Sunday, 1 November 2020

FULL MOON – Valuing

Those who are foolish and confused
 betray themselves to heedlessness. 
The wise treasure the awareness 
they have cultivated 
as their most precious possession. 

Dhammapada v.26 

It is easy to take for granted the everyday level of clarity that we have. Even without regularly putting time aside to formally discipline attention, the practice of observing precepts alone can produce a quality of clarity that many people lack. Just as we might take our health for granted until we fall ill, we can likewise get used to living with a well-developed degree of awareness. The Buddha is advising us to value, even treasure, the results of our good efforts.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

FULL MOON – Consequences

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

Dhammapada v.119 

We might like to think that we can get away with doing something that is wrong so long as nobody else knows about it. However, we know about it; and we know that we know about it. We have to live with ourselves every day and every night for the rest of our lives. We have to be ready to remember every intentional action that we have ever performed. Once we appreciate this, then hopefully we come to see that the wise way to approach life is to try to do only those things that we wish to remember. If we have already accumulated memories that give rise to regret, see regret and remorse as part of the healing. Such suffering is a message, and it is inviting us to look at it, to receive it, so it can teach us to be more careful in the future. 

Monday, 11 May 2020

Buddhism and the Apocalypse

This extract is from a New York Times article on the apocalypse

In Buddhism, time is cyclical, not linear, making apocalypse both an end and a beginning. “Apocalypse happens and then a new order starts, a new social order, new moral order,” said Vesna Wallace, professor of Buddhism at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The story repeats itself.”

Apocalyptic stories in Buddhist scriptures share similar themes, often including an unjust ruler, social inequality, plagues and fruits that do not ripen, she explained, referring to texts from the fifth and 11th centuries A.D. Blades of grass become like swords — and even the sense of taste disappears (like a suspected symptom of the coronavirus infection). 

In Buddhist traditions, apocalypse comes as a result of collective karma — everyone’s actions toward one another and the world — which means its outcome can change, even in the present circumstance. “Now people are kinder to each other, they are spending more time with families,” Dr. Wallace said. “It’s like a warning to change the course of actions, to bring back compassion, empathy, develop social equality.”........................

A stark, binary structure — a clear good and evil, a clear before and after — appeals when society is fractured, said Dr. Hidalgo, the religion professor from Roger williams university. 

“Apocalypse is a flexible script,” she said. “A sense of shared external evil can really bring folks together.” 

It is also a reminder that across several traditions, the memory of past crises can offer hope — that human beings have survived such moments before, and that the truths being revealed can become a call to action.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Happy Vesak – and a Dhammapada Reflection; Seeking Contentment

It's the day of the first full Moon of May and that makes it Vesak, the celebration of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and final passing into nibbana, or nirvana. In some places it is known as the festival of lights, since lanterns, candles, and lamps are frequently used as part of the celebration (I've got loads of candles so that one's sorted).

This full moon is known as the ‘Flower Moon’ and provides the last chance to see a supermoon this year.

A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit brings it to its closest proximity to Earth – called its perigee.

A supermoon appears brighter and larger than normal, and is anything from 14% to 30% brighter than the average moon. 

Seeking Contentment 
To harm living beings
who, like us, seek contentment, 
is to bring harm to ourselves. 

Dhammapada v.131

It is reasonably obvious what living harmlessly means if we are referring to the way we relate to other living beings, but what does it mean if we turn our attention inwards? What does living harmlessly mean when we are referring to all those ‘living beings’ who occupy our inner worlds; how are we relating to them? If we feel obstructed by a bad mood or, even more painfully, thoroughly overwhelmed by intense negative emotions, can we meet these ‘beings’, truly receive them as they are, and in so doing release them? Or do we judge them and fight with them and in so doing compound the pain? All beings long to be free, including those unattractive, unwelcome beings that we have kept imprisoned for so long.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

SUPER FULL MOON – Distorted Views

Distorted views,
which give rise to seeing right as wrong
and wrong as right,
cause beings to disintegrate.

Dhammapada v.318

The way we view things defines how we relate to those things. If, for example, we view lounging in the sun as agreeable, then we might spend hours outside soaking up the warmth. However, once we learn about the heightened risk of skin cancer from excessive exposure to the wrong kind of UV rays, we are more likely to restrain ourselves; even though the thought of lying in the sun is still appealing. On a more subtle level, if we perceive holding fast to thoughts of resentment as somehow nourishing, then we are inclined to cling to those thoughts. If we study the Buddha’s teachings on the path of awareness to the point where we see how being caught in resentment leads to confusion and depression, then we are inclined to let go of such negativity. In letting go, maybe we will find a new level of contentment.

A spectacular super moon is set to appear in the night sky tonight - and it's set to be the biggest and best of 2020.

Tonight's super pink moon will be the largest our satellite will appear all year as its elliptical orbit today brings it to its closest point to Earth - a point known as its perigee.

The full moon will peak at 3.35am on Wednesday April 8, but experts say it will look most impressive as it rises over the horizon after 7.15pm on Tuesday April 7 - and may have a slight orange glow to it.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

These are the Hands by Michael Rosen

This poem is about all the people who work for the NHS.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

FULL MOON – Storytelling

Mistaking the false for the real,
and the real for the false,
one suffers a life of falsity.

But seeing the false as the false
and the real as the real,
one lives in the perfectly real.

Dhammapada v.11 - 12

How much time do we spend telling ourselves stories and how much do we invest in aligning with reality? Of course there are times when telling stories is genuinely meaningful. Not everything can be explained rationally. Stories often serve as approximations alluding to reality in ways that lineal, logical thinking cannot. However, compulsive storytelling is an obstruction. For example, there are stories which perhaps served a useful purpose at an earlier stage in our lives which now stop us from moving on. We could be telling ourselves that the limitations we feel are ultimate when in reality they are not. Or telling ourselves over and over again that we can’t let go of the past when in fact we can. We have already let go of the past. What we have now is a memory of something which happened in the past. That which happened in the past and the memory we have now are not the same thing. And therein lies the ever-present opportunity to begin again.