A Phrase That I Liked

On this morning’s Today program on Radio 4, Nick Robinson was interviewing Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health, on the draft Brexit deal.  When Mr Hancock tried to pull the conversation round to the future trade arrangements with the EU Robinson said: “We’ll come to the future in a second.”

Philosophical presentism is the view that neither the future nor the past exist. In some versions of presentism, this view is extended to timeless objects or ideas (such as numbers). According to presentism, events and entities that are wholly past or wholly future do not exist at all.

To live in the present moment is the basic foundation of Buddhism.

“Being in the moment is just another way of saying that we are aware of what is going on in our experience, that we are not just being angry (or whatever) but are aware that we are angry and are aware that we can choose to be otherwise…………

Of course a lot of the time when we are not being in the moment, we are literally thinking about the past or present. We might be dwelling on the past – brooding about some past hurt. Or we may be fantasizing about a future in which we have won the lottery and are living out our lives in some imagined paradise, or daydreaming about being with the perfect partner.

Often these fantasized pasts and futures are not even real possibilities, but simply fantasies of how things might be or of how we would have liked them to have been. And as with all unmindful activity, we have no awareness that this fantasizing is pointless. All that it does is reinforce unhelpful emotional tendencies that can never truly enrich our lives.”

Bodhipaksa

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NEW MOON – No More Distress

There is no tension 
for those who have completed their journey 
and have become free 
from the distress of all binding ties. 

Dhammapada v. 90

Whatever is happening around us, let’s not forget that the more important journey is that which leads to freedom from all distress. We might be feeling distressed over what we see or hear on the outside, but the greater distress is that which we feel in our hearts. Materialist cultures are mostly unaware of the spiritual journey and mostly invest is acquiring more things and more experiences. The Buddha wants us to invest in training our attention so we learn to recognize the true causes of distress and acquire the skill of letting go.

The First Island ‘Plogger’

You may remember the Daily Mindfulness Exercise that our Sangha and other friends practise. Quite simply, the exercise is to pick up and dispose of one piece of litter every day.

So I was gratified to see this story in last week’s Isle of Wight County Press; Graphic designer and keen runner, Neil McCall, has decided to wage his very own personal war on litter in Cowes — by becoming probably the first Island ‘plogger’.

Plogging is a combination of jogging with picking up litter (Swedish: plocka upp). It started as an organised activity in Sweden around 2016 and spread to other countries in 2018, following increased concern about plastic pollution. As a workout, it provides variation in body movements by adding bending, squatting and stretching to the main action of running.

Neil, 47, of Mill Hill Road, Cowes runs once a week and, armed with a litter stick and two bin liners, carefully picks-up any litter he spies along the way.

He meticulously sorts the litter into two bags – one for recyclable items and one for non-recyclable after he was inspired by a TV programme about plogging.

He said: “It is quite a big thing over there. Basically, runners take a rubbish bag with them on their run and just fill it.

“The reason I started it was because I just wanted to feel as if I was doing something.”

He added: “I regularly see rubbish left and always used to pick stuff up but when I saw the programme I wanted to make it a regular thing. At the moment, I am just doing Cowes as it is my neighbourhood.

“It has been both surprising and disappointing the amount of rubbish I find but it is an incredibly good work out.”

Sangharakshita Has Died

Sangharakshita, founder of Triratna Buddhism, died this Tuesday morning. He was 93 years old.

Born Dennis Philip Edward Lingwood in Britain in 1925, Sangharakshita was one of the first Western practitioners to be ordained as a Theravada monk in the period following the Second World War. Sangharakshita was the author of more than 60 books and has been described as “one of the most prolific and influential Buddhists of our era,” (Smith and Novak 2004) and as “the founding father of Western Buddhism.” (Berkwitz 2006)

He spent more than 20 years in Asia, where he had a number of Tibetan Buddhist teachers and was actively involved in the Dalit Buddhist conversion movement founded by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in India in 1956.

A sometimes controversial teacher, Sangharakshita founded the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in England in April 1967. In 2010, the FWBO became known as Triratna Buddhist Order. Sangharakshita formally retired in 1995 and stepped back from the movement’s leadership in 2000.

The Triratna Buddhist Order published a statement to share the news of Sangharakshita’s passing:

With great sadness we inform you of the passing away of Urgyen Sangharakshita, today, 30th October 2018, at approximately 10 am in Hereford Hospital. He had been diagnosed with pneumonia and this morning the consultant said that he also had sepsis, from which recovery was not possible.

Please join with us as we direct our Metta towards Bhante, recollecting his wonderful qualities and remembering with gratitude all that he has given to so many of us. Local Centres around the world may be holding daily meditations and pujas and you may wish to arrange additional activities in your communities and homes. 

Bhante asked that the following mantras be chanted at the time of his death: Shakyamuni, Green Tara, Manjushri, Amitabha and Padmasambhava. 

After a few days, Bhante’s body will be laid out at Adhisthana where the funeral and burial will also take place.

 

Gagging Orders and Compassion

I received a link to a video from Sylvia, a Buddhist friend, and have decided to post it here. Given the nature of the piece, it seems timely to reiterate our editorial policy.

“It is Not the purpose of this website to campaign on political issues, however as a Buddhist site we will continue to promote peace and the welfare of all beings by any appropriate non-violent means”.

The story is particularly poignant given the current Lord Hain and Sir Philip Green controversy and the human misery being inflicted by the roll-out of Universal Credit.

The lady in the video below is Ellie Waugh, chief executive of the charity Humanity Torbay, which aims to help the vulnerable secure homes, jobs and training. At its heart, this is about compassion.

Part of that mission has involved working with the government – but this has come with strings attached, including a demand not to criticise Tory policies such as Universal Credit on pain of losing grant aid.

Passion mixed with great compassion……..

FULL MOON – Transformation – Pavarana Day

One who transforms old and heedless ways 
into fresh and wholesome acts 
brings light into the world 
like the moon freed from clouds. 

Dhammapada v. 173

It would be a great pity if we viewed all our ‘old and heedless ways’ merely as troublesome tendencies that we had to get rid of. Just as recycling of material objects is sensibly recognized as more skilful than casually throwing things away, likewise a lot of wisdom and goodness can be found in that which previously caused us to suffer. Arrogance is always offensive, but once purified and no longer held as who and what we are, can be transformed into self-confidence. Stubbornness is always unattractive, but once purified and not seen as ‘self’, can manifest as resolute determination.

Something Understood

Last Sunday one of our Sangha members recommended this week’s offering on the BBC Radio 4 program, “Something Understood”. The piece is “Cultivating Kindness”, by Suryagupta Dharmacharini, Chair of the London Buddhist Centre. In this episode, Suryagupta explores the Metta Bhavana meditation practice – the technique for the cultivation of kindness created by the Buddha.

Unfortunately, this program is not available as a podcast so here is the link to it on the iPlayer, but hurry, it is only available until the end of the month.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/play/b0blgj7k

There are some great tracks featured; Hurt by Johnny Cash, No Love Dying by Gregory Porter, Stand By Me by Tracy Chapman, A Love Supreme, Pt. I – Acknowledgement by John Coltrane and also readings from works by Achaan Chah, Dostoyevsky, Ryokan, Rumi, The Buddha and others.