Saturday, 22 April 2017

Walk the Wight & Wesak

Hi Everyone,

As you all know by now our Wesak celebrations here at the West Wight Sangha are currently scheduled for Sunday the 14th of May. Wesak, traditionally falls on the night of the first full moon of May which this year is on Wednesday the 10th. For convenience we hold our celebrations on the following Sunday (from 12:00 to about 3:00 p.m.) which this year coincides with the Walk the Wight festival, the unique sponsored walk in aid of the patient care at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

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Needless to say a lot of you are taking part in this incredible event which raises so much money for the island’s favourite charity and as such wouldn’t be able to join us on the 14th.

So my question is would you be able to make it if we move our celebrations back a week to Sunday the 21st of May?

Please let me know as soon as possible so we can decide whether to change the date or not.

(As the date of Wesak follows a lunar calendar and different schools of Buddhism celebrate the Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment and death on different dates, I don’t feel guilty about moving it, it’s not like changing the date of Christmas!)

Be well, Steve

Friday, 21 April 2017

New Series of Dharma Talks



As regular followers of this site will know some of us also attend the weekly meetings of the Newport Soto Zen group and I usually take along a Dharma talk to share. we have just finished an excellent series on the Noble Eightfold Path by Jill Shepherd. It is well worth a listen and can be accessed on our Audio Section - The Noble Eightfold Path by Jill Shepherd

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

FULL MOON - Containing Anger

I say that those who contain anger
as a charioteer controls
a speeding chariot
are fully in charge of their lives;
others are merely keeping
their hands on the reins.

Dhammapada v. 222

When anger arises we can make an enemy of it or we can view it as energy which needs to be contained. No judgement! Fighting anger with anger will likely lead to more anger, or even hatred. The Buddha's image of a charioteer controlling a speeding chariot speaks of the risk of being heedless. When we experience an upthrust of anger, it is our responsibility alone to make sure that this energy is skilfully handled. The Buddha isn't suggesting we should fight it. Nor is he saying we should just let go and allow it to happen; that is, indulge in it. The teaching on the middle way tells us there is another possibility, beyond indulging and repressing.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Triratna's 50th Anniversary

This weekend the Triratna Buddhist Community will be celebrating its founding 50 years ago on the 6th of April 1967.

Formerly known as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), Triratna is an international fellowship of Buddhists founded by Sangharakshita in the UK in 1967 describing itself as "an international network dedicated to communicating Buddhist truths in ways appropriate to the modern world". In keeping with Buddhist traditions, it also pays attention to contemporary ideas, particularly drawn from Western philosophy, psychotherapy, and art.


The group has more than 100 branches around the world affiliated with the community, including in North America, Australasia and Europe. In the UK, it is one of the largest Buddhist movements, with some 30 urban and retreat centres.

Its largest following, however, is in India, where it is known as Triratna Bauddha Mahāsaṅgha.

This Buddhist group has its roots in the scattered contacts that Sangharakshita had in the 1950s with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

Dr. Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, orator, economist, teacher, editor, prolific writer, revolutionary and a revivalist for Buddhism in India. He was also the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. Born an "untouchable", he converted to Buddhism and is credited with providing the inspiration for the conversion of hundreds of thousands of Dalits or untouchables to Theravada Buddhism. In August 1947, the new Congress-led government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation's first law minister. The constitution that he drafted provided constitutional guarantees and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination.

Sangharakshita, then still a bhikshu, participated in the conversion movement from 1956 until his departure to the UK in 1963 where he founded the FWBO recently renamed Triratna.

A little known fact is that Roma gypsies trace their origins to the Dalits of India and several have followed the lead of their Indian compatriots and converted to Buddhism, often as a response to discrimination. There is a sizeable Gypsy Buddhist community in Hungary, they take their inspiration from Dr. Ambedka and are officially affiliated to the Triratna Buddhist Community.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Virtual Reality Meditation

This story, by Dan Ackerman, appears in the spring 2017 edition of CNET Magazine

The first thing I see is sunlight glistening off the gently rolling waves in the distance, while I stand on a small foliage-decked island so green it almost glows. Later, I'm standing on the balcony of the kind of aggressively minimalist luxury apartment only seen in movies and television shows. I can imagine a soft breeze flowing through these expansive spaces, but it's only that: imagination.

In fact, I'm standing in my own living room and in a virtual reality creation, one especially designed to complement the practice of meditation, or at least one very specific version of it.

The program I'm using is called Guided Meditation VR, and I'm experiencing it through an HTC Vive virtual reality headset connected to powerful desktop computer. Besides choosing from about a dozen different locales to meditate in, I can listen to a wide variety of audio programs, called guided meditations, that run from 2 to 10 minutes and cover topics from breathing to compassion. (The app is $15 on the Steam platform for Vive, and a limited version is available for free for the phone-based Gear VR headset.)


Meditation in virtual locations isn't the most traditional way to approach the practice, but it may entice sceptics who aren't keen to sit in their living rooms with their eyes shut. "VR adds a really powerful, emotional ability to be in another place and to actually feel that emotional weight of another place," says Josh Farkas, CEO of Cubicle Ninjas, Guided Meditation's developer. "You can meditate anywhere, but at the end of the day, the ability to actually go to a virtual world and take a breather lowers the barrier to entry, and I hope gets people more excited."