Friday, 25 March 2016

How Things Come Together

Last night a couple of us from the West Wight Sangha made our regular trip over to Newport to join the Soto Zen group for their Thursday evening meeting. As usual I took along a recorded Dharma talk for us all to listen to, in this case it was "The Ultimate Question" by Ajahn Brahmali. On previous evenings we had spent some time discussing Stephen Batchelor's latest book "After Buddhism" so it was a joy to find that when I was looking for a photo of Ajahn Brahmali I also came across a videoed debate between Stephen Batchelor and Ajahn Brahmali on the relevance of the early Buddhist texts for the modern world at an event hosted by Melbourne Insight Meditation Group.

You can listen to Ajahn's talk on our Audio Section HERE

and you can watch the debate on our Video Section HERE

"After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age" by Stephen Batchelor is available from Amazon.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

FULL MOON - Responsibility

By ourselves we do evil
and by ourselves we are made impure.
By ourselves we avoid evil,
and by ourselves we are made pure.
The matter of purity is our own responsibility.
No other can take responsibility for us.

Dhammapada 165

It can be quite a wake-up call when we begin to accept that we alone are really responsible for ourselves; nobody else is. Perhaps we secretly prefer the idea that our family is always going to be there for us, or the welfare state, or some celestial being. Of course, hopefully we do have companions who will befriend and support us as we go through life. But that is different from their being ultimately responsible for us. The Buddha warned against those disabling notions that undermine our trust in the law of kamma. He encouraged us to find what it takes to accept full responsibility for our actions of body, speech and mind and to be careful. One of the rewards of doing so is self-respect.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Some Buddhist Poems for World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day.

One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

The observance of World Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.


This day is a special day, it is yours.
Yesterday slipped away, it cannot be filled anymore with meaning.
About tomorrow nothing is known.
But this day, today, is yours, make use of it. 
Today you can make someone happy. 
Today you can help another. 
This day is a special day, it is yours.

Vijaya Samarawickama

Shrine Room

I have no shrine room
There are no flowers
There is no smell of incense burning in the room
There are no candles flickering gently

No meditation stool
No other bodies positioned round me
There is just me

What do I have?
I have a bed beneath me
I have my breath coming in, flowing out
And some, at least, awareness
I have pain in my body
And the cool detachment of moments of mindfulness

May that be enough
May I be well, may I be happy
May I be free from suffering
May I be at peace

Wendy Stern

(Wendy is a Buddhist and poet living in Bristol, in the west of England. For many years she has been completely bedridden, and her poetry therefore comes from this unusual perspective.)

Butsumon - The Gate of the Buddha

Before the mountain and by grace
of nature
I was allowed to realise "Oh!
I am only a child!"
Tendered by spruce and birds
I saw without my usual defences
and endless thinking I know
anything or everything
coming between me
and creation.

Myochi Roko Sherry Chayat

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

NEW MOON - Like and Dislike

One who has ceased
from following like and dislike,
who is cooled,
who is not swayed
by worldly conditions
- I call a great being.

Dhammapada 418

It is not the sense objects that create problems for us, it is our being swayed by them. The Buddha and the great realized beings all lived in the same material world as we do, but remained undisturbed. The beautiful and the not-beautiful were experienced, but without giving rise to suffering. Because they knew the reality of the world, inner and outer, they stayed cool, unintimidated, free. They were free to experience preferences without moving, either for or against.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Which Country is the Most Generous?

So here's an interesting one, which country is the most generous? Well if you're going to just measure the amount of money given it's fairly obvious that the richer, bigger and more populous a country is the more it can potentially give so the good people at the Charities Aid Foundation produced the World Giving Index (WGI) by asking people which of the following three charitable acts they had undertaken in the past month:

Helped a stranger, or someone they didn’t know who needed help?
Donated money to a charity?
Volunteered their time to an organisation?

So who was it? Well the UK came 6th and the USA came second........... but the winner was Myanmar!

Despite political turmoil and its position as a developing country, Myanmar remains at No. 1 (it was joint first with the U.S. last year). It comes top for both donating money (92% gave some cash) and volunteering (half of the population give their time). Indeed, almost as many Myanmarese volunteered as Brazilians, despite being a quarter of the size in terms of population.

This is the first time a country has come first for two out of the three aspects of giving since 2010. Myanmar’s commitment to Theravada Buddhism is most likely to be the driving force behind these high levels – around 89% of Myanmarese follow the religion and give little but often – and there are more monks here than in any other Buddhist country.