...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... December 31, 2002
Meditation Basics ...http://www.buddhamind.info/
Meditation on the Breath ...http://www.buddhamind.info/
3. Loving-Kindness Meditation ...http://www.buddhamind.info/
4. A Loving Kindness Meditation ...from Kusala's Morning
3. Book Review: Pay Attention, for Goodness'
Sake: Practicing the Perfections of the Heart-The Buddhist Path
of Kindness ...by Sylvia, Ph.D.
4. Temple/Center of the Week: The Birmingham
Meditation Basics ...http://www.buddhamind.info/
item tries to cover the basic principles that apply to meditation
- regardless of what kind of meditation or what technique you
The field of cultivation is the mind - this is where the work
takes place; and very rarely does it not involve quite a bit
The fruits of cultivation are peace and wisdom.
field and fruit - both of these being subject to the three conditions
- lies nibbana, the unconditioned. This is the ultimate goal
of all Buddhist aspirations.
to do with the mind? - assuming you see the need to do something
the conditioned nature of the mind.
we are born, as we grow up as children, all through our lives,
we are exposed to a wide range of sensory experience. Much of
what we are today is the result of that exposure. If, for example,
you were plump as a child and your parents and family members
didn't like that and were always calling you fatty, and lard
face, and lump, and ... all those unkind things - then it is
understandable that in later life you might have a 'complex'
about your body weight or shape. You may become anorexic? This
is probably nothing new to you and is pretty obvious - the psychology
principle that is, not the anorexia.
Consider a vessel of water as an analogy of the mind. If you
pour red powder into the water then surely the water will turn
red. The more powder you pour in the more red the water will
become. If you only pour in a little bit of powder then the
water will only be changed a little. The water is the mind,
the vessel is the body, the vessel opening is the sense door
and the powder is sense experience.
we end up with after a few years of this is a mind that is coloured.
do I speak with this kind of accent? Because those particular
coloured sounds were poured in my ears for many years. Very
many of our likes and dislikes, our views and our opinions are
inherited, absorbed. This is the process of conditioning and
much of it takes place when we are quite young. We do change
and form semi-independent views but the new is usually relative
to the old. There is nothing good or bad about it but it is
important to appreciate the relative nature of our conditioned
mind. Also to appreciate that this is going on all the time,
right now. If you spend time in a peaceful environment this
often conditions a peaceful feeling. If you spend time in a
violent environment this can condition fear, aversion, anger,
is a process of association with most situations. You hear a
bell, it reminds you of school, which reminds you of homework,
which makes you feel unpleasant, when you are unhappy you often
eat something: bell rings = you eat. What is vitally important
here is to see that we are not just victims of this - we can
observe the process. This is the key to freedom.
is the object of sense (the bell) there is the sense organ (the
ear) there is contact between the two = consciousness. Awareness
can be present during all of this - we don't have to do the
eating bit. This can be difficult as the links in this chain
are often so close together it is hard to see them.
is a way of strengthening our ability to be aware, and to reflect
on this process and our relationship with it. A point to consider
here is: 'the process and our relationship with it'. This proposes
that the process is not me - too big to discuss here. Nevertheless
it is apparent to most that the process can be witnessed to.
I can be aware of hearing the bell, aware of the unpleasant
feeling as it arises and the inclination to eat. Usually it
all happens so quickly that it just melts into the blur that
can be our lives and no sense of one thing relating to another
is particularly obvious. This brings us to the first stage of
meditation - slowing down.
means you use to slow down is not so important - what matters
is that you do. If you can see that wisdom is about understanding
the true nature of things then consider how you come to an understanding
of anything: by spending time with it, by studying it.
Consider a work desk as an analogy of the mind. If it's anything
like mine there is stuff all over the place. You want to know
what a ball pen is and how it is put together. If you open it
up on the desk you run the risk of not noticing some pieces
as you pull it apart and they will get lost or you won't know
where they came from. Clear a nice big space on the desk and
lay out the pieces as you slowly and carefully take them out
of the pen. It is then much easier to examine each piece and
see how it relates to all the other pieces.
too with the mind. Usually it is full of clutter. We need to
clear a space. This is done by practicing samatha meditation
- by developing some form of concentration technique. Instead
of allowing the mind to look here, listen to this, taste that,
etc - which is collecting a lot of stuff, clutter - we bring
the mind to focus on one (simple) thing.
there is a degree of space, of calm in the mind then we can
clearly see what is in that space. What we see we can observe,
and through that observation we can come to understand, we can
have an insight into the nature of that thing; and 'thing' can
cover a lot of areas - emotional, perceptual, relational, physical.
This is vipassana meditation - the arising of insight.
Meditation on the Breath ...http://www.buddhamind.info/
is something that we all do. For human beings it is a primary
sign of life. We all have a breath so as an object of meditation
it is very useful. The curious thing is that most people don't
take that much notice or care about their breath. It really
only gets any attention when there is either too much - and
you are puffing and blowing - or not enough - and you are suffocating.
It is important to appreciate that breath meditation is not
the same as pranayama as in various yoga exercises; it is the
mind that is being developed.
classic teaching the Buddha gave on breath meditation is the
Anapanasati Sutta. It outlines in considerable detail the various
stages and levels of this practice.
you see the value in taking up a specific object for developing
concentration, the breath has many things to recommend itself
as the object of choice.
- it is portable. Every where you go you have it with you. No
need to worry about forgetting your worry beads.
- it comes free with every body. No need to buy any special
- it is complete in and of itself. No need for any upgrades
- it is 100% natural - they don't come more organic than this.
- it is effortless. The body knows how to breathe without you
needing to do anything, You just sit back and let it do all
the work - while you just watch.
- it is a connection with a vital life force.
it is calming. There is a simple, natural rhythm the breath
follows and following that leads one to peace.
principles discussed in 'samatha' apply here.
we take up an object - in this case the breath - and hold it
with the mind for an extended period. This is not always so
easy as the mind is used to jumping about from object to object.
Sustained attention on the breath is a training in stillness;
the ability to be content with little and to maintain attention.
There are various ways the breath can be used. Here is one possible
system using eight steps. It gets a bit cosmic toward the end
but you will get the general idea.
- Counting: useful for those who have never worked with
the breath much before.
down for meditation and fix your attention on the breath at
that point where you most easily notice it. Say, at the belly*.
If the breath is not clearly seen try a few extended breaths
- deeply in, and deeply out - so as to get a good feel of the
breath. You could even put your hand on your belly to assist
this. Very consciously watch the sequence of in-and-out breaths.
Note the breath as it enters, and note the breath as it leaves,
watching the movement of the body - the rise and fall of the
abdomen. When you have established your awareness of the breath,
begin counting each breath. This can be done in several ways.
Try just counting on the in-breaths; up to ten. Then start again
at one. This is repeated over and over from one to ten. The
counting provides a support for the mind; something a little
more tangible to hold. If you aren't sure how far you have counted
then you know that your mind has wandered; start the counting
over again. Meditation is not about getting anything - and particularly,
you don't have to get the breath (unless you are dead). Just
relax - and watch the show. Do this for about 10 to 30 minutes
at one sitting; twice a day for several weeks. What is the result?
- Following: used after the mind has been calmed somewhat
by using counting.
the mind is able to stay with the in-breathing and out-breathing,
the counting can be stopped and replaced by just mentally following
the course of the breath. Note the beginning of an in-breath
-- hold your attention at the belly and observe the progress
of the in-breath -- note the end of the in-breath -- notice
the space, or pause at the end of the in-breath -- note the
beginning of the out-breath. There is no thought involved here
it is merely paying attention to the physical phenomenon of
breathing - in detail. Do this for 30 to 60 minutes; twice a
day for several months.
- Contact and: 4 - Fixing:
two aspects of the practice indicate the development of stronger
concentration. When mindfulness of breathing is well extablished,
the breath becomes more and more subtle - serene and tranquil.
The body becomes calm and ceases to feel fatigue. Because the
mind and body are so tranquil the breath becomes more and more
subtle until it seems that it has ceased. This can be slightly
alarming and one thinks the breathing has stopped altogether,
but it is not so. It continues, but in a very delicate and subtle
form. No matter how subtle it becomes, one must still maintain
mindfulness of the contact of the breath in the body, without
losing track of it. The mind is at this point free from the
five hindrances - sensual desire, anger, drowsiness, restlessness
and doubt. One is calm and joyful. Various signs may appear
in the mind - pay them no heed. As concentration is further
developed four stages of absorption (jhana) can be attained.
These stages of deep concentration are called "fixing".
- Observing - 6: Turning Away - 7: Purification - 8: Retrospection:
person who has attained the four absorptions should not stop
there but should go on to develop insight meditation (vipassana).
The stages of insight are called "observing". When
insight reaches its climax, the meditator attains the supramundane
paths. Because these paths turn away the fetters that bind one
to the cycle of birth and death, they are called "turning
away". The paths are followed by their respective fruitions;
this stage is called "purification" because one has
been cleansed of defilements. Thereafter one realizes the final
stage, reviewing knowledge, called "retrospection"
because one looks back upon one's entire path of progress and
one's attainments. This is a brief overview of the main stages
along the path to Nibbana, based on the meditation of anapana
There are various theories about where you focus attention.
One common alternative to the belly is the tip of the nose.
My feeling is that the nose can be a bit 'head' centred and
too close to thought. The belly has a much more 'grounding'
aspect to it, more closely in touch with emotions and internal
energies generally. Do experiment.
the Buddhist path a fundamental theme is impermanence. You can
use the breath as a way to gain insight into this truth.
you are 'following' the breath - as above - pay close attention
to the end points of each phase. The end of the in-breath, the
end of the space between in and out breaths, the end of the
out-breath. It is obvious, but do reflect on the impermanence
of the breath. We may prefer the in-breath to the out-breath
but it is impossible to keep either - they must die so that
life can continue. So it is with ALL things. The old must give
way to the new. This is natures way. Do this as a meditation.
Let go of each breath as if it was your last. Contemplate that
eventually this will be so. Let go, relax. Life is vital, alive,
NOW - with each breath.
the breath is so connected with our life it is with us everywhere
relation to meditation this means that once we have developed
anapanasati a bit, and have a good sense of the breath, we can
turn to this practise at any time. Because the association with
the breath is predominantly a peaceful one you can maintain
this relationship in all postures at all times. Say you are
in a meeting and things aren't going so well - you can turn
to the breath - perhaps take a couple of extended ones - and
there you are - in touch with your 'friend' - that symbol of
calm and peace. Make your offering to the meeting (life in general)
from this space.
breath is also useful in this way as it acts as a very good
indicator of our emotions. This is particularly helpful with
regard to negative emotions. When we are in states of anger,
fear, anxiety, stress, etc. the quality of the breath is usually
far from peaceful. If we have put effort into establishing a
relationship with the breath - when it is peaceful and calm
- then the early signs of these emotions are easily noticed
by contrast, and the breath can either be consciously stablilised
(physically) or 'reminded' of how it can easily be peaceful
and calm. The ease of both of these methods is relative to how
well you have established that point of peace and calm in relation
to the breath; how easy can you 'be with' the breath in that
Another way the breath can be used in mediation is as a simile
for cleansing or purification. (This has some similarities to
a metta meditation.) Instead of focussing on the belly one brings
the attention to the area around the heart and imagines that
the air is coming in and out through the heart centre; with
the heart being the seat of emotion. To begin with, contemplate
the physical nature of the air. The in-breath is bringing fresh
air into the body. This is new life; vitalising all aspects
of the body with this new, clean and pure air. Feel it coursing
through the body, bringing new energy and strength. With the
out-breath visualise the flow of impure, old and stale air leaving
the body. This is no longer needed - you can let this discharge
from inside you.
Do this for a good while. On the in-breath, allow the arising
of health and wellbeing. On the out-breath, feel the relief
of letting go, the release of impurities from your body.
Transfer the attention from the physical to the emotional. Keep
the attention on the flow of the breath through the heart. On
the in-breath see it as a new arising, a new beginning, a fresh
start. It comes with goodness, undamaged, pure, without any
adgenda, unburdened. On the out-breath see it as the letting
go or the release of all your old unwanted emotional 'baggage'.
Allow all the worries, the uncertainties, the fears, the stress
- allow it all to just flow out with that old, used air. You
don't need it.
You can use associated words. On the in-breath: may I be well,
may I be happy, my life is blessed, every breath is a new chance.
On the out-breath: Relax, let go, I am now free from all 'that',
out with the old, not needed, of no use, release. Make your
own list to suit your own temperament. The important thing is
to stay with the breath - dont' get caught in thinking - and
to do it often.
As an alternative to counting the breath you can use the sound
of the breath. If you listen you can imagine that it sounds
like 'sah' on the in-breath and 'hah' on the out-breath. You
can do this silently or make some noise. Breathing in through
the nose, allowing the air to vibrate - saaaaH.
out through the mouth (or nose) haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. This
can give a bit of a 'handle' on the breath which makes it a
bit easier to concentrate on, to stay with.
This is a nice meditation to do together as a group. It is good
to have a leader who sets the pace. Synchronise your breaths
with the noise - big breath in - - - - and - long, open-mouthed
breath out: haaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Do this for maybe five minutes
or more. This is really being alive together. Of the four elements
the air is one that we truely do share. It is funny to think
that as we breathe in we are literally inhaling each others
old air - a burden shared is a trouble halved.
Loving-Kindness Meditation ...http://www.buddhamind.info/
like many Pali words, has a range of meanings: loving-kindness,
friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord,
inoffensiveness and nonviolence - and lots more. It is commonly
translated as loving-kindness and is concerned with the well
being of all living beings. It is a universal, unselfish and
living things respond positively to love and kindness. Is this
true? Consider plants - as being fairly simple living things.
On a physical level they can easily be seen as healthier when
they get lots of sunshine and are well watered and fed. One
even reads of them responding on an emotional level. This is
not so easy to prove. If you have ever had a pet; how does it
respond to being kicked and yelled at?
Good health results from care and kindness and bad health results
from indifference and abuse. I hopefully imagine that you agree
with this. So, if pets and plants like love and kindness and
care and attention then why should we be different? Truth is
we aren't, but it often seems as if we are a bit short changed
in the loving-kindness department. What to do?
clear in your mind of the bad results of anger, hatred, resentment,
indignation, and so forth.
clear in your mind of the good results of kindness, affection,
tolerance, friendliness, good will, etc.
is not to expect that you will have none of the qualities of
the first list and all of those in the second list - just that
you see the positive value in loving-kindness.
are two areas the developing of metta aims at: external and
External: the aim is to live in the world as harmlessly as possible,
both in relation to living and non-living entities. This is
to be both ecologically conscious and socially sensitive. It
includes things like; being frugal (not using more than one
needs, or wasting what one has), being moderate in one's lifestyle
(not living excessively in any way), being modest, guarding
one's speech, respecting the property and general situation
of others, offering help where one can, being generous, performing
one's duties well, etc. All of this is very high-minded and
saintly and may seem to be beyond your abilities but, we all
have some goodness as part of our character and the aims suggested
here are a reference point. We always begin from where we are
and having a clear aim tends to result in a clear journey.
Internal: the aim is very simple; to have an unselfish mind
/ heart. The combination of a concentrated mind and a heart
free from hatred, etc. constitutes a state of liberation - enlightenment
- freedom from suffering. OK!
for one who practises metta, eleven benefits can be expected.
sleeps easily ~ wakes easily ~ dreams
no evil dreams ~ is dear to human beings ~
dear to non-human beings ~ the devas (forces of
goodness) protect one ~ neither fire, poison, nor
weapons can harm one ~ one's mind concentrates easily
~ one's complexion is bright ~ one dies unconfused
and - if penetrating no higher ~ one is born in
the Brahma worlds. [AN: XI.16]
is the primary target of the Buddha's teaching.
metta - universal, all-embracing love - is a way to soften our
attachment to this self-ishness. The first place to start is
with oneself. That's you! This may seem curiously selfish but
if we are aiming to radiate this quality throughout the universe
we need to do some work on the 'transmitter' first. As our 'signal'
gets stronger we can extend our energies outward.
So, the first thing is to get a bit of love going locally -
in your heart. A common obstacle is a sense of unworthiness.
Self disparagement, self criticism and judgment, a sense of
low self esteem - all these seem to be common attitudes. A simple
test of where you are at with this: Sit in meditation, bring
the concept of metta into the mind and heart, bring one's awareness
to one's own being then use the words 'I love you' directed
at you. Repeat this over and over for several minutes. What
is the resultant feeling? Is it of being cared for and loved?
Or of discomfort - even squeamishness? This will give you some
idea of what state the 'transmitter' is in.
I will assume that there are a few 'dodgy diodes' and that you
wish to undertake repairs. What really needs establishing very
firmly is, that you are basically OK. Not perfect perhaps but
there is enough goodness to be getting on with. Contemplate
the goodness in your life - allow that there is some. Don't
set the standard too high; so things like feeding the neighbours
cat, lending someone your pencil, a friendly greeting - these
are all good things - give them value as such. It is so important
to have an appreciation your goodness, what you already have
- there must be a foundation on which to build. Try making a
list. Get the help of a friend to make a list. You can do this
as a mutual metta exercise.
As a way of getting in touch with the general feeling of love
and kindness you can develop the image of a friend, a loved
one, a family member who you have a positive feeling toward.
Someone who has offered you some love and kindness in the past.
There is always someone. Again, don't set the standard too high.
Just pick the best you have. Sit in meditation and bring their
image into your heart. Perhaps remember a situation that was
particularly loving. Then, let go of the image and try to just
experience the feeling in the heart that comes with such an
exercise. Practice this often and really get to know the feeling.
Make this feeling so familiar that it is easy to find - like
touching your nose in the dark. You know where your nose is
because you have referred to it a lot over the years. Do the
same with this feeling of love in the heart.
You can use other symbols that might come to mind. These can
be visual - like a photograph or a gift you have received; or
a piece of music or a tape of a friends voice - whatever helps
you to get in touch with the feeling of love and kindness in
your heart. Remember that it is the feeling that we are trying
to cultivate here and what stimulates it is not so important,
and do appreciate the difference between the feeling and the
object. You need to be able to turn to the feeling independent
of any-thing, any-place, any-time.
You could experiment with various word combinations. A typical
set is: "May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free from
suffering." Repeat this over and over in the heart. You
can do this for 30 seconds while you wait for something. Ten
times 30 seconds = five minutes the heart is being healed with
metta. The trick is remembering to turn to this practice. Often.
A Loving Kindness Meditation ...from
Kusala's Morning Practice
my teachers and all teachers of the Truth be......
my parents, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives be......
the highest realm of existence to the lowest, may all beings
arisen in these realms, with form and without, with perception
and without, with consciousness and without, may they be......
below after each introduction.)
peaceful and free from suffering.
no harm come to me/them.
no difficulties come to me/them.
no problems come to me/them.
I/they always find fulfillment.
I/they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination,
to meet and overcome, the inevitable difficulties, problems,
and failures in life.
the power of Truth found in the Buddha Dharma, may all my misfortunes
due to stars, demons, harmful spirits, and ominous planets,
be prevented and destroyed. May the rain fall in due time. May
there be a rich harvest. May the world be prosperous. May the
governments by righteous.
the power of all the fully-awakened Buddhas, by the power of
all the fully-awakened Pacceka-Buddhas, by the power of all
the fully-awakened Arahants, by the power of all the fully-awakened
Bodhisattvas, may I be secure and protected in every way.
Pay Attention, for Goodness' Sake: Practicing the Perfections
of the Heart-The Buddhist Path of Kindness ...by Sylvia,
that of fellow insight meditation teacher Jack Kornfield, Boorstein's
teaching and writing style is like chocolate: what she has to
say goes down easily and smoothly, and you want a whole lot
more of it. The author of That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist
and other books uses clear and simple terms, apt examples drawn
from daily life and a liberal lacing of humor to sweeten the
lessons. Through traditional Buddhist story and contemporary
personal anecdote, practical meditation techniques and a nifty
periodic table of virtue that links qualities and practices,
she engagingly and clearly lays out the Buddha's teaching of
the 10 Paramitas, or perfections of the heart. Her wonderfully
self-deprecating teaching tales heighten her point that enlightenment
and compassion are always conditions to be realized over and
over rather than fixed states enjoyed by the advanced practitioner.
Boorstein's fresh interpretations of the Buddha's teachings
of renunciation, energy, patience and other heart-perfections
make them desirable and, more importantly, highly doable. Showing
that the Buddha's Four Noble Truths are a path of practice rather
than a set of cognitions, this book of training in the everyday
cultivation of virtue is a wonderful complement to books that
train the mind through meditation. Even better than chocolate,
this book can be savored again and again.
A reader- This is the first book I've ever read by Sylvia
Boorstein, but I doubt it will be the last. In Pay Attention,
Boorstein teaches us about the ten Paramitas, or the pefections
of the heart. She uses parables and stories from her own life
to teach us what the paramitas are about as well as how they
are beneficial to us if we put them into practice. She's very
open, honest, and kind and writes the book as if you're sitting
right there next to her and she's having a conversation with
you. She doesn't make anything confusing or get too wordy like
many Buddhist authors of today do.. she just tells us what we
need to know and offers a few short stories to help get the
point across. I personally found this book to be one of the
best additions to my spiritual library in quite a while. If
you're looking for a good book on Buddhism, spirituality, or
just something to lift you up and make you feel better as well
as the people around you feel better, I would definitely recommend
Roger E. Herman from Greensboro, NC USA- In all fairness
to my readers, I must begin this review by telling you that
I typically review business books. This is not a business book.
I'm not sure how I got it, but somehow this unusual (for me)
book appeared on my shelf of books to review. I took it along
on a business trip, more out of curiosity and whimsy than a
particular interest in actually reading the book. On the airplane,
for some reason, I decided to skim through "Pay Attention,
for Goodness Sake" instead of reading a business book I'd
also brought along.
read was refreshing. Good word. It was a refreshing change of
pace from my usual fare. But, it was also re-freshing, if I
may hyphenate for emphasis. Sylvia Boorstein, both a Jew and
a Bhuddist, has written a number of books. Thought I haven't
read them, I suspect, like this one, they teach in a conversational,
comfortable way. I learned and found some interesting comfort
as I read through these pages, like having an interesting discussion
with someone who knows more than you do. You want to listen.
As I turned page to page, I found myself held to the book. I
wanted to read a little more and a little more.
is a thoughtful book, describing ten "paramitas" or
perfections. The organization and flow of the book makes it
easy to grasp the author's message and organize it in your own
mind. The introduction explains the concepts and their application.
Each "perfection" or practices is presented in its
own chapter: Generosity, Morality, Renunciation, Wisdom, Energy,
Patience, Truthfulness, Determination, Lovingkindness, and Equanimity.
I would describe the work as an instructional guide that inspires
the reader to think . . . no, to ponder.
is not a business book in the customary classification of books,
but I'd certainly recommend it for current and aspiring business
leaders. We all need to pay attention more than we are; we miss
so much in today's rush-rush world. Take time to reflect, to
ponder. Refresh yourself with this book.
The Birmingham Buddhist Vihara
Stret, Ladywood, Birmingham B16 9EU, United Kingdom
0121 454 6591/ 455 0650;
0121 454 0374;
Birmingham Buddhist Vihara was originally founded by the Karma
Kagyu Trust in 1981, but it was transferred to the Birmingham
Buddhist Trust in 1982. It is supported mostly by the Burmese
community and local native-born Buddhists. The Vihara itself
is used mainly by local people.
Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma, a senior Burmese
monk, is the spiritual director and has been traching in England
and in the West since 1975. He has a Ph.D. in the Philosophy
and Phychology of Buddhism and has published authoritative texts
on the subject. Currently, he is the spiritual director of other
centres in Britain and Europe. He presently conducts yearly
courses of meditation in England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium,
Germany, France, Czech Republic and Switzerland.
ceremonies and discourses are held in the shrine room which
is in the Burmese style with a magnificent golden throne and
marble statue of the Buddha.
lending library is situated in the front room where books, mostly
of an introductory type, are available to members. There is
a reference library in an upstairs shrine room which again is
open to members and contains scriptural text-books which are
strictly reference and not for lending.
to the library is a small book stall which carries basic texts.
The librarian is happy to order books if needed.
newsletter is issued quarterly, giving information of past nad
future activities. Those wishing to receive a copy are asked
to contribute towards its cost by donation. If you wish to be
included on our mailing list, please make sure the Vihara has
your name and address.
7:30 pm --- Simple meditation instruction for beginners followed
by a meditation session, discourse and discussion, often by
a resident monk.
Courses --- Usually held every second weekend of the month,
starting Friday evening at 8:00 p.m. and finishing Sunday afternoon
around 4:00 p.m.
Courses --- Usually held twice a year at Easter and August.
Vihara is opne to meditators at virtually all times. If you
wish to visit, please phone to make sure someone is available
to open the door.
are eight week courses in Buddhism for those who want to know
about Buddhism. This course consists of eight Wednesday evening
sessions as well as a fully day of practical experience in meditation.
In this course various schools and traditions will be introduced
and examined including Theravada, Tibetan and Zen. The course
is usually held twice a year.
Vihara is a dwelling place for monks and because of the life
a monk tries to lead, like any other establishment it has its
in house rules. Really, it is just a matter of respecting the
rules and styles of life of the monks which the Buddha himself
established. Please dress fully, talk quitely and move calmly.
are addressed as Bhante (pronounced bhantay), it is equivalent
to Venerable Sir. It is not usual for monks in the East to shake
hands. The rule is that monks do not touch women and nuns do
no touch men. The manner of greeting is usually Anjali, which
is to put two hands together in greeting, but it is not necessary.
the Shrine Room
keep to the Eastern custom of taking our shoes off, since we
sit on the floor; we try to keep an attitude of calm and quiet.
This doesn't stop us from having a lively discussion!; we usualy
sit on a cushion on the floor, but those with physical problems
can use a chair; it is considered disrespectful to point your
feet towards the shrine or another meditator.
Statue of Buddha
sitting posture of our statue (Rupa) is common in the East and
is called the Bhumisparsa Mudra. It symbolises the moment just
after the Buddha's enlightenment, when he touched the Earth
as witness to his overcoming illusion, delusion and ignorance.
Mara; the other posture more commonly known in the West, is
the meditation posture, with hands overlapped on top of a lotus
position, called the Padmasana Mudra.
are three offerings (Puja), usually made to the shrine:
Flowers, which symbolise the passing nature of our lives
just as fresh bloom fades
whose light symbolises the Enlightenment
which symbolises the effects of good deeds that spread in all
directions as does the fragrance of incense.
Buddhists practice bowing: out of reverence and gratitude to
the Buddhas as their teachers; out of reverance and gratitude
for the Teaching itself, the Dhamma; out of reverence and gratitude
to the Community to the Noble Ones, the Ariyas including the
Arahats and Buddhas; out of reverence to the latent Enlightenment
in all beings. This is by no means a compulsory practice, but
for those who wish to do so, the traditional way is to kneel
with both hands joined (a way of centring heart and
isn't praying, but calling to mind the words of the Buddha.
There are other customs and practices. Please don't be too embarassed
to ask. You are always welcome to visit the monastry to talk
about Buddhism or to meditate. But please always ring before
hand to make sure someone will be there to greet you. There
is, of course, much more to cover, but hopefully this is whetted
your appetite to read one or more of the books listed below.
The Buddha's Ancient Path, Piyadassi Thera, Buddhist
An easy to read first introduction.
What the Buddha Taught, W. Rahula, Gordon Fraser
A good reference book, very readable.
The Experience of Insight, J Golstein, Unity Press
Buddhism from a meditator's point of view.
The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, Nyanaponika Thera,
A classic on the subject of meditation.
A Short History of Buddhism, E. Conze, George Allen
A short interesting account of how Buddhism grew.
The Wheel Publications (Buddhist Publication Society).
on various subjects:-
Buddhism in a Nutshell
Buddha the Healer
The Four Noble Truths
Buddhism and Peace
Lay Buddhist Practice
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