Sunday, 31 January 2010

Free iPod Meditation Timers

When I'm meditating on my own, away from our shrine room, I use a meditation timer playing on my iPod. We have a selection of our own FREE meditation timers available in MP3 format to download.

just follow this link "Downloadable Meditation Timers"

Our timers are free, aren't tinny sounding, are simple MP3 files and come in multi-section versions for more sophisticated meditation sessions. Turn the volume down to gentle and enjoy!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Perth, Again

Another Buddhist connection to Perth, this time the Australian one and this time a tragic one rather than a controversial one. Buu Lieu, a 48 year old Vietnamese Buddhist monk was battered to death in Bibra Lake Regional Park on Sunday January the 10th. Bibra Lake is a suburb of Perth, Western Australia.

Buu Lieu, also known as Paul, was found with serious injuries, lying near his blue Kia station wagon, he died in Charles Gardiner Hospital on the 25th.

Mr Lieu was living with his mother and sister after moving to Perth from Vietnam as a child.  He was last seen by his family at midnight on Saturday, January 9 and was found critically injured at 5am beside his vehicle.

Monday, 25 January 2010

A New Look

Having analysed the characteristics of our visitors and seen that most people are viewing in wide screen resolution I've taken the opportunity to upgrade this site to a three column version. The thinking is that some of our "interesting" features won't "disappear" in the depths of the page, so have a scroll down and check out features such as our "Study Pages", "Label Cloud", "Video Bar" and "Buddhist Channel" feed.

It will remain a work in progress as I work on the look, any feedback would be really useful.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Haiti and Dana

I came across this interesting article by Linda Horton who is pastor for the Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, who has been focusing on Buddhist loving kindness meditation recently as the grim news arrived from Haiti.

She reflects upon the less obvious meanings of the second Buddhist precept “not to take what is not freely given” which pairs this teaching with a positive—calling us to the practice of Dana, or generosity.

“The violence in our world and degradation of our environment is likely to continue until something shifts, and wealth is seen more as a source of responsibility than entitlement.

When we use more than our fair share of the world’s resources, are we not, in a sense, stealing? And not only food from hungry children, but our also our grand-children’s future?

When we take from the earth more than it can replenish, are we not stealing from the earth? When we destroy the habitats of whole species, are we not stealing their very existence?

What gives us that right? Is it simply that we can? Does might make right?

To turn the lens of that teaching in another direction, what about how we treat our own bodies? How many of us steal health and well-being from our bodies by destructive habits—eating poorly, not exercising, not taking sufficient time for sleep and relaxation, meditation, reconnecting with nature?

Then there is stealing peace of mind and serenity from ourselves by not taking time for spiritual practices. There are laws about not taking physical possessions belonging to others. But how about self-respect? Hope and trust? Sense of safety and peace of mind?

We are not born with moral discernment, although I do believe that there is an impulse to compassion that can be nurtured in even small children. We have to be taught to be “human”—not to simply let the most primitive part of our brain determine our actions. There is always room for reflection and improvement.

Religious traditions help us to do this, and to find the courage to protest actions that are life-stealing rather than life enhancing.”

Friday, 22 January 2010

Darwin & The Buddhist Gazette

I’ve just noticed that we had a “StumbleUpon” review by Bjorn Antonio for our post “Darwin, the Isle of Wight, Evolution and Buddhism”. Bjorn is the editor of The Buddhist Gazette which is a really good portal site for Buddhist news, Buddhist Bloggers, Monasteries and Temples (North America) and useful Buddhist Links. So good in fact that I’ve included it under our Favourite Sites (right-hand, slate blue column under “Babel Fish”).

Thursday, 21 January 2010

On Gratitude - On Message

In an interview with the Buddhist Channel Ajahn Sumedho reflects upon the Vinaya and Bhikkhuni ordination. While it's impossible to argue with his warnings against "selfing", taking sides and dualism; his surrender of Western liberal, egalitarian ethics on the "altar" of Thai parochial cultural prejudice is saddening. As to not taking sides, this is so "on message" that it is nothing more than drawing that line in the sand again.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Haiti & Tzu Chi

I'm sure that many of you have, or are intending to, donate aid for the victims of the Haitian earthquake. Here in the U.K. our first port of call for donations is to the DEC, (Disasters Emergency Committee) which is made up of 13 member agencies who provide humanitarian aid in times of disaster.

The 13 member agencies are:

* ActionAid
* British Red Cross
* Care International UK
* Christian Aid
* Concern Worldwide
* Help the Aged
* Islamic Relief
* Merlin
* Oxfam
* Save the Children
* Tearfund
* World Vision

You might also consider donating to Tzu Chi, the Taiwan based Buddhist relief organisation founded by Master Cheng Yen.

Tzu Chi Foundation was established in 1966 by Venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen on the poor east coast of Taiwan. For over 43 years, the foundation has been contributing to better social and community services, medical care, education and humanism in Taiwan and around the world. From the first 30 members, housewives who saved two cents from their grocery money each day to help the poor, the foundation has volunteers in 47 countries , with 345 offices worldwide.

Master Cheng Yen firmly believes that suffering in this world is caused not only by material deprivation but, more importantly, also by spiritual poverty. She feels that the lack of altruistic love for others has been the root of many problems in this world. Thus, the foundation’s guiding principle on charity is to “help the poor and educate the rich.”

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Shrine Room in the Snow

This Tuesday, the 12th, has been the first time this year that the West Wight Sangha has been able to meet due to the dire winter weather that the whole of the U.K. has been experiencing.... even here on the Island!

Even so, our numbers were reduced with many not being able to negotiate un-gritted roads and pavements.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Wat Pah Pong Attack on Ajahn Brahm & Bodhinyana Monastery

The latest post on Ajahn Sujato's blog describes the latest move by Wat Pah Pong to undermine Ajahn Brahm. It makes for sad reading but does put the record straight on many of the side issues of, for example, the "ownership" of Bodhinyana monastery.

The post is "Letter to Perth Thai Community from the BSWA".

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Food, Glorious Food...... there's nothing quite like it

Some of you may have noticed an interesting "crop" of stories recently.

Britain must grow more food, while using less water and reducing emission of greenhouse gases, to respond to the challenge of climate change and a global population that will grow to nine billion in the next 40 years, the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, said yesterday.

According to DEFRA, at present the U.K. can only feed 60% of it's current population from indigenous resources.

The Balanced Migration group said limiting numbers was the only way to stop Britain's population hitting 70 million (at present it's 61 million). Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and ex-Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd are among 20 parliamentarians who have signed the Declaration on Population.

They accused the main parties of boosting the far right BNP. They said: "For too long the major political parties have failed to address these issues."

As a Buddhist I'm concerned with the alleviation of the suffering of all beings. Our growing numbers as a species will inevitably lead to ever increasing  shortages of food, water and space, for ourselves and the other beings who share this world with us.

Talking about relevant, recent stories, this appeared yesterday on Sujato's blog.. Buddhism and climate change

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Wat Pah Pong's response to article on “Monks Target Western Clergy”

Wat Nong Pah Pong has issued a press statement, to the Thai media, to "clear-up any mis-understandings" of it's position on "disobedient Western monks."

Although this matter has been cleared up within the Thai press, it seems that the article in English has stirred up and agitated Western readers. This has been caused by some misrepresentations of the events of the press conference and the editorial language used in the article. Wat Nong Pah Pong feels that it is best to clear up these misunderstandings.

The article says that the Thai Sangha “want the properties of Thai temples in the West to come under the ownership of the Thai Sangha to ensure complete control.” In reality, Wat Nong Pah Pong stated in the press conference that it had no power in which to retake ownership of Bodhinyana Monastery, even if the land on which it was built on was initially offered to Ajahn Chah (Bodhinyana Thera) and Wat Nong Pah Pong. Wat Nong Pah Pong requested the Office of National Buddhism to reevaluate the way that monasteries in the West are governed so that confusion and division such as with the present situation would be avoided in the future.

The most misleading section is where it is written that “If action is not taken, the council fears that more women could be ordained in the West,” and quotes Phra Kru Opaswuthikorn saying that "Sooner or later, we'll see female monks everywhere."

Although this is a sensational statement in the eyes of a Western reader, a more accurate translation would be, “If we (Wat Nong Pah Pong) had not taken any action, it would open the doors in the future for women to ordain as bhikkhunis within the Wat Nong Pah Pong western sangha, running into the same problem we have at the moment (breaking Thai law)”. The issue is not that Wat Nong Pah Pong is against women ordaining, but rather due to Wat Nong Pah Pong’s status as a member of the Thai Sangha and its obligation to follow Thai Sangha Laws.

Further, this article’s portrayal of facts is to be questioned. It cites that “two women” were ordained, instead of the four women which were actually ordained.

In conclusion, we would like readers of this article to be wary of the editorial sensationalism and misrepresentations that have been given to this press release. It was originally intended to reply to the questions the Thai media had on Wat Nong Pah Pong’s stance in relation to the present situation with Ajahn Brahmavamso and Bodhinyana Monastery’s status, not a gender equality and power-seizing issue that it has been made into.

But while we're at it, lets have a look at some of the statements made during the meeting to expel Ajahn Brahm, one Thera stated, "If I go and do this, and you go and do that, and everybody does what they want, then what will happen? This plot [of yours] was a ten year plan; a plan to destroy the Buddhist religion. I have been to many spots (plots?) and I can tell one from another. And I can tell what you are doing fits right into the plot. You have been roused through many different methods to destroy Buddhism."

Read More..............

Friday, 1 January 2010

Daughters of the Buddha meet in Vietnam

Right now, the 11th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women is taking place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from December 28th, 2009, to January 3rd, 2010.

"Sakyadhita, meaning "Daughters of the Buddha" is now in it's 21st year, and has done so much to advance the dialogue, education and opportunity of Buddhist women of all traditions. I was particularly inspired tonight to hear that there are now 800 Bikshuni in Sri Lanka. At the time of the inception of Sakyadhita, 20 years ago, there were none, and the government forbade any mention of the word "Bikshuni" at a conference for nuns in Sri Lanka!

Also, in Thailand, the Bikshuni sangha has grown in the last 9 years to eighteen, despite no support from the patriarchy of the Bhiskhu sangha."

From Ane Damcho, reporting from the conference Read More..........

(Bikshuni is the Sanskrit version of the Pali Bhikkhuni)