By the way the photo is from Jnanavaca’s recent visit.
1) Coming up at the Hertford Buddhist Group:
10/3 – Padmajata
17/3 – Mangala and Keith
24/3 – Amber
31/3 – not yet known
7/4 – Padmajata
and then on 12/5 – Maitreyabandhu (author of the meditation course we do sometimes and several books including “Life with Full Attention”)
2) There is a “What is a mitra” day at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Sunday the 19th April, so if you would like to know more about what this means, please book up details on their website – https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/event/5567/what-mitra . There is a link to events at the top of the page.
You can also download and read a pdf about being a mitra on the hertfordbuddhistgroup website downloads page. It is also available as a hard copy that we distribute sometimes on Tuesday evenings.
Becoming a mitra (it means “friend”) is the next logical step if you have been coming for 6 months or more and want to deepen your practice and/or connection with the sangha. I would highly recommend it.
3) Also you might be interested in a joint retreat of the Hertford and Letchworth sanghas. May 15th to May 17th in Newmarket led by Padmajata and Yashodaka. The Old Stable House Retreat Centre, Newmarket. Theme : Who is the Buddha? On the retreat we will be exploring various dimensions of the Buddha – historical, archetypal/mythic and mysterious, through meditation, ritual, discussion, and being a Sangha together.
To come on the retreat you should be familiar with both meditation practices (mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana), and be open to participating in Buddhist ritual.
Price £100 full rate (reduced rates are available)
To book or for more info email firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Judging by the top stories on the BBC news website, I am sure many of us are concerned about the covid 19 coronavirus, so I wanted to say a few words about that. Also two of my friends have been told to work from home this week because of it, so things seem to be coming closer to home. Many of us alternate between denial, trying to shove it under the carpet, laugh it off and the opposite extreme of panic and paranoia.
The best strategy I believe is to keep a level head and take sensible precautions. Personally I am carrying on pretty much as usual, but trying to implement good hygiene habits now – things like washing my hands more, and keeping a bit more social distance (stopping handshakes, hugs, kissing etc). At some point the virus will come to Hertford, so it is prudent to have good habits already in place to reduce the chance of giving or receiving this thing.
From a Buddhist point of view, it is a reminder that if we are too attached to everything just being totally safe, secure and lasting for ever, then we are just going to cause ourselves more suffering. Existence is just not like that.
So it is better to take sensible precautions, carry on with our practices, live in the moment, let go, and accept and embrace things that we have no control over.
Hopefully our Hertford Buddhist Group will remain a sanctuary of sanity, community and joy.
As the Buddha said so beautifully in chapter 15 of the Dharmapada:
Happy indeed we live who are free from hatred among those who still hate. In the midst of hate-filled men, we live free from hatred.
Happy indeed we live who are free from disease among those still diseased. In the midst of diseased men, we live free from disease.
Happy indeed we live who are free from worry among those who are still worried. In the midst of worried men, we live free from worry.
Happy indeed we live who have nothing of our own. We shall feed on joy, just like the radiant devas (gods).
or in another translation:
Blessed indeed are we who live among those who hate, hating no one; amidst those who hate, let us dwell without hatred
Blessed indeed are we who live among those who are ailing, without ailments; amidst those who are so afflicted, let us live in good health.
Blessed indeed are we who live among those who are yearning for sense delights, without yearning for such things; amidst those who are yearning for sense delights, let us dwell without yearning.
Happy indeed are we who live without possessions. Let us feed on happiness, like the radiant gods (who feed on spiritual bliss).
See you soon hopefully