Friday, 28 February 2014

NEW MOON – Friday 28th February 2014

The World

I call them the peaceful ones,
who are calm in body,
in speech and in mind,
and who are thoroughly purged 
of all worldly obsessions. 

Dhammapada v. 378

When religions teach us to dismiss the material world they are not being helpful. The Buddha taught us to understand the material world, not dismiss it. To the degree we understand the world we need not be obsessed by it. If we see the world clearly, we can recognise both its potential for increasing the happiness of living beings as well as the risk of increasing suffering. Without this clear seeing, the pleasure that arises with gratification of desire, for example, looks like the path to peace and contentment. But it is not. Such gratification is merely a momentary relief from the irritation of wanting. The peace and contentment that we seek are the companions of clear seeing. All things of the world, the agreeable and the disagreeable, are changing. Truly seeing this is seeing changelessness.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Everything is Impermanent

Talking about the end of the World, it's not as though it hasn't happened before...................

We had a lively discussion last week at our Sangha meeting about the recent floods here in the UK. We went on to discuss how calls to "Save the planet" are usually focused on saving our own species. The frailty of life on our ever changing planet has faced far worst challenges in the past and has survived even though individual species have not.

There have been what are known as the Big Five mass extinctions, each of which wiped out at least half of all species alive at that time.

In order, they are:-

The Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction

The third largest extinction in Earth's history, the Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction had two peak dying times separated by hundreds of thousands of years. During the Ordovician, most life was in the sea, so it was sea creatures such as trilobites, brachiopods and graptolites that were drastically reduced in number.

The Late Devonian mass extinction

Three quarters of all species on Earth died out in the Late Devonian mass extinction, though it may have been a series of extinctions over several million years, rather than a single event. Life in the shallow seas were the worst affected, and reefs took a hammering, not returning to their former glory until new types of coral evolved over 100 million years later.

This was the big one!
The Permian mass extinction

The Permian mass extinction has been nicknamed The Great Dying, since a staggering 96% of species died out. All life on Earth today is descended from the 4% of species that survived.

The Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction

During the final 18 million years of the Triassic period, there were two or three phases of extinction whose combined effects created the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction event. Climate change, flood basalt eruptions and an asteroid impact have all been blamed for this loss of life.

The Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction

The Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction - also known as the K/T extinction - is famed for the death of the dinosaurs. However, many other organisms perished at the end of the Cretaceous including the ammonites, many flowering plants and the last of the pterosaurs.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

End of the World - Yesterday, Again

Yet again the World ended yesterday. This time it was supposed to be Ragnarok, the Viking
apocalypse, a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of gods (including Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Well they got that last part right given all the rain we've had recently.

Talking about floods, set for release on the 28th of March is the film Noah, it stars Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Connelly, and is directed by Darren Aronofsky. In this story rather than the gods being killed it's a god killing everyone (and all the animals too). But a small group are saved to carry on and rebuild the world, just like the Viking myth which has two humans, Lif and Lifthrasir, surviving to repopulate the Earth (er, sounds like another story), oh and apparently the inbreeding isn't a problem........................

Friday, 14 February 2014

FULL MOON – Friday 14th February 2014 - Magha Puja

The Way

Refrain from doing evil,
cultivate that which is good;
purify the heart.
This is the Way of the Awakened Ones.

Dhammapada v. 183

The first stage of cultivating the way is refraining from following all that is evil. It is about learning to say ‘no’ to ourselves when we need to. As a result, we discover later we can say, ‘yes’ without losing ourselves. If we don’t recognize our unwholesome impulses for what they are, we might think the bad stuff is only in other people. The second stage of cultivating the way is developing that which is good. Even if it is only a small moment of goodness, don’t dismiss it. The third stage is purifying our effort of the taint of ‘me’. Even when we have completely finished redecorating a room, the smell of paint fumes remains. Though our practice might be getting stronger, the sense of self-importance could be getting stronger too.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Happy Macha Bucha (& Valentine's Day)

Every year Buddhist countries celebrate Sangha Day. Sangha Day is the second most important Buddhist festival and is a celebration in honour of the Sangha, or the Buddhist community.

Sangha Day commemorates the spontaneous gathering of 1,250 enlightened monks (arahants) to hear the Buddha preach at Veluvana Vihara.

At this gathering, the Buddha gave his first sermon, or recitation of the Patimokkha (the rules and regulations of the monastic order).

It is celebrated on the full moon day of Māgha (the third lunar month) in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar where the month is called Phālguna, from the Hindu calendar. The spiritual aims of the day are: not to commit any kind of sins; do only good; purify one's mind. Māgha Pūjā is a public holiday in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Celebrations vary, but can include chanting, meditation, the lighting of oil lamps, and the reaffirmation of people's commitment to Buddhist practice.

Oh, and this year it coincides with Valentine's day............... so love all around!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Talk by Vishvapani

Talking about talks, the latest Thought for the Day by Vishvapani, the first this year, has arrived.

You can access it here, "The Winter Olympics, Tennis, Sport and Meditation" or go to our Audio Section, Thought for the Day page for more by Vishvapani and other speakers.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Two Recent Retreats on the Island

In the last couple of weeks both ourselves over here at the West Wight Sangha and our friends at the Newport Soto Zen group have held meditation retreat days. The audio materials used can be found at "Winter Retreat 2014", for our own retreat and for the Newport group at "Five Talks by John Peacock" on our Audio Section.

The two talks for the Newport retreat are "The Brahma Viharas" by John Peacock and "Acceptance" by Reverend Master Daishin Morgan who is Abbot of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey which is located in a remote moorland area of Northumberland.

The Newport group is affiliated to the monastery via it's priory in Reading.