Friday, 30 August 2013

Note - New Audio Talks

We've recently had a number of new talks added to our Audio Section. Firstly, a couple of weeks ago we had a new "Tought for the Day" by the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. In it he talks of the impact of "cyber bullying" and goes on to discuss the importance of "Wise Speech".

Next, we had a talk by Vishvapani in which he discusses the value of democracy in the light of the conflict in Egypt and Syria. "Democracy forces us to debate with people with whom we disagree........ and prehaps to listen to them".

That was followed the very next day by a piece by Hardeep Singh Kohli which was transmitted live from the Edinburgh Festival on Saturday. Hardeep speaks of our divisions and how we can come together sharing food as in the Sikh practise of Langar.

In between all of this we added an excellent talk, "Your Best Brain" by Rick Hanson, to our Miscellaneous page within the Audio Section. Rick is a neuropsychologist and is an authority on self-directed neuroplasticity.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

US Atheists (and Atheistic Buddhists) get Religious Tax Breaks

How does the U.S. government respond when atheists allege that tax breaks for religious organizations are unconstitutional? By declaring atheism a religion and extending the tax breaks to atheist organizations, too. That raises a couple of big problems, however: many atheists don’t want to be labeled a religion or receive the financial incentives that go along with that distinction.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, the chair of Freedom from Religion Foundation, has headed a lawsuit to eliminate a longstanding “parsonage exemption”. The rule permits “ministers of the gospel” to a tax-free housing stipend from their salaries. Since it provides perks only to religious groups, the atheist organization alleges that it defies the Constitution. It’s an issue that has been a point of legal contention for more than a decade now.

Courts have tried to resolve the situation by extending the same tax-exempt privileges to people like Gaylor, as well. According to the Justice Department, atheism qualifies as a religion, meaning Gaylor has a minister-like status as the head of her group and can declare a similar tax break for housing on her forms. Officials point out that Buddhism and Taoism are considered religions even though they don’t believe in a god either.

Gaylor, however, finds this distinction ridiculous. Declaring atheism an organized religion shows a lack of understanding of what atheism is. Besides, the point of Gaylor’s lawsuit was not to earn herself a tax loophole, but to limit the special powers granted to religious groups. Freedom from Religion Foundation is also pursuing lawsuits to mandate that churches file taxes in the same way as other charities and to block ministers from endorsing certain political candidates.

Religious advocates concede that, while the First Amendment does allow religious groups certain privileges, it is done in order to prevent the government from infringing on religious freedoms.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Tibetan Nuns Project, Art Auction - Contemporary Tibetan Art Exhibition

Miya Ando, a New York based artist who is the descendant of a samurai sword maker, has donated a series of unique aluminium plate paintings to The Tibetan Nuns Project. The paintings—five in total—are inspired by the colors of Tibetan prayer flags. The backs are coated with phosphorescence, which absorbs light throughout the day and at night emits a soft halo around the paintings. “Prayer flags emanate blessings into the air,” says Ando, “and I wanted to create artworks which similarly emanated light into darkness.”

Now until tomorrow, the 23rd of August , you can bid on Ando’s Prayer Flag series via

100% of the sales from this special benefit auction will be donated directly to The Tibetan Nuns Project, which provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India.

Also, check out the contemporary Tibetan art  currently being exhibited at the  Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, at the State University of New York. The show is entitled "Anonymous," and explores the exchange between art and the self, a dialogue which is always in motion.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

FULL MOON - Wednesday 21st August 2013

Verifying Faith

In one whose mind is unsteady,
whose heart is not prepared with true teachings,
whose faith is not matured,
the fullness of wisdom is not yet manifest.

Dhammapada v. 38

This Dhammapada verse may describe how many of us are: mind locked in thinking mode,
brought up with minimal spiritual education, and incapable of giving ourselves, whole-heartedly, into anything. Yet we do trust real wisdom exists and that we have a chance of realizing it. It is this ‘initial’ type of faith that got us started and brought us thus far. Now we must build on it. Once we have tasted the benefit of practice, faith is ‘verified’ and manifests quite differently. It becomes a reliable source of energy. In the beginning we were motivated by an idea or intuition. Now we are invited to trust in an awareness informed by experience. It feels like spending money earned by our own efforts; rather than that which came from Mum and Dad.

With Metta,

Bhikkhu Munindo

Friday, 9 August 2013

2013 Island Buddhist Picnic

It is now just over four weeks until the annual island Buddhist picnic on Sunday 8th of September, starting from 12:00. This year's will be the sixteenth and we are sticking with the 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 from now on the 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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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Ayya Khema and the Coincidence

At our Sangha meeting this Tuesday evening members were trawling through our library and the subject of books by Ayya Khema came up.

In the World of strange coincidences (they're only strange if we notice them), I was checking the traffic to this site this morning and noticed that a visitor from Japan had Googled "ayya khema united nations address" and had got a hit to a post on this site from 2008. It was entitled "Talks by Ayya Khema" and detailed a website selling audio tapes of her talks. I corrected the post with the news that all of Ayya Khema's recorded talks have now been digitalised and can be downloaded for free from Dharma Seed.

As to her books, we are fortunate to have the following titles in our collection:-

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere, Meditations on the Buddhist Path,
When the Iron Eagle Flies, Buddhism for the West,
Who is myself?, A guide to Buddhist meditation,
Come and See for Yourself, The Buddhist Path to Happiness,
Be an Island, The Buddhist practice of Inner Peace,
Visible here and now,
I Give You My Life, her autobiography

Ayya Khema was born in Berlin in 1923 to Jewish parents. In 1938, she escaped from Germany with two hundred other children and was taken to Glasgow, Scotland. Her parents went to China and, two years later Ayya Khema joined then in Shanghai. With the outbreak of the war, however, the family was put into a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and it was here her father died. She later married, had a son and a daughter, and now has four grand-children.

Four years after the American liberation of the camp, Ayya Khema was able to emigrate to the United States. Between 1960 and 1964 she travelled with her husband and son throughout Asia, including the Himalayan countries, and it was at this time she learned meditation. Ten years later she began to teach meditation throughout Europe and Australia. Her experiences led her to become a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka in 1979, when she was given the name of 'Khema' (Ayya means Venerable) meaning safety and security.

She helped to establish Wat Buddha-Dhamma, a forest monastery in the Theravada tradition, near Sydney, Australia, in 1978. In Colombo she set up the International Buddhist Women's Centre as a training centre for Sri Lankan nuns, and the Parappuduwa Nun's Island at Dodanduwa. (now unfortunately closed). She was the spiritual director of Buddha-Haus in Germany, established in 1989 under her auspices. In June 1997 "Metta Vihara", the first Buddhist forest monastery in Germany, was inaugurated by her, and the first ordinations in the German language took place there.

In 1987 she co-ordinated the first international conference of Buddhist nuns in the history of Buddhism, which resulted in the setting-up of Sakyadhita, a worldwide Buddhist women's organisation. H.H. the Dalai Lama was the keynote speaker at the conference. In May 1987, as an invited lecturer, she was the first ever Buddhist nun to address the United Nations in New York on the topic of Buddhism and World Peace. 

She died in November 1997.............................

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

NEW MOON – Tuesday 6th August 2013


The wise, being fully alive,
rejoice in appreciative awareness, 
and abide delighting in this capacity.

Dhammapada v. 22

How capable are we of truly appreciating that which is in front of us? And further, can we appreciate that which appreciates? We have the capacity to know, but do we know accurately? For the Buddha and the great disciples, awareness was unobstructed. Awareness, in and of itself, was a source of joy. They knew the range of human experiences, yet were never lost in experience. They simply knew, and their actions of body, speech and mind were an expression of this clear seeing. Our discriminating faculties mean we are able to manipulate conditions and create material comfort and safety. Are we able to stop manipulating conditions and appreciate them in their true light?

Ajahn Munindo

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dr Who Reincarnates as Peter Capaldi

So Matt Smith is to regenerate as Peter Capaldi playing the role of Dr Who.


Is the Doctor Reincarnating with the persona of Peter Capaldi?

And now this article from the Buddhist Channel............

Can Buddhists Be Time Travellers?

As we shall see, the Buddhist answer to this interesting question is complex and nuanced… When it comes to travel, we tend to think of it physically. However, it is possible to travel mentally as well. We only need to recall the most vivid memory to know what this means.