Happy New Year and Course on 11th Jan

Hi everyone,

Another year has come and gone.

From one point of view date and time is totally arbitrary and cultural. We are always in the eternal present. The past no longer exists, and the future is just imagined. Also if we were brought up in a different culture, our “year end” might be totally different.

But from another point of view, something really significant happens at midnight tonight as the old year ends, and the new one begins. The reality is every moment is actually a new beginning. But we experience this most strongly at midnight tonight.

In any case it can be a useful opportunity to just take a step back and have a look at our lives. Are we happy? Are we going in the right direction? What were the highlights of the last year – the highs and the lows? From this heightened level of awareness, we may decide to try and shift direction a bit, to jettison some bad habits, and take on new ones.

This is the momentum that drives us to take on new year’s resolutions. Unfortunately these often amount to nothing, as our heightened level of awareness dissolves, and we are very soon back in our familiar unconsious and reactive mind embracing our old bad habits.

One thing we might consider is to look around for external conditions, or people that support us in keeping this expanded consciousness. This is one of things we are trying to do at the Hertford Buddhist group. We are trying to create a supportive community of friends (aka sangha) that help us maintain this perspective. It is very hard to do this alone.

Why not join us for our 8 week course (8 Tuesday evenings) starting on 11th Jan.

The first half of each evening will be meditation with full instruction – both mindfulness of breathing and also loving kindness (metta bhavana) meditation.

The second half of each evening will be based around the amazing book “The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Course in Enlightenment” by our friend Maitreyabandhu. The “Guide” refers to the Buddha.

The blurb of the book says “How can you make the most of your life? Maitreyabandhu, a prize-winning poet who has been sharing his experience of practising Buddhism for over 20 years, sets out to answer this most basic question. With humour and profundity, mixing poetry and myth with down-to-earth instruction, he describes what it means to set out on the Buddha’s journey and how you can follow it day by day and week by week. ‘The natural mode of consciousness is to expand. In every moment we can either allow consciousness to unfold or we can make it me and mine and feel it shrink back to the level of egocentricity. It’s as if we’ve identified with a tiny ripple on the surface of the ocean. Once we let go of that identification there’s the whole ocean: centre-less, edgeless, completely free.’”

It is recommended (but not compulsory) that you buy the book, and read it while doing our course. More info is at https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/8-week-meditation-course-including-journey-and-the-guide/ .

Also here is a message from several of our sangha about an event on Tuesday 4th Jan:

“We are very pleased that, thanks to Zoom, Smritratna will be joining us on Tuesday 4th.

For the last eighteen years he has lived in a forest hut near the Dhanakosa Retreat Centre in Scotland. His talk is called ‘Sangha in the World: A Vision of the Future’ and is based on a discourse in which the Buddha tells a parable to express his vision of the profound value of sangha in the world, even after years of widespread misrule’ – how apt for our times!

If you would like a preview, you can see Smritiratna talking about climate change with Analayo during the recent Triratna Earth Sangha Conference https://youtu.be/bw50O7uk46o

Recently five members of Hertford Sangha attended the launch of the Cambridge Earth Sangha which was very inspiring. A number of other friends have expressed an interest in exploring a conscious approach to climate change which may involve study, discussion, meditation, devotional rituals and activism. More information to follow soon.”

Basically, for all of the above, all you need to do is just turn up on zoom on Tuesday evenings between 7.15pm and 7.30pm for a very prompt start at 7.30. The zoom link is https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/zoom . There is no need to book, or pay anything. Beginners are always very welcome.

04 January 2022 Smritiratna
11 January 2022 Keith Week one of course
18 January 2022 Amber Week two
25 January 2022 Paramajyoti Week three
01 February 2022 Mangala Week four

That is all for now. I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and 2022.

Best wishes