Friday, 21 November 2014

NEW MOON - Friday 21st November 2014


Having found no companion
who has travelled at least as far as ourselves,
it is better to go alone than to accompany those 
who remain irresolute. 

Dhammapada v. 61

Until we have looked closely into the actual experience of loneliness, this painful feeling always appears as an enemy, showing us up as a failure. From the perspective of unawareness this life-denying sensation seems only to indicate how far we have gone wrong. From the perspective of wise reflection however, this very same experience lights up the direction we need to go if we want freedom. Suffering is a message; it is not an indictment against us. The feeling of loneliness is like a narrow doorway that we must go through to be free of the confines of the prison of self obsession. It is for paying attention to, not for running away from.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Thich Nhat Hahn Gravely Ill

Plum Village, November 12, 2014

To all Plum Village Practice Centers,
To all Practice Centers and Sanghas World Wide,
To our Dear Beloved Friends,

With a deep mindful breath we announce to the world the news that yesterday, the 11th of November 2014 Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, experienced a severe brain hemorrhage. Thay is receiving 24 hour intensive care from specialist doctors, nurses and from his monastic disciples.

At present, Thay is still very responsive and shows every indication of being aware of the presence of those around him. He is able to move his feet, hands and eyes. There are signs that a full recovery may be possible.

For the last two months, Thay’s health had already been fragile due to his advance age. He was hospitalized in Bordeaux on the 1st of November. He was gaining strength day by day until this sudden and unexpected change in his condition.

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Great Day at Chithurst Buddhist Monastery

Yesterday we got together with the Newport Soto Zen group for a day out at Cittaviveka, the Thereavada Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst over on the North island.

We seem to have left the rain behind on the island and enjoyed a beautiful, bright sunny day only catching the rain when we came back home! The monastery was an oasis of calm and peace with the only sounds those of bird song and the occasional high flying aircraft.

We had a very good turnout from the West Wight and it was a real pleasure to see how much those Sangha members who had not been before enjoyed the experience. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

FULL MOON – Thursday 6th November, 2014

Truly Beneficial

It is easy to do that which is 
of no real benefit to oneself, 
but it is difficult indeed to do that 
which is truly beneficial and good.

Dhammapada v. 163

There are times when it is right to cultivate ‘going with the flow’. At other times going against the flow is more beneficial. The momentum of our habits easily propels us into actions of body, speech and mind that undermine our efforts to deepen in practice. If we find we keep making the same mistake over and again, something needs to change, but how do we bring about that change? To see beyond the way things appear to be – to the way things actually are – takes energy. Mindful restraint, or going against the flow, is one way of generating that energy. Contrary to the values of popular culture it is O.K. to frustrate our preferences. Always doing what feels good might be ‘my’ way, but maybe not the Buddha’s.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review of the Year............ sort of

Regular visitors to this site may be wondering what has happened to our traditional Review of the Year which should have appeared in June. Well I missed the deadline for a whole raft of reasons and then got paralysed by the usual "well I can't do it now, it's too late" syndrome.

However, on reflection I think that it is an ideal opportunity to bring the review in line with the actual year so what follows is a review of our postings from July of last year to the end of 2013. We will then have a "conventional" review of this year in early January 2015.... just like everyone else!

We started July with the story of "A Buddhist Shanty Town?"

and then continued the theme of Buddhist buildings with the news that the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre Escapes Fire.

And then into August with the story of Ayya Khema and the Coincidence. This was followed with a reminder of the upcoming annual Buddhist picnic and then into September for the event itself..............

"It's becoming a tradition that it pours down for the annual Buddhist picnic and this year was no different.....",
"However for those few brave souls who made it to the Duver in St. Helens there was a clear (ish) slot in the weather for us to enjoy the event."

On the 23rd we had the story of Giel, the Belgium boy who the authorities banned from travelling to India to become a Buddhist monk.

The month ended with the news that the long awaited film "The Buddha’s Forgotten Nuns" had finally been released.

We had originally reported on this back in January 2011 when the working title was "Bhikkhuni: Revival of the Women's Order". We purchased the film from Vimeo and have shared it with other Buddhist groups on the island.

On the 7th of October we had the great pleasure of a visit by Bhante Bodhidhamma to the West Wight Sangha.

Also in October we reported that with Armistice Day only being a fortnight away (as it is now) that you may like to consider also wearing a Purple Poppy this year to commemorate all of the animals killed in war. The poppies can be obtained from the Animal Aid website with profits going to support the charity's work.

In November we reported how Chinese Buddhist frescoes had been overpainted a'la the Spanish church masterpiece that was so widely reported.

This was shortly followed on the 14th with the news that Giel had been given permission to leave for India!

On the full moon of the17th we featured our regular Dhammapada reflection from Ajahn Munindo. The subject for this one was Endearment and I came across this amazingly moving picture of a sculpture of the dying mother Theresa.

Talking of amazing photographs, that post was immediately followed by a piece on the work of American Buddhist monk Nicholas Vreeland.....................

And there's more......................

23rd of November.... Regular readers will know that we have been committed supporters of full female ordination within all Buddhist traditions and have had a particular interest in supporting full Bhikkhuni ordination within the Thai forest tradition of Ajahn Chah.

I received an email from the Alliance for Bhikkhunis on their site they catalogue all the Nunneries for fully ordained Bhikkhuni that are now available since that first "controversial" ordination in Perth. It has become an impressive list so I've reproduced it here.............................

We ended the month with the "News" that the Buddha's birth was earlier than previously thought. This however remains a controversial finding and we will report on any definitive conclusions as and when they arise.

December started with the news that the Bible was being sold as fiction, in the United States!!!

And we finish our roundup with the news that a new Dictionary of Buddhism had been published.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

NEW MOON - Wednesday 22nd October 2014


Having empathy for others
one sees that all beings are afraid
of harm and death. 
Knowing this, one does not kill 
or cause to be killed. 

Dhammapada v. 129

Empathy is the essence of harmony. Throughout our lives we depend to varying degrees on others. If we forget that we all long for happiness and fear harm, we risk being dominated by self-centred concerns, but we can learn to recognize that which we all share. Empathy supports insight into selflessness. Through empathy we see that like us, others too hope not to be disappointed, and others too fear losing the things they hold dear. Even the wish to cause harm to another is a form of suffering we share with others. All those whose sense of identity comes from attaching to their body/mind are obliged to endure disharmony and the distorted thoughts and feelings which arise as a consequence. Letting go of attachment to this body/mind and recognizing our identity in understanding, means disharmony simply won’t arise.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Monday, 20 October 2014

Our Autumn Retreat

Yesterday we held our Autumn meditation retreat here at the West Wight Sangha. We hold quarterly "Seasonal" retreats, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter (there's a film title in there somewhere) to which we invite participants from the other Buddhist Sanghas on the island.

This time we were joined by members of the Newport Soto Zen group and the Isle of Wight Sangha of the Community of Interbeing from Lake.

As part of our day we used a guided meditation on emptiness led by Ajahn Punnadhammo. This proved to be very popular so I'm posting it here for you all to enjoy. One little caveat, at the end he says that he will ring the bell twice - he doesn't or it's not on the recording, the second one never comes so just end your meditation naturally in your own time.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Buddhism and World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, the annual global celebration of mental health education,
awareness and advocacy. Every year the focus is on a particular aspect of mental illness and for 2014 the theme is "Living with Schizophrenia".

Now if there is one area where Buddhism really connects in a relevant, dynamic and contemporarily meaningful way with the modern world it is in the field of mental health.

The Buddha’s teaching is all about the mind and how it leads us to suffering and the Buddhist practise of meditation allows us to focus on the workings of our mind and to peer beneath our conditioned behaviours and to see clearly what is actually going on. By settling our “monkey” mind our constant verbalisation and running self commentary are stilled and all of our “selves” can drop away. Put simply, Buddhist practice, drop by drop, changes the way our brains and thus our minds work – for the better.

“What Buddhists contribute is a richness of direct observation of mental process and an ethical underpinning which concurs in most ways with the broader ethical views of society. Beyond its obvious contribution of methodologies for calming and focusing the mind, it offers an understanding that whilst critiquing some Western attitudes to the self, increasingly aligns with practical approaches being offered by secular agencies in the treatment of ill health. Most importantly, though, it is grounded in a view of compassion and wisdom as the cornerstones of human improvement. Such basic commodities as must indeed underpin whatever attempt we make to be of service to others.”