Another month has come and gone. I hope you and your circle of friends and family have been keeping well. Many people are facing very difficult times at the moment.
I personally find that what helps me a lot is to stay connected with my spiritual friends and spiritual vision by attending as many sangha zoom groups as I can.
We continue to meet every Monday night from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Get there a bit early if you can. The link is the same as always which is: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5Iuc–pqjIpPaCyNk0DFt7eq5fZh94cHA
Coming up we have:
8/6 – Padmajata
15/6 – Paramajyoti
22/6 – Mangala
then we will continue to meet every single Monday at the same time until further notice.
I look forward to seeing you at some (or all) of these.
I can also recommend https://www.londonbuddhistcentreonline.com/ which has a very full programme of morning, lunchtime and evening classes. I personally have been joining in the 8am meditation for regulars, as I find it very connecting to meditate with 150+ other people.
All the very best
p.s. Here is an excerpt from Vajragupta’s book “Buddhism: Tools for living your life”, which we recommend to people new to Buddhism (as well as more experienced people)
Bare awareness and continuity of purpose (contiuned)
Here is an example of this continuity of purpose in action. Let’s say that at your workplace you are responsible for the maintenance of the buildings. You’ve recently noticed in your meditation a growing anxiety centred on your job. Your purpose is to become less anxious, so you remember this in your meditation over the next few days. You keep coming back to that anxiety and, using the breath, try to work with it appropriately. Not only that, you retain this sense of purpose at work. You start examining when and why you get anxious. Perhaps you notice that the anxiety arises when you leave things to the last moment, so you try to become more organized. And then you extend your continuity of purpose even further. Over the next few weeks you reflect more deeply on the anxious patterns, and perhaps discover an underlying view that is unhelpful and contributing to the anxiety.
This semi-conscious belief is that you should be able to get things done and finished. You realize you are always racing to bring things to a complete and perfect state by the end of the week, but you now see that, in reality, there is no such thing as finished. With the maintenance of a large old building there will always be another job to do. So you take this little insight back into your meditation and try to loosen up, and relax unhelpful attitudes and expectations. Then you try to apply this quality of looseness back at work, and see if there are further changes to be made to the way you function. In this way, you are all the time retaining your sense of purpose, exploring your life more and more deeply, bringing it back to meditation and bringing meditation into your life.
This quality of mindfulness isn’t about being delicate. Builders can be just as mindful as ballet dancers. In fact, mindfulness makes us more robust and steady. In the traditional stories about the Buddha, he is often described as being like an elephant. At that time, elephants would have been associated with royalty, but we can see that comparing the Buddha to an elephant might also have been a way of describing his mindfulness. Elephants are big, but they are not clumsy. In fact, they move in a very solid, definite, and also graceful kind of way. Apparently, elephants also look at things with a very steady gaze, and when they turn to look, they turn their whole bodies. I imagine that if an elephant was looking at us, we would feel we were receiving very full attention.
Mindfulness does also have a simple beauty to it. When I was a teenager, my family went on holiday to Guernsey, where we stayed with an old friend of my mother. Boop, as she was known, was not a Buddhist, but she had practised meditation and yoga for many years. I can remember thinking there was something different about her, but I didn’t know what it was. I would now say that she had a depth of mindfulness such as I’d not encountered before: her brown eyes were clear and sparkling, her face was open and expressive, and she moved with elegance and poise. Above all, she seemed self-aware and understanding of others. This impressed me deeply and, probably without her ever knowing it, she was a significant influence on my life.