New 6 week Course Unlimited Heart on 25th June. Also meditation day and puja on 22nd June

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well.


I just wanted to share that I had a really amazing time last weekend. I was on retreat at the Great Gathering at Padmaloka. With near perfect conditions for meditation, many of us went a bit deeper into some beautiful meditative states. I am also going away for a week’s solitary retreat at Vajrasana next week which I am really looking forward to.

I also met some great people and had some really interesting chats at the weekend.

For example, I was sharing a room with someone who volunteered firstly on the lifeboats, and then he volunteered as a first responder. When someone local had a heart attack and called the ambulance, he would often turn up first with a defibrillator. He said he has saved 5 people’s lives, which I think is pretty amazing.

I also met Suryaprabha. He is a an independent documentary film producer who has made 15 full length films about Triratna. I have been a big fan of his work for many years. His films are on https://www.lightsinthesky.org/ and are very well produced old school documentaries, with narration, archive video footage, and lots of clips of people talking, and telling their stories. If you want to sample them, I think a good one to start with is Ordinary Magic which is all about friendship.

Anyway.
Coming up at the Hertford Buddhist Group.
Mangala is coming up on 11th June.
18th June not sure yet who is leading.

Then on Tuesday 25th June we have a six week course “Unlimited Heart” devoted to going deeper into the Mettabhavana (loving kindness) meditation.

Also we have a day retreat and also a puja on Saturday 22nd June. See below for more info.

Everything mentioned here is suitable for complete beginners as well as regulars.

Have a great June, and I hope to see you at some of these events.

warm wishes

Keith

p.s. Here is some more information about the day retreat we are running on Saturday 22nd June followed by an optional puja:


Calm Mind, Open Heart (booking required – see below)
A day exploring our main meditation practices
Saturday 22 June, 10am-4pm (by donation)
A venue in central Ware (location upon booking)
led by Kiranadhi and Samudraghosha

The mindfulness of breathing and mettabhavana (loving-kindness) meditations are powerful and deep practices that can take us anywhere from a place that is slightly more calm, aware and open-hearted all the way to Awakening.

In this day we’ll be becoming more familiar with these practices and seeing what we can do to take them a little further. We’ll have short periods of meditation, with teaching, discussion and exercises to explore the principles behind the practices. This is open to all, regardless of previous experience.

Everyone will be asked to contribute to a shared vegetarian/ vegan lunch.

We have an important health request. One of the team has a severe allergy to fragrances, so please avoiding using fragranced products (these include deodorants, lotions and hair products, as well as perfumes etc.)

The day will be shortly followed for those who wish to stay by a Full Moon Puja (see below). For those unfamiliar with Buddhist ritual, at 4:15pm Samudraghosha will be saying a bit about how we can relate to it as people in the modern West.

The meditation day is without charge (donations on the day very welcome) but strictly requires booking – please email hertsbuddhistmeditation@gmail.com (booking closes 12pm Friday 21 June, though booking sooner will aid our planning).


Full Moon Solstice Puja (booking required – see below)
Saturday 22 June, 4:30pm-5:30pm (by donation)
A venue in central Ware (location upon booking)
led by Kiranadhi and Samudraghosha

We will follow the tradition of marking the full moon (and also the solstice!) with a Puja. This is a collective Buddhist ritual taking the participants through a series of spiritual moods, each poetically evoked, and including mantra and readings. No previous experience is required. If you are unfamiliar with Buddhist ritual, there is the option of arriving early to attend an introduction that Samudraghosha will give at 4:15pm.

We have an important health request. One of the team has a severe allergy to fragrances, so please avoiding using fragranced products (these include deodorants, lotions and hair products, as well as perfumes etc.)

Please note that this event will be preceded by a meditation day (Calm Mind, Open Heart – see above).

The puja is without charge (donations on the day very welcome) but requires booking – please email hertsbuddhistmeditation@gmail.com (booking closes 12pm Friday 21 June, though booking sooner will aid our planning).

Steps to Enlightenment, Buddha Day, Calm Mind Open Heart, Unlimited Heart and Wild Awake Retreat

Hi everybody,

Spring has finally sprung. At least it was quite sunny the other day. A friend told me that he heard his first cuckoo of the year, and I saw my first brood of ducklings this morning. It feels really heartwarming to know we have our whole summer ahead of us.


Our “Steps to Enlightenment” course is going well (see photo), and we are getting close to 30 attendees most Tuesdays. We are exploring how many of us are very inconsistent in our spiritual lives. We just dabble, and do a bit of meditation now and again, read a book, watch a youtube video etc, and we may expose ourselves to a very wide range of ideas and practices, that can leave us a bit overwhelmed, and can make progress very slow.

We all start like that. But many of us have realised that if we want to really get the benefits of a spiritual life, it is very useful to choose one tradition, and one group and be more focussed and consistent in our approach. In this course we are particularly exploring the Buddha’s threefold path of meditation, ethics, and wisdom which looks at our actions while meditating and in our daily lives, and also looks at the degree that we are in touch with our direct experience rather than some conceptual fantasy.

Here are some dates for your diary:

Sunday 19th May – Buddha Day at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre.

Saturday 22 June, 10am-4pm Calm Mind, Open Heart – A day exploring our main meditation practices(no charge but by donation) in Ware led by Kiranadhi and Samudraghosha. The day will be followed for those who wish to stay by a Full Moon Summer Solstice Puja. These events require booking – please email hertsbuddhistmeditation@gmail.com as soon as possible if you intend to come to either or both events to help with our planning.

Tuesday 25th June. Our next course is entitled “Unlimited Heart” and is an exploration of the metta bhavana practice which focusses on loving kindness. This is a really beautiful practice, and this six week course is a fantastic opportunity to learn the course for the first time if you are a newcomer, and also to deepen our practice and plough through any obstacles if you already know this practice.

Also Vajragupta has made a special invitation to our Sangha. He said: “I would be very happy if anyone from the Hertford sangha joins me for the Wild Awake retreat at Rivendell (28th June to 5th July). I’ve run this retreat for several years now, using time in nature to open up our hearts and awareness, to bring down the barriers between self and world. It is a retreat that can allow your meditation to come alive in surprising ways and would be suitable for a first retreat, as well as for those with more experience.”

Link to YouTube video talking about the retreat and link to Rivendell info and booking for the retreat

Many of you will have come across Vajragupta as he is the author of several excellent books, and has visited our Sangha twice in person, and once by zoom. It is the first time he has made an invitation to our Sangha to join him, and it looks like a very special opportunity.

Anyway please just turn up any Tuesday evening to our drop in class. Newcomers and beginners are always very welcome. No charge, but you are able to leave a donation if you would like to.

That is all for now. I hope to see you at one or more of the above.

Warm wishes

Keith

New course, yoga, mitra day, meditation day, puja, etc

Hi everybody,

Easter has come and gone, and now we are turning our thoughts towards various events coming up:

1) Our next course starting on Tuesday 9th April. Best to turn up between 7pm and 7.20pm. It is free of charge, although you can leave a small donation if you would like. There is also no need to commit to all the sessions. Just come to the first one, and see what you think.

It is an introduction to meditation and Buddhism. Total beginners are very welcome. You do not need to know anything about meditation or Buddhism.

The course is entitled “Steps to Enlightenment” , and this is the first time we have covered this material at Hertford.

How to walk the Buddhist path to Enlightenment

Reading books, occasional meditation, flitting between teachers and piecemeal teachings can all give some sense of Buddhism, but leads only to spiritual stagnation. A path of more regular steps towards spiritual growth is required…

This movement from an irregular spiritual practice to one with momentum and consistency is central in making actual progress on the path.

On this six-week course we’ll explore what it means to walk the path of Buddhist practice in a regular and systematic way, such that we experience an ever-deepening flavour of Enlightenment in our lives.

2) What is a mitra morning at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Saturday 13th April 10am to 1pm. If you have been coming for 6 months or more, and are interested in finding more about becoming a mitra. Please book at https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/whatisamitra

3) There is a new 4 week Yoga course starting on Tuesday April 16th at the Quaker Meeting Rooms 50 Railway St, Hertford SG14 1EH. It is from 6pm to 7pm before our meditation class, so you can come to both. Please bring your own yoga mat and book at https://www.chakraproject.co.uk/product-page/sangha-yoga-with-amber

4) Calm Mind, Open Heart

A day exploring our main meditation practices

Saturday 22 June, 10am-4pm (by donation) A venue in central Ware (location upon booking) led by Kiranadhi and Samudraghosha

The mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana (loving-kindness) meditations are powerful and deep practices that can take us anywhere from a place that is slightly more calm, aware and open-hearted all the way to Awakening.

In this day we’ll be becoming more familiar with these practices and seeing what we can do to take them a little further. We’ll have short periods of meditation, with teaching, discussion and exercises to explore the principles behind the practices. This is open to all, regardless of previous experience.

Everyone will be asked to contribute to a shared vegetarian/ vegan lunch.

We have an important health request. One of the team has a severe allergy to fragrances,

so please avoiding using fragranced products (these include deodorants, lotions and hair products, as well as perfumes etc.)

The day will be shortly followed for those who wish to stay by a Full Moon Puja (see below).

For those unfamiliar with Buddhist ritual, at 4:15pm Samudraghosha will be saying a bit about how we can relate to it as people in the modern West.

The meditation day is without charge (donations on the day very welcome) but strictly requires booking – please email hertsbuddhistmeditation@gmail.com (booking closes 12pm Friday 21 June).

5) Full Moon Solstice Puja

Saturday 22 June, 4:30pm-5:30pm (by donation) A venue in central Ware (location upon booking) led by Kiranadhi and Samudraghosha

We will follow the tradition of marking the full moon (and also the solstice!) with a Sevenfold Puja. This is a collective Buddhist ritual taking the participants through a series of spiritual moods, each poetically evoked, and including mantra and readings. No previous experience is required. If you are unfamiliar with Buddhist ritual, there is the option of arriving early to attend an introduction that Samudraghosha will give at 4:15pm.

We have an important health request. One of the team has a severe allergy to fragrances,

so please avoiding using fragranced products (these include deodorants, lotions and hair products, as well as perfumes etc.)

Please note that this event will be preceded by a meditation day (Calm Mind, Open Heart – see above). The puja is without charge (donations on the day very welcome) but requires booking – please email hertsbuddhistmeditation@gmail.com (booking closes 12pm Friday 21 June).

That is all for now. I hope to see you at one or more of the above.

I hope that you have a fantastic April

warm wishes

Keith

In The Cool Shade of the Tree: Planting the Seed of Joy In Your Meditation Practice

Hi everyone,

I hope that all is well.

Recently I came across a talk by Dhivan on the excellent Freebuddhistaudio podcast called “In The Cool Shade of the Tree: Planting the Seed of Joy In Your Meditation Practice”. If you google “Dhivan cool shade” you will find the audio and video versions. It is a fantastic talk about a fantastic topic. Buddhism sometimes gets a bit of a bad press, but another way of looking at it is that it is opening up to deeper levels of joy.


The blurb on youtube says: “It’s said that the Buddha’s breakthrough came when he remembered a natural experience of enjoyment, which arose when he was a young boy sitting under a rose-apple tree: an experience that later became the seed of his Awakening. In this talk, Dhivan guides us through the significance of that famous image in the Buddha’s life, drawing on rich sources of inspiration including Greek philosophy and poetry, as well as core Dharma teachings such as The Middle Way and the Four Noble Truths. Dhivan then moves into a thorough exploration of joy, in both its mundane and grander manifestations. As he does so, he recalls the Buddha’s realization that joy and happiness arise when our life coalesces around our deepest values, often connected with relaxing in meditation. This is what may lead to Awakening for any and all of us… This talk was given in the Dharma Parlour tent, at Buddhafield 2022.”

Last Tuesday we explored this topic from our own experience, and found it very interesting. Many people settle for a joyless existence, and have given up the belief that deep joy is even possible for them, or are chasing after it in the wrong places. This is a great pity.

If you want to look at the nine questions we explored, you can find them inside our Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/hertfordbuddhist . Please join us there.

Anyway.

Coming up in the next four weeks we have:

05 Mar 2024 Samudraghosha
12 Mar 2024 Amber
19 Mar 2024 Keturaja
26 Mar 2024 Srigarbha

Beginners and newcomers are always very welcome

And then our next 6 week course starts after Easter on 9th April.

So will hopefully see you on some or all of these.

Have a great March!

Warm wishes

Keith

Fancy a Curry in Hertford and/or a Festival in Cambridge

Hi everyone,

I hope that all is well.


1) This is a photo we took a few weeks ago after our class. Please come along and join us any Tuesday evening. You don’t have to “be a Buddhist”, or know how to meditate.

2) Also, for all you curry lovers, I wanted to mention you can join the Hertford Sangha for a home cooked Gujarati Vegetarian lunch.

Date and time 12.30 – 2.30pm 18th February at The Millbridge Rooms in Hertford.

If you want to come it is essential to book in advance – Please email Bodhivandana1@gmail.com by Tuesday 13th Feb to book one or more places.


The cost is a donation of £15 (or more if you are able) per person

All profits will be donated to the fund for Tiratnaloka Retreat Centre
Please bring your friends and family. All are welcome.

The photo is of a similar meal cooked by Bodhivandana for the London Buddhist Centre. It looks very yummy!

3) Also of note is a festival on Sunday 11th Feb at Cambridge.

Parinirvana Day marks the passing of the Buddha, following his Enlightenment and long life sharing the Dharma with his many disciples. The last few weeks of the Buddha’s life and the Parinirvana itself, offer us the Buddha’s last direct teachings. They reveal both how to live and die well – for oneself and for the benefit of others. On Parinirvana Day we will be drawing out and reflecting on these lessons and their significance for all of us.

This year we are fortunate to have author and senior Order Member Devamitra, join us to give a keynote talk. Devamitra has written a very engaging book – ‘Entertaining Cancer’ – about his experience of receiving an aggressive cancer diagnosis, going through the indignities of treatment, and facing death. In his talk, he will be calling on his personal experience of this challenging time and drawing out the significance of the Buddhas’ Parinirvana.

The Day will end with a special Parinirvana Day puja. As well as being dedicated to the Buddha, it will offer the opportunity to bring to mind Sangha members, friends and family who have died over the last few years. Please feel free to bring photographs of loved ones, which can be placed on the shrine.

Programme:
9.30 – Doors open
10am – Introduction to the day and Meditation
11am – Tea Break
11.30 – Talk by Devamitra
1pm – Lunch (please bring food to share)
2 – 3pm – Parinirvana Day Puja – with an opportunity to bring photographs of friends and relatives who have recently died

Led By: Keturaja and Amarachandra
Suitable For: RegularSangha
Location: Cambridge Buddhist Centre

More info at https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/parinirvana

Several of us will be going up from Hertford for the day, these festivals in Cambridge are always very powerful and heartwarming. Also many of us will have very fond memories of Devamitra visiting us in Hertford about a year ago to talk about the themes in his book. Good to see that he is still well enough to do a talk like this.

That’s all for now. I will hopefully see you at one or more of the above.

Best wishes

Keith

Happy New Year and 6 week course starting 9th January


I hope that all is well with you and that you had a lovely Christmas break. It is always a really weird time of year with very heightened emotions. For many it can be a very pleasant and joyful time to get together with loved ones. For others it can be stressful, expensive, and/or lonely, not helped by hangovers from alcohol and too much rich food.

Anyway. That is now behind us for another year, and we can start again with a shiny blank slate for 2024. The world is our oyster, and it is a great time to stand back a bit from life and just reassess things. Are we happy? Are we living the life that we want to live? Will we look back on this time in the future and think this was a joyful time full of personal growth and fulfillment? etc etc

We can do this at any time of year of course, but New Year just seems a great time to do it. I am not particularly thinking of New Year’s resolutions, as they are often a bit too ambitious.

I am just thinking of just taking a bit of time to think about what really gives us meaning, joy and fulfillment in our lives. For many of us the answer is deepening our own meditation practice, and also spending more time with others on a similar path.

Of course, we can try and meditate on our own using apps etc, but in my opinion, there is no real substitute for regularly going along in person to a meeting such as the Hertford Buddhist Group Tuesday Night Class.

Maybe you have not visited us before, or maybe you have and stopped coming for some reason. Whatever the case, why not come along for our brand new 6 week meditation and Buddhism course starting on Tuesday 9th Jan. Best to get there between 7pm and 7.15pm. You can just come to the first one if you like, and drop in or out as you choose. But why not come to all six of them. Then after that you can decide if it might be helpful to just make it part of your routine to come every week.

The first half of each class will be focused on meditation. Then after the tea break we will explore the content of the course which is titled “The Individual and the Spiritual Community”. The evening is suitable for everyone including total beginners. The idea we are exploring is that the Spiritual Community (or sangha) supports our growth as true individuals so that we can develop true freedom as opposed to just conforming, and fitting in with what “society” tells us to do.

Anyway. Just turn up on Tuesday 9th and the following 5 Tuesdays, and we can meditate and explore this topic together.

Also you are very welcome to come along tomorrow on Tuesday 2nd Jan when Padmajata will be leading the class and kicking off 2024 for us.

All the best and Happy New Year!

Keith

Sangha Soiree is back on Tuesday evening 19th December by popular demand


So if you would like to give some kind of performance or presentation, then just let Keith know at least a week beforehand (i.e. by 12th Dec or earlier). In the past we have had poetry, singing, musical performances, and also belly dancing!

If you want to present a youtube video or something on a laptop, that will also be possible. eg in the past people have presented a snippet from an opera, a John Lennon song, a Disney song, a slideshow of their photography and artistic creations and have said a few words about it beforehand.

Our tech support guy (Dave) will bring a laptop, projector, mic, amp and speaker. So we will need the file or URL at least a week beforehand.

Also if you want to bring party food, eg cakes, crisps, non alcoholic drinks etc then please feel free 🙂

This is also a great evening if you have not been for a while and just want to enjoy a pleasant social night with us. There is no need to do any performance if you don’t want to. You can just relax and enjoy 🙂

Also coming up is:

21/11 Samudraghosha
28/11 Mangala
5/12 Khemananda

There is no class for following week (26th Dec), but we will be back on 2nd Jan, and a 6 week course will be starting on 9th Jan.

2 new order members, and coming up we have Sangha Day

Hi everybody

Hopefully you are well.

We have recently acquired two brand new order members in our Hertford Sangha:

Srigarbha (ex Helen), a Sanskrit name meaning “She who is gloriously radiant from her very core”.
and Bodhivandana ( ex Mita), a Pali name meaning “She who worships Awakening”.

We had a lovely welcome back evening for them recently (after their ordination retreat).

Coming up, there is Sangha Day at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Sunday 26th Nov 2023 – 10.00am to 5.30pm
https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/SanghaDay23

Their website says: “In the Tiratana Vandana, the Arya Sangha is described as ‘an incomparable source of goodness for the world’. This year’s festival day will be exploring and celebrating the jewel that is the Sangha or spiritual community.

Why is Sangha so valued by Buddhists throughout the world? What does it mean to come into relationship with the spiritual community? And how is this a pathway into our own liberation? In the practice of Sangha what are we trying to create together?

As well as talk by Keturaja (chair of the CBC), there will be a range of activities including the collective creation of a shared symbol of Sangha. The day will also include a special puja with Mitra Ceremonies in the afternoon to welcome a number of friends at the Centre into the Mitra Sangha. For those who are already Mitras (friends of the Triratna Order), there will also be the possibility of Mitra ‘reaffirmations’. Activities for children and their parents will be organised during the morning.”

There will be 5 new mitras, but alas no-one from Hertford this time. If you are a mitra, it is always good to take part in this annual mitra reaffirmation.

Coming up in Hertford we have:

7th Nov Bodhivandana
14th Nov Nigel
21st Nov Khemananda (to be confirmed)
28th Nov Mangala

Hope to see you at some of these – and Sangha Day of course!

All the best

Keith

6 week meditation course starting Tuesday, retreat and two ordinations

Hi everybody,

We have a 6 week course (for 6 Tuesday evenings) which is focussed purely on meditation. So it is a fantastic way to either learn how to meditate, or take your meditation practice a lot deeper, with lots of practice, talks and discussions.

Just turn up on Tuesday evening 5th Sep between 7pm and 7.15pm. No need to bring anything. There is no charge, and no commitment needed. There will be an opportunity to make a small donation if you would like to support us.

You can download a 32 page pdf connected with the course with a summary of the notes, and a small task to do every day between the classes at the top of https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/downloads/ .


05 Sep 2023 Course week 1 Keith
12 Sep 2023 Course week 2 Mita
19 Sep 2023 Course week 3 Not confirmed
26 Sep 2023 Course week 4 Not confirmed
03 Oct 2023 Course week 5 Nigel
10 Oct 2023 Course week 6 Not confirmed
17 Oct 2023 Katey
24 Oct 2023 Welcome Back! Padmajata
31 Oct 2023 Helen

Also I wanted to mention that Cambridge Buddhist Centre are holding a weekend retreat on 8th to 10th December in Suffolk. https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/Lotus

It is open to newcomers as well as regulars. It is really a fantastic way to experience deeper meditative states. They are a lot of fun as well, and a lot of time to sit around in armchairs, chatting and making new friends. It is hard to really think of a more enjoyable way to spend a weekend.

I went on the similar one last year, I have booked for this one, and I am going on two more retreats before then. If you have never been on a retreat before, you should definitely try it out, and this would be a really good one to go on as your first retreat.

But you will need to book fast, as there are only 10 places left at the moment, and these will probably get booked up in the next few days.

Also Padmajata gave me this special message to include:

The sangha are invited to two special events coming up in Hertford. On Thursday 28th September at the Millbridge rooms we will have a special evening to say goodbye to Helen and Mita, wishing them well for their two week ordination retreat starting 2nd October at Tiratanaloka women’s retreat centre in Wales. And on Tuesday 24th October the class will highlight welcoming back our two new Dharmacharinis, where we will hear from them something about their retreat and the meaning of their new names.

On both evenings there will be a short ritual and an opportunity to share cards and presents with Helen and Mita, as well as a lovely teabreak, feel free to bring extra yummy cakes!

That is all for now. Will hopefully see you soon.

Keith

Meditation Course Starting 5th September

Hi everyone,

My mother died peacefully a few weeks ago, and I have been busy sorting out the funeral and a lot of other practical things. It was a powerful blast of emotion and energy tinged with some sadness.

It was in many ways a really good way to die. She was surrounded by family, and lovingly cared for by the nurses at the hospital and then the hospice. Also it gave us a few weeks to process a lot of our emotions, let go, and express our love and gratitude to her.

It helped me reflect how fragile and temporary our lives are, and how important it is to live our lives in the deepest, most authentic way we can, and also to fully appreciate those around us. I find that meditation and the Buddhist precepts are an excellent framework to support us doing this.

Coming up at the Hertford Buddhist Group we have:

15 Aug: Keith
22 Aug: Rob
29 Aug: Samudraghosha
05 Sep: Start of a 6 week meditation course

At https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/downloads/ you can download a pdf with 32 pages of notes to go with our course, that includes a meditation diary for the entire 6 weeks.

We have done this course many times, and it can repeated over and over as we deepen our practice.

Kuladipa asked me to mention that there is an open day at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre on the 16th September. So that might be a good time to visit if you have never been there before, or if you want to bring friends and family along.

Hopefully see you soon.

warm wishes

Keith