Saturday, 30 April 2011

Kung Fu Fighting on the Isle of Wight

Some of you may have missed this one. an Isle of Wight musician has been arrested following an allegation of ‘racially aggravated harassment’ in Sandown last weekend after a performance of the 1970s song Kung Fu Fighting.

Simon Ledger, 34, of Shanklin, said he was playing the Carl Douglas hit at the Driftwood bar, Sandown, on Sunday when a man of Chinese origin took offence at the lyrics and complained to police. You couldn't make this up; Mr Ledger was arrested later that day while dining at the Dragon Pearl Chinese restaurant in Shanklin!

Kung Fu Fighting was a one-hit wonder 37 years ago for Carl Douglas. It sold nine million copies around the world and was number one on both sides of the Atlantic. Until now, no one has accused Kung Fu Fighting of being racist. Carl Douglas is Jamaican and the record was produced by the Anglo-Indian disco arranger Biddu.

Isle of Wight police have since dropped all charges..........

Kung Fu is associated with the Shaolin Budddhist Monastery. Shaolin is a Chán Buddhist temple at Song Shan near Zhengzhou City Henan Province in Dengfeng, China. It is led by Venerable abbot Shi Yǒngxìn. Founded in the 5th century, the monastery is long famous for its association with Chinese martial arts and particularly with Shaolin Kung Fu, and it is the Mahayana Buddhist monastery perhaps best known to the Western world. According to the Jingde Chuandeng Lu or Transmission of the Lamp Shaolin is where Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from South India,famously meditated facing a wall for nine years, not speaking for the entire time in order to acheive enlightenment. He is credited as being the leading patriarch and transmitter of Zen to China. He is the patron saint of the Shaolin Monastery, and is attributed to, in Chinese legends, to have begun the physical training of the monks that later turned into Kung Fu.

The 1970s television series Kung Fu starred David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk on the run in the Wild West whose Zen (Ch'an) training is tested along his journey. Carradine's part was originally to be played by Bruce Lee. Ironically, Lee was pulled at the last minute before airing for looking "too Chinese" for an American public accustomed to white actors portraying ethnic minority characters for a mainly white audience. However, the character of Caine was supposed to be of mixed Chinese and European ancestry, a fact which may have also had an influence on this decision.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

First Official Buddhist Guest at a Royal Wedding

If you're one of the two billion people who will be watching the Royal Wedding tomorrow keep your eyes open for a Buddhist monk! The Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala, who is head priest at the London Buddhist Vihara in Chiswick, has been invited to join the 1,700-strong congregation at Westminster Abbey on April 29.

The London Buddhist Vihara was formed in 1926 by Anagarika Dharmapala and was the first Buddhist monastery to be set up outside of Asia. Prince Charles first visited the monastery in 2005 following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

Ven Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera, A Sri Lankan monk, hails from Malwatta Chapter of the Siam Nikaye. He is the first Buddhist monk to be invited for a Royal Wedding. He has advised Prince William and Kate Middleton to meditate daily for a happy marriage. He said: "Discuss your problems and meditate together each morning to empty the mind of all your problems."

Listen to some reactions to this by British Buddhists in this article by Devika Tandon - Buddhist Blessings for the Royal Couple

Monday, 25 April 2011

A Poem That I Like

Here's a great one from William Blake on hatred, one of the "Three Poisons" in Buddhism. It is symbolised by a snake, which is rather appropriate when you read the poem.

Hatred is intense dislike, hostility and aversion for others and things. You feel someone has done you wrong in some way. You can't let go of the feeling. You'd rather ruin everything in your life because this illusion has you in its grip. Hatred is a blind rage that smolders or flares up without virtue. It rears itself within your mind in a blind fashion. It causes you to speak and act in non-virtuous ways.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow. 

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Safe in the Buddha's Hand

I just had to share this photo of a tiny bird resting in the hand of a Buddha statue. It was taken by Bodhipaksa, the founder of Wildmind.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Happy Earth Day

Today is Earth Day! This year, Earth Day's theme is themed after A Billion Acts of Green: a people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20.

The largest living system on earth…is earth. That is a simplified version of the Gaia hypothesis, first posited by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. The idea is that both organic beings and inorganic matter have evolved to operate together as a single, living system that self-regulates, with the goal of allowing life to persist and thrive.

The Gaia hypothesis has gained credence with scientists in the intervening decades, and it has been "upgraded" from "hypothesis" to "theory", i.e., other scientists have conducted research and experiments to verify or extend its tenets. Whether Theory or Hypothesis, it's a beautiful idea with some hard edged consequences. Lovelock's theory challenges the world view, propagated by some faiths, that the Earth was put here for humans' use. Lovelock writes, "The concept of Gaia, a living planet, is for me the essential basis of a coherent and practical environmentalism; it counters the persistent belief that the Earth is a property, an estate, there to be exploited for the benefit of humankind. This false belief that we own the Earth, or are its stewards, allows us to pay lip service to environmental policies and programs but then continue with business as usual."

Buddhist Perspectives on Gaia; Gaian Perspectives on Buddhism

Since the early days of Gaia Theory, its connection with Buddhist thought has been widely remarked,

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Dependent Origination

Here is an excellent short video by Bhante Vimalaramsi on Dependent Origination.

Monday, 18 April 2011

FULL MOON – Monday 18th April 2011

Health is the greatest gain.
Contentment is the greatest wealth.
Trustworthiness is the best of kin.
Unconditional freedom is the highest bliss.

Dhammapada verse 204

Understandably the Buddha holds up perfect liberation as the ultimate state of ease. He also identifies other sources of well-being. Being healthy in body and mind is a blessing. So too is living with a sense of contentment, not being driven by habits of criticising and complaining. And trustworthiness: to be worthy of truth is to feel like you have the very best possible companion. Trust grows to the degree we are honest. Trust diminishes to the degree we are dishonest, with ourselves or others. And the increase or decrease can be incremental. Every small moment of willingness to be true matters. It will have a wholesome result.

With Metta,

Ajahn Munindo

Friday, 15 April 2011

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche Teaching in Southampton

I received this email from Anna from the Mahasandhi Buddhist group in Cowes about a teaching session by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche on Saturday April the 30th.

Patron: Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Rigul Dharma Network - Advanced Booking

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Letting Go Of Anxiety

Skillful Ways of Transforming Disturbing Emotions
(attachment, anger, jealousy,pride, desire)
into the Buddhist Path of Wisdom & Compassion

We have a limited number of tickets for advanced booking

TO BOOK IN ADVANCE - please send a donation, of your choosing, for Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and his enlightened projects for health, education and poverty relief through Rigul Trust.

CHEQUES - made payable to Rigul Trust.

100% OF YOUR DONATION will to go directly to Ringu Tulku in appreciation for his teaching and his health, education and poverty relief projects through Rigul Trust.
All donations are gift aidable

100% of all expenses met privately by volunteers - including the hire of the venue, helping with travel expenses, flyers etc.

Single bookings please - each person to book separately and add email address for confirmation ticket electronically.

Send to: 13,St. Francis Avenue, Southampton SO18 5QL and we will send a confirmation of a place electronically.

Looking forward to seeing you in Southampton
Be happy, be joyful, go well.

Margaret, Jude, David .
Trustees of Rigul Trust and from the all the team at Rigul Dharma Network

Rigul Trust .
13, St. Francis Avenue
SO18 5QL

Tel: 023 8046 2926
UK registered charity no:1124076

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sport, Greed and Dead Horses

I have just received this email from one of our Sangha members..........

I am feeling very un-Buddhist today for which I make no apology. I am full of rage, disgust, sorrow, pity and despair. Yesterday was one of the days in the year that I hate the most. The Grand National.

On the BBC website there is a picture of the exultant winner and much praising and one has to look in the very small print to discover that two horses were fatally injured. The third and fourth so far this year there having been two fatalities at Cheltenham already.

I imagine those poor innocent creatures greeting the early morning sun and having what will be their last munch of grass. They so willingly go to their deaths. And for what? Greed. (I of course can reason on the unskillfulness or delusion of their owners, riders, punters but that will not help the horses).

What must their last minutes be like? As they fall, uncomprehending as to what has happened to them they hear still the tumult around them and then see only the screens being put round them and finally the friendly bullet that ends them. No dignity there. No compassion.

In the last twenty years in Formula One marvellous advances have been made in safety for the drivers. Quite right too. In the same period of time, the only improvements made in steeple-chasing at Cheltenham and Aintree have been two minor adjustments to fences. I begin to suspect the unspoken reason is that now that it is such a television spectator sport in close up, it is more 'exciting' if there is a likelihood of an animal dying. Or indeed a jockey, but the odds are much more in favour of the horse being injured. Two main animal charities have worked tirelessly over the years and hold vigils at Aintree, Cheltenham and at every BBC centre which may be thought pointless as no changes are made. But maybe, just maybe, something penetrates the minds of the unskillful, the uncaring, the deluded.

I am sorry to have gone on so long but you will realise I feel deeply about this. If you share my concern in any way, perhaps you might find a little time to write a letter - to whom? A newspaper, politician, sports minister, Aintree anyone really, William Hill or even tell friends who had a flutter on the race that their money helps perpetuate this barbarity. Who was it that said "for evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing".

As John Ebdon used to say on the radio, "if you have been; thanks for listening".

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Novice Thai Nuns

I've just come across this delightful picture from Saturday's Guardian. The tag line reads "Novice Thai nuns walk at the Sathira-Dhammasathan Buddhist meditation centre in Bangkok. More than 50 girls aged between five and 12 were ordained for 10 days after undergoing three months' training."

Friday, 8 April 2011

Happy Hanamatsuri

Today is the Japanese Flower Festival or Hanamatsuri, a celebration of the Buddha's birthday. According to the Japanese, Buddha was born on the eighth day of the fourth month of the traditional Chinese calendar, and although this date will vary on the international calendar, the Japanese have translated the date to the 8th of April.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

First Christian Fundamentalists, Now Veggies!

Talking about recent stories, remember the one about the pentecostal couple who were barred from fostering children because of their homophobic attitudes. Well, before you fall into the trap of feeling smug about how much more "enlightened" your viewpoint is and how this couldn't happen to a Buddhist like you, consider this story from Greece.

A couple on the island of Crete have been denied the right to adopt a child because of their vegetarian diet. Spyros Epitropakis, head of welfare services, said that the application was denied based on information received from the University of Crete Medical School which told Epitropakis that the child's diet "must include meat and fish." “We do not discriminate but we were obliged to check this out. The issue is now in the hands of the judicial authorities,” he told AFP.

If that catches on over here that first precept's going to be problematical!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sense after the Book Burning

Following on from the Qu'ran burning story this piece from Reuters shows the intelligent alternative to the bigotry of pastor Jones' Dove World Outreach Centre church.

Islamic countries have set aside their 12-year campaign to have religions protected from “defamation”,
allowing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Genea to approve a plan to promote religious tolerance on Thursday, March the 24th. Western countries and their Latin American allies, strong opponents of the defamation concept, joined Muslim and African states in backing without vote the new approach that switches focus from protecting beliefs to protecting believers.

Since 1998, the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) had won majority approval in the council and at the United Nations General Assembly for a series of resolutions on “combating defamation of religion”. Critics said the concept ran against international law and free speech, and left the way open for tough “blasphemy” laws like those in Pakistan which have been invoked this year by the killers of two moderate politicians in Pakistan. They argued that it also allowed states where one religion predominates to keep religious minorities under tight control or even leave them open to forced conversion or oppression.

But Pakistan, which speaks for the OIC in the rights council, had argued that such protection against defamation was essential to defend Islam, and other religions, against criticism that caused offence to ordinary believers. Islamic countries pointed to the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in Denmark in 2005, which sparked anti-Western violence in the Middle East and Asia, as examples of defamatory treatment of their faith that they wanted stopped. However, support for the fiercely-contested resolutions — which the OIC had been seeking to have transformed into official U.N. human rights standards — has declined in recent years.

The new three-page resolution, which emerged after discussions between U.S. and Pakistani diplomats in recent weeks, recognises that there is “intolerance, discrimination and violence” aimed at believers in all regions of the world. Omitting any reference to “defamation”, it condemns any advocacy of religious hatred that amounts to incitement to hostility or violence against believers and calls on governments to act to prevent it.

The U.S.-based Human Rights First campaign group said the new resolution was “a huge achievement because…it focuses on the protection of individuals rather than religions” and put the divisive debates on defamation behind. However, diplomats from Islamic countries have warned the council that they could return to campaigning for an international law against religious defamation if Western countries are not seen as acting to protect believers.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

NEW MOON - Sunday 3rd April 2011

By endeavour, vigilance,
restraint and self-control,
let the wise make islands of themselves
which no flood can overwhelm.

Dhammapada verse 25

It may seem at times as if the Buddha contradicts himself. He can be teaching us to focus on developing loving-kindness towards all beings, then he appears to be saying we should isolate ourselves. All the Buddha’s teachings are ‘pointings’; they are not fixed positions. He was often asked to state where he stood in relation to a particular philosophical view. In all cases he tried to avoid giving the questioner any view to cling to. He didn’t stand on anything; he accorded with Dhamma as it manifest. The path he taught is Dhammavicaya – investigation of reality. He said that he ‘can but point the way’, it is up to us to travel the way he had shown.

With Metta,

Ajahn Munindo

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Pastor Jones' Burning Issue

Just when you'd think that in a sane world the story of Pastor Terry Jones was long dead,
buried and forgotten about he goes and does it anyway.

The Pastor supervised the burning of a copy of the Qur'an by Pastor Wayne Sapp, who set light to a copy of the book at a church in Florida on the 20th of March. Sunday's event was presented as a trial of the book in which the Koran was found "guilty" and "executed."

The jury deliberated for about eight minutes. The book, which had been soaking for an hour in kerosene, was put in a metal tray in the centre of the church, and Sapp started the fire with a barbecue lighter.

The book burned for around 10 minutes while some onlookers posed for photos.

The Buddha taught that all conditions and events are conditioned by those that went before (mind you, according to Jones that is all "from the devil"). So, a group of christian fundamentalists burn a copy of Islam's holy scriptures. Yes, it's offensive and hurtful but it's just one copy out of millions and it's only print on paper. What's the reaction? A group of Muslim fundamentalists kill seven innocent UN workers in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, initial reports said that two of the victims had been beheaded. A further ten people were killed in Kandahar during riots over the book burning.

So what was the Pastor's reaction to all this? He denies that the deaths in Afghanistan are anything to do with his burning the Qur'an and says that he is thinking of putting the Islamic prophet Mohammed on trial in his next 'day of judgement'. That'll really help calm things down Tel!