Friday, 23 January 2009

Chinese New Year

Having just wished everyone a happy 2552 B.E. (bit of a cheat as it started last May) it's now almost time to wish you all a happy 4706! The Chinese new year starts on the 26th, first day of the first lunar month, zhēng yuè, so it's new years eve or Chúxī tomorrow. Appropriately enough, considering our last post, this will be the year of the ox, Ji Chou.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Ten Bulls, Taming the Bull

5. Taming the Bull

The whip and rope are necessary, Else he might stray off down some dusty road. Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle. Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.

Comment: When one thought arises, another thought follows. When the first thought springs from enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true. Through delusion, one makes everything untrue. Delusion is not caused by objectivity; it is the result of subjectivity. Hold the nose-ring tight and do not allow even a doubt.

With the recognition of belonging bull and will become one .

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

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Two "Thoughts"

In our thinking...we attribute to this concept of the bodily object a significance, which is to high degree independent of the sense impression which originally gives rise to it. This is what we mean when we attribute to the bodily object "a real existence." ...By means of such concepts and mental relations between them, we are able to orient ourselves in the labyrinth of sense impressions. These notions and relations...appear to us as stronger and more unalterable than the individual sense experience itself, the character of which as anything other than the result of an illusion or hallucination is never completely guaranteed. - Albert Einstein

I teach that the multitudinousness of objects have no reality in themselves but are only seen of the mind and, therefore, are of the nature of maya and a dream. ...It is true that in one sense they are seen and discriminated by the senses as individualized objects; but in another sense, because of the absence of any characteristic marks of self-nature, they are not seen but are only imagined. In one sense they are graspable, but in another sense, they are not graspable. - The Buddha

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Where We all came from II

Regular readers may recall a previous posting entitled "Where We All Came From" where I gave a bit of background information about the West Wight Sangha and also said that it would, hopefully, be the start of an occasional series featuring the other Buddhist groups on the Island. Well here's a piece from Dave of the Newport Soto Zen group, one of the oldest on the Island.
Isle of Wight Buddhist Group
"There are several Buddhist groups on the Island, tending to follow a particular flavour; we are a Soto Zen group, following the tradition of Throssel Hole Priory, and affiliated to Reading Priory, following the teachings of Master Dogen, and Rev Master Jiyu Kennett, who spent many years in Japan under the instruction of a Soto Zen Teacher, and brought zen to UK and USA in the ‘70’s. The group consists of about 15 to 20 people altogether, and we usually have between 5 and 10 coming to meetings. The group has a mixture of people, who include those who have been around Buddhism for quite a long time, and people who are just beginning, and all stages in between!

The group meets at my house on a Thursday evenings. We meet between 7:30pm and 10pm.

Generally, we follow the Soto tradition, but not exclusively. We begin with meditation, one or two sessions, with walking meditation, and perhaps a reading. Then we may listen to a tape, read from a book, watch a video, or whatever people want that evening, and then perhaps spend some time having a discussion about what we've heard or seen, usually over a cup of tea! Sometimes we may spend the whole evening just talking about a specific aspect, especially where we have newcomers who may be unsure about meditation practice, or whatever. We occasionally have a whole day retreat, on the Island, or perhaps at Reading, led by the monk from Reading, Rev Olwen.

Our style is very informal, and we try to adapt to the needs of whoever happens to turn up! So if everybody wants to sit in meditation for the whole evening, that's fine. Or if you are a complete newcomer, we’ll help you with whatever questions you may have, without making you feel like your in the spotlight! We usually try to fit in a cup tea somewhere in an evening, but sometimes we get so engrossed in the discussion this gets overlooked! There is no charge for attending, but we have a collecting bowl so we can accumulate money to buy equipment, books, videos, or defray expenses of visiting speakers.
You'd be very welcome to come along, just to sample how you feel about the way we are. If you have your own favourite sitting cushion or stool, please feel free to bring it. Then you can choose to come again, or not, just as you wish.

If you'd like to come along, please call me on 520795, and I can tell you a bit more, including how to get to my house."

Friday, 9 January 2009

Retreat Days

I've just added details of the schedule of retreat days that the Newport Soto Zen group are planning for this year to the "Island Buddhist Calendar" which you can find located at the foot of this page. The first one is planned for the 20th. of February.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Hatred; it's not just Gaza & Israel

As the Buddha said....

Not by hate is hate defeated;
Hate is quenched by love.
This is the eternal law.

Dhammapada 5

Victory breeds hatred,
The defeated live in pain.
Happily the peaceful live,
Giving up victory and defeat.

Dhammapada 201

Hatred is one of the three poisons.
The symptoms of hatred can show up as anger, hostility, dislike, aversion, or ill-will; wishing harm or suffering upon another person. With aversion, we habitually resist, deny, and avoid unpleasant feelings, circumstances, and people we do not like. We want everything to be pleasant, comfortable, and satisfying all the time. This behavior simply reinforces our perception of duality and separation. Hatred or anger thrusts us into a vicious cycle of always finding conflict and enemies everywhere around us. When there is conflict or perceived enemies around us, our mind is neurotic, never calm, we are endlessly occupied with strategies of self-protection or revenge. We can also create conflict within ourselves when we have an aversion to our own uncomfortable feelings. With hatred and aversion, we deny, resist, and push away our own inner feelings of fear, hurt, loneliness, and so forth, treating these feelings like an internal enemy. With the poison of hatred, we create conflict and enemies in the world around us and within our own being.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

A Happy 2552 to All

A safe, happy and peaceful new year to all our readers. Believe it or not not everyone counts the years from when Jesus of Nazareth was thought to have been born. It always used to be that in western countries the date was suffixed with A.D. or Anno Domini meaning "in the year of our Lord". Obviously in these politically correct times that had to be changed to something apparently more inclusive, so now we have C.E. or "common era". In a world connected by the needs of modern commerce a "common" standard is useful and with the legacy of European, and thus Christian, colonisation of much of that world that standard is the Christian calendar.

There are a lot of alternative calendars around, for Muslims the current Islamic Year is 1430 A.H. anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijra).

For Buddhists there are a number of different calendars but the most common gives the year as 2552 B.E. or Buddhist Era dated from the Buddha's death.