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.