Hopefully all is good with you.
I personally feel a new optimism in the air. Covid rates seem to be falling quite fast, more and more people are getting vaccinated and we have already had a couple of nice sunny days.
I am looking forward to the time when we can start meeting up in person again at the Millbridge Rooms in Hertford, but at the moment everything is still zoom only.
Just to let you know what is coming up on Zoom.
Please join us 🙂
9th March – Paramajyoti is leading the class. After the meditation we will be exploring the poem “Meditation” by Sangharakshita which contains some deep insights on the subject.
16th March – Jnanadaya is leading the class. He is currently on staff at the London Buddhist Centre, although he is leaving there soon to return to Buckinghamshire.
23rd March – Padmajata
30th March – not yet known
6th April – not yet known
13th April – Keith leads week one of a new six week course “Vision and Transformation” which explores how we can start with a vision of a higher more expansive state of consciousness, and then how we can then transform our lives based on that vision.
20th April – Mangala is leading week two
Basically, just zoom in at https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/zoom around 7.20pm for a prompt start at 7.30pm. Newcomers and beginners are always welcome. You don’t have to “be a Buddhist”. There is no charge. The class ends at 9.30pm. Every class includes meditation with full instruction.
p.s. Excerpt from one of our favourite books: “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life” by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications
Ethics: taking practice into the world
Do not take lightly small misdeeds,
Believing they can do no harm:
Even a tiny spark of fire
Can set alight a mountain of hay.
Do not take lightly small good deeds,
Believing they can hardly help:
For drops of water one by one
In time can fill a giant pot.12
Three weeks into a weekly meditation course, a man came to speak to -me. ‘If I carry on with this,’ he said, looking at me intently, ‘doesn’t it mean that I’m going to have to change my life?’
He’d already seen that if he seriously engaged with meditation it was going to have implications for his whole life. Meditation wasn’t just something one did to unwind for half an hour at the end of the day, but a whole new way of living.
Taking up meditation doesn’t necessarily entail living in a remote cave, or setting fire to our TV in a fit of renunciation. But if we are systematically cultivating awareness and loving-kindness, it is bound to have an effect on how we act on a day-to-day level. As we begin to enjoy a greater clarity of mind, we might start to resist aspects of our lives that detract from that awareness. Or we may start to notice emotional attitudes that are unhelpful, which might cause us to act in ways we regret, and we realize we want to revise them.
So we start making changes. Sometimes we do this without noticing – it just happens automatically. For example, we realize that formerly when we ate our breakfast, we would have listened to the radio while we read the paper. Now we only read the paper, or listen to the radio, but not both. We notice that these days we prefer to be without too much distraction around us.
Sometimes the change is more of a deliberate choice, yet it still comes easily and naturally. We might decide, for instance, to drink less alcohol because we’ve noticed that it doesn’t help our meditation the following morning. In the event, we are surprised how little we miss it.
At other times, we decide to make a change that involves a bit more of a wrench, but we do it anyway. Although part of us resists, there is enough of us behind doing it to make it seem like a good idea. For example, when we have done the loving-kindness meditation for awhile, we may feel we want to be vegetarian, but we also know we will miss eating meat. So perhaps we decide to change our diet over a period of time, say by not eating meat but still eating fish for a while.
In other words, we start lifting the practice away from the meditation cushion and spreading it more widely into our daily lives. We increasingly want to be able to act on the basis of the positive states of mind that we are cultivating in meditation. We aspire to change ourselves, move away from habits that limit us, and become better able to embody awareness and embrace loving-kindness. We want, if we can, to have a more positive effect on the world. Taking awareness and loving-kindness into our lives and out into the world is the practice of ethics.
exercise – what about ethics?
Take a few minutes to consider your thoughts, feelings, and associations with the idea of being ethical. What does this mean to you? Does it sound pious and off-putting? Or is it necessary, but dull? Or do you find the idea interesting, even inspiring? Jot down any responses as they occur to you.