Saturday, 31 December 2011

Metta World Peace

In September, Ron Artest — of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team legally changed his name to Metta World Peace. The first name, Metta, is a Buddhist term meaning “loving kindness.” The last name is self-explanatory. This has led to fans being able to chant “We want World Peace!” at a recent game.

This is, more or less, what Artest intended when he made the change: to make the public, unwittingly or consciously, seriously or in jest, consider the concept.

“If you look at a young kid and you tell them, would they love world peace? They would definitely tell you yeah,” he said Thursday after the Lakers’ shootaround. “But as we get older, we change and we adjust to our environment. And we don’t think about little things anymore. But kids love, they love other kids. They love world peace.”

The Buddha's Words on Kindness (Metta Sutta)

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Lady

With all the publicity about Meryl Streep's performance as Margaret Thatcher in the film "The Iron Lady" you may have missed news of Michelle Yeoh playing Aung San Suu Kyi in Luc Besson's film "The Lady". The film has received mixed reviews, the general feeling being that it's a worthy effort that fails to capture the "enigma" of Aung San Suu Kyi who, despite her treatment by the Burmese military junta, always met their bullying threats with non-violence.

The film is not showing at any of the Island's cinemas this holiday but is being shown widely on the mainland..... so here's a taste for islanders....

Saturday, 24 December 2011

NEW MOON - Saturday 24th December 2011

These three ways
lead to radiant abiding:
asserting the truth,
not yielding to anger,
and giving, even if you have only a little to share.

Dhammapada v. 224

We are the creators of the world. Our actions of body, speech and mind give form to the space we inhabit. Investing in inner awareness liberates us from a dependency on the material world. The outer conditions of our life come and go: at times, they are agreeable and rewarding, at other times wearisome and disappointing. Yet we can always make the effort to speak truth. We can always wait before succumbing to anger. And no matter how much or how little we own, we can always give. We already have the power to create a beautiful abiding.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Kim Jong Il lying in state

The physical body consists of bones
covered with flesh and blood.
Stored up inside it
are decay and death, pride and malice.

The Buddha,
Dhammapada, Verse 150

Monday, 19 December 2011

Trying to Contact Sister Tithameda

There was a recent "comment" posted on the item Sister Thitamedha to Disrobe because of the "Five Points". As the correspondent is hoping that sister Tithameda reads the communication, I thought that posting it here will make it more visible, good luck Liz.......

Dear sister Tithameda, although you may not be known by this name now. It is Liz writing to you and I would be glad to hear from you. If you read this and want to get in touch, - you have my email address. Otherwise I wish you well in whatever endeavour you undertake and may you be always blessed with peace and full of the loving kindness which you once extended to me.

Much Love,


This comment was added yesterday.............

Dear Sister Thitamedha I think you are now known as Irena. The comment above is a real coincidence as I also wanted to contact you to wish you well in all you do.
metta, Veronica

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Total Eclipse Over Peace Pagoda, New Dehli

I subscribe to a daily email called "Astronomy Picture of the Day" and a recent photograph was this amazing time lapse shot of a total lunar eclipse taken over the top of the Shanti Stupa Peace Pagoda near the centre of New Delhi, India. The red tint of the eclipsed Moon was created by sunlight first passing through the Earth's atmosphere, which preferentially scatters blue light (making the sky blue) but passes and refracts red light, before reflecting back off the Moon.

The Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace. Most (though not all) have been built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii (1885–1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-Myo-ho-ji Buddhist Order. Fujii was greatly inspired by his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 and decided to devote his life to promoting non-violence. In 1947, he began constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines to World peace.

The first Peace Pagodas were built as a symbol of peace in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
where the atomic bombs took the lives of over 150,000 people, almost all of whom were civilian, at the end of World War II. By 2000, eighty Peace Pagodas had been built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

The Shanti stupa in New Delhi was inaugurated on 14th. November 2007 by monks and nuns of Nipponzan-Myo-ho-ji, the Dalai Lama and the Lt. Governor of Delhi. It is situated in Millennium Indraprastha Park, North-East of Humayun's Tomb, adjacent to Delhi Ring Road. A traditional Japanese garden has been constructed in the area around the stupa. The garden is a joint project by the Fujii Guruji Vishwa Shanti Stupa Committee and the Delhi Development Authority.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Direct Connection Between Mindfulness Practice and Beneficial Changes in the Brain

I was recently sent this by one of our Sangha members. "Here is a link to a blog I follow (Mind Deep) that reports on a study due to be published in January, demonstrating the brain changes that occur with regular practice. You may find it interesting...."

The Direct Connection Between Mindfulness Practice and Beneficial Changes in the Brain

From the lab of Harvard researcher, Sara Lazar, comes the most conclusive study to date, linking mindfulness practice with sustained beneficial changes in areas of the brain associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion, introspection, and stress response.

As reported earlier this year in the Harvard Gazette:
Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGHPsychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical Schoolinstructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.

For the current study, magnetic resonance (MR) images were taken of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation — which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind — participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images was also taken of a control group of nonmeditators over a similar time interval.

Meditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practising mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses. The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.

This study is scientifically proving what all meditators know from experience, i.e. the long lasting effect of meditation not just during formal mindfulness practice, but more importantly, afterwards, throughout the day.

Another good reason to start each day with a 30 minute sitting!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Peace Walk with Thich Nhat Hanh

Angie, from the Community of Interbeing Buddhist Group in Lake, sent me these details of a Peace Walk with Thich Nhat Hanh in London on Saturday, 31 March 2012, 14:00 until 16:00.

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world, author, poet and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh invites everyone to walk mindfully together in silence, generating the energy of peace, solidity, and freedom.

“There is no walk for peace; peace is the walk. By walking, we generate peace within our body, our consciousness. We embrace and heal the pain, the sorrow, the fear in us, and that is the ground for helping peace to be a reality in the world.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

Before the Peace Walk, you are invited to participate in a sitting meditation lead by Thich Nhat Hanh in Trafalgar Square. Afterwards, we shall walk mindfully out of Trafalgar Square, along The Mall and end in Green Park.

Exact times will be announced.

Participation is free. This is a walk open to everyone, all ages, from every path, experienced or not. We kindly ask for there to be no display of any banners or signs, nor giving out of flyers during the Peace Walk.

"During walking meditation we walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips. When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on Earth. Walking meditation is really to enjoy the walking—walking not in order to arrive, just for walking, to be in the present moment, and to enjoy each step. Therefore you have to shake off all worries and anxieties, not thinking of the future, not thinking of the past, just enjoying the present moment. Anyone can do it. It takes only a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy." - Thich Nhat Hanh

We are inviting everyone around the world to walk in peace with us. Check back later for the cities joining us on 31st March 2012. Email us if you would like to organise a Peace Walk in your city!

Email us at for questions and to sign up for our latest updates about the Peace Walk.

Check out the rest of Thich Nhat Hanh's 2012 tour in the UK here:

Check out Thich Nhat Hanh's Facebook page:

Saturday, 10 December 2011

FULL MOON - Saturday 10th December 2011

A deed is well-done
when upon reflection no remorse arises:
with joy one harvests its fruits.

Dhammapada v. 68

As mindfulness is strengthened and confidence emerges we experience a growing sense of being our own authority. Fear of imagined external agents passing judgement on us begin to be seen for what they are - imagination. Our own true heart knows that which is wholesome and that which is not. As we deepen, the light of awareness illuminates the way and the path becomes clearer. At this level, when the voice of judgement from our false heart is heard, we simply receive it and allow it to fade away. Joy remains.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Friday, 9 December 2011

Note - New Dharma Talk

Following on from our previous post A "Local" Poem that I Like where we made the connection between the Buddhist concept of Impermanence and Tennyson's poem, "All Things will Die" the latest talk shared with the Newport Soto Zen group was Rebecca Bradshaw's talk on Anicca, Impermanence in which she discusses how a deep understanding of impermanence is a pathway into freedom.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A "Local" Poem that I Like

It's actually the poet who's local! This is by Alfred, Lord Tennyson who lived here in the West Wight at Farringford House, Freshwater Bay.

A fundamental principle in Buddhism is that everything is impermanent thus allowing for change.

All Things will Die

Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing

Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing

Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting;
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating

Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity!
Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking
The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call’d–we must go.
Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;
The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery!
Hark! death is calling
While I speak to ye,
The jaw is falling,
The red cheek paling,
The strong limbs failing;
Ice with the warm blood mixing;
The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell:
Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth
Had a birth,
As all men know,
Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range,
And the blue wave beat the shore;
For even and morn
Ye will never see
Thro’ eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more,
For all things must die.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dharma Master Cheng Yen

Having just received the latest e-newsletter from the Tzu Chi Foundation I thought I'd share this piece from its founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen.

In life, we have a lot of afflictions, and we would like to get rid of them. But how do we get rid of our afflictions? We can get rid of them by being content. Contentment will lead us to spiritual richness.

If we are content, we'll be satisfied and happy with what we have. When people have a lot of desires, even if they should possess the whole world, they still won’t feel they have enough.

I know a businessperson who is very successful; he had expanded his business abroad. Once he came to visit me. I asked him, "Your business is already very successful, why don't you spare some time to do charity work and help people in need? Besides donating money, you can personally participate in caring for the poor and experience the joy of helping people." He replied, "But my staff want me to invest more money in the business so that it will expand." I told him, "Desire is a limitless thing. If you keep on expanding the business, there will never be an end." He finally told me that he was too deeply involved at that time; things were beyond his control, and it was too late to turn back.

Out of the desire to accumulate wealth, he expanded his business. Because of this, he has to work very hard to meet his responsibilities; he has many things to manage and worry about. He has to face considerable psychological stress as he worries about whether things will go smoothly. All of this brings many afflictions and burdens onto himself. If he understood the impermanent nature of life, and realized material wealth is only temporary, he would not overly pursue wealth and would become content with what he already has.

Take a look at our recycling volunteers. Some of them live a simple life, yet they are very happy. One of our recycling volunteers has a home so small that she has to set up her kitchen in a narrow alleyway outside her home. She has put a counter and a gas stove outside, next to her window. Directly across the alley from the stove, there's a rack where she keeps her kitchen utensils. She has arranged a makeshift cover over this 'kitchen' to shield it from the rain. To make a meal, she has to squeeze herself into this tiny space. She says, "Although my kitchen is very small, at least I have a place to cook and have food to eat. Compared to poor people who have no house to live in, I'm very satisfied with what I have." See how content and at peace she is.

The Buddhist sutras tell us that people with many desires suffer much because they are constantly seeking self-benefit and gain. Those with few desires will not suffer like this. When we give rise to desire, we act in order to seek things, such as wealth, fame, and delicious food. When we cannot get what we want, afflictions arise and we suffer. We might get into arguments with people over what we want. We might tire ourselves out scheming to get what we want. Our efforts to fulfill our desires bring us much affliction.

If we want to get rid of our afflictions, we have to know their source—our desires. When we reduce our desires, our mind can be at peace, like the travelling monks of the past who lived a very simple life. In the ancient times, Buddhist monastics would travel around the country visiting various temples to learn the Dharma. Their clothing and an alms bowl were all they would carry with them. That was all they needed to make their journey. That was how at ease and free they were.

When we already have life's basic necessities, we should beware of getting tempted by desires. The more we pursue our desires, the more afflictions we'll bring onto ourselves. With fewer desires, we would be able to sleep soundly at night without any worries. Our heart would be at peace.