Saturday, 14 April 2018

NEW MOON - Not Obvious

If birds are trapped in a net 
only a few will ever escape. 
In this world of illusion 
only a few see their way to liberation. 

Dhammapada v. 174

It is not easy to see beyond the illusions which cloud our mind. But we can train our perceptions; we are not obliged to believe what others have told us. The Buddha wanted us to know the truth for ourselves. Sometimes we worry awfully about things which later on we find were not at all important. Mental impressions can at one time appear utterly convincing, and then at another time be seen as completely otherwise. When this happens, it is wise to take note of how illusory the world can be. There is nothing wrong with the world being this way, just as there is nothing wrong with our dreaming when we go to sleep at night. But obviously we need to know that dreams are dreams, they are not actuality.

Monday, 2 April 2018

It's a Beautiful Planet - Look After It.

After David Attenborough's Blue Planet II showed us shocking images of plastic waste in our oceans I thought it appropriate to share this Besley cartoon from this week's Isle of Wight County Press.


And now, a quick word from the man himself....................

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Ajahn Brahm Resigns as Spiritual Director of Buddhist Society of Western Australia

In a news release, the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA) announced that Ajahn Brahm (or Ajahn Brahmavamso) has resigned from his post as the Spiritual Director of the organization.

The announcement, signed by Drew Bellamy, Immediate Past President* of BSWA, reads:

I wish to inform you that at tonight’s Society Annual General Meeting, Ajahn Brahmavamso resigned, without notice, from his post as Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

The 2015-2018 Committee has for some time been examining and trying to implement more support (paid or unpaid) and a more efficient organizational structure at the Society in order to reduce the workload of Ajahn Brahm and the Volunteer Committee. Again at this year’s AGM, due to certain members forming a blocking party with proxy votes, we were unable to get changes through to support this aim.

At the end of the AGM, Ajahn Brahm considering his workload and lack of support by members on this issue informed the meeting he felt he had no choice but to resign from the Society.

Ajahn Brahm clarified his resignation in a personal letter published on the BSWA website:

The committee had agreed on a proposal to amend the Constitution of the BSWA to allow the committee to appoint a subcommittee consisting of members of BSWA. At present, the Constitution of the BSWA only allows a subcommittee to be made up of serving committee members. In Ajahn Brahm’s opinion, this increases the workload of existing committee members by excluding non-committee members from helping on a subcommittee. It also increases my own workload, and stops us to tapping the expertise of our current members. 

Despite me showing strong support for this amendment and advising the members at the AGM how this will reduce my workload, this proposal was blocked by a small group using proxies which, though legal, was unethical in my opinion. Proxies were, apparently, solicited without giving a balanced explanation of the background to this proposal. 

As such, I have decided to step down as the Spiritual Director of BSWA. In practice, this means Venerable Hasapanna will be the Spiritual Director and I will be the Assistant Spiritual Director. 

When the Buddha was not heard at Kosambi, He went to the Parileyya Forest for three months. I doubt that the lay members of the BSWA will wait that long to settle this matter.

The sutta that Ajahn Brahm is referencing is the Kosambiya Sutta (MN48) which you can hear him explain below. 


Friday, 23 March 2018

World Poetry Day

I missed putting up something for World Poetry Day on Wednesday so to make up for that I'm reposting this powerful slam performance by award-winning poet George Yamazawa.

In it he recounts his earliest memories of teasing classmates by calling them “gay,” and the reaction he got from his Buddhist father. In rhythmic verse, Yamazawa talks about the power of words as insults and poetry, and the love that Buddhism inspires.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

TAWAI - a Voice from the Forest

I have just received an email from Anna about another interesting film that the Commodore in Ryde is showing this coming Wednesday. As Anna is going to be there dressed as an Orangutan and collecting for Greenpeace you can both enjoy the film, support conservation and express solidarity with our fellow primates.

The Commodore, Ryde, has agreed to screen the Film TAWAI - a Voice from the Forest - TWICE on Wednesday 21st of March - the International Day of the Forest: Once at 2:30pm and again at 8:05pm.

The film is a collaboration between Bruce Parry and Greenpeace. Tawai is the word the nomadic hunter-gatherers of Borneo use to describe their inner feeling of connection to nature. In this dreamy, philosophical and sociological look at life, explorer Bruce Parry travels the world to learn from people living lives very different to our own. From the jungles of Malaysia to the tributaries of the Amazon, TAWAI is a quest for reconnection, providing a powerful voice from the heart of the forest itself.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

FULL MOON - Full Appreciation

When we appreciate fully 
the benefit of our own pure deeds 
we are filled with joy; 
here and hereafter 
there is a celebration of joy.

Dhammapada v.16


For most of us, our critical faculties are already well-developed. The Buddha encourages us to also exercise our faculty for appreciation. When we shine the light of appreciative awareness on the pleasant consequences of skilful actions, the result is joy. Wholesomeness is enhanced when consciously appreciated.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Newport Buddhist meeting cancelled due to the Beast from the East!

The Newport Soto Zen Buddhist group has cancelled their Thursday meeting due to the Beast from the East!

Nationwide temperatures plummeted again overnight, with Farnborough in Hampshire recording a low of minus 11C. For most places, the mercury hovered at between -4C and -7C.

Motorists have been urged to take extra care on the roads, after four people died in car crashes on Tuesday and forecasters have warned of long delays on rail, bus and air travel. Temperatures could plummet to minus 15C by midweek where there is lying snow.

On top of all that Storm Emma is forecast to hit Britain tomorrow, leaving parts of southern Britain hit by blizzards and strong winds which are expected to cause snow drifts.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

“Walk With Me”; a Second Showing

Just a quick note to let you all know that the Commodore in Ryde is giving “Walk With Me” a second showing tomorrow at 5:15 p.m.

So, if you missed it last time around, there’s still a chance to catch it.


"Slow down and breathe. This contemplative journey follows in the steps of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and is a rare insight into life within a monastic community. The sun rises. Everything is calm and still. Life is beautifully serene as Benedict Cumberbatch’s composed, meditative voice reads an extract from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals. So begins Max Pugh and Marc J Francis’ fascinating and immersive exploration of what it means to devote one’s life to mindfulness. With unprecedented access to the famous secluded monastery of Plum Village in the South West of France, Walk With Me captures the daily routine and rituals of monks and nuns on a quest to develop a deep sense of presence. It is an insightful rumination on the pursuit of happiness, living in the present and our attachment to material things – a welcome remedy to the stresses of city life and a world in turmoil."

Laure Bonville

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NEW MOON - No Distraction

Knowing the Way for oneself 
walk it thoroughly. 
Do not allow the needs of others, 
however demanding, 
to bring about distraction. 

Dhammapada v.166

When our heart is at ease we can feel as if all is well in the world. But we know that even when it feels that way to us, for others life is an intense struggle where it definitely does not feel as if all is well. So is it appropriate that we put time and effort into developing an inner sense of contentment, or does having empathy mean always remaining aware of the suffering of others? When the Buddha warns against allowing the needs of others to distract us, he is pointing to where the priority lies. The fact is that when we lose connection with deep inner well-being, we more easily become caught in the forces of delusion. In practice it is wise to learn how to walk so that the way can regularly refresh and renew us; thus when we encounter the forces of delusion, we will be able to enquire into them without being dragged down. To be in possession of such strength is to have something truly valuable to share.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Buddhism Through Its Scriptures Course

Now here's something that you might be interested in..............

On Monday Harvard University started its free interactive course, “Buddhism Through Its Scriptures”, on their online learning platform.

It is the third module of the HarvardX series “World Religions through their Scriptures,” and is taught by Charles Hallisey, the Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures at the Harvard Divinity School.

There are eight days of lessons presented through both video and text that can be completed in the user’s own time. The project schedule is flexible for participants so you can work at your own pace to complete the materials.

https://www.edx.org/course/buddhism-through-its-scriptures



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

FULL MOON - Beyond Suffering

Let go of the past.
Let go of the future.
Let go of the present.
With a heart that is free,
cross over to that shore
which is beyond suffering.

Dhammapada v. 348.

The ‘other shore’ to which the Buddha is referring, that place which is beyond suffering, already exists. It is not as if we have to create the other shore; not as if we have to create Dhamma. Even the Buddha didn’t create Dhamma, he realized it. Our efforts in practice need to be aimed at seeing that which is already here, now. The encouragement to let go of images of the past, present and future suggests that we are paying too much attention to ideas we have about reality and not enough attention to that which is actually in front of us.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

NEW MOON - Noble Effort

It is always a pleasure 
not to have to encounter fools. 
It is always good to see noble beings, 
and a delight to live with them.

Dhammapada v. 206

We may or may not be blessed with the good fortune of living with noble beings, but we can all make the effort to cultivate noble mind states. Mind states are similar to living beings: when they are wholesome it is a joy to have them; when they are foolish, they can be very hard work indeed. If we establish such qualities as gratitude, forgiveness, kindness and discernment in our minds, we will be able to dwell in delight even when external conditions are difficult.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Walk With Me comes to Ryde

I've just heard from Angie that the film Walk With Me will be showing at Ryde Commodore on Saturday, February 3rd at 5pm. The film is about Thich Nhat Hahn and is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.

It would be great for as many people as possible to be able to see it, so ring round friends re: lift sharing.


SYNOPSIS

"Slow down and breathe. This contemplative journey follows in the steps of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and is a rare insight into life within a monastic community. The sun rises. Everything is calm and still. Life is beautifully serene as Benedict Cumberbatch’s composed, meditative voice reads an extract from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals. So begins Max Pugh and Marc J Francis’ (Black Gold, LFF2006) fascinating and immersive exploration of what it means to devote one’s life to mindfulness. With unprecedented access to the famous secluded monastery of Plum Village in the South West of France, Walk With Me captures the daily routine and rituals of monks and nuns on a quest to develop a deep sense of presence. It is an insightful rumination on the pursuit of happiness, living in the present and our attachment to material things – a welcome remedy to the stresses of city life and a world in turmoil." 

Laure Bonville, London Film Festival

Monday, 8 January 2018

West Wight Sangha’s Winter Meditation Retreat

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder that it now just two weeks until West Wight Sangha’s Winter Meditation Retreat! The retreat runs from 10 o’clock on the morning of Sunday the 21st of January to four o’clock in the afternoon. 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. 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.
Be well, Steve

Monday, 1 January 2018

Full Moon for a New Year - Small Matters

Do not ignore the effect of right action, 
saying, “This will come to nothing.”, 
Just as by the gradual fall of raindrops 
a jar is filled
so in time the wise 
become replete with good.

Dhammapada v. 122

The enormity of what appears to lie ahead can at times feel overwhelming. But this is only the case when awareness is dominated by what we imagine lies ahead. Of course we don’t really know the future. We have an amazing facility for imagining and extrapolating, but the Buddha says we are wise to include in awareness an appreciation for the reality happening right now. When we are in touch with the here-and-now reality we are more likely to remember those things that we can do that immediately make a difference: slow down; steady attention; feel the ground beneath your feet; expand the sense of space which you occupy; simply receive this moment without taking sides for or against. Remember to not become lost in speculation.