Saturday, 30 October 2010

Chancellor Attacks Meditation!

The following is taken from an article by Ed Halliwell in yesterday's Guardian.

In his speech to the Tory party conference earlier this month, George Osborne took a dig at a range of contemplation suites", a reference to the relaxation area that was part of a refit at the Department for Children, Schools and Families under Ed Balls.
"Labour nonsense" – examples of "waste and bureaucracy" that are to be vigorously swept away. As well as "pointless quangos, poorly negotiated PFI deals and target chasing", the chancellor had a pop at "

The contemplation suite sally was an easy one to make, and somewhat lazy given the mounting evidence that contemplation training might be one of the best ways we have of protecting our world from future reckless consumption. The World Wildlife Fund has highlighted research that suggests cultivating mindfulness – long taught as a Buddhist meditation practice – can benefit the environment. Mindfulness is associated with a reduced desire for materialistic attainments and less materialistic values, while more mindful people engage in more positive environmental behaviours and have lower ecological prints. If we want to nurture behaviour that could prevent further financial crises and even save the planet,

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Britain's Largest Wild Animal Slaughtered for "Sport"

The Exmoor Emperor, a giant red stag which is thought to have been the biggest animal in Britain, has been found shot dead, with its antlers severed, in the West Country.

It is believed that a licensed hunter is responsible for killing the stag, which stood nine feet (2.75 metres) to the tips of its antlers.

The Emperor was shot on Little Rackenford farm owned by Norma and Richard Frankpitt, but the two farmers have insisted that it was not killed by any of the people who have permission to shoot there.

Mrs Frankpitt said: “We have a number of people who shoot on our land and we’ve spoken to all of them and they have nothing to do with it."

An industry source claimed hunters would have paid up to £10,000 to the landowner for the opportunity to shoot the creature. The identity of the marksman remains a mystery, but it is believed to be one of the increasing number of wealthy sportsmen who are flooding to the area in search of a trophy.

"There are people who are prepared to spend quite ridiculous sums of money to have a trophy on their wall," Peter Donnelly, an Exmoor-based deer management expert, said.

The creature, which weighed more than 135kg (300lb) , was killed close to the busy Tiverton to Barnstaple road in the middle of the annual rut.

Red deer stags are the biggest indigenous land animal left in Britain and Emperor was the largest living example.

The Buddhist perspective on animals is very simple. The Buddhist position is that animals are sentient beings and should be treated with care and respect. This means that they should not be killed. They should not be eaten, experimented on, hunted, used to make fur coats or leather goods, or tortured for sport or any other reason.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Nobel Laureate's Wife Imprisoned

Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobo, this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been placed under house arrest in her Beijing apartment. She's been there ever since she visited her husband in prison to inform him about the award.

Liu Xia was permitted to meet her husband after the announcement of this prestigious award, reported here two weeks ago, and she told followers that her husband was dedicating the prize to the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

But since returning from that visit, she has not been allowed to leave her apartment and her phone has been cut off. She joins more than 30 Chinese intellectuals who have been detained, warned or placed under surveillance since the Nobel committee announced that it was giving the award to Liu.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Protests at Chinese Attempts to "Wipe out" Tibetan Language

Chinese officials have tried to defuse discontent following days of student protests in ethnically Tibetan areas, saying a plan to teach classes only in Mandarin Chinese was not aimed at wiping out Tibet's native tongue.

Changes won't be forced in areas where "conditions are not ripe," the official Xinhua News Agency cited Wang Yubo, the Qinghai province education department director, as saying. The report did not elaborate on how officials would make that determination.

Thousands of middle school students had protested Tuesday in Qinghai province's Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in anger at being forced to study in the Chinese language, Free Tibet said.

But the protests have since spread to two adjacent Tibetan prefectures in the remote region, it said in a statement Thursday.

About 2,000 students from four schools in the town of Chabcha in Tsolho prefecture marched on Wednesday to the local government building, chanting "We want freedom for the Tibetan language," the group said.

They were later turned back by police and teachers, it said.

Students also protested on Thursday in the town of Dawu in the Golog Tibetan prefecture. Police responded by preventing local residents from going out into the streets, it said.

For the Chinese authorities, any sign of unrest among Tibetans is seen as a threat to national sovereignty and a reminder of past uprisings against China's often heavy-handed rule over the Himalayan region.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Buddhist Exhibition at the British Museum

Starting last Thursday and running on until the 3rd of April 2011 the British Museum is staging an exhibit entitled "Images and sacred texts: Buddhism across Asia". It is in Room 91 and, for the time being at least, Admission is still free.

The exhibition features depictions of the ‘three gems’ from across Asia. The ‘three gems’ consist of the Buddha himself, his teachings (dharma), and the Buddhist community (sangha). Despite regional variations, the ‘three gems’ show remarkable similarities, sometimes across hundreds of years.

Objects featured in the exhibition include exquisite gold sculptures and paintings of the Buddha, beautiful Buddhist texts on palm leaf and paper, and a selection of images of Buddhist monks.

The objects come from across the whole of Asia, including India, China, Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea and Japan. The earliest objects are from the 1st–2nd century AD, and the latest date to the 20th century.

Many of these objects have never been on display before, making this is a unique opportunity to view rarely-seen items from the British Museum’s collection. Due to the fragility of the paintings and texts, some items in the display will be changed after three months, halfway through the exhibition run.

This exhibition provides an insight into the key elements which hold the Buddhist world together in Asia and, now that Buddhism is a worldwide faith, across the world as a whole.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Our First Retreat Day

Yesterday (Sunday) we held our first ever retreat day here at the West Wight Sangha! It was something that I had planed to do for some time but the restraining factor has always been getting enough people together from our small group to make it worthwhile.

My thinking was that a retreat day held on a Sunday would attract those who couldn't make it on a week day due to work commitments and the problem of numbers was solved following a chat with Mark and Matt from the Lake and Ryde groups at the Island Buddhist picnic. With their contacts bringing in extra people we actually reached the point where we were having to turn wannabe participants away!

A big thank-you to everyone who came along, it was your engagement and enthusiasm that made it the fun and rewarding day that it was, Namaste.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

"Two" Quotes that I Like

While in the midst
of those who are greedy,
to dwell free from greed
is happiness indeed.

Dhammapada verse 199

We all have values which we hold to be honourable: honesty, selflessness, generosity, for example. However, when those around us are travelling in a different direction, it can be hard to live our lives aligned with these values. The Buddha knew it could be hard, but he says to dwell thus is the source of happiness. If we recall how it feels when we betray ourselves, we can consider how the opposite is the case when we make the effort to hold to integrity. Or consider how it feels to focus on gratitude, instead of indulging in the sense that we are lacking. Letting go of thoughts, not adding anything to this moment or taking anything from it, we incline towards an inner peace and contentment that is the ever-present nature of our true hearts.
Establish ourselves in this awareness and we are disinclined to be intimidated by others.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Monday, 11 October 2010

Photos of Chithurst Monastery

Yesterday, Sunday, we were going to visit Cittaviveka, the Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst. Unfortunately we had to cancel as Wightlink could only get us on the 8:00 a.m. ferry and the numbers able to make that time were too few to justify the cost.

However, while Googling alternative dates I came across some excellent photos of the monastery by Simon Tupper, they can be seen at!doc/vstc6=monks pictures 13 to 20). Switch to full screen mode (F11) to really enjoy them.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Dalai Lama asks China to free Nobel Peace laureate

The Dalai Lama has asked China to release imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo who has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Tibetan spiritual leader says the peace prize is the international community's recognition of increasing voices within China for reform.

The exiled Dalai Lama also urged China's government in a statement Friday to free others "imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression."

Liu was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison on subversion charges after he co-authored a document calling for greater freedom, among other activism. He is the first mainland Chinese ever to win a Noble prize.

The Dalai Lama was awarded the 1989 peace prize.

Campaigns Officer, Wai Hnin from Burma Campaign UK speaks to Labour Party Conference

This is one I missed initially, party conferences are not top of my viewing favourites. This is a video of Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK, giving a speech to the Labour Party conference on Monday 27th of September.

Jump for freedom
On Saturday 16th October 2010 at the O2 Arena in London Wai Hnin is doing a 160 feet bungee jump to raise money for the Burma Campaign UK to support their campaign to free all political prisoners in Burma.

Please support her jump and make a donation at:

Friday, 8 October 2010

Don't Have Children You Can't Afford

The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggested this week that the state should not offer unlimited support to large, workless families.

He went on to say that The number of children that you have is a choice and that long-term claimants needed to "take responsibility" for the number of children they had, adding that the "state shouldn't support" large families who receive more in benefits than the average family earns.

This raises the wider, far more important question of how many children can the planet support? Looked at this way the argument moves away from redistributing the nations wealth to support the needs of citizens and their individual responsibilities in relation to those needs and onto the "natural wealth" of the planet and how that can fairly meet all of our "needs".

Surely the same argument applies, if the state cannot afford to finance individual "irresponsibility" then the environment of our planet cannot "afford" to support the irresponsibility of us as a species given our numbers.

If it's right for an individual family to only have as many children as it can afford then the same applies to the whole Human family. As of June 2010 the world population was 6,790,062,216, predicted to rise to 9,400,000,000 by 2050 i.e. an extra 2.6 billion people in the space of only 40 years, half a lifetime.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Chinese Cyber Attacks on Saffron Revolution Commemoration

Further to our previous post "Massacred Buddhist Monks Commemorated" about the third anniversary of the "Saffron Revolution", it is reported that the Irrawaddy (a newsmagazine published by the Irrawaddy Publishing Group (IPG), founded in 1992 by Burmese exiles living in Thailand) suffered a cyber attack on Monday. (At the time of writing I still could not access the Irrawaddy site!)

The well-organized, massive cyber attacks that shut down The Irrawaddy came largely from Chinese internet provider addresses.

Three websites operated by The Irrawaddy along with websites operated by Mizzima and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) were also shut down. The ongoing attacks—called a Distributed Denial of Service (DdoS) attack—were more powerful than when The Irrawaddy was attacked in 2008. The attacks coincided with the anniversary of the Saffron Revolution in 2007.

Two weeks ago, unknown hackers who called themselves “Burmese hackers,” visited The Irrawaddy on-line store and left crude messages directed at The Irrawaddy.

One message said: “Due to the unstable political situation and for the good of national reconciliation, we declare cyber war on all government and opposition groups.”

A DDoS attack is defined as an attack in which a multitude of compromised systems attack a single target, thereby causing denial of service for users of the targeted system. A flood of incoming messages to the target system essentially forces it to shut down, thereby denying service to the system by legitimate users.

Toe Zaw Latt, the DVB bureau chief, said, “I think they [attackers] are preparing for the general election. They are now testing it. They may systemically operate the cyber attacks during the elections.”

Burmese journalists in exile have raised concerns about Internet restrictions in Burma as the Nov. 7 general election nears. The government has banned foreign election observers, and it has restricted visas to Westerners who try to enter the country.