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.

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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

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

Full Moon for a New Year – Small Matters

Do not ignore the effect of right action, 1 January 2018
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.

Dhondup Wangchen Escapes From China

Tibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen was jailed in China for six years in late 2009 in the western province of Qinghai after he made a documentary in which ordinary Tibetans praised the Dalai Lama and complained about how their culture had been trampled upon.

The film, “Leaving Fear Behind”, features a series of interviews with Tibetans who talk about how they still love their exiled spiritual leader and thought the 2008 Beijing Olympics would do little to improve their lives. The film was shown in secret to a small group of foreign reporters in Beijing during the Olympics.

In a statement issued in Beijing late on Wednesday evening, the group “Filming for Tibet” said Dhondup Wangchen had arrived in the United States that day.

“After many years, this is the first time I’m enjoying the feeling of safety and freedom,” he said.

“I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to hold my wife and children in my arms again. However, I also feel the pain of having left behind my country, Tibet.”

Dhondup Wangchen had been released from prison in June 2014 in the Qinghai provincial capital of Xining but remained under tight surveillance with his movements and communications monitored.

Qinghai, which borders the Tibet Autonomous Region, is home to a large ethnic Tibetan population and is considered by many Tibetans as part of greater Tibet. It is also the birthplace of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Watch the film here…………

NEW MOON – True Principles

A healthy mind is the greatest gain. 
Contentment is the greatest wealth. 
Trustworthiness is the best of kin. 
Unconditional freedom is the highest bliss. 

Dhammapada v. 204

We might assume that the perfect realization of unconditional freedom is some way off, but we can already plant the seeds of the possibility in our hearts. The conditions of the world keep changing: at times quite wonderful, at other times challenging and often something in-between. How do we stay stable with such instability? We orient our hearts toward true principles, Dhamma. Establishing an initial understanding of true principles gives our hearts direction. Contemplating these principles is nurturing the seeds. As to when they will bear fruit is not something we can control. In the meantime cultivating trust in the possibility of unconditional freedom is something we can do.

West Wight Sangha’s Review of the Year

Welcome to our review of the year as told in the stories and issues featured here on the West Wight Sangha website. As always follow the highlighted orange links for the full story………………

We started the year with A Simple and Easy New Years Resolution, a mindfulness exercise consisting of simply remembering to pick up and dispose of one piece of litter every day.

Continuing the theme of new year’s resolutions there’s the perennial post Christmas diet resolution. Hands up, I needed to lose weight and I decided to do so mindfully.

Yes, as a Buddhist my aim is to live as much of my life mindfully as possible, but there is actually a Mindful Diet; Mindful Eating – A Resolution…………………………………..

Spotted on Freshwater Bay in January was this piece of very Zen art.

More Children Learn About the Buddha. In February Dave Downer and I had the pleasure of teaching the basics of Buddhism at The Island Free School over in Ventnor.

Back in the middle of November last year we received the following email……………

I stumbled across the West Wight Sangha website and thought I might send you some of the books published by our organization. You can see some of them here. http://www.bhantedhammika.net/ If you would like some copies for yourself and your friends and you give me a postal address I will happily send you some copies.



Kind regards Bhante Dhammika.

The books were ordered and duly sent on their way by ship.

They arrived on the 1st of March which coincidentally was World Book Day!

Books, Books, Books

Which leads us neatly to A Buddhist Poem for World Poetry Day

“Strong In The Rain” (Ame ni mo Makezu) by Kenji Miyazawa

 

Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Unselfish
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs…his understanding
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there’s a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, “Don’t be afraid”
If there’s strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everyone calls him “Blockhead”
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart…
That is the sort of person I want to be.

A Proposal for Peace – Buddhist Talk in Newport

I posted this poster to give everyone a heads-up to the the upcoming talk in May. The Isle of Wight members of the socially engaged Buddhist movement SGI-UK hosted the talk, which was followed by a question, answer and discussion session.

This story, by Dan Ackerman, appeared in the spring 2017 edition of CNET Magazine, Virtual Reality Meditation

Triratna’s 50th Anniversary

On the 8th of April we noted that this weekend the Triratna Buddhist Community will be celebrating its founding 50 years ago on the 6th of April 1967.

Walk the Wight and Wesak In April I changed the date of Wesak to avoid clashing with Walk the Wight!


At the end of May we posted details of Ajahn Brahm’s UK Dhamma Talks Tour which was in October .The tour was in support of the Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project.

In June we told the story of how the communist, atheistic  government of China was embracing Buddhism to Project Power.


Becoming a guardian of Buddhism is helping Xi successfully promote China as an acceptable world power with a soft image.

Buddhist globalisation helps Beijing push its economic projects – religious diplomacy makes it easier for China to win economic and infrastructural projects in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and elsewhere.

 
Following the terror attacks in London and Manchester and the apparently “retaliatory” attack outside a mosque in Finsbury Park this article by Andrew Olendzki on conflict seemed so appropriate………….  The Language of Conflict

We are Ten years Old this Month!

The West Wight Sangha Website was ten years old this June. Back on Wednesday the 6th of June 2007 I posted our first item………….

This was followed on the 14th with our first proper story A Zen Monk on the Isle of Wight!

Buddhist Group Changing China (or visa versa?)

This article was by Ian Johnson from the New York Times and is about
a Buddhist organisation from Taiwan called Fo Guang Shan, or Buddha’s Light Mountain.

In July we held Our Summer Retreat Day and I posted some of the poems and texts that we used. Failing atrocious weather, our Winter Retreat Day is scheduled for Sunday the 21st of January.

Talking of the island, here is a story illustrating the interconnectedness of life……….

The Isle of Wight, The Buddha, NCIS and The Ham

It Never Rains But it Pours!

A stalwart group of us gathered on the Duver at St Helens on the first Sunday of September 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.

Anniversaries and Milestones

Having said that the West Wight Sangha is ten years old this year it was nice to see that it’s also the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Alliance for Bhikkhunis which is a nice coincidence.

Myanmar and the Rohingyas

On September the 12th’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……….

New Buddhist Group on the Island!

In the middle of the month a new Buddhist group, the Heart of the Island Sangha, 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.

Newsletter

At the end of the month we produced our first newsletter. There will be more to follow but in many ways this, the Annual review, is itself  one great big newsletter.



Some “Buddhist” Poems for National Poetry Day

The 6th of October was National Poetry Day when Britain was encouraged to “break the tyranny of prose for 24 hours by sharing poetry in every conceivable way.”

And here’s Maitreyabandhu talking about the connection between poetry and receptivity.

Tuesday Talks – a New Feature At our Sangha meeting on the 10th of October we introduced a new feature, a short Dharma talk. I have been taking talks to the Newport Soto Zen group for some time but until recently very few shorter talks have been available for use in our shorter meetings.

Our first was What About Karma by David Loy.

These talks, as well as the Newport ones, are all available on our Audio Page.

Are These Hobbit Holes?

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We ended November with A Good Day Being Had by All and A Bit of Controversy?

The good day was a retreat at the Soto Zen group with the Reverend Gareth Milliken, the Prior of Reading Priory.

The controversy was all that fuss about dowsing…………

Buddhism and Islam in Asia

We started December with this insightful analysis by Akhilesh Pillalamarri.

Arson Attack Destroys Buddhist Centre in Savoie, France

Sadly we finish our review with this story of an arson attack on the Karma Ling Buddhist centre in France.

However, it is the response of Lama Denys Rinpoché, leader of The Karma Ling Institute, that says it all.

“This person is in great pain and we want to help him or her as much as we can. I personally make prayers and wishes so that he or she become free from any torments.

If someone I cherish and protect as my child comes to think of myself as his enemy, Just like a mother for her child with an illness to give him even more affection, such is the practice of a Bodhisattva.”