Let go of the past.
Let go of the future.
Let go of the present.
With a heart that is free,
cross over to that shore
which is beyond suffering.
Dhammapada v. 348.
The ‘other shore’ to which the Buddha is referring, that place which is beyond suffering, already exists. It is not as if we have to create the other shore; not as if we have to create Dhamma. Even the Buddha didn’t create Dhamma, he realized it. Our efforts in practice need to be aimed at seeing that which is already here, now. The encouragement to let go of images of the past, present and future suggests that we are paying too much attention to ideas we have about reality and not enough attention to that which is actually in front of us.
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.
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.
“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
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
Do not ignore the effect of right action,
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.
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…………
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.