Monday, 29 September 2008

Ten Bulls, In Search of the Bull (aimless searching, only the sound of cicadas)

1. The Search for the Bull

In the pasture of this world, I endlessly push aside the tall grasses in search of the bull. Following unnamed rivers, lost upon the interpenetrating paths of distant mountains, My strength failing and my vitality exhausted, I cannot find the bull. I only hear the locusts chirring through the forest at night

Comment: The bull never has been lost. What need is there to search? Only because of separation from my true nature, I fail to find him. In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks. Far from home, I see many cross-roads, but which way is the right one I know not. Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.

The bull is always here I see, feel, hear and smell but give it no name.

The bull is the eternal principle of life. The ten bulls represent sequent steps in the realization of one's true nature.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Who was that Mystery Man?

In last week's County Press there was a letter from a Mrs. K.Webb enquiring if anyone had any information on a "saffron robed" monk (or Hari Krishna) who was often seen around the Island back in the Eighties. I'm reliably informed that this was Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo, the founder of Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation. He was based on the Island from 1979 until 1984 (for those of you who don't know we have three prisons here, the most famous being Parkhurst which was until 1995 a category A gaol).

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2003, Ajahn Khemadhammo was appointed an OBE for services to prisoners and the following year the King of Thailand on his birthday made him a Chao Khun (One of several ecclesiastical titles conferred upon senior monks selected by the King) with the title Chao Khun Bhavanavitesa.

"Remember, prisoners can't come to the temple,
so we have to take the temple to them".

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Saffron Revolution is a Year Old

The Saffron Revolution is a year old, check-out our previous post, Please help Burma - now!

On the eve of the anniversary of the biggest democracy uprising in Burma since 1988 more than 2,000 innocent political prisoners languish in Burma’s squalid prisons. The regime launched a brutal crackdown to crush the uprising, arresting, torturing and murdering many of those peaceful protesters.

After the uprising the regime promised the UN it would stop arresting people who criticise the regime. Since the uprising the number of political prisoners has doubled to 2,130. These people have committed no crime. They are imprisoned because they believe that Burma should be ruled democratically.

Ban Ki-moon has said that he will go to Burma later this year, write to him now, tell him why he must secure the release of all of Burma’s political prisoners, email him here:

Political prisoners in Burma are subjected to horrific torture, routinely denied medical treatment and survive on rotten food and dirty water. Prisoners like Mya Aye, who has been detained in Insein Prison, Rangoon, since August 2007 without charge. He has been imprisoned for 8 of the last 18 years and is denied medical treatment even though he has heart problems and has already suffered one heart attack.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Binara Full Moon Poya Day

Yesterday was the full moon of September known as Binara Poya day. It celebrates the founding of the Buddhist order of nuns, Bhikkhunis. The first nun was the Buddha's foster Mother Maha Pajapati.

Read her story here.

And read the amazing poems written by the early nuns here.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Walking Meditation

At our Tuesday Evening meditation practise we took a brief foray into walking meditation so, further to that, here are some more in depth instructions in this method of meditation.

Instructions for Walking Meditation

adapted from a talk by Gil Fronsdal, December 1st, 2003

Most people in the West associate meditation with sitting quietly. But traditional Buddhist teachings identify four meditation postures: sitting, walking, standing and lying down. All four are valid means of cultivating a calm and clear mindfulness of the present moment. The most common meditation posture after sitting is walking. In meditation centers and monasteries, indoor halls and outdoor paths are often built for walking meditation. On meditation retreats, regular walking meditation is an integral part of the schedule. In practice outside of retreats, some people will include walking as part of their daily meditation practice—for example, ten or twenty minutes of walking prior to sitting, or walking meditation instead of sitting.

Walking meditation brings a number of benefits in addition to the cultivation of mindfulness. It can be a helpful way of building concentration, perhaps in support of sitting practice. When we are tired or sluggish, walking can be invigorating. The sensations of walking can be more compelling than the more subtle sensations of breathing while sitting. Walking can be quite helpful after a meal, upon waking from sleep, or after a long period of sitting meditation. At times of strong emotions or stress, walking meditation may be more relaxing than sitting. An added benefit is that, when done for extended times, walking meditation can build strength and stamina.

People have a variety of attitudes toward walking meditation. Some take to it easily and find it a delight. For many others, an appreciation of this form of meditation takes some time; it is an “acquired taste.” Yet others see its benefits and do walking meditation even though they don’t have much taste for it.

To do formal walking meditation, find a pathway about 30 to 40 feet long, and simply walk back and forth. When you come to the end of your path, come to a full stop, turn around, stop again, and then start again. Keep your eyes cast down without looking at anything in particular. Some people find it useful to keep the eyelids half closed.

We stress walking back and forth on a single path instead of wandering about because otherwise part of the mind would have to negotiate the path. A certain mental effort is required to, say, avoid a chair or step over a rock. When you walk back and forth, pretty soon you know the route and the problem-solving part of the mind can be put to rest.

Walking in a circle is a technique that is sometimes used, but the disadvantage is that the continuity of a circle can conceal a wandering mind. Walking back and forth, the little interruption when you stop at the end of your path can help to catch your attention if it has wandered.

As you walk back and forth, find a pace that gives you a sense of ease. I generally advise walking more slowly than normal, but the pace can vary. Fast walking may bring a greater sense of ease when you are agitated. Or fast walking might be appropriate when you are sleepy. When the mind is calm and alert, slow walking may feel more natural. Your speed might change during a period of walking meditation. See if you can sense the pace that keeps you most intimate with and attentive to the physical experience of walking.

After you’ve found a pace of ease, let your attention settle into the body. I sometimes find it restful to think of letting my body take me for a walk.

Once you feel connected to the body, let your attention settle into your feet and lower legs. In sitting meditation, it is common to use the alternating sensations of breathing in and out as an “anchor” keeping us in the present. In walking meditation, the focus is on the alternating stepping of the feet.

With your attention in the legs and feet, feel the sensations of each step. Feel the legs and feet tense as you lift the leg. Feel the movement of the leg as it swings through the air. Feel the contact of the foot with the ground. There is no “right” experience. Just see how the experience feels to you. Whenever you notice that the mind has wandered, bring it back to the sensations of the feet walking. Getting a sense of the rhythm of the steps may help maintain a continuity of awareness.

As an aid to staying present, you can use a quiet mental label for your steps as you walk. The label might be “stepping, stepping” or “left, right.” Labeling occupies the thinking mind with a rudimentary form of thought, so the mind is less likely to wander off. The labeling also points the mind towards what you want to observe. Noting “stepping” helps you to notice the feet. If after a while you notice that you are saying “right” for the left foot and “left” for the right foot, you know that your attention has wandered.

When walking more slowly, you might try breaking each step into phases and using the traditional labels “lifting, placing.” For very slow walking, you can use the labels “lifting, moving, placing.”

Try to dedicate your attention to the sensations of walking and let go of everything else. If powerful emotions or thoughts arise and call your attention away from the sensations of walking, it is often helpful to stop walking and attend to them. When they are no longer compelling, you can return to the walking meditation. You also might find that something beautiful or interesting catches your eye while walking. If you can’t let go of it, stop walking and do “looking” meditation. Continue walking when you have finished looking.

Some people find that their minds are more active or distractible during walking than during sitting meditation. This may be because walking is more active and the eyes are open. If so, don’t be discouraged and don’t think that walking is thus less useful. It may in fact be more useful to learn to practice with your more everyday mind.

You can train your mind to be present any time you walk. Some people choose specific activities in their daily routines to practice walking meditation, such as walking down a hallway at home or at work, or from their car to their place of work.

In our daily lives, we spend more time walking than sitting quietly with our eyes closed. Walking meditation can serve as a powerful bridge between meditation practice and daily life, helping us be more present, mindful and concentrated in ordinary activities. It can reconnect us to a simplicity of being and the wakefulness that comes from it.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Buddhist Picnic

Sunday finally arrived and it was off to Ventnor for the picnic. Given how lousy the weather had been recently we asked the people at the Botanic Gardens if we could take our food into the cafe if rained off and they immediately offered us the use of the Canna Room in the visitor centre. No money was asked for but a whip round with a large plastic cup serving as an impromptu Dana bowl raised a generous donation to the gardens and Angie even produced a thank-you card to go with it from somewhere.

Below is a slideshow of some of the photos taken that day, more to follow.

Friday, 5 September 2008

More Asian Delights at Quay Arts

Following on from the amazing "The Power of Compassion" performance by the Monks from the Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Bylakuppe, Karnataka State, Southern India back in June, the Quay Arts Centre now have another group of performers from the sub-continent appearing.

The world's foremost Kathakali company, Kala Chethena, on tour outside their native Kerala, South India are performing in the Anthony Minghella Theatre on Monday 22nd. of September at 8pm.

Kathakali is a highly visual, colourful and sacred dance drama normally performed in the temples of Kerala, South India. Internationally renowned actors, singers, drummers and make up artists bring alive the stories and characters of the great Hindu epics – the MAHABARATHA and the RAMAYANA to illustrate that good always prevails over evil.

Buddhist Picnic - Latest!

A number of people have contacted me querying if we would be allowed to take our picnic food into the cafe at the gardens.

I've been on to Ventnor Botanics and in the event of rain they have kindly given us the use of one of their rooms in the visitor centre and we will be able to have our food there..... so worry not, it's sorted.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Palaka Dedicates New Shrine Room

Last night (Tuesday) Palaka joined us to dedicate the West Wight Shanga's new shrine room.I think that I speak for everyone in saying that it was a really meaningful evening for the group and one that we all thoroughly enjoyed. I also thought that I would share the text of the actual ceremony for those not familiar with it.

The Dedication Ceremony
We dedicate this place to the Three Jewels:
To the Buddha, the Ideal of Enlightenment to which we aspire;
To the Dharma, the Path of the Teaching which we follow;
To the Sangha, the spiritual fellowship with one another which we enjoy.
Here may no idle word be spoken;
Here may no unquiet thought disturb our minds.
To the observance of the Five Precepts
We dedicate this place;
To the practice of meditation
We dedicate this place;
To the development of wisdom
We dedicate this place;
To the attainment of Enlightenment
We dedicate this place.
Though in the world outside there is strife
Here may there be peace;
Though in the world outside there is hate
Here may there be love;
Though in the world outside there is grief
Here may there be joy.
Not by the chanting of the sacred Scriptures,
Not by the sprinkling of holy water,
But by our own efforts towards Enlightenment
We dedicate this place.
Around this Mandala, this sacred spot,
May the lotus petals of purity open;
Around this Mandala, this sacred spot,
May the vajra-wall of determination extend;
Around this Mandala, this sacred spot,
May the flames that transmute Saṁsāra into Nirvana arise.
Here seated, here practising,
May our mind become Buddha,
May our thought become Dharma,
May our communication with one another be Sangha.
For the happiness of all beings,
For the benefit of all beings,
With body, speech, and mind,
We dedicate this place.


Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Buddhist Picnic Bad Weather Contingency

As the U.K. seems intent on developing a monsoon season I thought that I should remind everyone that in the event of rain on the day the plan is to retire to the cafe in the Visitor Centre.