Thursday, 30 August 2012

Incidental Dharma

Incidental Dharma references from two recent events.

Last night saw the spectacular opening ceremony for the London Paralympic Games, the theme of which was Enlightenment.

NASA has recently announced another mission to Mars scheduled to blast off in 2016, the new project is entitled InSight.

It will be a lander, which means it will sit in one place. InSight builds off the successful Phoenix lander, which found ice water near the Martian north pole. In fact, this new craft will be very similar to the Phoenix, except for a few additional capabilities. InSight, which is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will study not what is on the Martian surface, but what is below. So the lander will be equipped with a drill and a seismometer, built by Germany and France, respectively. The InSight lander will drill down 5 meters (about 16 feet) into the surface of the planet and record the internal temperature of Mars and measure seismic activity. We know virtually nothing about the internal workings of the Red Planet. Even though it’s rocky, it has no crustal plates and no global magnetic field, as Earth does. It is not even known if Marsquakes shake the surface of the planet.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Don't Inflict "Creationism" on Your Children

This needs no comment from me except to say that, unfortunately, creationism isn't unique to the U.S.......................

William Sanford "Bill" Nye, popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, mechanical engineer, and scientist.

For Christians who read the Genesis account literally, or authoritatively as they would say, the six days in the account are literal 24-hour periods and leave no room for evolution. Young Earth creationists use this construct and biblical genealogies to determine the age of the Earth, and typically come up with 6,000 to 10,000 years.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Less Than Two Weeks until Buddhist Picnic

It is now less than two weeks until the annual island Buddhist picnic on Sunday 2nd of September, starting from 12:00. This year's will be the fifteenth and there have been changes to the "usual" format (very Buddhist, anicca and all that). With the Ventnor Botanic Gardens now under private management an entrance fee of £5 per person is being charged and we felt that it's a bit expensive for a picnic. Consequently we have decided that the 2012 picnic will return to the Duver at St. Helens.

Bring vegetarian food to share and any toys, games etc. to keep everyone entertained.

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Friday, 17 August 2012

NEW MOON - Friday 17 August 2012

The clear seeing which knows
that which is flawed as flawed
and that which is pure as pure
can lead beings to transcend misery.

Dhammapada v. 319

The Buddha’s realization gives us a vision of life lived free from misery. Even if surrounded by those caught in the vortices of greed, aversion and delusion, the Awakened Ones remain in a state of vitality and awareness. The path of practice leading towards this state however, might require we find our way through swamps of doubt and over oceans of craving and fear. What is asked of us as we travel through this inner terrain is to simply see clearly that which is right in front of us. If we feel like we’re drowning in desire or consumed by anger, practice asks us not to create stories about how life could be, but simply to know it for what it is: grasping at desire is like this; it does not lead to freedom. Grasping at anger is like this; it does not accord with well-being. And then too, to see how letting go of grasping leads to contentment.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tibetan Wins Country's First Olympic Medal

Here's a story you might have missed..... 21-year-old Choeyang Kyi, the first Tibetan to participate at an Olympics won a bronze medal in the women’s 20-kilometer race walk Saturday.

Beaming her way through the finish line, Choeyang said she felt honoured to participate in the Olympics as a Tibetan.

"I'm extremely honoured to take part as the first representative of the Tibetans at the Olympic Games and to win a medal," the Associated Press quoted Choeyang as saying.

Tibetans gathered to cheer Choeyang waved Tibetan flags along her route past the Buckingham Palace. Choeyang said she heard Tibetans cheering for her. "I heard it! Really. I heard a Tibetan cheering me on. At the time, I looked backward but couldn't see who that person was," she said.

Lodi Gyatso, a Tibetan living in England was one of the Tibetans who carried banners that said “You go girl, we Tibetans are with you.” Lodi said he had mixed feelings in seeing Choeyang’s participation in the Olympics. “As a Tibetan, I was very happy to see a Tibetan woman making history in this important event, but I was bit saddened at the same time that her win raised China’s flag at the award podium.”

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Buddhist Same Sex Wedding

The recent Buddhist wedding of two women in Taiwan is the latest sign of obstacles to
same-sex unions quietly being dismantled in Asia, especially in predominantly Buddhist countries.

Huang Mei-yu and her partner Yu Ya-ting, both 30, received their blessings from Shih Chao-hui, a female Buddhist master, at a monastery in north Taiwan's Taoyuan county over the weekend -- and no one seemed to raise an eyebrow.

"I think this is their human right. They can choose freely to get married and we should respect them," said Chih Chun, a Buddhist nun who attended the ceremony.

"It makes no difference if couples are heterosexual or homosexual, as long as they are in love and they are happy."

The wedding -- a first for Taiwanese Buddhism -- comes as evidence is mounting that Asians and their governments are quietly revising their views on same-sex marriage even as the subject remains a highly charged issue in the United States this election year.

Communist Vietnam is considering making the practice legal and in Nepal hundreds marched in support of enshrining it in the new constitution. Tokyo Disneyland has allowed gay couples to informally tie the knot on its grounds.

Myanmar and Laos also recently held their first gay pride events.

According to Shih, the cleric who presided over the ceremony in Taiwan, this is a trend facilitated regionwide by a lack of religious and philosophical dogma against homosexuality.

"Buddhism does not dismiss homosexuality from an ideological point of view, and in Confucianism it's a grey area, so eastern societies tend to be more open-minded towards homosexuality," she said.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Note - New Talk by Ayya Anandabodhi

There is a new talk posted in our Audio Section, Renunciation by Ayya Anandabodhi who is resident at the Aloka Vihara in San Francisco. This is a, as yet small, community of ordained Bhikkhunis.

This seemed an appropriate choice of talk following our recent visit to the Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst. The nuns community there has been steadily diminishing in the wake of the controversy over Bhikkhuni ordination.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Quote That I Like

At West Wight Sangha meetings we encourage people to bring along and share any readings, quotes and texts that have inspired them. This one is from last night and is by Darryl Bailey .....................


The various forms appearing in life can’t be the reality, because all of them are changing; they’re nothing more than false appearances. If we watch a cloud and it takes on the shape of a person, a house, or a mountain, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, we always know it’s a cloud. The appearance of form is not the reality; the unformed cloud is.

The same is true of everything: bodies, objects, sensations, moods, thoughts, activities, states of mind, relationships, and so on. All things are changing, flowing. They’re the passing appearances of a great, unformed, and inexplicable happening – an event, a presence – call it whatever you have to.

If we sit quietly, making no effort, life expresses itself clearly; it simply happens on its own. There’s nothing else to get. The great truth is obvious. The heart beats; the breath comes and goes. Vibrations, pulsations, twinges, feelings, thoughts, and emotions rise and fall. Urges rise and pass; some become actions, others do not; and so life flows.

There can be no sense of peace until we realize we’re an indefinable activity. All things, all actions, all thoughts, words, and deeds, are the passing appearances and expressions of a great unformed, indefinable event.

Sitting quietly, making no effort, all is revealed: a vibrant, pulsing, formless happening, simply happening. There is no goal in this, no final point; there is only what expresses itself in this moment, and whatever it appears to be now is unavoidably on its way to some other appearance. (from Essence Revisited)

There are many ways of pointing to this vibrant, formless happening. Some have called it the Great Spirit. Some call it the river of life, or the ocean of existence. Some call it the flow of nature. It’s been compared to clouds and water, having no particular shape. Some say it’s formless and some call it “un-form.” Some say it’s energy and some say it’s movement. Some call it God, Tao, or Atman. Some call it Mind. Some call it “original nature.” And some just call it the universe, which literally means “undivided turning.”

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Bill Clinton Learning Buddhist Meditation

According to an article in the Daily Mail Online yesterday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton is learning the art of Buddhist meditation to help relax — part of a plan to improve the health of his heart. President Clinton, who started a vegan diet in August of last year, has had a host of health problems relating to the heart. Clinton underwent a quadruple bypass in 2004 and stent surgery in 2010.

Clinton has reportedly employed the services of a Buddhist monk to provide him with private meditation instruction.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

FULL MOON - Asalha Puja - Thursday 2nd August 2012

"All realities are devoid of an abiding self"; when we see this with insight we will tire of this life of suffering.

This is the Way to purification.

Dhammapada 279

When we feel down we might look for some ‘thing’ to pick ourselves up with: an ice-cream, a movie, a memory, a book. Dhamma teaches us to go in the opposite direction: to be truly happy we need less, not more.

What we need is to let go of ‘me’ and ‘mine’. Contrary to the popular belief in the supremacy of ‘self’, Dhamma says nothing can give this ‘I’ contentment. The assumption that this ‘I’ and its desires will ever be satisfied, is a false assumption. Which of my ‘selves’ has turned out to be reliable and lasting: the happy me, the hopeless me, the serious me, the sloppy me, the wise me, the foolish me? Insight into the nature of ‘self’ can relieve us of the burden of this false belief, and dispel the myth of self-importance, leading to purification.

With Metta,

 Bhikkhu Munindo

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Gore Vidal Dies, 86

Today brought the sad news of Gore Vidal's death at the age of 86.

The author, playwright, politician and commentator, died at his home in the Hollywood Hills on Tuesday evening of complications from pneumonia.

Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, Vidal was among the last generation of US literary writers who were also genuine celebrity fixtures.

His works included over 200 essays and 25 novels, which included the bestselling Burr, Lincoln, Myra Breckenridge, The City and the Pillar, and the Tony-nominated political drama The Best Man, revived on Broadway in 2012.

He also wrote Creation, a novel set in the 5th century B.C. and featuring the Buddha among others. His central character,  Spitama chats amiably with Sariputra and is introduced to the Buddha, ''small, slender, supple ... glowing with good health ... There was a scent of sandalwood about him that struck me as less than ascetic''. The Buddha evades or is unresponsive to Spitama's Zoroastrian views of creation, and Spitama leaves; having found ''Buddha's truths too strange for me to accept.''