Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Thây & Walk the Wight

I was contacted by Angie of the Lake Buddhist group the other day with some information on upcoming events. Angie’s group is part of the “Community of Interbeing UK” which is the network of people in the United Kingdom who practise Buddhism according to the teachings of the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thây, as Thich Nhat Hanh is affectionately known, is making a rare visit to the UK in August. He will be offering two public events; an Evening talk in London on the 11th of August: “Global Ethics for our Future” and a Family retreat in Nottingham from the 13th - 18th of August: “Living Mindfully, Living Peacefully”.

These events are likely to be very popular so early booking is advisable, there is also an “early bird” reduction for the retreat if you book it before March 15th.

Angie also gave a heads up on Buddhist involvement in the forthcoming “Walk the Wight” on Sunday the 16th of May! A group of local Buddhists will be making an eight mile walking meditation as part of the Walk. You can sponsor them at the "Sangha Sisters (& Buddha Brother)" page on JustGiving.

The event is in aid of the Isle of Wight's one and only Hospice which is very much loved and respected for the wonderful service it provides to the community.

(I will keep you all posted as to news and developments about the walk.)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ani Choying Drolma

I came across this video by the Nepalese nun Ani Choying Drolma on the Women and the Forest Sangha Facebook group. I have been a great fan of her's ever since hearing her magical singing on the soundtrack to the film Milarepa (now at last available in Region 2 format from Wisdom Books).

I also like this shorter piece by her......

Friday, 19 February 2010

Tiger Woods to Rededicate Himself to Buddhism

During Tiger Woods delivery of his prepared apology in relation to his extra-marital affairs he stated that he "wants to get back to his Buddhist roots." He blamed a drift from Buddhism for losing touch with his morals and priorities.

He went on to say that he plans to rededicate himself to Buddhism, the religion in which he was raised by his Thai mother, but had strayed away from in recent years.

In Buddhist terms Tiger had failed to undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct, the third of the Five Precepts which lay Buddhists are expected to follow, they are not "Thou Shalt Nots" but rather guides to living a non-harming, ethical life. The full list is:-

I undertake to observe the precept to abstain from ...

1 ...harming living beings.
2 ...taking things not freely given.
3 ...sexual misconduct.
4 ...false speech.
5 ...intoxicating drinks and drugs causing heedlessness.

"Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct." Thich Nath Hanh

Barak Meets the Dalai Lama, But Still Manages to do a "Gordon"

BARACK Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House yesterday - but kept the talks low-key in a bid to avoid angering China. The closed talks were held at the White House's Map Room instead of the more official Oval Office, in an attempt to signal to China that it was a private, not a political meeting.

This follows Obama's refusal to meet with his Holiness during the exiled Tibetan leader's visit to Washington in October last year. It also copies the precedent set by Gordon Brown in holding the meeting in a less than official location.

Still, it's a move in the right direction even though the probable motive is to stand up to Chinese bullying of the U.S. rather than pushing for Tibetan freedom.

SEE MORE...........

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Suicide & Assisted Suicide, a Buddhist Perspective

Recently, here in the U.K. we have had a whole crop of stories relating to suicide and assisted suicide. As a result we took this as a subject for Dharma study and discussion at our meeting on Tuesday night. From a Buddhist perspective the subject is a whole lot more involved than one might immediately think and throws up many varied and challenging takes on the issue.

Here is a link to the discussion notes that we used, "Modern Buddhist Views of Suicide"

and these are the news items which engendered the topic;

"Is Frances Inglis a cold-blooded killer or a loving mum?"

"Trial of assisted suicide mother right, says DPP"

"Terry Pratchett criticises assisted suicide guidelines"

"Broadcaster Ray Gosling admits mercy killing"

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Losar, Tibetan New Year

Today is both the Tibetan and Chinese new year. Both cultures use very similar lunar calendars and the Tibetan new year, known as Losar, often falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year (sometimes with one day or occasionally with one lunar month difference), however it is generally not thought to be culturally directly connected to the Chinese holiday, being more related to Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia than to the Chinese New Year festivity.

For both Tibet and China this is the year of the Iron Tiger (lcags-pho stag-lo).

Astrologically the Year of the Tiger supposedly comes with intensity, change, drama, travel, new inventions, opportunities and also a possibility of disasters. People born on this year are difficult to resist, their natural air of authority confers a certain prestige on them and they are tempestuous yet calm, courageous in the face of danger yet yielding and soft in mysterious, unexpected places, warm-hearted yet fearsome. Also, they enjoy life full of challenges and unexpected events, like visiting unusual places and meet interesting outstanding people. They are sensitive, emotional and capable of great love.

Friday, 12 February 2010

All Change at Amaravati, I Wonder Why?

Thanissara Mary Weinberg recently reported on the Facebook group "Women and the Forest Sangha" that....

"Ajahn Amaro is to take over as preceptor for the EU monastic sangha and is to be abbot of Amaravati from July this year. Ajahn Sumedho is to retire and is to leave Amaravati (for the time being to move to Portugal where a new vihara - monastery is being founded). My recent visit to Rocana Vihara (nun's accommodation and shrine room at Chithurst Buddhist monastery) in the UK highlighted the debilitating and under mining impact of the 5 points on the UK Siladhara, also the extreme difficulty of an open culture of dialogue within the larger community. In the light of this and of recent events, there is much hope that Ajahn Amaro will be able to restore some health and sanity within the community dynamic - Clearly he has his work cut out - let's hope that Ajahn Amaro can receive all the positive and nourishing support he can get!"

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Fundamentalist Christian Sacked for Teaching "Intelligent Design"

I've just come across this story of a teacher from Ohio who was sacked for teaching so called "Intelligent Design". He'd previously been ordered by the school to stop "branding" his pupils with a cross using a Tesla coil, which gives off an electric spark, as part of a science experiment. Read More.......

The other reason's this story caught my eye are that the teacher's name is Freshwater, and Freshwater is the principle village here in the West Wight, and I have family in Ohio!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

It's not just Wat Pah Pong that doesn't like Women

Conservative clergy have warned of a mass exodus from the Church of England and a sharp drop in its income unless divisive plans for the introduction of women bishops are changed. Yesterday, on the first day of the gathering of the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, Anglo-Catholics claimed that “large numbers” would leave for Rome if their demands for concessions are not met. This all follows the decision in 1987, after ten whole years of debate, to have female priests ; the first female Vicar wasn't appointed until 1994!  Read More.......

This follows the Scottish Episcopal Church voting against electing Britain’s first female Bishop.

Revd Canon Dr Alison Peden had been shortlisted along with two male candidates for the position of Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway.

But on Saturday an electoral synod of 115 clergy and lay church members met at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow and voted in favour of one of the male candidates.

The Church of Ireland allows the ordination of female bishops but no women have been appointed. The Church in Wales voted against it in April 2008.

On a different note, within Islam there are female Imams, but they are only allowed to preach to and teach other women. That said they are pretty rare and leading Friday prayers in front of a mixed congregation is taboo for the women of the Islamic world.

In Judaism there is again a distinct difference between "reformed" groups, many of whom have female Rabbis. Codes of Jewish law are silent on the issue of women being ordained as rabbis. No prohibition exists, and women who are educated in halacha are entitled to rule on questions of law. However, women are not eligible to be judges on courts of Jewish law, and may not hold positions of authority over a community.

No Orthodox rabbinical association (e.g. Agudath Yisrael, Rabbinical Council of America) has allowed women to be ordained using the term rabbi. On the other hand, several efforts are underway within Modern Orthodox communities to include qualified women in activities traditionally limited to rabbis.

Jehovah's Witness deacons ("ministerial servants") and elders must be male, and only a baptised adult male may perform a Jehovah's Witness baptism, funeral, or wedding. Within the congregation, a female Witness minister may only lead prayer and teaching when there is a special need, and must do so wearing a head covering (that's a whole new topic)!.

Friday, 5 February 2010

China Threatens US if Obama Meets with the Dalai Lama

The White House confirmed today that Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama in Washington later this month on either on the 17th and 18th in defiance of Beijing.

Zhu Weiqun, a Chinese Communist Party offical, said that a meeting between Mr Obama and the Dalai Lama would “seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-US relations”. In what amounted to a thinly veiled threat, Mr Zhu said bad relations with Beijing could even harm America’s economic recovery.

“If the US leader chooses to meet the Dalai Lama, that would damage trust and co-operation between our two countries; how would that help the United States surmount the current economic crisis?” Mr Zhu asked.

“We will take corresponding measures to make the relevant countries realise their mistakes,” he added.

Obama's meeting with his Holiness is a welcome about-turn after his refusal to meet him last October. Gordon Brown refused to meet the Dalai Lama in May of the previous year, also to avoid "upsetting" the Chinese.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Zen Poem

I have just been sent this poem by a friend from the Newport Soto Zen group. It is by Yunng-Ming Yen-Shou

Immovable Mind

You wish to know the spirit of Yung-ming Zen?
Look at the lake in front of the gate.

When the sun shines, it radiates light and brightness,
When the wind comes, there arise ripples and waves.

What does the poem mean?

Yung-ming Yen-shou (904-975) was a Buddhist monk who lived in a period of broad changes in Chinese society and Buddhism. He played a leading role in the restoration of Buddhism in the Wu Yueh kingdom, and left a large body of writings. One of the best known works, the Wan-shan t'ung-kuei chi ("Treatise on the Common End of Myriad Good Deeds"), has long been cherished by the tradition for its advocacy of harmony between Ch'an meditation and Pure Land practice.