Monday, 31 May 2010

Wesak in the West Wight

Thanks to everyone who turned up for our Wesak celebrations here in the West Wight!

We were up against it being a Bank Holiday and didn't have as many people as for last year's bash but, then again, it's only the second time that we've held it.

Next year Wesak falls on the 17th of May so we won't clash with any public holidays.

Friday, 28 May 2010

New Section to Site

We have just launched our new Audio section! If you look to the top of this page you will see it listed along with the "Island Buddhist Calendar", our "Dharma Studies", "Video" and "News" sections. As with the video, the audio section is a work in progress.

It is divided into pages; currently with a "Home" page, a "Thought for the Day" page featuring talks by Vishvapani and a "Thursday Talks" section with a selection of popular talks that I have taken along to the Soto Zen group in Newport.

Wesak seems an auspicious occasion to start this off and to make the point it was actually Vishvapani who gave the "Thought for the Day" on Radio 4's Today program this morning. The talk is already on the site, just go to the Audio Section - Thought for the Day and it's listed in chronological order at the bottom of the page - "Images of the Buddha......." enjoy.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

A Happy and Peaceful Wesak to Everyone

Today is the first full moon of May, the United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration.

There has been a conference, co-hosted by Thailand and Japan to commemorate Vesak and to discuss "Global recovery through engaged Buddhism" running from the 23rd to the 25th.

In Glasgow several Buddhist groups have got together for a major event in the "Hidden Gardens" with this year's theme being; "Bodhi, a Celebration of Enlightenment".

And talking of Scots celebrating Vesak, Gordon Ramsay will be in Kuala Lumpur on Friday to cook up a special vegetarian dish for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and thousands of people visiting the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Kuala Lumpur for the Wesak Day celebration.

You can join the West Wight Sangha for our celebrations here in Totland on Sunday the 30th from mid-day to five p.m.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Sangha Sisters Walk the Wight - Twice!

I've just heard from Sian re: the Buddhist "Walk the Wight" in aid of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

"Just a brief note to thank you all for your generosity in supporting our walk, which we insanely did both ways on the day making it 16 miles!"

 They have raised over £300 pounds so far and you can still donate on-line at ""

Buddhist Film wins Palme d'Or

This year's Palme d'Or was won by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul with his film "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives."

"Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave -- the birthplace of his first life... "

Apichatpong Weerasethakul says that a man named Boonmee approached Phra Sripariyattiweti, the abbot of a Buddhist temple in his home town, claiming he could clearly remember his own previous lives while meditating. The abbot was so impressed with Boonmee's ability that he published a book called "A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives" (1983). By the time Apichatpong read the book, Boonmee had died. Nevertheless, it inspired him to write a screenplay using a similar content and structure

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Karmapa & Dalai Lama's Travel Restricted

I've just been sent this link from Jenny in Cowes; "His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa will address a teaching to the Kagyu sanghas and his students in Europe on Thursday, May 27th 2010 via a Live Webcast.

The teaching will take place starting from 7:00 PM BST. His Holiness will be teaching in Tibetan and live English translation will be provided by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche. The site is, apparently the talk will be available for download afterwards.

I'm somewhat bemused by this as the Indian government recently banned the Karmapa from touring nine European countries from May to July for a series of teachings, lectures and initiations. It would seem that the Indian government can only be bowing to pressure from their powerful Chinese neighbour.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who was named the Karmapa Lama at the age of 7, is a particular bête noir to the Chinese, who gave him recognition as Tibet's first living Buddha and had hoped to groom him as an influential and patriotic Tibetan leader, giving him gifts including a color television and a car. He ranks as the spiritual leader of the Black Hat sect, one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, behind only the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama in the Tibetan spiritual hierarchy.

However, to Chinese fury, in December 1999 the Karmapa, then 14, pretended to go into seclusion but instead slipped out a window of the Tsurpu Monastery with a handful of attendants. He began a daring 1,450-kilometer winter trip across some of the most forbidding terrain on the planet by foot, horseback, train and helicopter to Dharamsala, making world headlines and embarrassing Beijing. He was given refugee status by India in 2001.

I can only assume that the power of the web has thwarted yet another authoritarian, anti-democratic move by the Chinese to suppress free Tibetan views.

Unfortunately Chinese pressure and intimidation has successfully forced the Thai government to refuse an entry visa for the Dalai Lama. “His Holiness the Dalai Lama last visited Thailand in 1993 when a group of Nobel Peace laureates held a solidarity meeting for fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi,” Tenzin Taklha said. “Since then, His Holiness has not been able to visit Thailand because of the refusal of the necessary visa from the Thai government, for reasons known to them.” China is one of Thailand's largest trading partners.
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Friday, 21 May 2010

Lotus Lantern Festival (and Wesak in the West Wight)

As we have pointed out in previous posts, differing Buddhist cultures celebrate differing things at Wesak..... the Buddha's birth, his enlightenment, his death or passing into Paranibbana. Sometimes it is all three, sometimes there are separate festivals for just one aspect. Today the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism is celebrating the Buddha's Birthday on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month (May 21 this year) with its annual Lotus Lantern Festival, or the "Yeondeunghoe."

On a similar note, the West Wight Sangha will, for the second year running, be hosting our own Wesak celebrations later this month on Sunday the 30th. All are welcome, please feel free to bring along family and friends to Yew Tree Cottage, Weston Road, Totland Bay PO39 0EY. Please bring vegetarian food to share; we kick off at 12:00 and aim to carry on till about 17:00 (or until you've had enough).

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Foxes Safe,(for now?)

Further to our recent post about the general election campaign, it's good to see that one of the positive results of having a coalition is that the Conservatives have had to drop their intention of reintroducing the torturing of foxes for fun.

The two party leaders, Cameron and Clegg, have agreed a compromise on hunting, by allowing the issue to go to a free vote of the Commons. If MPs support a motion to repeal the ban, the government will introduce legislation to effect this. But if, as seems likely based on party loyalties, MPs vote to retain the status quo, the government will not take any further action.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Something to Look Out For

Something to keep an eye open for; apparently Bollywood is in the process of of making not just one film of the life of the Buddha, but three!

Siddhartha is mentioned in Hindu texts as an avatar of Lord Vishnu and so Hindi movie directors are trying to make movies on his life.

There are three projects under development on the Buddha. One is made by Shyam Benegal , another by Ashutosh Gowarikar and the third is by Pan Nalin. Producer Yash Patnaik who has contacted Shyam Benegal to direct one of the films for him said he believed the three movies will be on different aspects of Buddha’s life.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Awakening Joy & a Quote from the Buddha

One of our Sangha members is doing James Baraz's "Awakening Joy" internet course. He sent me this quote, James had his meditation class focus on one sentence a week on a rolling basis for a year, throughout their course.

"I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand."


Monday, 10 May 2010

The Election, Interesting?

Just a quick observation regarding the election result of a hung Parliament, "May you live in interesting times" is an allegedly ancient Chinese curse!

(It is reputed to be the English translation of an ancient Chinese proverb and curse. Although it may be that it is related to the Chinese proverb, "pinyin: níng wéi tàipíng quǎn, bù zuò luànshì rén", "It's better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.")

Saturday, 8 May 2010

BuddhaDharma & Women's Ordination

A sneak preview of a forth coming set of articles on Women's ordination in the Summer 2010 edition of BuddhaDharma by Thanissara (Mary Weinberg), Cintamani (Elizabeth Day), Jitindriya (Loraine Keats), Janet Gyatso and Llundup Damcho ................

The first full bhikkhuni ordination of women in the Forest sangha of Thailand’s most famous meditation master, Ajahn Chah, had taken place on October 22, 2009, in Perth in Western Australia................. Like a cork popped from a tight bottle, this initiative has added momentum to the painstaking work toward gender equality in this Buddhist community. However, in the process it has inadvertently challenged the core of Thai monastic authority, which refuses to accept the validity of Theravada bhikkhuni ordination............

"An explicit position on the status of these eight provisions today needs to be articulated publicly. Leaders of the Buddhist sangha—male and female alike—need to address and acknowledge them clearly, and specify how they are to be handled in the twenty-first century.".........

The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa stunned an international audience in Bodhgaya last winter by making an unprecedented declaration of commitment to ordaining women as bhikshunis in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Asked when there would be bhikshuni ordination in the Tibetan tradition,he leaned forward and said, in English, “I will do it.”...........

Bringing back full ordination is a crucial step for women’s full participation within Buddhism as it is practiced today. However, it is only one step toward achieving gender equality within Buddhism. With due inquiry, there can remain no doubt that the impulse to resist women’s full participation in the Buddhist tradition comes not from the teachings of the Buddha, but from ignorance.........

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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Buddhist "Walk the Wight"

Just a reminder, as there’s less than a fortnight to go, that a group of Island Buddhists are “mindfully” Walking the Wight on Sunday the 16th.

They will be making an eight mile mindful walk in aid of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, 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. They leave from Sandown high School at 9:30 and walk to Thompson's Trees at Shide - look out for their "Buddhist" Walk the Wight tee shirts! You can contribute at