This reflection seems so appropriate considering the nature of the Manchester terrorist attack…..
Becoming lost in enjoyment brings sorrow;
becoming lost in enjoyment brings fear.
Being free in your experience of enjoyment means sorrow ceases,
so how could there be any fear?
Dhammapada v. 214
Is it possible to truly live with all the pleasure and pain of life and at the same time remain free from suffering? Clearly, our confidence in the Buddha’s Awakening means we trust freedom from suffering is possible. Such confidence is a powerful motivator and contributes to the foundation on which we build our spiritual practice. And from a practice perspective, we are not just interested in what we experience, but also in the way we meet all our experiences. Out of unawareness we readily become lost in experiences; the joyous, the utterly intolerable and everything in-between. But when awareness is well-cultivated there is the possibility of receiving all experience without becoming lost; without obstructing freedom.
Breaking News – Dog meat is being banned from the notorious Yulin Festival in China that takes place in just a few weeks.
Listen to Vishvapani’s Thought for the Day from our Audio Section,
Wesak – Buddhism’s Relevance in the Modern World
Just as a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus
can grow from a pile of discarded waste,
the radiance of a true disciple of the Buddha
outshines dark shadows cast by ignorance.
Dhammapada v. 58-59
Perhaps there are times when we look at all the garbage we find stored in our minds and feel disheartened. This ‘discarded waste’ is the consequences of previous unawareness. But we can choose how we are going to view these consequences – the regrets, embarrassments and resentments to which we are still clinging.
We are not obliged to assume it must always be that way. Before he was the Buddha, Siddarttha Gotama struggled; the Teachers we all look up to have struggled; and we too all struggle when we are not seeing clearly.
What matters, here and now, is what we do with the struggle. The Buddha’s Awakening offered the world a vision of that which is possible. Our task as disciples of the Buddha is to uncover the possibilities within us; not to assume that the detritus of ignorance which we encounter inside ourselves is what defines us. When compost is properly processed, it transforms into valuable nutriment.
I came across this amazing picture of a Statue of the Buddha which was found in a copper mine in Afghanistan. It is thought to be around 1,800 years old but you can still see the original colours.
Having withstood time, the elements, looters and war, this spectacular Buddha was restored and removed from one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions to make its public debut in the country’s national museum.
The exceptionally well-preserved piece, with its colours still vibrant, was found in 2012 at the Mes Aynak site about 40 kilometres southeast of Kabul, in the now Taliban controlled Logar province.
Its discovery was made possible after a Chinese consortium began digging a massive copper mine that uncovered an ancient monastery complex stretching out over an area of four square kilometres.
Come, view this world.
See it as an ornate festive carriage.
See how fools are entranced by their visions,
yet for the wise there is no attachment.
Dhammapada v. 171
This very world that we live in is our field of spiritual study. We can learn from all of it, but we probably find on occasion that we prefer to look away. Taking time out to refresh and renew can certainly be helpful, and was regularly praised by the Buddha. Let’s take note, however, that here our Teacher is specifically inviting us to look directly at the world – not to merely look away in judgement, but to study it; to reflect on it; to see where, when and how we are fooled by its appearance. An attractive object such as an ornate festive carriage can be beguiling so long as we are not wise, and similarly utterly unattractive objects can fool us. But projecting love or hate on to an object is something extra that we do; we are not obliged to add anything extra. As the Buddha said elsewhere, in the seeing let there just be seeing. Nothing added, nothing taken away.
As you all know by now our Wesak celebrations here at the West Wight Sangha are currently scheduled for Sunday the 14th of May. Wesak, traditionally falls on the night of the first full moon of May which this year is on Wednesday the 10th. For convenience we hold our celebrations on the following Sunday (from 12:00 to about 3:00 p.m.) which this year coincides with the Walk the Wight festival, the unique sponsored walk in aid of the patient care at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.
Needless to say a lot of you are taking part in this incredible event which raises so much money for the island’s favourite charity and as such wouldn’t be able to join us on the 14th.
So my question is would you be able to make it if we move our celebrations back a week to Sunday the 21st of May?
Please let me know as soon as possible so we can decide whether to change the date or not.
(As the date of Wesak follows a lunar calendar and different schools of Buddhism celebrate the Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment and death on different dates, I don’t feel guilty about moving it, it’s not like changing the date of Christmas!)