Not only was Italy struck by an earthquake on Wednesday but central Myanmar was also shaken by a powerful quake which killed at least three people two of whom were children, and damaged scores of centuries-old Buddhist pagodas around the ancient capital of Bagan.
The 6.8 magnitude quake shook buildings across the country, with tremors felt as far away as Thailand, where witnesses reported high rise towers swaying in Bangkok, and also in Bangladesh and eastern India.
The earthquake caused landslides along riverbanks and damaged more than 170 Buddhist temples in Bagan. The area is at the heart of Central Myanmar’s growing tourism industry, which has taken off since the country began its democratic transition in 2011.
Now here’s a quote that I like despite it referencing a supposedly all powerful faith construct or god. This one is by Abdu’l-Bahá whose father, Bahá’u’lláh, founded the Bahá’í Faith.
Sometimes I want to ask “God” why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice when He could do something about it, but I’m afraid he might just ask me the same question.
While in the midst
of those who are greedy,
to dwell free from greed
is happiness indeed.
Dhammapada v. 199
It is one thing to have feelings of greed arise, but it is another thing altogether to follow them. This principle holds true for all our emotional activity. Sometimes we simply can’t stop moods from arising, but we can always exercise skillful restraint and wise reflection; and this, the Buddha says, leads to happiness. So the emphasis in our spiritual practice needs to be on the wise reflection of the nature of experience, not just on attempting to control everything. The original story associated with this verse talks about two neighbouring communities arguing over water rights. The situation had deteriorated to the point where they were about to go to war. The Buddha’s intervention taught them the futility of fighting and, fortunately, not only was war averted, but many grew wise in the process. Sometimes the conflicting members of our emotional household argue and possibly even go to war. It is important to remember at such time that wisdom and real happiness can be born out of conflict – not just to assume that because things don’t look so good that it’s all falling apart.
It’s now just under three weeks to go to the Annual Buddhist Picnic! This year will be our 19th and we will be back to the tradition venue of the Duver at St. Helens on Sunday 4th of September, 12:30 onwards.
For those of you who have not been before , our picnic site is the other side of the road from the National Trust car park. Take the right hand turning by the signs showing the Duver and long stay beach front car parks, carry on a few hundred metres and the National Trust car park is on the left.
In the centre of the photo below you can see our original meeting place, the small oak tree. As previously reported, the tree has unfortunately died and as such now offers no shade.
However, Angie and Mark have found another oak tree about a hundred meters further on along the track you can see to the right of the photo. So just carry on along the path and look for some Buddhists sitting under another small oak tree!
Family, friends, children and dogs welcome. Bring vegetarian
food to share (don’t forget the fruit juices).
See you there……………………….
You may recall that back in July 2013 we reported that a fierce fire was burning in the vicinity of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre, a Buddhist monastery-retreat which is part of the San Francisco Zen Centre.
Now the same thing is happening again with California’s most destructive wildfire this year already claiming Anam Thubten’s Sweetwater Sanctuary. On Friday, an inspection revealed that many of the buildings were burned to the ground following the evacuation of residents, with the exception of a few structures, including the meditation yurt.
The Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre is again threatened. According to the LA Times, the Soberanes fire in Big Sur was started by an unattended illegal campfire. The fire has caused one death and burned 67-square miles of Monterey County.
Tassajara is one of three practice communities that comprise the San Francisco Zen Centre (SFZC). The SFZC posted an update on their Facebook page, saying evacuations are underway at Tassajara as a precautionary move against the erratic pattern of the fire. An evacuation notice was issued for Tassajara on Sunday morning. Fire officials say the wildfire may not be contained for another month.
California has been experiencing a severe drought since 2011.
Leonard Cohen wrote this letter to Marianne Ihlen, his muse, his lover and the subject of his song So Long Marianne and the inspiration behind Bird on the Wire, on hearing of her impending death.
“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.
And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey.
Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”
She died in Norway on the 29th of July at the age of 81 of leukaemia.
Leonard Cohen was ordained a Zen Buddhist monk in 1996.
Ably self-restrained are the wise,
in action, in thought
and in speech.
Dhammapada v. 234
The word ‘restraint’ can trigger an association with other words, such as ‘inhibition’ or ‘repression’; the opposite of what we might think of as joyfulness. Yet the Buddha is telling us here that restraint is one of the characteristics of those who are wise. This is because there is a huge difference between deluded ego’s habits of blindly controlling, and the skillful effort to contain. As long as our passions are not truly informed by insight, they can be wild and get us into a lot of trouble, hence the need to contain energy. But we train our actions of body, speech and mind with an attitude of respect and kindness. Training a horse doesn’t mean we have to hurt it. We can admire the strength of the animal, while at the same time remembering we could get hurt if we are not careful. Right training involves care and mutual respect. Containing our passions enables the heart energy to build up and contribute to opening, enlivening and, eventually, transformation. Without restraint we operate at a very low level of energy and progress on the path will be limited.