Wednesday, 19 December 2007

"New" Dharma Study

Following on from Ken's suggestion that we go back and have a look at the Four Noble Truths & Eightfold Path I've put my favourite talk on the above onto the "Dharma Studies" page. I'm trying something different in that the link will play automatically in your Media player.

This talk is by Steve Armstrong, who has studied the dhamma and practised insight meditation since 1975. He was a monk for five years in Burma under the guidance of Sayadaw U Pandita where he undertook intensive, silent practice of insight and lovingkindness meditations. He studied the Buddhist psychology (abhidhamma) with Sayadaw U Zagara in Australia and presents it in practical and easily understood terms. He continues his practice under the guidance of Sayadaw U Tejaniya at the Shwe Oo Min Meditation Center in Rangoon. He lives on Maui and has been leading meditation retreats internationally since 1990.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Changes to Resources layout

Now that we have completed our look at the Brahma Viharas I've taken the opportunity to reorganise the various Study Resources hosted on the site.

Firstly there is now a new "page" where I have archived the talks on the Brahma Viharas. The intention is to do this for all subsequent courses and indeed to post materials for the "current" course here as well. I have also moved the downloadable Meditation Timers and the link for the Dharma Talks Catalogue to this page.

So from now on just click on the "Resources" link under "Dharma Studies" at the top of the left hand Green Column.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

New Video Talks

If you look to the right, near the middle of the "green" column, you will see a strip of video stills which when clicked on will display the video in the top of the "posting" column. NOTE: YOU NOW NEED TO GO TO OUR VIDEO PAGE FOR ANY VIDEO AND FILM-STRIPS.

We're starting to change these for new speakers on a regular basis and to continue the Isle of Wight theme the first new speaker is Ajahn Jayasaro who was born on the Island!
Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro - The Biography

Ajahn Jayasaro was born on the Isle of Wight in 1958. He joined Ajahn Sumedho’s community for the Rains Retreat as an anagarika in 1978. In November of that year he left for Wat Pa Pong in Northeast Thailand where he ordained as a novice in the following year, and as a bhikkhu in 1980 with Venerable Ajahn Cha as his preceptor. From 1997 until 2002 Ajahn Jayasaro was the Abbot of Wat Pa Nanachat. He is now living alone in a hermitage at the foot of Kow Yai mountains.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Another Isle of Wight

I recently came across this article about Wat Pasantidhamma Buddhist temple in Isle of Wight County Virginia USA. I knew we had a namesake for the Island in the states but never thought of it's having it's own Buddhist community........ neat!

A different path

BY JOY BUCHANAN, Daily Press, January 18, 2005

Carollton, VA.(USA) -- The wet gravel crunched underfoot as worshippers walked from their cars through the parking lot of the Buddhist temple Sunday night.Milky white smoke from logs burning in metal drums hung low in the damp, cold air, carrying the scent of pine through the courtyard.
<< Charus Boonrung, a member of the Wat Pasantidhamma Buddhist temple in Isle of Wight County, meditates Sunday night during a candlelight vigil for tsunami victims and survivors.

At Wat Pasantidhamma, the people had gathered for a candlelight vigil to offer compassion to the victims and survivors of the tsunamis that have killed more than 160,000 people in Asia and Africa. Members of the congregation organized a simultaneous vigil with four temples in New York, Washington, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
"The people who died have died. We cannot bring them back," Phramaha Saman Methawee, one of the temple's five monks, said in an interview before the vigil. "How we respond to death is to look at our lives. Are we living the right way? Are we doing the right things?"
The candlelight vigil, an American tradition, at a Buddhist temple is a symbol of Buddhism's pliability - it is an ancient philosophy that shuns materialism and encourages meditation, chanting and reflection, but its principles adapt to life in a modern, technological world.
Just before 5 p.m. Sunday, more than 70 people filed past the temple office and into the worship area. Some people sat in dark wooden chairs. Others folded their legs and sat on the thick, red carpet. Some bowed to the four, giant, golden Buddha statues sitting in the lotus position on platforms before them. Tony McDaniel, a 34-year-old Thailand native who briefly served as a monk at the temple, spoke through a microphone, explaining the order of the service. Behind him, the five monks sat on a platform with their legs folded, dressed in traditional saffron robes.
The most senior monk, Phramaha Udom Papunggaro, led the first chant. The rhythm of the Thai words buzzed from the monk's chest to his throat and hummed through the speakers.
Afterward, McDaniel instructed the people to close their eyes and meditate. Intermittently, an older man would stand to pound the black gong hanging in the corner. The deep, hollow sound reverberated through the temple. Latecomers scrambled to find a seat some held conversations in the hallway. A few people in the temple coughed or shifted loudly in their seats.
"You hear sound, but let it pass like the wind," McDaniel said. "Keep your thoughts concentrated on the idea of compassion."
While a few of the visitors had difficulty meditating for 15 minutes, the monks sat silently, undistracted. It is a skill they practice daily.
The temple and the monks' home sit on an unpaved portion of Chapman's Lane in Carrollton. The temple is surrounded by trees, bare in the winter, some felled by Hurricane Isabel. Standing in the courtyard, you can hear the tinkling wind chimes on the temple roof and rumbling trucks downshifting on Brewers Neck Boulevard, but you can't see anything beyond the trees.
The monks rise before 5 a.m. and start their days with an hour of group meditation followed by an hour of chanting. They lead a chanting service for the public in Pali, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism. They eat once before noon and only what visitors offer them. They are not allowed to ask for food or anything else.
The monks spend most of the afternoon working. Daily, they brush the sandy ground leading to the three meditation refuges outside the temple - Buddha Land, Dhamma Land and Sangha Land, which represent the man, the teaching and the community. Last week, on a warm Thursday afternoon, they used shovels to lay a gravel path from the parking lot to their new home beside the temple. They also maintain a Web site, answer e-mail and phone calls and prepare a monthly newsletter sent to about 1,200 recipients.
Inside the monks' new house, visitors walk past the kitchen, complete with a microwave and water cooler and bottles of Starbucks Frappuccino brought by visitors. The library is in an open space with a soft, cream-colored carpet. There, the monks and visitors can sit at a black, wooden table and read some of the Thai books on the Buddha or browse through the copy of "JavaScript for Dummies."
If you want to learn more about Buddhism, the monks have cassettes and CDs available as well - in English and Thai. While Saman Methawee led a tour of the temple, a cell-phone rang and vibrated deep in the folds of his robe. He continued to speak as though he didn't notice it at all.
"Buddhism is not a religion. It is a way of life. You can apply it to your life," he explained about the incongruity of a monk and a cell phone. "Use technology, don't be a slave to technology. We use it to make our minds happy - to live without fear or worry."
Like focusing on breathing rather than sipping air into a chest tight with frustration about an unresponsive printer or a frozen computer screen.
"Hell and heaven are in our minds," Saman Methawee said. "When you think bad things, bad things happen to you. If you think good things, good things happen. The best way to take care of the future is to care for the here and now."

Click HERE for their website.
I particularly like the way that the location is described as being "in rural Isle of Wight" ... just like us!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

New Blog Features

Newly entered at the top of the right-hand column you will see our latest addition, a collection of Meditation Timers. Clicking the link takes you to the hosting site where you will see all of the files listed in a "media player".... select and play OR, if you look below the media player, you can download the "Whole Item" or the individual "Audio Files" to your own PC, pick the "VBR" version for a faster download. (Note: when playing reduce the volume to a gentle level for best effect)

Our other new additions (at the top of the blue, right hand column) are two subscription options so that you can keep up to date with new postings to the blog. Firstly we have an email notifier whereby you receive an email from FeedBurner whenever there is an update. We also have an RSS feed for those with an aggregator reader, which also has a link at the end of the address box.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Further to Group Discussion on Awareness of the Breath

Herein are a collection of talks by Thanissaro Bhikkhu that Sangha members might like to peruse following our general look at meditation techniques.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, 12 October 2007

New Blog Feature

Over at the top of the right-hand column of this blog you will see our latest feature "View available MP3 Talks" this links directly to an online version of our Dharma Talks Catalogue.

We have a huge number of Dharma talks in MP3 format from such teachers as the Dalai Lama, Jack Kornfield, Myoshin Kelley, Joseph Goldstein, Stephen Batchelor, Ayya Khema, Steve Armstrong..... And literally hundreds of others. We have Zen, Vipasanna, Tibetan and Theravadan speakers and others not so easily pigeon holed, like Alan Watts.

Please note that the catalogue is due for updating in the new Year and we already have a large amount of talks which are not yet listed!

Anyone from one of the other Buddhist groups on the Island is welcome to copies of selected talks, if you're interested contact me or leave contact details in the comments at the bottom of this posting (they are moderated, so will not show to the general public!). Other visitors to the blog who might be interested should also leave their details and we'll see what we can do.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Burma Petitions


I wanted to offer a few personal reflections on events in Myanmar/Burma: more particularly to say something about the responses that are being encouraged. For the sake of brevity, and underlining that these are personal views, I’ll just make two points: one of the petitions had a sentence saying something like, ‘We pledge to hold you to account’ – well, I think that’s coercive. Fostering a retributive state of mind is to call on the power mode of being, the opposite of what the Buddha as the way to freedom from suffering. Of course, one might consider that, intentionally exercising power in horrible ways against unarmed people, the authorities are in fact setting up causes for their own suffering. To take any comfort from this view of others having suffering coming is not skilful! To say that I pledge to get my own back is still to threaten the use of power. However, the Amnesty International letter doesn’t fall into the trap of joining in trading with the regime’s power-based currency. You can find it at

My other point also leads towards the Amnesty International website (as a starting-point). Am I the only one to be a bit uneasy with all this rallying to a Buddhist-linked cause? What about Darfur, China, Uganda? I would like to find that my practice leads me to stand with humans suffering horribly, whether they’re Buddhist or not. It just seems a bit tribal that Buddhists support Buddhists and don’t go on to highlight the range of horrible extremes of suffering around the globe about which we can pretty simply express our opinions. This has been a prompt to me to be more active in Amnesty letter-writing and not to flinch from the more disturbing aspects of the cruelty that Amnesty addresses. Hands-up, though: I could do more to get around to actually writing those letters, so am in no position to feel comfortable here.

What do others think?

Click on "Comments" below


Friday, 5 October 2007

To the Himalayas

Last year (2006) Val from the Newport Soto Zen group and her husband Alex undertook a hike into the foothills of the himalayas. What follows is Val's account of their visit with some amazing photos.

Kangchenjunga and the Singalila Ridge Trek, October 2006
Community Action Treks Ltd.

Community Action Treks was founded by Doug Scot, who reached the summit of Everest in 1975 with Dougal Haston. Money raised from these trekking holidays is used to provide schools, health centres, employment and clean water supplies for villages in Nepal.

We spent 24 days with a group of experienced travellers and mountaineers and were looked after very well by Raja of “Adventure Mania” (based in Kolkata) assisted by two teams of porters from Nepal and Sikkim. Accommodation ranged from the best hotels to wooden huts and camping. We initially flew to Kolkata and then from there to Bagdogra in northern West Bengal, from there driving to Darjeeling. After walking on jeep tracks on the Singalila Ridge which runs along the border with Nepal. We then drove to Sikkim (now part of India) where we walked up to 4 900m at Goecha La pass 5Km from Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain.

Most of the people Alex and I met were Indian Hindus, Nepalese porters and Buddhists from Tibet.

Highlights of the tour.

We saw Kangchenjunga for the first time at dawn in Darjeeling. The peaks appear above cloud level and seem to belong to the sky instead of rising from the earth.

We visited many Buddhist monasteries, both of the Gelukpa (yellow hat school) and Nyingmapa schools (the oldest of the four major Tibetan schools). They were well maintained each with approximately 50 monks and a school for the young novices. Prayer wheels set in the outer walls with the interior walls being painted with bright colours from floor to ceiling. At the front a large Buddha statue would be flanked by statues of important Bodhisattvas. Eventually we discovered that we could go upstairs in the monasteries where plainer rooms and libraries could be seen. We could often hear the monks chanting in a separate room off of a courtyard. Only once did I get to talk to one of the monks, who had very good English.

Whilst staying in a small hilltop village I was very lucky to sit with a small group of monks who were chanting and performing rituals for a sick, elderly lady. Although I couldn't talk to them it was a great joy to sit with them chanting and observe the preparations for ancient ceremonies, using rice to create pictures on paper laid on the floor. Tiny models of people and yaks were then placed on top of the rice picture.

Another joy was to see the long strips of colourful prayer flags in the mountains and small towns. We saw a ceremony in which new prayer flags were placed at Tenzing Norgay's grave.

The mountain roads were very dangerous and like the vehicles , were continually being repaired. They are often closed during the monsoon season when it is particularly dangerous for the children walking to school.

The poverty and density of the crowds were a culture shock in Kolkata, it's very difficult to travel in the city without a guide.

Valerie & Alex

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Please help Burma - now!

I am sure that we as Buddhists and human beings are saddened and gravely concerned with the recent events in Burma (Myanmar). We who have the privilege, that is denied to the people of Burma, of living in a democracy can make our voices heard and influence our body politic, below are listed a number of petition sites..... Please, please make your voice heard.

See what is happening in Burma

Free Aung San Suu Kyi
Email Burma's Dictator


An appeal to the UN Security Council to protect the people of Burma


The link below is to a page on the Buddhist Channel web site. On this page are a couple of petition links: one is to the US Campaign for Burma, asking people to collectively gather 88,000 signatures from around the world, calling on Chinese President Hu Jintao to compel Burma towards valid national reconciliation.

You can also email the EU President to strengthen the EU position on Burma,4976,0,0,1,0

You can petition Gordon Brown & the British Government at:

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Your Story

Hiya, Hope all's well with you. I'm still getting used to life after walking. The Isle of Wight to Cape Wrath route, right up the centre of Britain, wearing my monk's robes and living out of my alms bowl, turned out to be a bit tougher than I expected. The week or so after the walk I felt absolutely feted by the people of Durness, the tiny village closest to my finish point. As I rested up and filled out again on full Scottish breakfasts, I was joined by Trysh, the Canadian writer who is making a book out of the whole event. We spent a week or so together, mapping out a plan for the book. There are various titles knocking about, my current favourite is "Seven Million Steps". The writing is due to take ten months and a publisher called John Wiley is interested in it. So hopefully before long it'll be on a bookshelf near you.

As we planned the book, I was very keen that it was your story. What I mean is that my experience of the journey confirmed for me the fact that kindness and generosity and goodwill are alive and well in Britain. Every step of the way was supported by that kindness in the most concrete way possible. So for me the walk was an ongoing good news story and it's really that story that I want to highlight. In fact I don't want to wait ten months to thank you for your support on so many levels. The whole experience continues to be incredibly inspiring.

And now I'm mostly in and around London. I'm looking for a base. I want to make available these wonderful things that I've been privileged to learn over the past sixteen years. I believe that not only can they transform individual lives, but that society as a whole will inevitably benefit from this transformation. If you know of anywhere that might serve as a base - even a little apartment or a room, I'd love to hear from you. I'll keep you posted on developments.

Wishing you an ongoing experience of that underlying kindness and generosity every single day.

More later, cheers Daizan

Monday, 3 September 2007

From the end of Daizan's walk

Hiya, how are you? So the walk's done. I made it to Cape Wrath (old Norse for "the turning point") a couple of days ago. Imagine vast empty spaces - moorland and mountain reached across a rivermouth by motorboat. There's a tiny road winding eleven miles through the wind and rain and, at the tip, huge cliffs climbing a thousand feet out of the sea capped by a white lighthouse. As I crossed the water, the boatman said "With the tide and the wind, I'll be stopping in a couple of hours." Looked like I wasn't going to make it back. I didn't have a sleeping bag or tent, or anything much to eat. "Just find somewhere to sleep," I thought.

So after eleven miles through wind and horizontal rain, and a pretty thorough soaking, I made it to the lighthouse. Finding a garage containing a rusted Toyota truck with the door ripped-off (by the wind, I later discovered), I climbed in out of the wind and settled down for a nap. A few minutes later I was greeted by the barking of six springer spaniels and a Scottish voice telling them to shut up and that was my introduction to John the hermit, the solitary occupant of the lighthouse buildings, and the only human for hundreds of square miles. John graciously took in a soaked monk and we talked over macaroni cheese and toast by the light of a peat fire for a good bit of the night.

As the sun went down, the rain stopped and I was able to go out to the very tip of the cape and chant the ancient scriptures of Zen. I took out a little stone that I'd carried from St. Catherine's - the start-point of the walk on the Isle of Wight, and threw it far out into the sea.

When I sat in meditation so many faces of the kind and generous and profound and extraordinary people I'd met over the previous sixty four days appeared. Although I'd done the actual walking. All their support made it possible and just thinking of them I was moved almost to tears. I'm so glad that a book is being written of the walk so they can be known more widely. The truth is, there are so many amazing people around and the way the news system works, they can be almost invisible. It looks like the book will be called "Seven Million Steps" and will be published by John Wiley. I'll keep you posted.

Then, in the wind at the end of the world, I danced.

See you very soon.

Cheers Daizan

Thursday, 16 August 2007

More from Daizan walking through Scotland

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for your note, good to hear from you. Right now I'm in Sutherland, the northern part of the highlands of Scotland. It's hard to believe that almost exactly two months ago we were together down on the island. It's looking like I'll reach Cape Wrath (a Viking word meaning 'the turning point' in about four days. There are a few pictures of the walk, knocking about. I've attached some. Hope they're ok.

Looking forward to seeing you when I head south again.

Gassho Daizan

Monday, 13 August 2007

From Daizan walking through Scotland

Hiya, hope the summer's going well and, if you're in the UK, avoiding this summer's rain. Right now I'm in Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands and over the last few days the terrain has moved from mountains and trees - alpine style to huge open empty heather-covered open mountainous vistas. Often there's not a house, not a fence in sight. Although people are pretty thin on the ground (did you know that there are more people in London than in the whole of Scotland?) it's fantastic to be able to say that Scottish people are if anything even more generous and kind than English. When I get out my alms bowl, after a little bit, the food arrives. Yesterday a very simple girl put a sandwich in my bowl, looked at me and said, "Are you living in faith?"

"Yes," I said, "I am." And we smiled together.

Still a lot of miles to go. More later,

Cheers Daizan

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Andrew's Dharma Name

After querying with Palaka how his new name is Pronounced he tells me it is "par-ler-ker", with the "par" getting the emphasis.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Andrew..... Palaka returns to the Island (pro tem)

Hello, Steve:

I'm on the Island for a few days (leaving Monday evening) and am gently re-connecting with my friends here, hence this email. As you might have heard, I've received this wonderful new name, Palaka, meaning 'he who cherishes, nurtures and protects' - that's the very short version of the meaning! I have experienced a profound and inspiring time at Guhyaloka (which I believe has a website, so you can catch some glimpses of this place online, and maybe spot me in the shrine room photo if the new image has been uploaded).

On Tuesdays, while up in the Spanish mountains, I've been thinking about you and the West Wight group. Have you been well? Although I'm off to the North Island soon, I wanted to touch base, even electronically, while still on the same piece of land. I very much look forward to seeing you again.

You've probably already noticed that I've taken a new email address, too. Although I'll continue to check the old one, this will be my 'home'. The dh, by the way is for 'dharmachari', the title used by members of the Western Buddhist Order, meaning 'one who fares in the dharma'. That title is conferred as part of the public ordination that followed on from the private ordination where the personal name was received. I'll be in touch soon about the suggested get-together in Ventnor on the Tuesday after Bank Holiday Monday. A couple of friends from the London Buddhist Centre are visiting me then, and it seems a good opportunity for a bunch of us to get together. I'm thinking of probably something in the afternoon and something in the evening, so won't necessarily disrupt your meeting's routine.

Any news of the picnic?
With all the very best to you:


The web site mentioned is at, and no, Andrew isn't on the pics.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

From Daizan across the border

Hiya and greetings from Scotland. I crossed the border yesterday and it was striking the immediate change in the landscape. I can hardly believe that the people of England have supported me on my journey the entire length of the country, but here we are despite daily rain and, in one place, waist-deep floods (someone was swept away and drowned the day after I came through). It's hard to explain how much more connected to the land you feel when you're actually immersed in it every step of the way, but I'm sure you can imagine. It's even harder to work out how stepping into the place of "no visible means of support", actually somehow generates a whole new beautiful pattern in your life. All I can really say is, if you have a dream, something you've been putting-off doing, something that's really going to make you come alive - don't wait too long. It might be more achievable than you think. When you move, the whole universe moves too. Who knows what is really possible.

Wishing you all the goodness of summer. More later.

Cheers Daizan

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Talks for Discussion

At the top of the right hand column opposite you will see the link to the talk we will be discussing...... any problems let me know.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

We all have two nostrils and a common fate (death)

It's been a hard week's work at the prison.Last Saturday saw another suicide. There are many people working to try and make the place more humane, but it is difficult sometimes to see how this can be achieved within the present system, with its lack of resources. If society really wants prisoners to change (a process that only they themselves can effect), banging them up for most of the day does not necessarily help the process. One prisoner told me the worst thing about prison if that you cannot show your feelings. You need to suppress them in order to survive the regime. The Listeners (prisoners trained in listening) have a role similar to that of the Samaritans on the outside and spend many hours performing a role that our friends (and, if we are lucky, family) perform on the outside. They try to transcend and help transcend the over-crowding, lack of staff, lack of privacy and loss of control over one's life.

On the outside, people are generally not very concerned about prisoners. If anything, the attitude is positively sadistic. "I'd like to take them out and shoot them" says one of my neighbours, normally a kind and compassionate man. "They have better food and stuff than pensioners" says another. Not true - in my experience anyway. Potatoes boiled to perdition,
erratic portions, pasties with no filling, gristly meat. No Jamie Oliver to campaign here aboutthe link between nutrition and behaviour! It is not luxury - not even decent.
I come home feeling I smell of the sickly disinfectant and cooped-up male and, oh, how wonderful is my little house, my cats, my cup of tea from my own pot. The garden (somewhat overgrown) looks lovely. I can go where I want when I want. For me, the worst thing about prison is that lack of control over one's life. This may be a deterrent to crime, but it is an incomplete one. Without offering options, other strategies for living, it just encourages a "them-and-us" divide between staff and prisoners, reinforcing the criminal culture. Oslo prison, which I visited recently has several staff whose sole task is to keep prisoners active doing something -
some activities probably categorised here as "luxurious". I asked the young officer (sweatshirt and jeans) about this. His reply -"What do you want them to do? Sit around and talk about their crimes and plan a few more?" The whole emphasis there is on the future from Day 1 of the sentence. What will happen when the offender is released?
This morning I heard that the Lifeboat Shop where I work at weekends has been burgled and smashed up, and my reaction was a reminder that I am not immune from the knee-jerk, angry,vindictive feelings I so condemn in others. It is a struggle (on a partly animal level) when one feels under attack. Practical compassion is something for which we strive, but it is a challenge as I sit on a comfy chair with a cup of fresh-ground coffee and plan my day, remembering we all have two nostrils and a common fate.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

New Feature

If you look to the top right of the page you will see a verticle strip of four pictures. Float your mouse pointer over these pictures and you will see a title for that picture (e.g. one is "The Right to Believe? - Ajahn Brahm ( 61m 56s )").

Now switch on your speakers and click on one of the pictures........... Let me know, below, in the "comments" what you think.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Re: Buddhist Relics coming to the UK

This explains the actual nature of the "Relics" - let me know what you think in the "Comments" at the bottom of this post.

Buddhist Relics Tour Passes through Fremont, California
By Roy McDowell, Epoch Times, Jul 11, 2007

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- Sacred relics of Buddhist masters and saints, or Sariras, were on display at Fremont's Willits Center this past weekend. Local residents had a rare opportunity to view the precious collections for free.

<< A golden Maitreya Buddha statue is surrounded by relics of ancient Buddhist masters and saints at Fremont's Willits Center last weekend. (Roy McDowell/The Epoch Times)

The Sariras are kept in golden lotus flower shaped containers surrounding a golden Maitreya Buddha statue. Throughout the day, a steady flow of visitors came to pay respect to the enlightened, to feel the curing energy, or to enjoy the loving energy.

"It's peaceful," said Sandra Cabrera, a Fremont resident and an immigrant from Mexico. "It's relaxing and I can feel the positive energy." She came with her parents and brother.

According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha and Buddhist saints were able to focus their energy to create Sariras of various colors in their bodies prior to giving up their bodies. These pearl- or crystal-like beads contain the essence of a cultivator's purity and allow people to receive blessings.

The rare collection of Sariras came from 16 Buddhist masters and saints, including Buddha Shakyamuni, who enlightened under a Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, and Kasyapa Buddha, who preceded Shakyamuni and is better known as the "historical Buddha." Others included the Venerable Maudgalyayana, Nagarjuna, and Milarepa, etc.

Some of the Sariras were salvaged from statues in Tibet where they had been enshrined for thousands of years before the Communist occupation in 1959. Other relics were donated by museums and monasteries. They will travel the world until they are placed in the 500-foot Maitreya Buddha statue that's being built in Kushinagar in northern India.

Maitreya comes from the Sanskrit word "maitri" meaning "love." Maitreya Buddha is sometimes called the Laughing Buddha and is usually portrayed as having a large belly. According to the Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya Buddha will be the next Buddha to descend to the world to spread his teachings.

"The reason we display them is because we want people to receive blessings from the holy objects," said Victoria Ewart, the relic tour director. "We all want to be happy. One way to generate happiness is to get into contact with holy objects."

The relics display will tour several cities in California and Nevada until mid-August. The next stop will be Irvine, California from July 13-15. After that, the tour will visit Canada, the Midwest, and then the East Coast.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Buddhist Relics coming to the UK

I came across this today on

Heart Shrine Relic Tour

"Relics come from masters who have devoted their entire lifetime to spiritual practices that are dedicated to the welfare of all. Every part of their body and relics carries positive energy to inspire goodness and reduce negativity… we can see how these relics are so precious."
— Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of Maitreya Project

The Maitreya Project Heart Shrine relics have been donated to and collected by Lama Zopa Rinpoche specifically for placement in the Heart Shrine of the 500ft/152m Maitreya Buddha statue. The statue will be the focus of Maitreya Project's vision of creating spiritual, social and economic benefit during the next millennium.

The relics will travel the world until they are placed in the completed 500ft/152m Maitreya Buddha statue. Until then, it is Rinpoche's wish that as many people as possible will have the opportunity to view the relics in their local communities.

In March 2001, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of Maitreya Project, released this rare and precious collection of Buddhist relics for worldwide exhibition. Since then, these sacred relics have been displayed at temples, meditation centres, and other public locations all over the world.

The collection is truly extraordinary. There are many relics of Shakyamuni Buddha and of the Buddha's well-known disciples - Maudgalyayana, Ananda and Sariputra -as well as relics of many other saints and spiritual masters from the Chinese, Indian and Tibetan traditions.

Many living Buddhist masters from a number of traditions and countries, including Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Tibet and Taiwan, have donated relics to be placed in the Heart Shrine of the Maitreya Project statue, including relics of Shakyamuni Buddha which were offered by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The relics are mainly pearl-like 'beads' collected from the ashes of spiritual masters after their cremation. There are also Buddhist artifacts in the collection.

Some of the relics were salvaged from statues in Tibet where they had been enshrined for thousands of years before the Communist occupation in 1959. Other relics were donated by museums and monasteries. Lama Zopa Rinpoche ensures that the relics are genuine before they are put on display.

The Heart Shrine Relic Tour exhibitions are open to the public free of charge, thereby giving everyone the rare opportunity to be in the presence of such priceless holy objects.

This collection is visiting the UK, the details are listed below.

12 - 14 October
London, England, UK
Friday 5pm Opening Ceremony
Saturday 10am to 7pm
Sunday 10am to 7pm
Jamyang Buddhist Center
43 Renfrew Road
London SE11 4NA
Contact: Jane Sill
Tel: +44 (0)20 7820 8787

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The latest from Daizan

I received this email from Daizan..........

Hiya how are you. So here I am on the twentieth day of this meditation walk northwards and it seems to have finally stopped raining. The list of amazing people who have appeared out of nowhere and helped me along is now too long to repeat. This walk - not using money - makes every step, a step into trust in the goodness and kindness of the people of Britain. And so far, the whole thing has been an ongoing good news story. There's still a long way to go, of course, and my legs are still pretty sore, but it's working. Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers and kind messages. It's really inspiring to see quite how much goodness and kindness are around. It's all right in front of you and maybe just needs something a little unusual - a smile, a greeting, a wave.... - to manifest.

Here's hoping you encounter that goodness and kindness every step of your day.

More later Daizan

Friday, 6 July 2007

Our priorities as a society.

The reason I have not contributed before is that I have been settling a "new" cat into my home.
Bob is a black-and-white mog of 16. It's not hard work, but requires constant attention to someone other than No.1! He has been very well cared for, but his previous owner went into a care home and could not take him, her companion since he was a kitten, with her.
Now I don't underestimate the difficulty of running a care home, but what does it say about us as a society? How do we treat old people? How do we treat old animals? Why can't they stay together if they want to? Quite a lot of my friends do not understand why I home elderly cats.
It is actually a good reminder of ageing and death, sometimes sad, but often good fun, with a lot of mutual love. My existing resident, Muffin, regarded Bob with suspicion at first. Perhaps there is something of that in human first meetings..... Now we are sitting together in the lounge watching the evening sky. Personally I owe a great deal to cats. When I was first ill, it was very difficult to settle in a house. Cats will show you how, especially if they are elderly and have spent a longish period in a rescue centre! They do tend to want to sit on your head while you meditate, though........ Thank you, Cats Protection, Ryde!

Island Sangha Picnic

Sunday 2nd September
12.30 start
This very special event is open to Buddhists, their families and friends. ( and pets too!)

The picnic will be held on Stokes Green, Totland.
Stokes Green is located to the right of the Turf Walk as you approach the road down to the beach.

Café and toilets conveniently placed. They sell lovely ice creams in the café. Parking spaces on esplanade and approach road.

Bring frizzbees,etc. as the beach is nearby. Also if you have rakes, we thought it might be fun to try making a zen garden on the beach.

Bring food to share. If food requires reheating Stephen has kindly offered his kitchen to those who need it.

Please respond to this by email or phone so we can have a rough idea how many would like to join us.

Contact Details
Stephen Parker 756884 ( )
Angie & Mark 404740 ( )


A Monk's Progress

Yesterday I received this email from Daizan............

I'd been stood in the town square of Rugby for nearly half an hour. My alms bowl was slowly filling - with rain. Mostly people ignored the sight of a Zen monk standing beside his rucksack and straw hat. But now and then someone would come by. The pattern was pretty predictable. They'd get out some money to put in the bowl. I'd gently as I could, refuse it - "I'm sorry, I'm just collecting food. I'm walking up the centre of Britain, on this walk I'm not touching money." About half of them would reappear a few minutes later with sandwiches, fruit, something to eat, which I would gratefully accept.

"Excuse me, mate, who are you collecting for?" He was dressed in a red jacket with red baseball cap. Both were embroidered with the Rugby town logo. He carried a big black two-way radio.

"I'm not collecting money. I'm a Buddhist monk walking the length of the country. On this walk I don't touch money. I'm only accepting food."

"I'm sorry if you don't have a licence, I'll have to ask you to move on. We're town wardens paid for by the shops. We want to make it a pleasant experience for visitors. We're linked-up with the CC camera system."

I wanted to argue, but he'd clearly been given his orders and couldn't deviate "Ok." I said.

As I carried my pack away up the High Street. I stopped by a touch screen built in the middle of the pavement. "Free Internet Connection From Rugby to the World", it said. I stopped to look.

"Do you want me to show you how it works?" The warden said. He'd been following, perhaps worrying that hunger would get the better of me, and I'd get my bowl out somewhere else. "We want to make Rugby a pleasant experience for the visitors." He added.


This was just a blip on what's been an incredible experience so far. It's about a quarter done so still a long, long way to go.

Hope all's very well with you. Let me know if you know of anyone around Britain's centreline who might enjoy a visit from a walking monk.

More later Cheers Julian

Daizan Roshi starts his walk!

Daizan Roshi started his walk today with a ceremony and a meditation at St Catherine's Point at the Southern tip of the Island. From there he made his way to Newport where he met up with Dave Downer. We then joined Daizan and Dave for the Newport Soto Zen group's Evening meeting.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

A Zen Monk on the Isle of Wight

I received this email the other day..........

Dear Stephen,

I'm an English Zen monk, just on my way back from Japan. I'm going to be walking the length of Britain starting on the Isle of Wight at dawn on June 21st. Full information is on the news section of my website, I'd be delighted to meet you and other spiritual friends around that time. Please drop me a note if you'd like to make contact.

Best wishes,


I am now in contact with Daizan Roshi with a view to sorting something out, I will keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


I'm launching the "West Wight Sangha" Blog today but it is still very much a work in progress (subtle Buddhist joke). Being a total Blog newbie I am still finding my way through the terminology and trying to fit the "personal" format of a Blog to suit a group. Hopefully this will be a way of either having a "public face" or possibly a private on-line notice board, or both?