Sunday, 13 October 2019

FULL MOON – Keeping Quiet

Those who speak much 
are not necessarily possessed of wisdom. 
The wise can be seen 
to be at peace with life 
and free from all enmity and fear. 

Dhammapada v. 258

At times it feels as if we are obliged to have an opinion about absolutely everything. What happens if, however, instead of habitually voicing our opinion on a particular topic, we resolutely remain quiet and listen; intentionally listen outwards to what is being said by others and listen inwards to our own minds. It can be hard to feel at peace with the world, especially with so much disruption around us. We can still contribute skilfully by training our attention to gently listen. In the process we might, for example, learn how noisy we make our minds by endlessly agreeing and disagreeing with all that we hear. Not having an opinion on something does not necessarily indicate weakness. With right restraint perhaps a kind of peace could emerge out of the chaos.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

International Bhikkhuni Day

As this is the first full moon of September it is also the 9th International Bhikkhuni Day.

The date is chosen because the first Bhikkhuni, Bhikkhuni Maha Pajapati Theri, the Buddha’s stepmother and aunt, ordained during a full moon in September, the occasion marking the start of the Bhikkhuni Sangha.


It is a day on which we pay respect to the Bhikkhuni Sangha and acknowledge its essential role in preserving and spreading the Dhamma. We remember prominent Bhikkhunis and their unique achievements and contributions.

It is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to becoming the skilled, adept, learned, and purified disciples the Buddha intended us to be.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

FULL MOON – Goodness

Having performed a wholesome act
it is good to repeat it. 
Enjoy the pleasure of its memory. 
The fruit of goodness is contentment. 

Dhammapada v.118

To do good is easy: a moment of intentional kindness, or the effort to be a little bit more patient. And the fruits of such wholesome acts is contentment. Hence the Buddha encourages us to take time to savour the fruits of goodness. We readily ascribe value to characteristics such as cleverness and popularity, but we should check and see if investing in these qualities actually leads to contentment. Isn’t it the case that trying to always be the winner and be noticed leads to more discontentment? Let’s not assume that cultivating goodness is so difficult or that it will have no effect.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Zen Group Stop York Minster Meetings After Christian Objections

Some of you may recall a story we ran in May 2016, "Christian Group Protests Meditation in York Minster" where Andrea Williams, chief executive of the pressure group Christian Concern, said: "Buddhism contrasts sharply with Christian teaching about God. The two are incompatible. To try to mix them is deceptive and dishonours Jesus Christ."

"It is remarkable that this is happening at one of the country's best known cathedrals. The Archbishop of York must take swift action. This type of confusion undermines the Church of England's current initiative to encourage Christian prayer."

"It is sobering that last year a Canon of this same cathedral blessed the city's 'Pride' march. The Church of England must take decisive action to deal with this radical agenda."

Well, guess what, the Zen meditation group is to cease meeting in the grounds of York Minster following controversy over “bilingual religion”.

The group has been told that its weekly 90-minute silent meditation sessions in the Old Palace must end in the autumn.

Senior clergy at York Minster had quietly introduced Zen Buddhist zazen meditation sessions. They became a regular fixture, listed among the Minster’s main “spiritual” activities, alongside its Sunday school and youth group, and were enthusiastically supported by the then Dean, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull.

The group was not a religious order and had never met within the cathedral, she said. “The chapter of York would not give permission for any such religious order to be set up at York Minster.”

But the new Dean of York Minster, the Right Rev Dr Jonathan Frost, who was installed in February, is believed to have decided to end the Minster’s association with the Zen group.

The sessions were initiated by Christopher Collingwood, the canon chancellor of the minster, who practises and teaches Zen meditation and has described himself as “religiously bilingual”. On his Twitter feed, Collingwood says he is “leader of York Zen Group (part of Wild Goose Zen Sangha in the White Plum Asanga)”.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Only Four Weeks Until the Picnic!!

It's hard to believe but this year's Annual Buddhist Picnic will be our 22nd! As is traditional we will be holding the picnic on the first Sunday of September (that's the 2nd) on the Duver at St. Helens.

For those of you who have not been before, our picnic site is the other side of the road from the National Trust car park. Take the right hand turning by the signs showing the Duver and long stay beach front car parks, carry on a few hundred metres and the National Trust car park is on the left.


In the centre of the photo below, you can see our original meeting place, the small oak tree. As previously reported, the tree has unfortunately died and as such now offers no shade.


However, Angie and Mark have found another oak tree about a hundred meters further on along the track you can see to the right of the photo. So just carry on along the path and look for some Buddhists sitting under another small oak tree! If you're on foot and coming from the St. Helen's side you can go to the end of Mill Road and come across on the causeway, the "new" oak tree will be facing you to your right.

Or you could try using What3Words which will take you to the precise spot https://w3w.co/pitch.clearcut.shapes (unlock, select satellite view, zoom out as needed).



Family, friends, children and dogs welcome. Bring vegetarian food to share (don’t forget the fruit juices).

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Consequences – Asalha Puja

Avoid speaking harshly to others; 
harsh speech prompts retaliation. 
Those hurt by your words may hurt you back. 

Dhammapada v.133

That our intentional actions have consequences is a basic lesson in life. This verse highlights the way heedless speech can have painful consequences. We would be wise to consider how the opposite also holds true: that respectful, considered speech has positive consequences. Such a teaching is so simple that we might overlook its real value. So let’s slow down and take time to observe the evidence in our daily life. How do we feel having followed a hurtful impulse? Possibly initially we could feel good having been freed from pent up resentment or frustration. But how about a day later or a week later? And conversely, how do we feel when we recall having made an effort to avoid causing harm?

Monday, 8 July 2019

Summer Meditation Retreat

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder that it now just under two weeks until West Wight Sangha’s Summer Meditation Retreat! The retreat runs from 10 o’clock on the morning of Sunday the 21st of July 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

Monday, 17 June 2019

Gradually, gradually

Gradually, gradually, 
a moment at a time, 
the wise remove their own impurities 
as a goldsmith removes the dross. 

Dhammapada v.239

This contemplation follows nicely after last month’s. Again it suggests a slowing down and, potentially, an appreciation of a more gentle approach to life. When we are in a rush, our reading of the reality of this moment is less reliable. If we are in too much of a hurry to get to the pure gold, accidents tend to happen. Slowing down doesn’t have to mean being tardy. It can also mean adopting a perspective that reveals the more refined aspects of experience.

We readily notice the surface dimension of experience, the ‘way things appear’, but are not able to see deeper. To see clearly what actually determines the way we relate to experiences, takes a degree of wisdom. To see for ourselves that which leads to increased well-being and that which leads to more obstructions benefits from a gradual approach.