Thursday, 22 December 2016

West Wight Sangha Review of 2016

Well it's heading for the end of December and time for our review of the year again.....................

Right at the start of the year we featured a post on the Fear of Emigrants which was bit ahead of the wave back in January; how that changed!

Later that month we ran a piece on the latest exploits of John and Nicole in "More from The Travelling Buddhists" and showed some of their amazing photos.............

At the end of the month came the sad news of David Bowie's death and we featured some shots of the location where his close family scattered his ashes following a Buddhist ceremony on the Indonesian island of Bali.

February the 13th marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Malthus. Malthus was the father of Malthusianism, which contends that the Earth cannot support unchecked population growth.

Although Buddhism does not direct people to give birth, or suggest how many children they have, if any. Buddhist leaders are acutely aware of issues related to overpopulation. The Dalai Lama stated, back in 2008 that if the population grows beyond 6 billion, this will cause great difficulty - (the world population is now approaching 7.5 billion). Therefore, he says, family planning is necessary.

In March we asked Which Country is the Most Generous? With a surprising result!

Later in the month we featured Some Buddhist Poems for World Poetry Day. Here's one from Vijaya Samarawickama..............


This day is a special day, it is yours. 
Yesterday slipped away, it cannot be filled anymore with meaning. 
About tomorrow nothing is known. 
But this day, today, is yours, make use of it. 
Today you can make someone happy. 
Today you can help another. 
This day is a special day, it is yours.

At the end of the month we discussed How Things Come Together in a sequence of coincidents revolving around a Dharma talk, a book and a debate between Stephen Batchelor and Ajahn Brahmali.

Beginnings and endings.
April started with the exciting news that here on the island a New Buddhist Group was Starting in Ryde!

Sadly we finished the month with a report of the death of Dennis Sibley who was one of the original pioneers involved with bringing Buddhism to the Isle of Wight.

In may we reported that a Christian group was protesting that the Canon Chancellor of York Minster, the Revd Canon Dr Chris Collingwood supported by Fr. Patrick Kundo Eastman Roshi, a Roman Catholic priest and Zen master, have introduced Zen Buddhist zazen meditation sessions. They are now a regular fixture, listed among the Minster’s main “spiritual” activities.

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 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."

We ended May with an item which is as topical now as it was then - the state of our charities.

At our Sangha meeting we discussed charitable giving. The subject came up in relation to revelations that 32 UK charity bosses were paid over £200,000 last year.

In June we introduced our Daily Mindfulness Exercise.

Quite simply, the exercise is to pick up and dispose of one piece of litter every day.

This was closely followed by the news that Christianity could be cured!

The Disciple Shoppe Bible Bookstore in Emporia, Kansas USA put this quote in their window: "The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible." (The quote is apparently by Mark Twain).

Things did not end there however.

"Jack" commented,

"Pretty poor taste poking fun at Christians who you know will turn the other cheek. Would you be equally enthusiastic to criticise Islam I wonder? If so I dare you!!!"

I replied,

"It's not me poking the fun, most of this seems to be self inflicted. As for Islam, read our previous post The "Crime" of NOT believing in the Non-Existent. If that's not worth a Fatwa I don't know what is. 

For a bit of balance try Je Suis Charlie - a Buddhist Perspective."

At the beginning of July I posted "Fireworks, Fear and Our Fellow Beings", calling attention to the distress caused to animals by the large and frequent firework displays that start at that time of year and go on to point out an alternative....................

We all have Buddha nature, but with some people it shows more. The following delightful story about Bernhardt Wichmann III is from the New York Times, read it HERE...........

Talking About Buddha Nature this example is a homegrown one from the streets of London..................

On the 8th of August we reported on Leonard Cohen's Goodbye to Marianne....................
Little did we know then -

We then had the pleasure of announcing news of the UK’s first ever nunnery for fully ordained Buddhist nuns and a teaching tour of Britain by Ajahn Brahm!

24th of August - A Quote That I Like

Now here's a quote that I like despite it referencing a supposedly all powerful faith construct or god.

This one is by Abdu'l-Bahá whose father, Bahá'u'lláh, founded the Bahá'í Faith.

Sometimes I want to ask "God" why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice when He could do something about it, but I'm afraid he might just ask me the same question.

Not only was Italy struck by an earthquake on Wednesday the 24th but central Myanmar was also shaken by a powerful quake which killed at least three people two of whom were children, and damaged scores of centuries-old Buddhist pagodas around the ancient capital of Bagan.

September started with a group of us braving the overcast and blustery conditions on the Duver for the annual Buddhist picnic.

We then featured a story of how "China’s Tech-Savvy, Burned-Out and Spiritually Adrift, are Turning to Buddhism"

On the 21st we celebrated the United Nations International Day of Peace with a not so well known fact about the Peace Bell............

October started with me quoting one of my favourite columnists in the Isle of wight County Press, Charlotte Hofton. I doubt she realised how "Buddhist" her article was.

That week she produced this excellent piece on compassion and its "near enemy" pity in the form of a utilitarian, fix anything that's "wrong" with people and the world, approach.

It all centred around a gig by Eddie Izzard......................

In the middle of the month we reported on three courses being run on the island by Buddhist friends on mindfulness and Buddhism.

Mindfulness Courses on the Isle of Wight

Foundation Course in Tibetan Buddhism

I finished the month with a cartoon and a quote that I liked

November the 11th was Armistice day, Leonard Cohen died early that morning..........................

In the middle of the month we posted a piece on the development of Western Buddhism and the danger of it becoming "watered down". One point made was that the Secular Buddhism UK branch had disbanded with some of its members then forming the Middle Way Society which states that it is "independent of Buddhism".

This lead to a series of comments and further related posts bringing us to the middle of December!

The first was from a long term "digital" friend A.W. (Jack) Kennedy who runs the Bowerchalke Buddhist Meditation Group over in Wiltshire on the Dorset, Hampshire border.

You can read Jack's detailed and invaluable contribution to the discussion HERE.

Hot on the heels of Jack's comment came one from the chair of the Middle Way Society, Robert M. Ellis, he was not a happy bunny............

My original post about the danger of the Buddha's teachings being "watered down" as the West absorbed them was prompted by an article in Lions Roar entitled “We’ve Been Here All Along,” by Funie Hsu who complains about the cultural appropriation of Buddhism by Westerners who she feels sideline Eastern "native" Buddhists. This article produced a number of responses one of the best of which was the one from Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati which we featured in the post "Western Buddhism (Watered Down?) Cont."

In the middle of December came the wonderful story of how nine year old island boy Paddy Cotton got his parents to use the money that they had put aside for his Christmas presents to buy coal for the Isle of Wight Bus Shelter for the homeless instead.

We end the year with yet another "watering down" story, this time about the demise of Buddhist Geeks.

“We’ve been teaching for several years. Recently we decided that the direction we wanted to take our teaching was outside of the Buddhist framework, so it just made sense to start a new project that reflected that,” says Vince Horn as he announced the closure of the Dharma pod-casting site.

Wishing all our readers a happy end to the year and our sincere hopes for a safe, peaceful and secure 2017.

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