Saturday, 28 March 2009

Tonight it's Earth Hour!

Further to our previous post, the day is here.... today is when the WWF's Earth Hour arrives. Here in the UK Earth hour is between 8:30 & 9:30 p.m. and it's the same time wherever you are, it just keeps moving around the planet.

You can Sign up to show that you care about people, wildlife and the planet, and that you want the world’s leaders to take action to tackle climate change. Today, Saturday 28 March 2009 at 8.30pm, people, businesses and iconic buildings around the world will switch off their lights for an hour – WWF’s Earth Hour.

Buddhism is all about compassion, for all beings.... for the entire planet wide interconnected web of life. It's also about joy and happiness, you can have a lot of fun in the dark.... check out what the pandas are up to........

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

China forces South Africa to Ban Dalai Lama

South Africa has refused the Dalai Lama a visa to attend an international peace conference in Johannesburg this week. The Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Laureate did not receive a visa because it was not in South Africa's interest for him to attend, said Thabo Masebe, a presidential spokesman. South Africa is China's largest trading partner in Africa, with 2008 trade standing at 100bn rand ($10bn; £7bn).

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is in California, told the Sunday Tribune he was upset at the refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama and had written to President Kgalema Motlanthe asking him for an explanation.

"If His Holiness's visa is refused, then I won't take part in the coming 2010 World Cup-related peace conference. I will condemn the government's behaviour as disgraceful, in line with our country's abysmal record at the United Nations Security Council, a total betrayal of our struggle history," he said.

"We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure; I feel deeply distressed and ashamed," he said.

Former president F.W. De Klerk, backed Tutu, saying in a statement that he would also not participate in the conference if the Dalai Lama remained excluded. De Klerk said that the decision to refuse the visa made a "mockery" of the peace conference.

The Dalai Lama had been invited by his three fellow South African Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, former presidents Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk, and Tutu.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

UN calls for immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi

Further to our recent post "Will you make a stand for Burma's Political Prisoners?"
The UN has said the detention of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi violates both international legislation and the laws of Burma. The panel has already issued four judgments finding that Myanmar was breaking international rights law by holding Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party swept the country's last elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power. The ruling went on to say: "The Working Group requests the government to immediately release, without any condition, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from her continued placement under house arrest."

Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize laureate, has spent 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest, with the ruling junta extending her detention on a yearly basis despite international condemnation.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Retreat Day with Rev.Olwen

The other week a couple of us from the West Wight Sangha joined the Newport Soto Zen group for a day retreat. The Newport group is affiliated to Reading Buddhist Priory, one of several small temples of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in Britain. The Order is based at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey which is located in a remote moorland area of Northumberland, to the South of Hexham, a fine location for a monastery. The Reading Priory is run by Rev. Olwen who join us for the day and led the ceremonies.

There are many different types of meditation in the Buddhist tradition.

In the Sōtō Zen tradition it is commonly known as “zazen”, a Japanese word describing a practice that is sometimes called “serene reflection meditation”. Zazen is essentially about “just sitting”. One adopts an alert, but relaxed sitting posture with the choice of using a chair, a meditation bench, or a cushion for the cross legged position. You simply sit still with eyes open and a relaxed but alert mind, “neither trying to think nor trying not to think”.
A metaphor sometimes used to describe this form of meditation is that of a boundless blue sky. Clouds may pass by, rain, winds or storms may pass through, but all the while the boundless sky remains and simply holds all these things, allowing them to arise, take their course and pass on. So, too, you sit still with all the arising of your thoughts, feelings and sensations, allowing them to arise naturally, but without latching onto them, just letting them go and pass on. In this way, you deepen your intuitive knowledge and trust of your true nature, opening your heart to Compassion, Love and Wisdom and your willingness to do what is good to do in your ordinary daily life.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Will you make a stand for Burma's Political Prisoners?

Thousands of people across the world are uniting with one voice demanding the release all of Burma's political prisoners. They are taking part in a global signature campaign which aims to collect 888,888 signatures before 24 May 2009 the legal date that Burma’s democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi should be released from house arrest.

The petition calls on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make it his personal priority to secure the release of all political prisoners in Burma, as the essential first step towards democracy in the country.

Please sign the petition now:

The target of 888,888 signatures symbolises 8.8.88, the day the junta massacred some 3,000 people who courageously protested in Burma’s largest democracy uprising.

Political Prisoners In Burma – Facts
* There are over 2,100 political prisoners in Burma.
* They are innocent: These prisoners have committed no crime. They have been imprisoned for peacefully calling for democracy and freedom in Burma.
* They are subjected to horrific torture: Once in prison, democracy activists face horrific torture, including electric shocks, rape, iron rods rubbed on their shins until the flesh rubs off, severe beatings and solitary confinement.
* They endure terrible suffering: Many prisoners are kept in their cells 24 hours a day, given inadequate food and are in poor health. However, the regime appears to be systematically denying medical treatment to political prisoners.

These are brave men and women that are at the forefront of the fight for freedom and democracy in Burma. They need your help.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Tibet, 50 Years on

Chinese authorities have deployed police and soldiers throughout Tibet on the 50th anniversary of the uprising against Chinese rule. Chinese officials on Monday also confirmed a security build-up along Tibet's border with the Himalayan regions of India and Nepal.

The Dalai Lama, the revered leader of Tibetan Buddhists who fled to exile as the 1959 uprising collapsed, said the current crackdown added to decades of repression and misery for Tibetans, turning their homeland into "hell on earth."

"Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear, and the Chinese authorities remain constantly suspicious of them," the Dalai Lama said in an anniversary speech from the headquarters of his government-in-exile across the Himalayas in Dharmsala, India.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Buddhism and Evolution

Further to our previous post about Darwin I recently came across these graphs showing the percentage of people who agree that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on Earth. The first is by "belief" system.....Some people appear not to be following the party line!

and the second is by nationality...........Say no more.

For a good read on how modern science agrees with the Buddha's teachings have a look at "Buddha's Nature: Evolution As a Practical Guide to Enlightenment" by Wes Nisker.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Tibetan monk Sets Fire to Himself in Protest Against Chinese Suppression

In a protest emulating that of Thích Quảng Ðức, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, who in 1963 burned himself to death in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Ngô Đình Diệm's Catholic administration, a Tibetan monk set fire to himself in the Tibetan-populated town of Aba in southwest China's Sichuan province. The monk, named Tapey, is said to have shouted slogans and waved a Tibetan flag, then doused himself in petrol and ignited it. Campaign groups said witnesses then saw Chinese police shoot the man. Read more HERE.

Over 300 Buddhist monks are praying for world peace over the next four days in India, Nepal, and Tibet. This prayer event follows recent protests in Tibet and a vigil held for the anniversary of a Chinese military crackdown in Tibet in March last year.

The prayer event coincides with the traditional Monlam or "Great Prayer" Festival, currently banned by the Chinese government in Tibet. Travel to Tibet has been limited since March of last year and was recently sealed off completely due to the upcoming 50th anniversary of China's occupation of Tibet. Read more HERE.