Thursday, 25 April 2013

FULL MOON – Thursday 25th April 2013

To act or to watch
The Awakened Ones can but point the way;
we must make the effort ourselves.
Those who reflect wisely and enter the path are freed from the fetters of Mara.

Dhammapada v. 276

‘What effort should I make? Should I do something about this situation or simply watch my mind?’ Such moments of not-knowing are precious. Uncertainty does not have to be seen as failing. In fact we might lose something important if we are in a hurry to push past it. The actuality is I don’t know what to do and there is not necessarily any fault in that. If, however, I’m completely caught in the momentum of wanting to escape suffering, I may miss the truth of the situation, as it is, and learn from it. With the confidence that comes from our commitment to precepts we can afford to trust in being patient and aware of ‘not-knowing’, and the uncomfortable feelings that come with it. Feel the force of the momentum of wanting to get away from it, to ‘solve it’; stubbornly refuse to be drawn along. We can experiment with waiting until the feeling of being driven subsides and quietly listen to what intuition suggests we could do.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Anti Muslim Riots in Burma

Burma is hitting the headlines with stories of "Buddhist" violence.

"The BBC has obtained police video showing officers standing by while Buddhist rioters attacked minority Muslims in the town of Meiktila."

To describe these rioters as Buddhists is nonsensical. To become a Buddhist one takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (the path) and the Sangha (the community), which commits one to following the path toward enlightenment. There are many levels of commitment, from being a lay person to joining a monastery. The most basic level of commitment is to attempt to adhere to the five precepts:

Abstaining from the destruction of life.

Abstaining from taking that which is not given.

Abstaining from sexual misconduct.

Abstaining from falsehood.

Abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.

"So the question is, where there is violence associated with religion, is religion promoting the violence, or is religion being co-opted to excuse violence that would have happened anyway? I think you have to look at individual circumstances. Certainly, sometimes religions, and religious institutions, initiate and genuinely condone violence. And sometimes a religion becomes infected by the social pathologies of its culture and serves as an unwitting host for an agenda of violence.  And if that particular host hadn't been handy, another would have served just as well." In other words -- correlation ain't causation.
         Barbara O'Brien

Monday, 22 April 2013

Earth Day & Cittaviveka

As today is Earth Day I thought that this extract from the latest newsletter from Cittaviveka Buddhist Monastery near Chithurst, was appropriate.

Here at Cittaviveka we have come through a long hard winter with a very good sense of inner warmth and harmony. Outer warmth was in short supply, and for people living in the forest the weather was challenging – to put it mildly! However the three-month retreat was made convivial by people coming from USA, Canada and Australia as well as from UK, in order to support and participate in the atmosphere of this Dhamma-refuge. Together with a resident community of twenty, spread out between Rocana, Chithurst House and Hammer Wood, that made for a situation of good companionship with adequate individual space.

Hearing of people's suffering through economic and climatic causes, as well of as the loss of animal life, is a reminder of how vulnerable we all are to forces that seem beyond our control. Moreover, that Dhamma-practice is grounded on life on this planet; the only one that has ever been found that can support us. Over the last decade we all become painfully aware that human carelessness and misuse of the earth and its creatures is a prime reason for climate change; and that might make such winters the norm. This is kamma – the principle of cause and effect. When we reflect on cause and effect in our lives, we should consider that all material things really come from and belong to the earth. Humans can't create water, soil, minerals and animals. So how do we use its gifts? Do we take just what we need, share what we have and try to give something back (such as through planting trees, or through supporting charities)? Also whatever we dispose of has to go back to the earth, rivers, ocean and air sooner or later: do we just dump poisons and plastics into our own food supply? 

Can we refrain from using plastic bags and bottles for example? Can we learn to live more lightly? The monastic training of contemplating the requisites as offering enough shelter, clothing, food and medicines to protect us against the elements, seems a very relevant reflection. And that we use these so that we can practise for awakening: because it is through a lack of wise reflection, personal modesty and conscience and concern that our home planet has been put at risk. Mind is the origin of the world.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Caste Discrimination O.K.

Further to the previous item, MPs voted against adding caste discrimination to the Equality Act by 307 to 243, a majority of 64.

Meena Varma of the Dalit Solidarity Network said: "I am very disappointed. But we'll keep going until we get this legislation."

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Parliament Voting on "Untouchables"

Today the House of Commons is set to vote on a controversial amendment as a part of the Equality Act 2010, which could offer lower-caste Hindus a legal safeguard against caste discrimination. Hindu groups here are divided on its impact on the diaspora, according to the 2011 census, there are 816,633 Hindus based in the UK.

While campaign group 'Caste Watch UK' plans to rally hundreds of its supporters in Parliament Square today to urge MPs to introduce legal protection for those from traditionally lower-caste backgrounds, other groups such as Alliance of Hindu Organisations UK (AHO) claims the legislation will label the entire Hindu community as being "institutionally discriminatory" and have called a boycott of the amendment.

So, what's the Buddhist connection? Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was an Indian jurist, political leader, philosopher, anthropologist, historian, orator, economist, teacher, editor, prolific writer, revolutionary and a revivalist for Buddhism in India. He was also the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. Born an "untouchable", he converted to Buddhism and is credited with providing the inspiration for the conversion of hundreds of thousands of Dalits or untouchables to Theravada Buddhism. In August 1947, the new Congress-led government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation's first law minister. The constitution that he drafted provided constitutional guarantees and protections for a wide range of civil liberties for individual citizens, including freedom of religion, the abolition of untouchability and the outlawing of all forms of discrimination.

One of the Buddhist groups inspired by Dr. Ambedkar, was Triratna Bauddha Mahāsaṅgha. It is the Indian wing of the UK-based Triratna Buddhist Community founded by Sangharakshita. Its roots lie in the scattered contacts that Sangharakshita had in the 1950s with Dr. Ambedkar. Sangharakshita, then still a bhikshu, participated in the conversion movement from 1956 until his departure to the UK in 1963 where he founded the FWBO recently renamed Triratna.

A little known fact is that Roma gypsies trace their origins to the Dalits of India and several have followed the lead of their Indian compatriots and converted to Buddhism, often as a response to discrimination. There is a sizeable Gypsy Buddhist community in Hungary, they take their inspiration from Dr. Ambedka and are officially affiliated to the Triratna Buddhist Community.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

NEW MOON - Wednesday 10th April 2013

Appreciative awareness leads to life;
heedless avoidance is the path to death.
Those who are truly aware are fully alive,
while those who are heedless are as if already dead.

Dhp. v. 21

We all know the Buddha praised the cultivation of awareness. But how do we know the right thing to be aware of in any given moment? The objects are so varied: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and mental impressions. One exercise in awareness could be simply attending to the changing, unstable nature of all things; until we start to see them as unreliable, not really worth clinging to. This is to be aware of the characteristic of the ‘contents’ of experience. What happens if we direct awareness towards the ‘context’ of experience? Is the characteristic of the context in which all objects of attention manifest the same?

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Monday, 8 April 2013

Happy Hanamatsuri

Hana-Matsuri refers to the memorial service performed at temples throughout Japan to celebrate the birth of Buddha on April 8th. It is formally called Kanbutsue.

On this day, small buildings decorated with flowers are made at temples and a tanjobustu (baby Buddha figurine) is placed inside.

This figurine is sprinkled by worshippers using a ladle with ama-cha, which is a beverage made by soaking tea leaves in hot water. Some people take this ama-cha home and drink it as holy water.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Grand National - No Horses Killed

For the last two years we have had to report on the sad deaths of horses in the Grand National, Sport, Greed and Dead Horses in 2011 and last year More Dead Horses..........

Fortunately it appears that changes made to the racetrack following the tragic loss of life have proved successful and this year there were no fatalities.  

Aintree racecourse and the RSPCA both hailed the changes that have been made to the Grand National course. The 2013 Grand National passed without any injuries to horses or riders, and only two falls. All 40 runners also cleared the first seven fences for the first time in National history. 

"I was in tears down there," David Muir, the equine consultant to the RSPCA, "because I've never seen the Grand National run that well, where horses jump fences, even when they were tired, and continued in the race. I am over the moon that they've all got back safely because that's what it's all about, as far as I'm concerned. I didn't even know who'd won the race but I know they all got back. I counted them in."

The race was watched by over 9 million people and over £150 million were bet on it.

So all we need to now is for all the other courses to make the same compassionate effort for the horses safety and well-being.