Sunday, 30 September 2012

FULL MOON - Sunday 30th September

Remove the bonds of affection
as one might pluck an autumn flower.
Walk the Way that leads to liberation
explained by the Awakened One.

Dhammapada v. 285

We will not free ourselves from attachments by holding to opinions about how life should be. And ‘life’ here refers to everything: self, others, material possessions. Even religious opinions lead to suffering if we pick them up in the wrong way. Rather it is by recognising, at the time we are doing it, how we hold on to things.

Why do we resist the reality of change? Change is constant yet we don’t see it. Walking the Awakened One’s Way to liberation means examining our relationship to all experience - the agreeable and the disagreeable. Every single moment of our life is an opportunity to learn how to let go, let be and understand.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Annual International Bhikkhuni Day 2012

Today is the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day. The date is chosen because the first bhikkhuni, Bhikkhuni Maha Pajapati Theri, the Buddha’s stepmother and aunt, ordained during a full moon in September, the occasion marking the start of the Bhikkhuni Sangha.

It is a day on which we pay respect to the Bhikkhuni Sangha and acknowledge its essential role in preserving and spreading the Dhamma. We remember prominent bhikkhunis and their unique achievements and contributions.

It is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to becoming the skilled, adept, learned, and purified disciples the Buddha intended us to be.

For more information visit Alliance for Bhikkhunis

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Defence, Aid and Ethics

On this morning's Today program there was an item on the statement by David Cameron last night when he repeated a promise that Britain will spend more on aid to the world's poorer countries over the next few years. The former Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch Brown and the Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth debated the prospect.

While Lord Malloch Brown supported the initiative, saying that it was in our best national interest to improve the prospects of poorer nations, Howarth argued that the money would be better spent on the armed forces and that "nothing leverages influence in this world more than strong defence if you are able to carry a big stick you can speak softly".

I was instantly put in mind of the Emperor Ashoka, who conquered most of what is now present day India in the 3rd century B.C.

He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka was a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism.

There is some argument as to whether Ashoka disbanded his army completely but if not it was only ever used in policing actions against wild tribesmen who were posing a threat to villagers. The captured tribesmen were not executed, as would have been normal practise at the time but were instead educated in an attempt to civilise them.

He pursued an official policy of nonviolence (ahimsa). Even the unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished. Everyone became protected by the king's law against sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of vegetarianism. Ashoka also showed mercy to those imprisoned, allowing them leave for the outside a day of the year.

He attempted to raise the professional ambition of the common man by building universities for study, and water transit and irrigation systems for trade and agriculture. He treated his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics and caste. The kingdoms surrounding his, so easily overthrown, were instead made to be well-respected allies. He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and renovating major roads throughout India. After this transformation, Ashoka came to be known as Dhammashoka (Sanskrit), meaning Ashoka, the follower of Dharma.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The 17th Karmapa, Another Political Prisoner?

With all the recent publicity surrounding the long overdue and welcome release and reinstatement of Aung San Suu Kyi, the story of another "political prisoner" has gone largely unnoticed. Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism resides in India, "the Worlds largest democracy".

However he is forbidden from leaving India and travelling abroad without the permission of the Indian government. In fact it was only in March of last year that he was allowed to leave Dharamsala and take a month-long pilgrimage to Bodhgaya, and to Varanasi, the Buddha's winter retreat. His Holiness is viewed by many as the natural successor to the Dalai Lama as leader in exile of the Tibetan people.

He was recently described by dissident Chinese author Liao Yiwu as being a virtual prisoner. Liao said that he had invited the Karmapa to visit him in Berlin where he now lives after having escaped from China. He went on to say that he didn't hold out much hope that his Holiness would be allowed to make the trip.

Friday, 21 September 2012

International Day of Peace

Today is the U.N. International Day of Peace. Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

This year, world leaders, together with civil society, local authorities and the private sector, will be meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to renew political commitment to long term sustainable development.

It is in the context of the Rio+20 Conference that “Sustainable Peace for a Sustainable Future” is the theme chosen for this year's observance of the International day of Peace.

There can be no sustainable future without a sustainable peace. Sustainable peace must be built on sustainable development.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Maitreya Project Relics Visit UK

Back in 2007 when we started this website, one of our first stories was that of a World tour of Buddhist "relics". The tour is in support of the Maitreya Project. The Eventual aim being that the relics will be enshrined in a 500-ft/152-m bronze statue of Maitreya Buddha to be built in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India.

What goes around, comes around, and the exhibition has returned to the U.K. being at the Edinburgh Festival.

 As a Western Buddhist I, along with many others, am a little uncomfortable with the whole "relic" thing while, at the same time, being enthusiastic about the whole Maitreya Project.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

NEW MOON - Saturday 14th September August 2012

Bemoaning your own lot
or envying the gains of others
obstructs peace of mind.
But, being contented
even with modest gains
pure in livelihood and energetic,
you will be held in high esteem.

Dhammapada v. 365-6

This simple truth easily evades us. Sadly we are too quick to admire and emulate those who are not particularly wise. Here a very wise Teacher is holding up a mirror and asking, ‘Do you see what you are doing? Can you understand why you are unhappy?’ He is not criticising us, not condemning us, but neither is he letting us get away with our habits. Out of compassion, he urges us to see the consequences of our unawareness. At times it can appear there is always something more we need to do, more to gain, more to get rid of. Even the spiritual life can seem like a tedious treadmill. Always believing however in the way things seem, is not the way to peace. In place of self-pity, contentment could also appear if we were to stop heedlessly comparing ourselves with others.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Note - Calendar Changes

For those of you following event dates on our Island Buddhist Calendar page, our Autumn Retreat Day has been rescheduled to the 14th of October. This is because there is a trip to Cittaviveka, the Buddhist Monastery at Chithurst, on Sunday the 21st of October, the original date for the retreat.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Alliance for Bhikkhunis

I've just received the following communication from Susan Pembroke, President of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. I thought that the easiest thing to do was to reproduce it in its entirety, so here it is.......

Dear Supporter of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis:

I wish to thank all of you for taking the time to subscribe to our site. In so doing, you acted on a loving intention to stay informed about bhikkhunis and to offer consistent encouragement. Simply spreading the word about bhikkhunis and their current challenges can have an enormous impact on how women are treated. I also wish to thank our kind and compassionate donors. All of us have many dear-to-our-heart causes that tug at us.  Please know that we feel highly honored to be trusted with your precious funds.

I would especially like to thank the U.K.-based Camellia Foundation for their 1,000 pound grant to cover the operating expenses associated with sponsoring the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day. Thank you so very, very much! This exceptional gift allows us to direct all the donations from the 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day right to bhikkhunis. Additionally, this donation was a morale booster to our largely volunteer staff that works many hundreds of hours to keep the Alliance for Bhikkhunis (AfB) humming along.

We believe this year’s event, which honors Sanghamitta Theri, will again inform as well as inspire. We also hope this day of meditation, reflection, and sharing of ideas, knowledge, and experience will lead to conversations about how to create more just, compassionate, and awakened societies. This is what the Emperor Asoka strived to do after his conversion to Buddhism. He charged his diplomats and emissaries, including his cherished daughter Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta Theri, with the task of implementing the highest Buddhist principles. When Sanghamitta Theri journeyed to the beautiful isle of Lanka, she made sure ordination was available to all women regardless of their social class. This remains a stunning achievement, given the status of women at that time. Bhikkhuni Sanghaitta Theri accomplished something that is not possible 2,200 hundred years later for many women who wish to ordain.

What motivated me to create the Alliance for Bhikkhunis in 2007 and continues to motivate me comes  from observing firsthand the challenges faced by women who wish to become bhikkhunis. For hundreds of years, women in Theravada Buddhism have been denied their rightful place alongside their brothers.  Some brave women were imprisoned or punished for seeking ordination. Due to the absence of institutional approval and support, many ordained women still struggle to find adequate housing or obtain other needed requisites, their ongoing perilous existence is physically threatening as well as emotionally distressing.

We want the best for all monks, male and female. Fortunately, because of the work of many caring individuals, lay as well as monastic, things are slowly beginning to change.  More women around the world are being ordained.  However, they still struggle with issues of housing, medical care, and the basic requisites. That is why Alliance for Bhikkhunis continues its advocacy on behalf of ordained women.

Some of the things your support has helped us to do in the past year include:  paying for health care premiums and medical and dental care for bhikkhunis who have no health care insurance, donations toward a new cooking and eating trailer for a bhikkhuni community in Northern California, contributions toward the building of dormitories for nuns in Sri Lanka, toward a meditation hall for a bhikkhuni community in Canada and to a vihara producing a video to educate people on the struggles of women monastics.  Our contributions are not major, but they provide a little help.

Yet, there are so many more requests we receive that we don’t have the funds to support:  bhikkhunis in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand who find it difficult getting their basic needs met, or assisting a monastery in California that is struggling to pay things like fire insurance and taxes.

AfB is still in its infancy. We are a work-in-progress and welcome your suggestions. Please see the August installment of Present on our home page to read newly-published articles as well as learn about changes in the magazine. Let us know what you would like to see in the magazine.

If you haven’t visited our 2nd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day page, please take a moment to do so. We will continue to be adding content over the next week or two. We have a variety of rich and moving talks and articles that will enable any individual or group to design a day that best fits their needs.

Feel free to select any day in September, October, or November to schedule your event or simply mark September 29th as a day to meditate along with us.

Please also visit our Firstgiving page. The Firstgiving page is a safe and easy way for individuals to raise money. Like any pledge-a-thon, we suggest you invite family and friends, and fellow practitioners, to sponsor a day of meditating and learning. If twenty family and friends can donate $5 to $10 each, that can raise many thousands of dollars if dozens of people are doing the same thing.

Here is a link to my Firstgiving page to give you an idea of what the page looks like. I know many of you personally. We’ve corresponded over the years. Please consider taking a moment to donate to my page. To be honest, I would feel shy and awkward asking for myself, but I am at ease asking for bhikkhunis who cannot ask for themselves.

We will send your donation to any bhikkhuni monastery of your choosing and let the recipient know the gift came from you. Just let us know how you would like your donation used. If you don’t know bhikkhunis personally, you may also specify a country: Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Germany, Canada, U.S., Vietnam, Nepal, India, Indonesia, or Cambodia. You may also ask that your donation go toward funding our magazine Present which we offer free of charge. We have chosen to bear the operating costs so that anyone, anywhere has access to our magazine and digital library.

On our wish list is the construction of an archive for our site. As we continue to offer more articles in our digital library and publish more issues of the magazine, it becomes increasingly difficult to locate subjects. The IT costs for the archive are estimated to be about $4,500.

Another crucial way of helping is becoming a volunteer. The AfB is a caring community of practitioners. We work to create a culture that reflects our practice and values.

Please forward this email to people who might be interested and wish to offer their support.


Susan Pembroke

Thursday, 6 September 2012

god doesn't Do Democracy

At the American Democratic convention a clear 50/50 divide in votes magically gives god a two thirds majority...........

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

FULL MOON - Saturday, 1st September

Sorry about this but this is a bit late but as Ajahn says "This verse is always true" ..............................

The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts.
The flavour of Dhamma surpasses all flavours.
The delight of Dhamma transcends all delights.
Freedom from craving is the end of all suffering.

Dhammapada v. 354

This verse is always true, wherever we may be in our practice of Dhamma. For those near the beginning of the path to liberation, it is wonderful to have confidence in the map you hold in your hands. Others further along the way will know the uplift and joy which even small moments of truth may bring. And realized beings who have reached the goal are nourished by the delight of freedom from this burden of suffering. When our habits of getting lost in craving pull us down, the beauty of the undefiled heart is hidden from view; life tastes bland and we forget the many gifts we have received. At those moments, imagine the teacher’s smile and gentle reminder, ‘Begin again, one moment at a time.’

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo