Thursday, 28 March 2013

FULL MOON – Wednesday 27th March 2013

No more need is there to re-form
for those who have reached the goal;
they are free from fear and longing.
The thorns of existence have been removed.

Dhp. v. 351

If we were thoroughly free from fear it would mean we could handle
whatever intensity life might present to us.  As it is, when love or
hate enter our hearts we tend to lose ourselves. Instead of our
abiding as vast awareness, capable of accommodating strong feelings,
fear manifests as a collapse into obstructed awareness. By clinging to
and identify with desire, we create fear. And we cling to that. To let
go of fear we must also let go of desire. This does not however mean
that desire and fear disappear.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Buddha in the Snow

As we have been shivering in the cold and snow here in the UK this photo from one of our members seemed appropriate to share...................

The following piece is from The Dharma Primary School website. The Dharma Primary is Europe’s only primary school based on Buddhist principles and is located in Patcham in Brighton.

Buddha in the Snow’ – a simple exercise to help ‘cloudy’ minds find a clear focus

Mindfulness in Education has been in the news again this week with an interesting article in Scientific American that discusses the benefits of teaching mindfulness practice to children. But what do we really mean by mindfulness? And how do we engage young children with the practice? Throughout the coming weeks, we will be bringing you a series of short blogs on how we actually apply mindfulness in the classroom. To begin, Ross Young, who helps teach Ocean Class, describes a simple exercise that is often an effective tool for calming pupils’ minds after their busy lunch time in the playground:

“Sometimes, after lunch break, the children can find it hard to settle from a period of play-time into learning-time. They often find their minds are ‘cloudy’, rather like when we shake our Buddha snow-globe (pictured above). The snow-globe can show them how their minds are working; they may have positive or negative thoughts, feelings and emotions towards themselves or others after a lot of interaction in the playground.

What we like to do together is to accept this and understand that our minds are busy and ‘cloudy’ from the past hour of rushing around and playing. Because a lot has gone on in the playground, we can’t always focus clearly or learn easily as our minds are busy with all these thoughts and feelings. So we take a moment. We take time. We feel our breathing, we rest. We see what happens.

We often notice that our minds settle. These thoughts or feelings may pass and change or they may still be there, but more settled and not clouding our perspective anymore. We can deal with them more easily and we can make better judgements. We often agree that this enables us to work and learn with clearer, focused minds.”

Monday, 18 March 2013

Buddhist Business in Newport?

Here's an item that caught my eye, "Newport web business runs to Buddha’s rules", but it transpires that the Newport in question is not our own County town and "capital" of the Isle of Wight but the one in Gwent, South Wales.

The story is from the South Wales Argus..........................

A BUDDHIST company has put its values in to practice with daily meditation sessions.

MettaEngine a new web design and development company based on bridge Street, Newport, is run by a Buddhist team who carry out their daily work while following the Buddha’s five precepts.

The company, which was set up last year, was devised by the Triratna Buddhist organisation, an international fellowship of Buddhists, founded on the Right Livelihood five precepts of Buddhism - helping others, not lying, truthful speech, no intoxicants and no sexual misdemeanours.

Right Livelihood also includes helping others and generosity, while trying to prevent harmful effects on nature and natural resources.

The office includes a dedicated meditation room where staff are expected to spend their mornings and lunchtimes meditating.

Managing director William Elworthy said: "Meditation is a great way to relieve stress and develop a calmer and more equanimous disposition.

The Buddhists meditate for 20-40 minutes depending on how busy they are and the mediation room includes a small statue of a buddha, called a Rupa, and has incense and candles.
The buddhists sit on cushions on the floor and chant in either a three or seven fold puja, where respects are paid to the Buddha, Sanga and Dharma. The Sevenfold Puja is a ritual in which Buddhists recite verse and chant mantras with the to transform our intellectual understanding into an emotional experience.
Graham Shimell, creative director, said: "The idea behind the business is that we want to run a business that is ethical and bring the spiritual life in to Buddhism."

Now, Mr Elworthy is keen for the Buddhists of Newport to see the business as a outreach post and will invites members of the community to take part in a six-week beginners course on Buddhism. The company also intended to give a percentage of its money to good causes.

For more information, or to take part in the meditation sessions, call 01633 530052.

So how about some Buddhist businesses for Newport, Isle of Wight?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tibetan Blogger and Poet Denied Passport

I decided against doing a piece for International Women's Day on the 8th now that the Buddhist connection re the Bhikkhuni controversy has "died down". However now the story that Tsering Woeser has been denied a passport to collect her “Women of Courage” award has emerged.

Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan blogger and poet being honoured by the US State Department as a “Woman of Courage,” is unable to attend the award ceremony because the Chinese government has repeatedly refused to issue her a passport.

Tsering Woeser was one of 10 women named for the International Women’s Day honour in Washington, in part for her efforts in documenting a wave of Tibetans who have doused themselves with petrol and then set themselves on fire in protest against Beijing’s rule. Woeser said she started to track the self-immolations, posting photos and information on each one, on her blog so that she had clear sense of the scale of the protests.

She said in an interview from her home in Beijing: “When there were only a dozen of cases, many were omitted or forgotten. Self-immolating is such a tragic act and there is a reason if a group of people make that sort of decision. They should not be forgotten.”

The US State Department said Woeser’s website, poetry and non-fiction “have given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information”.

The award drew criticism from China’s foreign ministry, which said today that Woeser “twists facts” about Tibet, attacks Beijing’s ethnic policies and “sabotages China’s national solidarity”. “For America to award a prize to such a person is no different from publicly supporting her words intended to separate China,” said spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Monday, 11 March 2013

NEW MOON - Monday 11th March 2013

Neither mother, father
nor any member of a family
can give you the blessings generated
by your own well-directed heart.

 Dhp. v. 43

If the heart is well-directed, we feel there is something we can fall back on when things get difficult. If we experience despair, disappointment, disillusionment, the heart doesn’t have to sink into hopelessness. Neither does it have to seek security in hope. The refuge we can fall back on is not any thing or any state at all; it is a way. Having looked into the consequences of grasping for long enough, we now seek confidence in letting go of fixed positions. We still have opinions and preferences, but we are not so committed to finding security in them. Learning to let go is the way to generate blessings.

With Metta,
Ajahn Munindo

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Holding Opinions

Recently we'd been discussing the danger of holding "opinions". One of our Sangha members sent me this piece by Adyashanti ..................

In order to seek, you must first have an idea, ideal, or an image, what it is you are seeking. That idea may not even be very conscious or clear but it must be there in order for you to seek. Being an idea it cannot be real. That’s why Seng-ts’an says “only cease to cherish opinions.” By opinions he means ideas, ideals, beliefs, and images, as well as personal opinions. This sounds easy but it is rarely as easy as it seems. Seng-ts’an is not saying you should never have a thought in your head, he is saying not to cherish the thoughts in your head. To cherish implies an emotional attachment and holding on to. When you cherish something, you place value on it because you think that it is real or because it defines who you think you are. This cherishing of thoughts and opinions is what the false self thrives on. It is what the false self is made of. When you realise that none of your ideas about truth are real, it is quite a shock to your system. It is an unexpected blow to the seeker and the seeking.

The task of any useful spiritual practice is therefore to dismantle cherishing the thoughts, opinions, and ideas that make up the false self, the self that is seeking. This is the true task of both meditation and inquiry. Through meditation we can come to see that the only thing that makes us suffer is our own mind. Sitting quietly reveals the mind to be nothing but conditioned thinking spontaneously arising within awareness. Through cherishing this thinking, through taking it to be real and relevant, we create internal images of self and others and the world. Then we live in these images as if they were real. To be caught within these images is to live in an illusory virtual reality.

Through observing the illusory nature of thought without resisting it, we can begin to question and inquire into the underlying belief structures that support it. These belief structures are what form our emotional attachments to the false self and the world our minds create.

This is why I sometimes ask people, “Are you ready to lose your world?” Because true awakening will not fit into the world as you imagine it or the self you imagine yourself to be. Reality is not something that you integrate into your personal view of things. Reality is life without your distorting stories, ideas, and beliefs. It is perfect unity free of all reference points, with nowhere to stand and nothing to grab hold of. It has never been spoken, never been written, never been imagined. It is not hidden, but in plain view. Cease to cherish opinions and it stands before your very eyes.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Amazing Photograph

One of our Sangha members sent me a link to this amazing photo.

It depicts thousands of Buddhist monks chanting during a lantern lighting ceremony to celebrate Makha Bucha day at Dhammakaya temple in Bangkok, Thailand