You can download the talk from our Audio Section………..
You can download the talk from our Audio Section………..
What it means to be compassionate is not always obvious. What we assume compassionate action should look like from the outside might not be the same as an expression of genuine compassion. For compassion to be real we need to know what motivates us and truly be in touch with our bodies. Real compassion requires that we let go of notions of how we might appear and trust in our well-considered, wholesome intentions.
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………………..
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.
On the night of Thursday to Friday, December 1st, the old Chartreuse of St-Hugon at Karma Ling Buddhist centre in France was the victim of an arson attack. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
The fire broke out around 1 a.m. on the 1st of December at the south side of the grand temple. The flames spread quickly to the roof and engulfed the rest of the building.
A newsletter posted by Shangpa Karma Ling last weekend revealed that there had been several threats and previous arson attempts at the centre.
“Yesterday morning, exactly one week after the December 1 fire, we received what is likely a third threatening letter from the person who claims to be the perpetrator. This letter claims the burning of the Chartreuse and urges residents to evacuate, at the risk of suffering the consequences of a new attack.”
The newsletter goes on to say…………
“I would also like to encourage you to practice the mantra of the Buddha of Immense Goodness: “Om Mani Padme Hum” associated with a special benevolent dedication intent for the person claiming the fires and continuing to threaten. 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.
In these circumstances, let us remember the stanza of the thirty-seven Bodhisattva practices:
“If someone I cherish and protect as my child
Come 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. “
From heart to heart,
May everything be auspicious.”
Lama Denys Rinpoché
Dhammapada v. 167
The way our senses work we find it easy to look outside at that which is wrong with the world – indeed, there is plenty we would wish was otherwise. When the mind is trained with wise reflection, we remember that we can also turn our attention around and look at what can be done to help; we don’t just dwell on the deluded conduct of others. In this short teaching the Buddha is indicating how it is always possible to make a wholesome contribution. It is good to know that we are not powerless and our situation is not hopeless.
Dhammapada v. 210
The Buddha encouraged the cultivation of our heart’s potential to awaken. We are already aware of the need to look after our physical health, and the benefits of maintaining mental well-being; if we heed the Buddha’s advice we will also invest in those qualities which lead to wisdom and compassion. Wisdom sees the advantages and disadvantages in any given situation. Without wisdom we risk seeing only that which pleases us. Sometimes it is more wise to endure discomfort and disappointment for the sake of being able to see deeply, beyond the world of preferences. Compassion, the heart’s warmth and impulse to care, is the natural expression of wisdom.
In India, where Buddhism began, there is a three-month-long rainy season. According to the Vinaya (Mahavagga, Fourth Khandhaka, section I), in the time of the Buddha, once during this rainy season, a group of normally wandering monks sought shelter by co-habitating in a residence. In order to minimise potential inter-personal strife while co-habitating, the monks agreed to remain silent for the entire three months and agreed upon a non-verbal means for sharing alms.
After this rains retreat, when the Buddha learned of the monks’ silence, he described such a measure as “foolish.” Instead, the Buddha instituted the Pavarana Ceremony as a means for dealing with potential conflict and breaches of disciplinary rules (Patimokkha) during the vassa season.
Pavarana usually falls during the eleventh lunar month – October – and it marks the end of the three month ‘rains retreat’ which began on the full moon of Asalha. Literally ‘pavarana’ means ‘inviting admonition’.
The three month period (vassa) is often used by lay and monastic folk alike to make a variety of determinations; to take up a particular devotional or meditation practice, to challenge or renounce some old habit – like eating sugar or smoking or drinking coffee (or worse). In Asia this may even be taken to the extent of lay folk taking temporary ordination for all or part of this time. The full moon of Pavarana marks the end of this period and is a time of celebration. For those who have maintained a strict practice it means they can relax a bit; hopefully having learnt something about the particular thing they had been investigating and not falling back into old habits.
For monastics it ends a period of containment within the boundaries of the monastery.
The Buddha appreciated how this containment can sometimes cause difficulty between people and he outlined a ceremony to be performed by the monks and the nuns on the Pavarana day. There are several aspects to this ceremony but the underlying spirit is one of asking for admonishment. This is not that one wants a good telling off but invitation is formally given to one’s ordained brothers and sisters to offer any reflections on one’s past behaviour. This invitation need not be taken up then and there but an opening is created.
The words of part of the ceremony are as follows:
“Venerable One’s, I invite admonition from the Sangha. According to what has been seen, heard or suspected (of my actions), may the venerable one’s instruct me out of compassion. Seeing it (my fault), I shall make amends. I ask this of you for the second time; and again I ask for the third time.”