Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review of the Year............ sort of

Regular visitors to this site may be wondering what has happened to our traditional Review of the Year which should have appeared in June. Well I missed the deadline for a whole raft of reasons and then got paralysed by the usual "well I can't do it now, it's too late" syndrome.

However, on reflection I think that it is an ideal opportunity to bring the review in line with the actual year so what follows is a review of our postings from July of last year to the end of 2013. We will then have a "conventional" review of this year in early January 2015.... just like everyone else!

We started July with the story of "A Buddhist Shanty Town?"

and then continued the theme of Buddhist buildings with the news that the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre Escapes Fire.

And then into August with the story of Ayya Khema and the Coincidence. This was followed with a reminder of the upcoming annual Buddhist picnic and then into September for the event itself..............

"It's becoming a tradition that it pours down for the annual Buddhist picnic and this year was no different.....",
"However for those few brave souls who made it to the Duver in St. Helens there was a clear (ish) slot in the weather for us to enjoy the event."

On the 23rd we had the story of Giel, the Belgium boy who the authorities banned from travelling to India to become a Buddhist monk.

The month ended with the news that the long awaited film "The Buddha’s Forgotten Nuns" had finally been released.

We had originally reported on this back in January 2011 when the working title was "Bhikkhuni: Revival of the Women's Order". We purchased the film from Vimeo and have shared it with other Buddhist groups on the island.

On the 7th of October we had the great pleasure of a visit by Bhante Bodhidhamma to the West Wight Sangha.

Also in October we reported that with Armistice Day only being a fortnight away (as it is now) that you may like to consider also wearing a Purple Poppy this year to commemorate all of the animals killed in war. The poppies can be obtained from the Animal Aid website with profits going to support the charity's work.

In November we reported how Chinese Buddhist frescoes had been overpainted a'la the Spanish church masterpiece that was so widely reported.

This was shortly followed on the 14th with the news that Giel had been given permission to leave for India!

On the full moon of the17th we featured our regular Dhammapada reflection from Ajahn Munindo. The subject for this one was Endearment and I came across this amazingly moving picture of a sculpture of the dying mother Theresa.

Talking of amazing photographs, that post was immediately followed by a piece on the work of American Buddhist monk Nicholas Vreeland.....................

And there's more......................

23rd of November.... Regular readers will know that we have been committed supporters of full female ordination within all Buddhist traditions and have had a particular interest in supporting full Bhikkhuni ordination within the Thai forest tradition of Ajahn Chah.

I received an email from the Alliance for Bhikkhunis on their site they catalogue all the Nunneries for fully ordained Bhikkhuni that are now available since that first "controversial" ordination in Perth. It has become an impressive list so I've reproduced it here.............................

We ended the month with the "News" that the Buddha's birth was earlier than previously thought. This however remains a controversial finding and we will report on any definitive conclusions as and when they arise.

December started with the news that the Bible was being sold as fiction, in the United States!!!

And we finish our roundup with the news that a new Dictionary of Buddhism had been published.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

NEW MOON - Wednesday 22nd October 2014


Having empathy for others
one sees that all beings are afraid
of harm and death. 
Knowing this, one does not kill 
or cause to be killed. 

Dhammapada v. 129

Empathy is the essence of harmony. Throughout our lives we depend to varying degrees on others. If we forget that we all long for happiness and fear harm, we risk being dominated by self-centred concerns, but we can learn to recognize that which we all share. Empathy supports insight into selflessness. Through empathy we see that like us, others too hope not to be disappointed, and others too fear losing the things they hold dear. Even the wish to cause harm to another is a form of suffering we share with others. All those whose sense of identity comes from attaching to their body/mind are obliged to endure disharmony and the distorted thoughts and feelings which arise as a consequence. Letting go of attachment to this body/mind and recognizing our identity in understanding, means disharmony simply won’t arise.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Monday, 20 October 2014

Our Autumn Retreat

Yesterday we held our Autumn meditation retreat here at the West Wight Sangha. We hold quarterly "Seasonal" retreats, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter (there's a film title in there somewhere) to which we invite participants from the other Buddhist Sanghas on the island.

This time we were joined by members of the Newport Soto Zen group and the Isle of Wight Sangha of the Community of Interbeing from Lake.

As part of our day we used a guided meditation on emptiness led by Ajahn Punnadhammo. This proved to be very popular so I'm posting it here for you all to enjoy. One little caveat, at the end he says that he will ring the bell twice - he doesn't or it's not on the recording, the second one never comes so just end your meditation naturally in your own time.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Buddhism and World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, the annual global celebration of mental health education,
awareness and advocacy. Every year the focus is on a particular aspect of mental illness and for 2014 the theme is "Living with Schizophrenia".

Now if there is one area where Buddhism really connects in a relevant, dynamic and contemporarily meaningful way with the modern world it is in the field of mental health.

The Buddha’s teaching is all about the mind and how it leads us to suffering and the Buddhist practise of meditation allows us to focus on the workings of our mind and to peer beneath our conditioned behaviours and to see clearly what is actually going on. By settling our “monkey” mind our constant verbalisation and running self commentary are stilled and all of our “selves” can drop away. Put simply, Buddhist practice, drop by drop, changes the way our brains and thus our minds work – for the better.

“What Buddhists contribute is a richness of direct observation of mental process and an ethical underpinning which concurs in most ways with the broader ethical views of society. Beyond its obvious contribution of methodologies for calming and focusing the mind, it offers an understanding that whilst critiquing some Western attitudes to the self, increasingly aligns with practical approaches being offered by secular agencies in the treatment of ill health. Most importantly, though, it is grounded in a view of compassion and wisdom as the cornerstones of human improvement. Such basic commodities as must indeed underpin whatever attempt we make to be of service to others.”


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

FULL MOON – Wednesday 8th October, 2014

Frame of Reference

Passed down by the wise is the knowledge that,
though what is externally impressive loses its splendour, 
and though our bodies will decay, 
the truth itself outlasts all degeneration. 

Dhammapada v.151

Not only our bodies, but all material objects are subject to the law of impermanence; as are social structures, institutions, relationships, and organisations. Everything around us and within us is in a state of perpetual flux. As children, for the sake of balanced development, it is necessary to be somewhat protected from this fact. We are not for instance repeatedly instructing children regarding Mum and Dad’s mortality. Yet as we grow up, sooner or later, we must admit that this really is how it is. Indeed, more than admit it we need to embrace this truth, if we wish to accord wisely with changing conditions. The Buddha identified the law of impermanence as something beyond degeneration; something stable and secure; a Truth we can turn to, to find a frame of reference.

With Metta, Bhikkhu Munindo

Friday, 3 October 2014

China Throws its Weight Around, Again

The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, which was supposed to happen in Cape Town, has been cancelled after the South African government refused a visa to the Dalai Lama.

South Africa denied Tibet's exiled spiritual leader permission to attend the summit to avoid angering China, which regards the Buddhist monk as a "splitist" who wants Tibet to secede from China.

When the Dalai Lama announced he could not attend the meeting, six fellow laureates said they would boycott the summit in protest.

 “The venue of the summit has been shifted out of South Africa,” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams, one of the boycotters, said to American reporters today. Williams was speaking from Dharamsala, India, where she was visiting the Dalai Lama to celebrate his Nobel silver jubilee anniversary celebrations yesterday.

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu has lashed out at his government for "kowtowing" to China by barring the Dalai Lama from attending the global summit in Cape Town.

 Mr Tutu said the move sullies the memory of Nelson Mandela, who would not bend to the will of powerful states in his time as president. "When the Americans told him he couldn't continue his friendship with presidents Gaddafi and Castro, he told them to go and jump in the lake," Mr Tutu said.

Mr Mandela's heirs in the ruling African National Congress party under president Jacob Zuma had now "spat in Mandela's face", Mr Tutu said in a statement.