1) Just a quick email to let you know about what is coming up at our drop in Tuesday evening zoom group. We start promptly at 7.30pm – so get there 5 to 15 minutes before if possible. We have a short break halfway and end the evening at 9.30pm
Beginners and newcomers are very welcome. The first half is focussed on meditation, and full instruction is always given, so it is not a problem if you have never meditated before. In the second half we usually have a talk and/or discussion about some aspect of Buddhism.
03 November Paramajyoti – talking about the history of the movement, and its founder Sangharakshita
10 November Keith
17 November Amber
24 November Padmajata
01 December Nandaketu?? – not yet confirmed
08 December Karunadhara – talking about his work as a Buddhist prison chaplain. Karunadhara is a good friend of mine who lives in Dover. He got ordained about a month ago.
This link forwards to the normal zoom link https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/zoom . So either this link or an old one you have bookmarked should work equally well.
Hopefully will see you at one or more of these.
2) If you are on Facebook, please feel free to like our page or join our group. Just search Facebook for “Hertford Buddhist” to find us.
3) Also Amber is starting up her Sangha Yoga class again by zoom. Everybody and all levels welcome.
Starting Tuesday 3rd Nov 6.15pm to 7.15pm. Suggested donation £5 per session. For booking contact Amber at email@example.com or Whatsapp 0794 261 2117
The timing is designed to fit in before our meditation/Buddhism class. There is no obligation or expectation to do both, but yoga is a wonderful thing to do before meditation.
That is all for now. I hope you have a great November despite the new lockdown.
all the best
p.s. from one of my favourite books – Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications:
Metta Bhavana (loving kindness meditation) Stage 3
a neutral person
In the third stage we think of a neutral person. Here the practice is presenting us with a particular challenge, that of overcoming indifference. We are being asked to be concerned for someone in whom we have no personal investment. In the second stage we like the person, enjoy their company, and want their friendship. In the fourth stage we are going to be thinking of a difficult person, someone whose company we would rather be without. In each case, a different ‘vested interest’ is at stake. But the neutral person is in-between. We have no particular feelings, or interests, either way.
The neutral person might be someone we see quite often, but we have no real connection with. It might be a man at work whose name we know, but who we’ve never really spoken to, or a woman who runs the local corner shop. So in this stage of the practice we are trying to develop a well-wishing towards such a person. Even though we don’t know them personally, and may never know them, we want our attitude to be one of desiring their happiness.
Sometimes we can find this stage difficult precisely because we don’t have a connection with that person. How can we think about someone if we don’t know anything about them? We can try using our imagination. Although we might not know very much about this person’s life, we can imagine what it might be like. We can do this is a way which seems realistic, a view of what life might possibly entail for them. What would it be like to work in that shop all day long? You hope she enjoys her work, and that the business is doing well. You imagine where she grew up, what her life might have been like. Though she might be neutral to us, to some other people she is far from that. Perhaps she has a family, and we can hope that they, too, are happy and well. When we are in a hurry, people like her can seem to be two-dimensional figures. They are always there behind the counter when we nip in for our pint of milk or bar of chocolate. In this stage of the practice we are trying to see them more as alive, three-dimensional, human beings. We start to see that we are connected to them more than we think. It is only because she works all those hours that we cancel in just when we want to.
exercise – putting ourselves in their shoes
If you are not already doing the full loving-kindness practice, you can now try incorporating this third stage into your meditation. Start building up the practice stage by stage. Spend a few minutes on stages one and two every day, and then move on to stage three.
You can do this by bringing to mind someone you see at work, in a shop, or on the bus. Try to imagine being in their shoes. What would it be like to live that life? Fill out as much detail as you can, but obviously there will be aspects of their life you cannot know about. At these times, you can just dwell on the ‘mystery’ of the other person.
It is good to choose one person and keep them in your practice for a week, or even longer. Then you might want to choose someone else for a while.
You can also do this reflection while you are sitting on the bus, or walking down the street, just looking about you and having a sense of curiosity and kindness towards the people you see about you.
A friend of mine once told me the following story. He used to work in a restaurant where there was a man who came in for lunch every day. He was quiet and never said very much, and the staff in the restaurant used to refer to him as Mr Customer. One day my friend started putting Mr Customer in his neutral-person stage. A few days later, when serving this man, without any particular intention, he started chatting to him. (Let us hope he didn’t call him Mr Customer to his face!) This story shows the effect the practice can have. My friend naturally and spontaneously started seeing that man differently. We encounter scores of neutral people every day, and it is worth remembering that, before we knew them, our dearest friends were, to us, just neutral people.
People sometimes make astonishing sacrifices for total strangers. There are many stories of people giving their lives trying to save others in a disaster or emergency – rushing back into a burning building, or diving into freezing cold water. They are only ‘ordinary ‘people, but such stories provide food for thought about our potential for self-transcendence and concern for others. Perhaps you could even say there is only such a thing as ‘society’ to the extent that we can identify with ‘neutral’ people. If we didn’t have any concern for neutral people, society would soon break down.