Sunday, 19 May 2019

FULL MOON – Optimum Benefit - Happy Vesak Everyone!

As many garlands can be made 
from a heap of flowers, 
so too much that is wholesome can be done 
during this human existence. 

Dhammapada v.53

All of us would be familiar with those phases in life when we find ourselves slowing down. Perhaps it is because of some physical limitation which we are obliged to accommodate. Or maybe it is out of conscious choice, because we suspect that always moving fast risks missing out. Whatever the cause, it can come as an unexpected and rewarding gift to discover that by slowing down we might be afforded a new and more meaningful perspective on this human existence. Instead of feeling as if we have to always react to what our senses register – the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and mental impressions – an interest in not having to merely react can start to awaken. With such a perspective we are better placed to recognize the potential for generating true benefit, for ourselves and others. Compare the happiness which arises from optimizing on what we already have, with the unhappiness associated with always wanting more.

Friday, 19 April 2019

FULL MOON - Perfect Balance

It is good to be restrained in body. 
It is good to be restrained in speech. 
It is good to be restrained in mind. 
It is good to be restrained in everything. 
The renunciate who is restrained in every way 
will realise freedom from suffering. 

Dhammapada v.361

In his very first teaching, The Turning of the Wheel of the Law, the Buddha spoke of the limitations involved in being caught up in liking and disliking. He went on to explain the profound benefits to be found in cultivating the middle way – the perspective of perfect balance. So long as we don’t see how becoming lost in likeable moods means we will inevitably become lost in dislikeable moods, we risk making life into an endless struggle. This apparently endless struggle is the direct result of not appreciating the power of wise restraint. Indulging in liking and disliking are not the only options. If we train attention to skilfully observe these movements of mind which we call liking and disliking, we might discover an altogether different perspective. And this perspective in no way diminishes the potential for experiencing the natural joys and sorrows of life; quite the opposite. Well trained attention has the power to free us from the fear of becoming lost and confused by the vicissitudes of life. Skilful restraint equips us with what we need to turn struggles into wisdom.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Dalai Lama Ill

Talking about Tibet it was announced that the Dalai Lama was admitted to hospital in New Delhi yesterday with a chest infection. Given his holinesses age, 83, this is a serious condition but he is described as being stable.

Many of the up to 100,000 Tibetans living in India are worried that their fight for a genuinely autonomous homeland would end with the Dalai Lama.

He told Reuters last month that it was possible that once he dies his incarnation could be found in India and warned that any other successor named by China would not be respected.

China brands the Nobel peace laureate as a dangerous "splittist" and says the ruling Chinese Communist Party has the right to select the Dalai Lama’s successor, as a legacy inherited from China’s emperors.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Tibetan Play in the West End

Abhishek Majumdar's play Pah-La is now showing at the Royal Court Theatre, London.

Last year, he faced censure when Pah-La, his drama about Tibetans caught up in the Lhasa riots of 2008, was put on ice by the Royal Court, with charges that the Beijing authorities had weighed in and the theatre’s writing programme in China could have been jeopardised if the play went ahead.

The theatre issued an apology to the Tibetan community, he explains, sitting in the venue’s cafe, and it is now about to stage Pah-La. “The leadership at the Royal Court was extraordinary in accepting problems that were larger than them and then doing something about it.”

The play will still, probably, ruffle some feathers. Set among a monastic circle of Tibetans, the drama shows their forced assimilation and interrogation at the hands of the Chinese army, but it also dramatises the controversial practice of self-immolation among Tibetan protestors (a woman sets herself alight in his play) and the faultlines between non-violent Buddhist ideals and the all-too-human descent into retaliatory violence that the 2008 riots encapsulated.

That led him to explore the themes at the heart of Pah-La. “In the last century, there were so many major examples of non-violent revolutions, from Gandhi’s to Martin Luther King’s to Nelson Mandela’s. But if these are models to go by, what happened to them? They vanished after the 1970s.”
Tibet, he says, is the last remaining model for such non-violence. “The Tibetans are at the forefront of a conscience that the world needs to have. When the last Tibetan turns violent, we should pack up.”

Pah-La is at the Royal Court, London, until 27 April.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

West Wight Sangha’s Spring Meditation Retreat

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder that it now just two weeks until West Wight Sangha’s Spring Meditation Retreat! The retreat runs from 10 o’clock on the morning of Sunday the 14th of April to four o’clock in the afternoon. For anyone who hasn't been before, we are at Yew Tree Cottage, Weston Road, Totland and you can ring me on 756884.

Please let me know if you intend coming so that I have some idea of the numbers.

As is now our usual practice we’re looking to evenly balance the morning and afternoon sessions so we’ll be having lunch from 12:30 finishing at 1:30, so it would be nice if you’re only coming for the morning or afternoon to stay or come at half twelve and join everyone for lunch…… usual format of bringing vegetarian food to share. Also, feel free to bring any readings that you would like to share.

Be well, Steve

Thursday, 21 March 2019

World Poetry Day

When I was looking for a suitable "Buddhist Poem" to post for today's World Poetry Day Google reminded me of the sad death last October of Sangharakshita, the founder of the FWBO now known as Triratna. A Triratna member, Munisha, posted this poem, "In deep gratitude to my teacher who has given me so much, my favourite of his poems".


Field-freshening rain,
White night-rain lingering on in drizzles till the dawn,
Pools of bright silver making, birthing streams
In dry clay river-beds, pour down, O rain, 
All day, all night, pour down pour down, O rain, 
Pour down… 

World-welfaring Compassion, 
Void-born Compassion diamond-hard and petal-tender, 
Peace to wild heartwaves bringing, birthing love 
On the low couch of self, pour down, Compassion, 
All day, all night, pour down pour down, Compassion, 
Pour down – 
Pour down like rain on this compassionless 
Lost world… 

Pour down, pour down, pour down… 

From Sangharakshita’s Complete Poems

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

FULL MOON - One With the Unmade

For many lives I have wandered
looking for, but not finding,
the house-builder who caused my suffering.
But now you are seen
and you shall build no more.
Your rafters are dislodged
and the ridge-pole is broken. 
All craving is ended; 
my heart is as one with the unmade.

Dhammapada v.153-4

Craving (the house-builder) causes attachments to views and opinions (the houses), and we then feel obliged to spend a great deal of energy on maintenance. Attaching to views and opinions might provide a relative sense of identity; however, such an approach to seeking security is energy-extravagant and ultimately unreliable. The Buddha’s advice is instead to invest our energy in finding a truly secure abiding, a dependable sense of identity, that is, in awareness itself: silent, selfless, spacious, just-knowing awareness. This is ‘the unmade’ to which the Buddha referred. Trusting in this possibility still takes energy, but the effort doesn’t have to deplete us. Such a trusting disposition, in fact, generates energy, lessening the impulse to promote ‘me’ and ‘my way’, which means we have attention available to listen to others.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Changes on Site

If you've visited our News Section recently you may have noticed that it is somewhat smaller in content. Several of our feeds were hosted by the feed reader "Topix" which is now concentrating on community forums and no longer supports the content we were posting.

Also, the Buddhist Channel news section is no longer running and the feed from that site has ceased.

Don't worry, there is still plenty to read with news from Barbara O'Brien, the Guardian, New York Times, Lion's Roar, Wildmind and Google News.