Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Quote That I Like

“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.”


 - Tom Wolfe, American journalist and author of "The Right Stuff and "The Bonfire of the Vanities".

He died this week aged 87.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

NEW MOON - Radiance

The sun shines by day, 
the moon shines by night. 
But both all day and all night 
the Buddha shines in glorious splendour. 

Dhammapada v. 387

There is no denying that when we look around us there is a lot of darkness. And we might well be thinking that some of ‘the Buddha’s radiance’ would be very helpful right now. But where do we imagine the Buddha’s radiance is to be found? Do our thoughts go back 2600 years to ancient India; or perhaps to the Awakened teachers dwelling in forests somewhere? The Buddha taught that this radiance which he realized already exists within the human heart when it is freed from an inflated sense of self-importance. An exaggerated sense of self-importance gives rise to greed, hatred and delusion which obstruct the natural light, clarity and kindness that is there as potential within us.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Mirror of Zen - A Day in the Moment of a Modern Zen Monk

I have just been sent this fascinating video by one of our Sangha members.

Zen's ancient teachings seem a mystery to many. But actually, Zen is very simple: Zen means attaining my true self -- "What am I?" In this revolutionary film by acclaimed filmmaker Christine Schmitthenner, we see a Western Zen monk in his daily activities in the world: chanting, meditating, preparing breakfast, riding public transport, meeting with friends, even shaving his head -- from moment to moment, not attached to conceptual thinking, everything is Zen, which just means everything is "moment." The subject of this unusual film, Hyon Gak Sunim, allowed filmmakers to follow his daily living and teaching activities for a week as he met with students and organized his daily activities.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

FULL MOON - Compassionate and Real

Disciples of the Buddha
are fully awake 
both day and night, 
taking delight in compassion. 

Dhammapada v.300

What it means to be compassionate is not always obvious. What we assume compassionate action should look like from the outside might not be the same as an expression of genuine compassion. For compassion to be real we need to know what motivates us and truly be in touch with our bodies. Real compassion requires that we let go of notions of how we might appear and trust in our well-considered, wholesome intentions.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

National Memorial to Dr. Ambedkar Inaugurated in New Delhi

On April the 13th, on the eve of the 127th anniversary of the birth of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial in New Delhi—at the place where Dr. Ambedkar died on the 6th of December 1956.


The Memorial has been designed to resemble the shape of an open book in reference to the Constitution of India, of which Dr. Ambedkar was the principal architect. The building is completely green, combining modern architecture with Buddhist elements. Modi previously laid the first stone for the memorial’s construction on 21 March 2016.

The new memorial houses a marble statue of the Buddha, a meditation hall, a Bodhi tree, a replica of the Ashoka pillar at Sarnath in Varanasi, musical fountains, façade lighting, and a 3.7-meter bronze statue of Dr. Ambedkar.


Bhim Rao Ambedkar, an 'untouchable', or Dalit, who converted to Buddhism was a prominent Indian freedom fighter, and the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, which outlawed discrimination based on caste.

Born into a poor family, Ambedkar spent his whole life fighting against social discrimination in the caste system during and after British colonial rule, which ended in 1947. He is also credited with having sparked the Dalit Buddhist movement.

The Dalit Buddhist movement (also known as the Neo-Buddhist movement) is a socio-political movement by Dalits in India started by Dr. Ambedkar. It radically re-interpreted Buddhism and created a new school of Buddhism called Navayana. The movement has sought to be a socially and politically engaged form of Buddhism.

Triratna Bauddha Mahāsaṅgha (formerly called TBMSG for Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana) is the Indian wing of the UK-based Triratna Buddhist Community founded by Sangharakshita. Its roots lie in the scattered contacts that Sangharakshita had in the 1950s with Ambedkar. Sangharakshita, then still a bhikshu, participated in the conversion movement from 1956 until his departure to the UK in 1963.

When his new ecumenical movement had gained enough ground in the West, Sangharakshita worked with Ambedkarites in India and the UK to develop Indian Buddhism further. After visits in the late 1970s by Dharmachari Lokamitra from the UK, supporters developed a two-pronged approach: social work through the Bahujan Hitaj trust, mainly sponsored from the general public by the British Buddhist-inspired Karuna Trust (UK), and direct Dharma work. Currently the movement has viharas and groups in at least 20 major areas, a couple of retreat centres, and hundreds of Indian Dharmacharis and Dharmacharinis.

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.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

NEW MOON - Not Obvious

If birds are trapped in a net 
only a few will ever escape. 
In this world of illusion 
only a few see their way to liberation. 

Dhammapada v. 174

It is not easy to see beyond the illusions which cloud our mind. But we can train our perceptions; we are not obliged to believe what others have told us. The Buddha wanted us to know the truth for ourselves. Sometimes we worry awfully about things which later on we find were not at all important. Mental impressions can at one time appear utterly convincing, and then at another time be seen as completely otherwise. When this happens, it is wise to take note of how illusory the world can be. There is nothing wrong with the world being this way, just as there is nothing wrong with our dreaming when we go to sleep at night. But obviously we need to know that dreams are dreams, they are not actuality.

Monday, 2 April 2018

It's a Beautiful Planet - Look After It.

After David Attenborough's Blue Planet II showed us shocking images of plastic waste in our oceans I thought it appropriate to share this Besley cartoon from this week's Isle of Wight County Press.


And now, a quick word from the man himself....................

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Ajahn Brahm Resigns as Spiritual Director of Buddhist Society of Western Australia

In a news release, the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA) announced that Ajahn Brahm (or Ajahn Brahmavamso) has resigned from his post as the Spiritual Director of the organization.

The announcement, signed by Drew Bellamy, Immediate Past President* of BSWA, reads:

I wish to inform you that at tonight’s Society Annual General Meeting, Ajahn Brahmavamso resigned, without notice, from his post as Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

The 2015-2018 Committee has for some time been examining and trying to implement more support (paid or unpaid) and a more efficient organizational structure at the Society in order to reduce the workload of Ajahn Brahm and the Volunteer Committee. Again at this year’s AGM, due to certain members forming a blocking party with proxy votes, we were unable to get changes through to support this aim.

At the end of the AGM, Ajahn Brahm considering his workload and lack of support by members on this issue informed the meeting he felt he had no choice but to resign from the Society.

Ajahn Brahm clarified his resignation in a personal letter published on the BSWA website:

The committee had agreed on a proposal to amend the Constitution of the BSWA to allow the committee to appoint a subcommittee consisting of members of BSWA. At present, the Constitution of the BSWA only allows a subcommittee to be made up of serving committee members. In Ajahn Brahm’s opinion, this increases the workload of existing committee members by excluding non-committee members from helping on a subcommittee. It also increases my own workload, and stops us to tapping the expertise of our current members. 

Despite me showing strong support for this amendment and advising the members at the AGM how this will reduce my workload, this proposal was blocked by a small group using proxies which, though legal, was unethical in my opinion. Proxies were, apparently, solicited without giving a balanced explanation of the background to this proposal. 

As such, I have decided to step down as the Spiritual Director of BSWA. In practice, this means Venerable Hasapanna will be the Spiritual Director and I will be the Assistant Spiritual Director. 

When the Buddha was not heard at Kosambi, He went to the Parileyya Forest for three months. I doubt that the lay members of the BSWA will wait that long to settle this matter.

The sutta that Ajahn Brahm is referencing is the Kosambiya Sutta (MN48) which you can hear him explain below.