Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Buddhist Poem for National Poetry Day

As it's National Poetry Day today I thought I'd post a Buddhist poem. This one is by Dharmavadana who is poetry editor of the Buddhist arts magazine Urthona.

His own poetry has appeared in the magazines Haiku Quarterly, Brittle Star, Ambit and in the anthology The Heart as Origami: Contemporary Buddhist Poets (Rising Fire Press 2005), as well as previously in the Buddhist Poetry Review. He lives in London.

I am not different from the unconscious stars,
the clouds that blot them out,
the grass, the trees in veils,
this hut, the steps in front of it, my pillow.

No different from the fire in the wood burner
or the candle flames swimming beside me
on the table. I can’t understand myself,
never will. I am not.

No childhood, no adulthood,
no future. No sorrows, no dreams.
There never were any. Look,
I’m already gone. I sleep the sleep
of one who knows he was not created, ever,
and is not here to die.

National Poetry Day is a British campaign to promote poetry, including public performances. National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart. It takes place annually in the UK and Ireland on the first or second Thursday of October. Since its inception, it has engaged millions of people across the country with live events, classroom activities and broadcasts.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Wightlink, The Buddha and Mars

Living here on the island there is one thing that unites all residents and that is the exorbitantly high cost of the ferries and of the companies involved Wightlink comes in for particular criticism.

Next Sunday we are getting together again with the Newport Zen group to travel over to the mainland and visit Cittaviveka, the Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst near Petersfield. Two months ago we attemped to book our usual mini bus onto the 9:00 Sunday sailing from Wightlink's Fishbourne terminal over to Portsmouth only to be told that the boat was full! (We have been told by someone in the know that it's because the bus has to be on the lorry deck and it's too much trouble to fit it in, although this has never been a problem before).

As a result we are having to take three cars over, incurring three crossing charges instead of one!

When you couple this with the news that NASA has discovered water on Mars you can understand Rupert Besley's cartoon in this weeks Isle of Wight County Press!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Note - Latest Vishvapani Talk Now Available

The latest "Thought for the Day" talk by Vishvapani on "Our Assumptions and Biases" is now available in our
Audio Section.

........ Looking at these seemingly intractable issues as a Buddhist, I reflect, firstly on the importance of self-scrutiny. Buddhism stresses that we tend to see the world in a way that confirms our assumptions and biases. What's more, belief systems and ideologies can objectify and justify those assumptions, presenting them as the objective truth and creating fixed, dogmatic views of ourselves and the world. 

That's why Buddhism stresses holding our views lightly and listening, openly and with compassion, to those we might otherwise dismiss. But it also warns that the past can be a trap. We can't change history, and dwelling on grievances can in fact reinforce them.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Full, Eclipsed Super Blood Moon - Self Regard

Not only is tonight a Full Moon Puja but tonight's moon is a "Super Moon" and ALSO will be eclised by the Earth passing between the Sun and the Moon producing a "Blood Moon".

With reference to our previous posting, apocalyptic statements by a Mormon author have only heightened fears among Mormon followers and other christians about the looming end of time. The eclipse will give the moon a red tint and make it look larger than usual, in an event that will not happen again for 18 years.

If we hold ourselves dear,
then we maintain careful self-regard
both day and night.

Dhammapada 157

It is common sense to want to take care of ourselves. It is also what the Dhamma teaches us to do. However, it is possible to interpret the Buddhist teachings as saying we should forget all about ourselves; that any thought of self is to be dismissed. This verse says quite the opposite is the case. Taken from what is known as the Attavagga, or the section in the Dhammapada on Self, we are specifically encouraged to develop careful self-regard. We are told that paying attention to ourselves in the right way at the right time can lead to knowing directly, beyond speculation, that which brings true benefit and that which brings harm. The Buddha wanted us to know that which is ultimately beneficial – perfect understanding and limitless compassion.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

End of the World, Missed it Again!

Now just as I didn't detect much in the way of World Peace on World Peace Day I'm not seeing much Apocalypse on End of the World Day.

You may remember that a week ago I quoted American christian activist Scott Lively's homophobic rant about marriage equality legislation in the U.S. triggering the end of the world. It is all meant to start on Yom Kippur which actually started at sunset yesterday (ends sunset today). This all comes from the Book of Revelation in the christian bible which describes how an all loving, omniscient, omnipotent deity tortures and kills the vast bulk of the people and creatures on Earth, or allows this to happen (he's got form, remember the flood).

And then makes it all nice for the chosen few who survive.

Trouble is Scott's not the first to come up with the "we're all doomed" scenario. The list is a very long one but here are some selected highlights...............

The first one, only 30 odd years after christ's death, is 66–70 CE and comes from Simon bar Giora, an Essene. The Essene sect of Jewish ascetics saw the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66–70 as the final end-time battle before the arrival of the Messiah.

500 CE Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus and Irenaeus. All three predicted Jesus would return in
the year 500. One prediction was based on the dimensions of Noah's ark (obviously).

992–995 CE Various Christians predicted that the end was nigh as Good Friday coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation; this had long been believed to be the event that would bring forth the Antichrist, and thus the end-times, within 3 years.

Now for the obvious one, the first Millenium on January the 1st, 1000. The Millennium Apocalypse at the end of the Christian Millennium. Various Christian clerics predicted the end of the world on this date, including Pope Sylvester II. Riots occurred in Europe and pilgrims headed east to Jerusalem.

Here's a good one. 1284, Pope Innocent III (d. 1216) predicted that the world would end 666 years after the rise of Islam.

1346–1351, lots of people, time of the Black Death, obvious. (still didn't happen)_

1555. Pierre d'Ailly, around the year 1400, this French theologian wrote that 6845 years of human history had already passed, and the end of the world would be in the 7000th year.

A familiar name, Martin Luther predicted the end of the world would occur no later than 1600.

And again, Christopher Columbus predicted in his Book of Prophecies (1501), that the world would end during 1656.

1736 Cotton Mather's third and final prediction for the end of the world.

1836 John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, foresaw the Millennium beginning this year. He wrote that Revelation 12:14 referred to the years 1058–1836, "when Christ should come".

Charles Taze Russell predicted the return of Jesus to occur in 1874, and after this date reinterpreted theprediction to say that Jesus had indeed returned in invisible form.

Charles Taze Russell, "...the battle of the great day of God Almighty. The date of the close of that "battle" is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874."

International Bible Students Association. In 1918, Christendom would go down as a system to oblivion and be succeeded by revolutionary governments. God would "destroy the churches wholesale and the church members by the millions." Church members would "perish by the sword of war, revolution and anarchy." The dead would lie unburied. In 1920 all earthly governments would disappear, with worldwide anarchy prevailing.

1972 Herbert W. Armstrong. The second of three revised dates from Armstrong after his 1936 and 1943 predictions failed to come true.

1982 Pat Robertson. In late 1976 Robertson predicted that the end of the world would come in 1982.


Peter Olivi. This 13th-century theologian wrote that the Antichrist would come to power between 1300 and 1340, and the Last Judgement would take place around 2000.

Isaac Newton Newton predicted that Christ's Millennium would begin in the year 2000 in his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.

Ruth Montgomery. This self-described Christian psychic predicted the Earth's axis would shift and the Antichrist would reveal himself in this year.

Edgar Cayce This psychic predicted the Second Coming would occur this year.

Sun Myung Moon The founder of the Unification Church predicted the Kingdom of Heaven would be established in this year.

Ed Dobson This pastor predicted the end would occur in his book The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000.

Lester Sumrall This minister predicted the end in his book I Predict 2000.

Jonathan Edwards This 18th-century preacher predicted that Christ's thousand-year reign would begin in this year.

2013 Aug 23. Grigori Rasputin prophesied a storm where fire would destroy most life on land and Jesus Christ would come back to Earth to comfort those in distress.

What will actually happen.................

The sun will slowly expand into a red giant, pushing the Earth farther out into space, but not far enough. Our home planet will be snagged by the sun's outer atmosphere, gradually plunging to its doom inside the fiery stellar furnace.

"The drag caused by this low-density gas is enough to cause the Earth to drift inwards, and finally to be captured and vaporized by the sun," explains astronomer Robert Smith of the University of Sussex.

Previous projections had all figured that the Earth would avoid falling into the sun, even during our star's red-giant phase.

The good news: This won't happen for another 7.6 billion years. The bad news: Life on Earth will end long before then. In fact, we've only got a billion years left before the slowly expanding sun boils off the oceans and reduces our planet to an uninhabitable cinder.

Monday, 21 September 2015

It's World Peace Day, Honest

Now I seem to have almost missed this but today is World Peace Day. What with all the ceasefires being declared and peace treaties being signed, the universal dancing in the streets and all those swords being beaten into ploughshares it's amazing but I really didn't notice the significance of the date.

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The United Nations General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace.

So it is opportune that the Dalai Lama has given his blessing to a new course of evening classes, available across the UK, promising to make participants happier… and the world a better place.

The eight-week course, designed by the Action for Happiness organisation, claims to be scientifically proven to increase life satisfaction, mental well being, compassion and social trust.

Entitled Exploring What Matters, the classes will be free - although organisers do ask for a donation to cover costs. Hundreds of people have already volunteered to host the course in locations across the UK.

Launching the course today, on World Peace Day, the Dalai Lama said he was delighted to see the "work being done to create a happier and more caring society".

"I wholeheartedly support the Exploring What Matters course and hope that many thousands of people will benefit from it and be inspired to take their own action to help create a happier world," he said. During the course, local groups explore a series of questions including "What really matters in life?", "What really makes us happy?" and "How can we create a happier world?".

Better get a move on as the world ends day after tomorrow.................................

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

It's the End of the World - AGAIN!!

American radical anti-gay activist Scott Lively is warning that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favour of marriage equality, it could literally bring about the end of the world and the rise of the Antichrist in just a week's time! As Lively sees it, if gay marriage becomes legal we can all "expect some sort of severe judgement to fall on America in conjunction with this process" but the "coming calamity will almost certainly be a part of some larger act of God’s punishment on the entire world, most likely the Great Tribulation prophesied by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse," signalling the "End Times".

He warns that gay marriage will unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which will take the form "gay theology," war, famine, and a "massive harvest of the grim reaper" of the souls of all who have died in the chaos. That, in turn, will give rise to the Antichrist by late September, which will result in full-scale persecution of Christians and the end of the world:

According to the bible's book of revelation after weeks or months of global chaos, when the nations are sufficiently broken and the peoples of the world desperate for a return to order, a hero will step upon the world stage to end the crisis. In the human context he will secretly represent the globalist elites who have planned and prepared for this opportunity to impose a new world order: a new global government with a new economic system. In the spiritual context he will be enacting a Satanic plot to usurp the role and identity of the Messiah and gain the adulation of the world.

Wielding great military power this self-aggrandising human Saviour will force an end to war and impose a secular humanist paradigm and religious pluralism as a remedy to the various forms of “discrimination” which he will blame for the world crisis. Everyone will be given the choice (at first) to join the new order and gain immediate integration into its cradle-to-grave socialistic bounty. “Just sign this oath to reject and renounce all divisive and discriminatory beliefs and “supremacist” theologies,” he would say, “and take this mark of membership on your hand to receive free food, housing and medicine and all other benefits under our enlightened new order of tolerance and inclusiveness.” (Could this be someone we know?)

Now according to Scott Lively, the date on or around which this false messiah would emerge is,  Yom Kippur, September 23, 2015, the first day of the Jubilee — the day/year of liberation.

"Just as Christ began His earthy ministry by declaring the Jubilee in Luke 4:17-21, the false messiah would do the same, but in modern terms: “I hereby declare a global Jubilee of all debts, both public and private,” he would proclaim, “We are wiping the slate clean to start over on a foundation of social justice and cooperation.” He would not yet be exposed to the world as the Antichrist, but the Biblically literate would recognise him.

The fifth stage of the end-time chronology is persecution of the believers (Matthew 24:9), who, in this scenario, would be characterised as “black marketers” who refuse to support the new economic system and are thus blamed for its many inadequacies and hated by its adherents. Even as the rest of the world lauds its “saviour” and embraces his government, the Christian believers (and Torah-faithful Jews) would be increasingly reviled and hunted. Under the Antichrist kingdom, Jerusalem (the centre of the universe for prophecy study) is described in Revelation 11:8 as “mystically called Sodom and Egypt,” implying in part that both homosexuality and pantheism (religious pluralism) define its culture.

I don’t think there is any question, Biblically, that the cultural celebration of “gay marriage” portends judgement from God. The only real question in my mind is whether it truly signals the imminent “beginning of sorrows” or is just another step in the path leading to God’s wrath at a later time. God is long-suffering, even to the most wicked of societies and He does not act until their iniquity is “full” (Genesis 15:16). 

If we are on the verge of “birth pangs” we will likely know it by Passover, but in either case we should brace for serious judgement on the United States in the form of natural and/or man-made disaster if the Supreme Court established sodomy as a basis for marriage under our constitution".

Sunday, 13 September 2015

NEW MOON - Storehouse of Goodness

Here and hereafter 
those who live their lives well, abide in happiness. 
They are filled with a natural appreciation of virtue, 
and dwell in delight. 

Dhammapada 18

Transformation takes energy. The energy that most of us have in abundance - greed, anger and delusion - is wild and dangerous; uncontained it leads to intolerable suffering. To ‘live life well’ means to build up a storehouse of goodness so that when these wild energies threaten to leak out, we are not overwhelmed. By cultivating such forces of goodness as restraint and wise reflection, we begin to transform this wild energy into something more suitably human: generosity, kindness and understanding. The Buddha describes how this path of practice leads to an abiding filled with delight. Our work is finding the willingness to begin again, however many times we fail.