A good dozen of us came together for a weekend retreat at the wonderfully lush and beautiful East Devon Forest Garden AKA Hridayabija, ‘seed of the heart’. The theme of the weekend was Under The Bodhi Tree: Dwelling In The Presence Of The Buddha, given that it took place just a few days after the full moon night of May, which is when many parts of the world celebrate Buddha Day – marking the Enlightenment, birth and death of the historical Buddha. We were joined by Sagaravjara and Kerry-Ann, our hosts at Hridayabija, who were wonderful hosts and their care and eye for beauty pervades their garden. Here are some photos, including of the covered lunch & meeting space which was completed just in time for our arrival!
We’re coming to the end of our current theme of ‘What is the Sangha/ What is a spiritual community?’ which we have been exploring over several weeks in our regulars class on Wednesday evenings at the Exeter Natural Health Centre. Today we had a very enjoyable and thought provoking discussion on the four levels of speech – a traditional Buddhist list of four aspects to aim to develop: truthful, kindly, meaningful and harmonising.
Here is a picture of the flip chart that Nandavajra so helpfully provided!
And next week we are concluding this theme of sangha by looking at the archetypal sangha of Buddhas and bodhisattvas – if you have ever been intrigued by the many mythical figures that are associated with Buddhism, come along and find out more – all welcome!
We have a few opportunities to come together to practice together, in addition to our weekly Wednesday evening class or study group – please make a note of the following dates and out them in your diary!
1-3 June Weekend Retreat: In the magical space of the East Devon Forest Garden – Hridayabija, ‘the seed of the heart’, near Kerswell/Honiton. This is a camping weekend retreat over the weekend 1-3 June. For more info and to book please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost and more info to follow.
29 July day retreat (Sunday) to celebrate Dharma Day, one of the main Buddhist festivals. The plan is to go for a walk on Dartmoor, share food and celebrate the day with a puja on the moor!
22 September – day retreat to mark the start of the Triratna International Practice Week. 10am to approx 4.30pm, in the Art Room at the Exeter Community Centre. (We regret that this venue is not accessible to wheelchairs)
For the rest of the month of March and into April, we are continuing the theme of ‘What is the Sangha?’ – looking at the value of collective practice, friendship and communication in our lives.
- First off, this Wednesday, March 7th, we have a practice night: a wonderful opportunity to spend an evening practicing sitting and walking meditation – this will be led by Karunadarshin.
- Wednesday 14th we will explore the theme of the pull of ‘the group’ and how that might affect our practice and discuss the qualities of ‘the true individual’! Led by Mokshini
- Wednesday 21st Nandavajra will introduce us to the ‘duties of friendship’ as written in the ‘Sigalovada Sutta‘ – a text from what is known as the Pali Canon, some of the earliest texts in the Buddhist tradition
- Wednesday 28th we will look at ‘the four levels of skilful speech’ wise guidance on what to consider in our communication with others – again with Nandavajra.
- April 4th will conclude this particular theme with a look at the topic of gratitude, or rather the Buddhist term katanutta, which has a rather different connotation
- Looking ahead we may well follow the theme of Sangha up with a period of study of the ‘Eight Mind Training Verses’ – a set of pithy and profound training principles from the Tibetan Lojong tradition
If you haven’t been before, or haven’t been for a while – please feel free to come along and enjoy the opportunity of practicing with others. If you have no or little experience with meditation, it will help if you get in touch beforehand so we can point you to some useful resources.
We plan to start a new theme on Wednesday February 14th, and fittingly this evening will include a period of the metta bhavana practice and an introduction to the topic of The Sangha Jewel: over the next few weeks we will explore questions including
- What is ‘the Sangha’?
- The relationship of ‘the individual’ and ‘the group’
- Sangharakshita’s qualities of a ‘True Individual’
- friendship and collective practice
- ‘can the spiritual community save the world?’ and more