I hope that all is well.
In my last monthly email I wrote: “I am hoping to restart face to face classes at the Millbridge Rooms in Hertford just after Easter on the 19th April, and then start a 6 week meditation course there the following week on the 26th April. That is the plan anyway. I will let you know for sure at the beginning of April.”
I was sort of hoping that covid risks would continue going down, but since then the BBC reports “about one in every 16 people is infected, . That’s just under 4.3 million people, up from 3.3 million the week before.” And numbers continue to rise.
I know omicron is not as bad as previous versions, and we can’t stay in lockdown forever.
But it can be pretty bad. One of my boosted friends had it recently and was pretty ill for a couple of days, one horrendous night and she still has some post viral fatigue and coughing. Another boosted friend in her late 60s was ill for two weeks with it, and now still has post viral fatigue.
Although I am really looking forward to face to face classes again, and I know that many of you are too, I am thinking it might be a bit prudent to wait just a bit longer till the warmer weather starts and hopefully the covid risk is down again. So we will stay on zoom a bit longer.
I am thinking of reverting to face to face classes some time between end of May and mid June. I will give you a better idea next month.
So this means we will start the meditation course a week earlier on the 19th April.
05 April 2022 Amarachandra (female mitra convenor at Cambridge Buddhist Centre)
12 April 2022 Amber
19 April 2022 Keith (week 1 of 6 week meditation course)
26 April 2022 Paramajyoti (week 2)
03 May 2022 week 3
10 May 2022 week 4
17 May 2022 week 5
24 May 2022 week 6
Our thoughts continue to go out to everyone suffering at this time whereever they are in the world – especially in Ukraine.
In any case. I hope that you have a lovely Easter break and enjoy the rest of April. Hopefully see you soon.
p.s. Excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life” by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications
We could say, putting it simply, that there are two ways of practising, two basic Buddhist lifestyles. One could be called ‘practice in the world’, and the other, ‘practice apart from the world’.
Practice in the world means living in the midst of society. Maybe we have a job, or we’re bringing up a family, or we continue participating in society in some other way. But we are also, at the same time, trying to put Buddhist teachings and practices into effect.
Practice apart from the world means we leave society to some extent. Perhaps we live in a retreat centre in the countryside, or a monastery, or a hermitage. We have deliberately isolated ourselves from the world in order to be able to concentrate solely on Buddhist practice. We spend as much of our time as possible in this environment, leaving it only when we need to.
Both these are valid forms of practice that have been present in Buddhist traditions right from the start. The Buddha left society in order to pursue a spiritual quest. He went deep into the forests to seek out spiritual teachers and to meditate on the mysteries of existence. This is often the popular image of the Buddha: a solitary, meditating figure.
But that was not the whole story. After the Buddha gained Enlightenment, he returned to the world. He travelled all over north-east India, teaching and communicating his experience of Enlightenment, so that others could experience that freedom for themselves. He founded an order, so that his followers could support each other in their practice, and so that his teaching could be passed from generation to generation. The organization of this order, and all the teaching, meant he was a busy man. As he travelled around, he would often have been accompanied by a retinue of followers, with hundreds of people coming to hear him talk and ask questions. He also went back to his family, and many of them became his followers – some also gaining Enlightenment. He met and taught all sorts of people, from a wide variety of backgrounds.
So we can see that there was a stage in his life when the Buddha did practise apart from the world, but then he returned. We can see both ways of functioning exemplified in his life.