Friday, 31 July 2009

Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, Cittaviveka

On Sunday the West Wight Sangha teamed up with the Newport Soto Zen group to travel over to the North Island and visit the Buddhist monastery known as Cittaviveka, at Chithurst in Sussex. It is a monastery in the lineage of the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. It was established in 1979 by Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho, who was the first abbot. Ajahn Sumedho now lives at Amaravati, north of London, and the current abbot is Ajahn Sucitto who was born in London in 1949 and became a bhikkhu in 1976. The resident community comprises some 20-25 monks, nuns and novices, as well as lay guests.

We all had a great day, presenting our offerings of food, receiving blessings, sharing a communal meal, wandering the beautiful buildings & grounds and then taking part in the "lay forum" lead by Sister Thitamedha, where the discussion subject was Right Speech.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Harry Patch, the Last Tommy, Dies

Harry Patch, the last surviving British soldier to have served in the trenches of the first World War, has died at the age of 111.

Listen to him on the futility of war...........

Neither I nor anyone else can say it better..............

Friday, 24 July 2009

What You May Also Like

I'm trialing a new feature from LinkWithin which puts a row of three thumbnails at the foot of each post under the heading "You might also like: ".

These give instant links back to related posts with a picture (if available) and the title of the original post. Try them out and please let me know what you think, the relevancy seems to increase the more you "follow" the links.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Buddhism Wins Best Religion in the World Award?

The Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religion and Spirituality (ICARUS) has chosen to bestow a special award this year on the Buddhist Community.

"With organised religion increasingly used as a tool to separate and inflame rather than bring together, we felt we had to take the unusual step of creating a "Best Religion in the World" award and making a bit of a stir, to inspire other religious leaders to see what is possible when you practice compassion", said ICARUS director Hans Groehlichen.

The award was voted on by an international round-table of more than 200 religious leaders from every part of the spiritual spectrum. "It was interesting to note that once we supplied the criteria, many religious leaders voted for Buddhism rather than their own religion," said Groehlichen. "Buddhists actually make up a tiny minority of our membership, so it was fascinating but quite exciting that they won."

However, there was one snag. "Basically we can't find anyone to give it to," said Groehlichen. "All the Buddhists we call keep saying they don't want the award, basically they are all saying they are a philosophical tradition, not a religion.

Read more HERE.......

Friday, 17 July 2009

Another Buddhist "Thought for Today"

Yet another Buddhist talk on "Thought for Today" from Vishvapani! In this one he talks of the courage and human qualities of those who resist injustice, such as Palden Gyatso, pictured here.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Hsin Hsin Ming, Verses on the Faith Mind by Seng-T'san Part 1

When I go along to the Newport Soto Zen group, I usually take a MP3 Dharma talk. Recently these have been a three part series by James Baraz entitled "Verses on the Faith Mind by Seng-T'san" (he was the 3rd Zen Patriarch of China). They were very well received and so I thought that I would share them here, this is Part One with the first part of the text as covered by the talk (apologies for the slightly garbled bit towards the end of the recording) ......

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Charity Afloat & Online

On Friday the 24th of July the "Travelling Buddhists", John & Nicole, otherwise known as "Wilhelmina's Crew" will be holding an open day on their sailing barge, Wilhelmina Maria 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , to raise funds for Medical Aid in Gaza. They're moored up at Odessa Marine, Little London, Newport Harbour. There'll be clotted cream teas, home made cakes, sandwiches and a raffle.... 1st prize an excursion for two on the steam boat Monarch!

While we're talking about charities, a timely reminder that if you're shopping on Amazon The Burma Campaign UK receives a percentage of the cost if you use the link from their site .

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Dhamma Day, Asalha Puja

Asalha Puja Day also known as Dhamma Day. It is one of the most important festivals of the Theravada Buddhists.

Asalha Puja or Dhamma Day marks the beginning of the Buddha's teaching. It commemorates the Buddha's first sermon in the Deer Park in Benares and the founding of the Buddhist Sangha.

The discourse (known as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, or The First Turning of the Wheel of the Dhamma) consisted of the essence of all of the Buddha's future teachings and was delivered to his first disciples, the five aesthetics with whom he had previously practiced.

In this message the Buddha taught the Middle Way, the Noble Eight-Fold Path and the Four Noble Truths. Upon hearing this discourse, one of the monks ( Ven. Kondañña) gained his first glimpse of Nibbana, thus giving birth to the Noble Sangha and completing the Triple Gem, which consists of the Buddha, his teaching, and the monks who further propagate the Buddha’s teaching.

Asalha Puja Day is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month (July) - in 2009 it is on Tuesday, July 7th, today. The annual Rains retreat (vassa) begins the following day.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Ten Bulls, At The Source

9. Reaching the Source

Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source.
Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning!
Dwelling in one's true abode, unconcerned with that without --
The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red.

Comment: From the beginning, truth is clear. Poised in silence, I observe the forms of integration and disintegration. One who is not attached to "form" need not be "reformed." The water is emerald, the mountain is indigo, and I see that which is creating and that which is destroying.

The course of nature is the path.

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

Thursday, 2 July 2009

With Our Thoughts We Make the World

Having just stated that the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 rarely features a Buddhist on its "Thought for Today" slot, they've just done it again only a week later. Once again the talk is by Vishvapani of the Western Buddhist Order. In it he talks of how our imaginative thoughts can lead to unskillful outcomes whereas wholesome thoughts lead to beneficial ones.

hear it again here...