Friday, 27 February 2015

We're in the County Press!

Following on from our recent visit to Gurnard Primary School the story has now appeared in the island's local paper, the Isle of Wight County Press.

The text reads..............

A feeling of calm, serenity and enlightenment descended on the children of an Island primary school. As part of their religious education lessons this term, Year 4 and 5 pupils of Gurnard Primary School learned about the art of practising Buddhism. Buddhism Day was run by Steph Green and Stephen Parker, of the West Wight Sangha, a small Buddhist group. They taught youngsters about the origins of Buddhism and some meditation techniques. They brought along Buddha statues and singing bowls, demonstrating their sound during meditation. Children also made a dharma chakra — a wheel which symbolises the noble, eight-point path to living their lives. Year 4 and 5 teacher Natalie Pettifer, who organised Buddhism Day, said: "The children really enjoyed it and found it an interesting and rewarding experience. "The feedback was great, with many wanting to incorporate meditation into their lives as a way of giving them calm."

Sunday, 22 February 2015

MPs Debate End of No-Stun Slaughter for Animals - SIGN THE PETITION!

Tomorrow, February the 23rd, MPs will debate whether to end no-stun slaughter for animals. Please sign this petition before Monday to ask your MP to ban no-stun slaughter and stop this awful, widespread animal cruelty.

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION  asking our MPs to show compassion and ban this cruel and totally unnecessary practise, to say that it is a requirement of some "faith tradition" is an obscenity.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Thich Nhat Hanh - Latest News

Here is the latest announcement on the state of Thich Nhat Hanh's health following his recent stroke.

"We are very happy to report that our dear Teacher continues to steadily make extraordinary progress. 

Thay has now moved to a specialist stroke rehabilitation clinic, where he is receiving the best possible professional care. The team of monastic attendants work closely with doctors, nurses and professional therapists, and accompany Thay twenty-four hours a day, offering massage, acupuncture and comfort care, and helping Thay with his physical training. 

Thay is steadily recovering his strength and rebuilding his muscles day by day. We have been struck by Thay’s great determination, motivation, courage and concentration as he sets his own program to train himself to learn anew how to sit upright, stand, and move his limbs. 
The medical team is also helping Thay learn to swallow again, and last week Thay was able to drink his first cup of tea since November. The attendants prepared Thay’s favorite tea in his cup, and Thay even signalled to invite everyone to drink a cup of tea with him. Contemplating the tea, Thay smiled, put his hand on his heart, and looked up. All could clearly see that Thay was reminding everyone to bring our mind back to our body and to look deeply into the tea, really enjoying the tea and the presence of those around us. 

During the last full moon of the lunar year, Thay enjoyed watching the moon rise from his bed, and invited the attendants to enjoy it silently with him. In the peace and joy with which he enjoyed the moon, we can see Thay’s love for the wonders of life and his generosity in teaching us to cherish these wonders at every moment. 

With each week that passes Thay is becoming increasingly alert and engaged. Although Thay is not yet able to speak, he has begun to vocalize, and is developing a means of communicating silently with his attendants and physicians. Thay’s path of healing is still long, yet we know that every moment can be a moment to deeply touch the wonders and miracles of life. 

We are very grateful for the great compassion and support that Thay has received from his global Sangha Body, creating wonderful conditions for his recovery and healing. We are thankful for your practice of mindfulness and prayers sending positive energy to Thay, and for your letters, donations, and the many beautiful children’s drawings."

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

War Against Terror Won - Ten Years Ago!

The Hunting Act became law ten years ago today.

(If you think that this is overly-sentimental Google "Autumn hunting".)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

NEW MOON - Tue, 17 Feb

Being Loving

Naturally held dear are those
who live with right action
and have found the Way,
and through insight become established in the truth.

Dhammapada v. 217

Our aspirations to live in ways that are true, on all levels, inspire and energize our practice. With time and commitment these wholesome aspirations mature, bearing the fruits of clarity and understanding. But such energy and insight doesn’t promise to protect us from painful feelings; like loneliness for instance. We are surely all familiar with the feeling of wanting to be held dear. However, instead of following the wanting, what happens if we turn attention inwards and engage the heart’s ability to ‘be’ loving? Longing to be loved is natural on one level, but to make it our sole focus is to assume we are essentially lacking. Even if something like that were true at an earlier stage in our life, at this time we need to gently question all such assumptions.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Buddhist Benedict Marries in the West Wight

Yesterday Benedict Cumberbatch star of BBC TV's Sherlock married his fiancé Sophie Hunter amid high security at a private ceremony in St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Mottistone in the West Wight. Cumberbatch speaks of being drawn to the "transcendent" and calls himself a Buddhist.

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Buddha goes to School

Last Friday, Steph and I visited Gurnard Primary school to assist in the presentation of their "Buddhism Day". This was part of an initiative by Garnet class teacher Natalie Pettifer as part of a week introducing her class, along with Emerald and Coral classes, to the major world religions.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the day and were made most welcome by the staff and children at this friendly island school.

I've taken the liberty of borrowing the entry about the day from Natalie's class blog (with her kind permission). It's nice to have an independent assessment of our activities and how the day went. Below you can see the children practicing walking meditation, the bells and gong also proved very popular!

Here are just some of the Buddhist artefacts brought in today by Stephen and Steph from the West Wight Sangha (Buddhist group). They very kindly spent the day in school, sharing techniques for meditation and answering some very interesting questions the children had thought of. In the afternoon, they spent more time explaining to the children about the different strands of Buddhism and their own experiences. 

The answers to our “Who Wants to be a Buddhismaire” quiz showed the children really took in what they had been learning about today – it was a really enjoyable and educational day for all of us! 

Next time you feel your monkey-mind taking over, Garnet class, try putting some of those meditation techniques in place to clear your thoughts!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

FULL MOON – Tuesday 3rd February


Hasten to cultivate wisdom;
make an island for yourself.
Freed from stain and defilement 
you are released from birth and death.

Dhammapada v. 238

When we feel faced with insurmountable confusion where do we turn? Probably the best we can do at that point is firmly resolve to work on patient endurance. Ideally though we won’t wait until obstructions feel insurmountable; we will prepare ourselves in advance. Once we’re in the furnace it is hard to know up from down; forward from backward. True wisdom sees clearly, independent of conditions. It is how our heart would function if greed, aversion and delusion were absent. This understanding shows the direction we need to be going. And we can urge ourselves along this path by seeing the consequence of the lack of wisdom, which is reactively taking sides ‘for’ and ‘against’. For example: if we encounter bullying, do we endeavour to understand the causes for that behaviour or do we default to judging the bully? It is always understanding which leads to right action, not taking birth as someone who is ‘for’ or ‘against’.