Friday, 31 July 2015

FULL MOON - How to be Happy

(A rare blue moon will be visible in the sky tonight for the first time in three years. The phenomenon occurs when there is a second full moon in one calendar month. It is uncommon because the full moon cycle is 29.5 days. It is also a ‘supermoon’ which occurs when the moon is at its closest approach to the Earth, known as perigee. It means the blue moon will appear especially big and bright.)

These three ways lead to the heavens: 
asserting the truth, 
not yielding to anger, 
and giving, even if you have only a little to share. 

Dhammapada 224

The Buddha is instructing us here on the ways that lead to true happiness. If we are misinformed on such matters we could, for example, think that intentionally distorting truth is OK. What lying actually does do is undermine our confidence by setting up self-doubt. We might think that hurting others will give us a sense of satisfaction, when in fact it just projects our inner pain onto the outer world, making things worse. With giving, we could make the mistake of thinking that the quantity of our gift is what matters. In reality it is the quality of our intention that is important and determines any outcome. Regularly studying and reflecting on these simple teachings by the Buddha has the potential to correct our wrong thinking and thereby create causes for genuine happiness.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Quote That I Like - “Are You A Buddhist?”

At our regular Tuesday night meeting one of our Sangha members shared the following quote which they had brought along...

“Are You A Buddhist?”
Sharon Salzberg.

Buddhism is a convenient label for the life she has chosen to live—No more. 

The point (of Buddhism) isn’t ‘to become a Buddhist’, to declare an identity, to reject anything else. The point is to look at, explore and if you wish, to try and live a certain way of life – a way of not harming yourself or others ,having compassion for yourself and others, building concentration, experimenting with mindfulness, developing Wisdom and Insight. 

It’s a way of life; it’s not in Lockdown with a certain kind of language or belief or adherence to belief. 

The Buddha did not teach Buddhism. 

The Buddha taught a way of Life.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

No Satan and No God

An essential tenet of Buddhism is that everything is interconnected, so I was interested to come across the story that the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple had held a public unveiling of a 9-foot, 1-ton bronze sculpture of Baphomet, a winged deity with a goat’s head.

The group had previously tried to install it near a 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma as a protest against Bible-themed displays on government land. However, the Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled the 10 Commandments monument violates a section of the state constitution that bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion. A similar monument was authorized in Arkansas earlier this year, so the group now plans to transport the statue there.

Interestingly the Satanic Temple writes on its website that it practices “non-theistic Satanism,” which means it does not believe in supernatural beings. “We understand the Satanic figure as a symbol of man’s inherent nature, representative of the eternal rebel, enlightened inquiry and personal freedom rather than a supernatural deity or being.”

The interconnectivity comes from the fact that I had just been reading Geoffrey Berg’s “The Six Ways of Atheism” New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God just before coming across this story.

No one up there or down there.

Monday, 20 July 2015

All the Way to Totland!

Yesterday, Sunday, we held our Summer Meditation Retreat over here in TOTLAND in the West Wight and so I was a little too preoccupied to post this Besley cartoon from Friday's Isle of Wight County Press until now.

To get the joke you have to know that the island is 23 miles from end to end and it takes less than an hour to drive from anywhere to anywhere even if you go via Newport!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

NEW MOON - Informed Faith

Even those who perform evil
can experience well-being
so long as their actions
have not yet borne direct fruits.
However, when the results
have not yet borne direct fruits
of their actions ripen,
the painful consequences 
cannot be avoided.

Dhammapada 119

We trust that the chair we are about to sit on will support us because similar objects have done so in the past. Having tried them out before and found them to be trustworthy, we henceforth suspend doubts and operate from faith. Dhamma principles similarly are available to be tried out; to be tested. There are many aspects of what the Buddha taught that we can examine and see for ourselves to be true. Some aspects however, like the law of kamma, we probably don't have the facility to see and fully understand directly. But given the accuracy of so much of the Teachings it can be a wise decision to suspend doubts and operate out of faith. This is not a naive form of faith conjured up in compensation for the anxiety we experience when we encounter chaos. This is an informed faith that we can consciously engage; a trusting relationship to life borne out of our careful investigation into what works. Because we trust does not mean we lose the ability to question.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Thich Nhat Hanh Recuperating in America

Plum Village has reported that Thich Nhat Hanh has travelled to San Francisco’s UCSF Medical Centre from his monastery in France for intensive rehabilitation, following his stroke last Autumn. The report reiterates the message of Plum Village’s last release, that Thay is recovering remarkably well. While he currently is unable to speak, the report says he was able to walk off the plane himself.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Buddhist Monks Feed Poor Muslims During Ramadan

Now here's a story you may have missed............

While ISIS is calling for terrorist attacks to be carried out during Ramadan Dharmarajika, a Buddhist monastery in Bangladesh, is serving food to hundreds of poor Muslims during the holy month which this year runs from the 18th of June and ends on the evening of the 17th of July.

During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, strict fasting is observed in daylight hours; Muslims break their fast at sunset, with a meal known as Iftar and this is what the Monks have been providing.

The monastery was established in 1949 and is home to more than 700 orphans who study at a free school it runs.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Fox Hunting Vote on Wednesday

You couldn't make it up, after the trauma and effort of the long battle to rid this country of the barbarity of fox hunting with dog packs finally resulted in the Hunting Act 2004 (which came into force in February 2005) the government is holding a vote this Wednesday to re-introduce this "sport".

The Act controls the hunting of wild mammals with dogs and prohibits hare coursing. It was stated in the High Court Judgement of February 2009 that the statutory aim of the Hunting Act "is to prevent or reduce unnecessary suffering to wild mammals" and that "causing suffering to animals for sport is unethical and should, so far as practicable and proportionate, be stopped".

So, if you want to keep our country free of this obscene cruelty email your M.P. and tell them to support the view of the 80% of their constituents who wish the ban to remain (it's called Democracy).

(On that note now would be an opportune moment to restate our editorial policy re: politics.

"It is Not the purpose of this site to campaign on political issues, however as a Buddhist site we will continue to promote peace and the welfare of all beings by any appropriate non-violent means".

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

You Can Stop the Yulin Dog-Eating Festival!

You may remember our recent post about the annual Yulin dog-eating festival in China. Well now's your chance to do something about it.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) hosts the annual World Dog Show — which has been called the "world's most important dog show" — in a different country each year. 2019's show is scheduled for China.

It's unthinkable that the same government that allows the dog-eating festival to occur each year would be rewarded with the World Dog Show. Yulin's festival means children's pets are kidnapped to be sold and eaten, and are often even skinned and boiled alive.

The festival is still going on even though the authorities in Yulin have officially banned it after previous bad publicity.

If enough people protest the Federation may have to seriously reconsider China as the venue and this can only mean that the Central People's Government is more likely to effectively enforce the ban over the head of the Yulin local Government.

So, please sign the PETITION against China hosting the World Dog Show in 2019 if the Yulin festival is not stopped.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Emily Maitlis Interviews the Dalai Lama

Tonight on BBC4 TV Emily Maitlis will be interviewing the Dalai Lama about his spiritual "beliefs" and his views on politics and aging.

The program is entitled Dalai Lama at 80 and airs at 7:00 pm.

If you're reading this after the event you can catch it here on the BBC iPlayer

Thursday, 2 July 2015

FULL MOON - Actuality

Though one may know much about Dhamma,
if one does not live accordingly-
like a cowherd who covets another's cattle-
one experiences none of the benefits
of walking the Way.

Dhammapada v. 19

To know about something is not the same as actually knowing something. Similar to the way a photograph taken on holiday might remind us of an experience we had, but is clearly not the same as that actual experience. The photograph, as with 'knowing about', is an approximation. The function of approximations is that they can give direction to our attention. For example, the teachings on the Four Noble Truths can inspire us to attend to the actuality of suffering. Without such encouragement we could heedlessly assume suffering to be no more than a symptom of something going wrong. Indeed most of the world operates on such a flawed assumption. Which is why we need teachings. We must remember though that these teachings only point the direction, we still must walk the way. There are those who profess a belief in selfless wisdom and its expression as selfless compassion, yet their beliefs remain little more than nice ideas unless they lead to making effort. Living according with Dhamma means we are willing to make the effort to drop our habits of avoidance and discover ways of being fully open to that which disappoints us, motivated by an interest in seeing beyond appearances.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

More Theravada Bhikkhunis Ordained, this time in Indonesia

At a ceremony held at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung on Sunday, June 21, nine prospective bhikkhunis, two from Indonesia and seven from other countries, underwent full ordination . The lineage of Theravada bhikkhunis had been dormant for over a thousand years after having died out in Indonesia in the 11th century.

This represents yet another step forward in the development of the International Bhikkhuni Sangha - despite the continued opposition of traditionalists.