Saturday, 30 September 2017

Newsletter

I was recently noting the various email notifications that I needed to send to the group and had a “Light Bulb” moment that the obvious thing to do was to put everything together in a Newsletter and that it would be a good idea to make this a regular offering.

It is obvious from the above that this will be a work in progress but my initial intention is to both post the newsletter to our website and to email it to everyone whilst also producing some hard copy.

Retreat Day

As we are now officially in Autumn it’s time for the West Wight Sangha Autumn Retreat Day which will be on Sunday the 15th of October, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For anyone who hasn't been before, we are at Yew Tree Cottage, Weston Road, Totland and you can ring me on 756884.

As is now our usual practice we’re looking to evenly balance the morning and afternoon sessions so we’ll be having lunch from 12:30 finishing at 1:30, so it would be nice if you’re only coming for the morning or afternoon to stay or come at half twelve and join everyone for lunch…… usual format of bringing vegetarian food to share (and don’t forget fruit juice etc. to drink). Also feel free to bring any readings that you would like to share.

Please let me know if you intend coming so that I have some idea of the numbers.

Meeting Schedule

As some of you will know we have experimented with having “themed” evenings for our Tuesday meetings and have changed the arrangements for running proceedings.

So we now come directly up to the Shrine Room via the side gate without meeting in the house first. This enables us to get the meeting underway earlier and as such we will be able to stick more rigidly to the 7:30 time for our sit.

On the first meeting of the month (as is this Tuesday) we will now be having a more focused meditation session with two sits, the first the usual practise of 30 minutes with a second sit of 20 minutes at the end of the meeting. We tried this last month and it proved very popular.

We are still feeling our way with this and are experimenting between using the four part timers for new group members who are not so familiar with Buddhist orientated meditation techniques, and having uninterrupted sessions with bells at the beginning and end only. It’s all very organic and we will go with the flow.

With the more punctual start to proceedings we will have time to listen to recorded Dharma talks and I’m scheduling that for the second meeting of the month, in this case Tuesday the 10th.

The talk will be “What about Karma?” by David Loy.

The talk was given at Spirit Rock Meditation Centre as part of "Awakening in Service and Action: A Study Retreat on Socially Engaged Buddhism."

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Disability advocate Yetnebersh Nigussie receives Right Livelihood Award

The fifth "fold" of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold path is Right Livelihood.

The Right Livelihood Award Foundation announced the three recipients of its 2017 prize today in Stockholm: Ethiopian lawyer Yetnebersh Nigussie, Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova and Indian attorney Colin Gonsalves were honoured for their work "offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems." US attorney Robert Bilott received an honorary mention.

Yetnebersh Nigussie was five when she went blind. Her family initially struggled to come to terms with her disability. They took her to traditional healers and used holy water treatments because a disabled child was viewed as "God's" way of punishing the parents for some misdemeanour .

She describes being thus "cursed" by her blindness as an opportunity as it helped her to escape from the early child marriage which is widely exercised in the Ethiopian district where Yetnebersh was born.

But through sheer determination and the help of family members she managed to go to school and excelled. Yetnerbersh is now one of the most influential global disability activists from Africa promoting gender and disability inclusion. She works as a senior advocacy office for the disability and development organisation Light for the World.

The Right Livelihood Award is an international award to "honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today." The prize was established in 1980 by German-Swedish philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull, and is presented annually in early December. An international jury, invited by the five regular Right Livelihood Award board members, decides the awards in such fields as environmental protection, human rights, sustainable development, health, education, and peace. The prize money is shared among the winners, usually numbering four, and is €200,000. Very often one of the four laureates receives an honorary award, which means that the other three share the prize money.

Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote,

"To practice Right Livelihood (samyag ajiva), you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion. The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others. "

... Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or erode them. We should be awake to the consequences, far and near, of the way we earn our living."

Our global economy complicates the precaution to do no harm to others. For example, you may work in a department store that sells merchandise made with exploited labour. Or, perhaps there is merchandise that was made in a way that harms the environment. Even if your particular job doesn't require harmful or unethical action, perhaps you are doing business with someone who does. Some things you cannot know, of course, but are you still responsible somehow?

Ming Zhen Shakya argues that any work that is honest and legal can be "Right Livelihood." However, if we remember that all beings are interconnected, we realise that trying to separate ourselves from anything "impure" is impossible, and not really the point. 

 If you keep working in the department store, maybe someday you'll be a manager who can make ethical decisions about what merchandise is sold there.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

NEW MOON - Consistency

The Awakened Ones, firm in their resolve,
vigorously apply themselves,
and know freedom from all limitation:
liberation, true security.

Dhammapada v. 23

Consistency is one of the characteristics of the Awakened Ones. Those free from the limitations which arise from clinging, never get lost in moods, positive or negative. It is not because they don't feel anything. They feel everything, but because they know beyond doubt the nature of all things, they don't interfere with, or obstruct, reality. Unawakened beings are always interfering by indulging and denying. Even when we want to be helpful, so long as we are still caught in clinging, we obstruct reality. Whatever goodness arises from our efforts is limited. Incomparable goodness arises from a heart that is unobstructed, that is truly secure.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

New Buddhist Group on Island!

A new Buddhist group, the Heart of the Island Sangha has started in Newport.

The group is affiliated to the Community of Interbeing UK (COI) which is part of the international Sangha founded by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh and follows his teachings and practices in the Plum Village Tradition and meets every Tuesday between 19:45 – 21:30 at the Riverside Centre, on The Quay in Newport.


It follows on from the new mindfulness course Be Calm Be Happy which was developed and is promoted by the COI as a truly Buddhist based original foundation teaching for mindfulness which includes the full teachings on Mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for a peace prize by Martin Luther King for his work to alleviate suffering during the Vietnam war and to start peace talks to end that same war.

He has since dedicated his life to peace work with conflicts all over the world such as Palestine/ Israel and many others.

The Heart of the Island Sangha is led by Sylvia who is a trustee for the national educational charity to spread this work and also an experienced mindfulness teacher with over twenty years experience teaching and a strong personal practice.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Myanmar and the Rohingyas

On yesterday's edition of BBC radio 4's program Today Vishvapani (a member of the Triratna Buddhist group) offered his thoughts on the situation in Myanmar and the plight of the Rohingyas..........

"When I hear about the horrific repression that's being inflicted on the Muslim Rohingyas, I share many of the outraged feelings that others are expressing. But I feel something extra as well: shame that these things are being done by my fellow Buddhists for the sake of a Buddhist state and with the support of many Buddhist monks.

How did we get here? I don't want to over-simplify the situation in Rohingya, or generalise the responses of all Burmese Buddhists; but the question remains. The Buddha said that 'hatred is never overcome by hatred, but only by love'; so how has the faith he founded become associated with such brutality?"

Listen to the full talk here................



DOWNLOAD       (Right click and "Save link as....")

Friday, 8 September 2017

Anniversaries and Milestones

I had a note in my diary for tomorrow that it's the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis which is a nice coincidence as the West Wight Sangha is also ten years old this year.


While looking at their website I noticed that it was the 7th International Bhikkhuni Day on Wednesday, so a slightly belated congratulations on this auspicious event which marks the end of a significant year — the 2600th year of the Bhikkhuni Sangha.

Between the full moon of September 2016 and the full moon of September 2017 there were worldwide commemorations of the 2600th anniversary of the bhikkhuni sangha.

In the fifth year of his ministry, the Buddha was staying at Vesali when he heard that his father, King Suddhodana, was ill. He decided to visit him again at Kapilavatthu to teach him the Dharma, and made the long journey. After hearing the Dharma, the king immediately attained arahantship and passed away peacefully seven days later. It was in this year that the order of nuns was founded at the request of Maha Pajapati Gotami, the aunt and foster mother of the Buddha.

Three times she approached the Buddha and asked him to ordain her into the Sangha, but each time the Buddha refused, giving no reason at all. After the Buddha had stayed at Kapilavatthu a while, he journeyed back to Vesali.



Pajapati Gotami was a determined lady, and would not be so easily discouraged. She had a plan to get her way. She cut her hair, put on yellow garments and, surrounded by a large number of Sakyan ladies, walked 150 miles from Kapilavatthu to Vesali. When she arrived at Vesali, her feet were swollen and her body was covered with dust. She stood outside the hall where the Buddha was staying with tears on her face, still hoping that the Buddha would ordain her as a nun.


Ananda was surprised to see her in this condition. "Gotami, why are you standing here like this?" he asked.

"Venerable Ananda, it is because the Blessed One does not give permission for women to become nuns," she replied.

"Wait here, Gotami, I'll ask the Blessed One about this," Ananda told her. When Ananda asked the Buddha to admit Maha Pajapati Gotami as a nun, the Buddha refused. Ananda asked three times and three times the Buddha refused.

So Ananda put the request in a different way. Respectfully he questioned the Buddha, "Lord, are women capable of realising the various stages of sainthood as nuns?"

"They are, Ananda," said the Buddha.

"If that is so, Lord, then it would be good if women could be ordained as nuns," said Ananda, encouraged by the Buddha's reply.

"If, Ananda, Maha Pajapati Gotami would accept the Eight Conditions* it would be regarded that she has been ordained already as a nun."

When Ananda mentioned the conditions to Maha Pajapati Gotami, she gladly agreed to abide by those conditions and automatically became a nun. Before long she attained arahantship. The other Sakyan ladies who were ordained with her also attained Arahantship.

based on Anguttara Nikaya 8.51

The establishment of an order of nuns with rules and regulations was an opportunity for women that the Buddha offered for the first time in the history of the world. No other spiritual leader had given such high religious status to women.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

FULL MOON - Do Not Abandon Yourselves

To lose the company of those
with whom one feels at home is painful,
to be associated with those
whom you dislike is even worse;
so do not abandon yourselves
either to the company of those
with whom you feel at home
or those whom you dislike.

Dhammapada v. 210

Abandoning ourselves here means losing ourselves or losing perspective. It is thoroughly natural to experience warm-hearted caring for another, as the Buddha pointed out in his teachings on cultivating loving-kindness. What we add to that with our clinging, is unnatural, or at least unnecessary. And if we could stop clinging we might be more whole-heartedly caring. If we are not really attentive we could be harbouring some hesitation to truly care for others out of fear of becoming attached. With wise contemplation however, it is possible to care and at the same time be mindful of tendencies to attach. The only thing to be afraid of is the time it takes to remember to be mindful.

Monday, 4 September 2017

It Never Rains But it Pours!

A stalwart group of us gathered on the Duver at St Helens yesterday to participate in the annual Buddhist picnic when the various Buddhist groups from across the island meet for a relaxed late summer get together and alfresco meal. This year was a milestone as it was the 20th year that we had held the picnic.

It poured down................. all day.

So we went back to Matt's and had the "picnic" in his conservatory where we could fantasise we were communing with nature by looking out at the garden.


While at the same time feeling quite Tropical in the conservatory.

Not to mention that the tea was better than anything stewed in a thermos.
And to match up with the Tibetan prayer flags we had our guest Tibetan dog. Dogs are always
especially welcome at the Buddhist picnic.