major works to secret locations in 1989 as Soviet forces withdrew and civil war loomed. During that war, some 70 percent of the museum's artefacts were looted and smuggled into neighbouring countries to find their way onto the black market, he said.

The museum, along with the palace on the hill, was largely destroyed as rival warlords unleashed artillery and rocket fire on the capital in a brutal struggle for power. Then came the Taliban, Islamic hardliners who swept to power in 1996. Towards the end of their rule they destroyed more than 2,000 artefacts, Massoudi said, and blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas as "idols" in March 2001. "We have repaired more than 300 statues. Some are on display and we will continue this activity in the future," said Massoudi. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas was "a big tragedy because they were a part of our history, a part of our culture", he said.

Afghanistan, lying on the famed Silk Road trading route connecting east and west, absorbed Buddhism from India and the religion flourished for hundreds of years before the arrival of Islam in the eighth century. Now, the practice of Buddhism has virtually disappeared from a country where more than 99 percent of the population proclaim themselves to be Muslim. But the museum is dedicated to keeping the nation's history alive.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Buddha should be in the boardroom

Yesterday on BBC Radio 4's "Four Thought" program Clare Melford, CEO, International Business Leaders Forum, argued that Buddha should be in the boardroom. She explained what CEOs need to learn about the tenets of Buddhism to make their businesses thrive while being sustainable. You can hear the program at the Miscellaneous Section of our Audio page.