Happy New Year

Hi there,

Another decade has come and gone.

I hope that you had a nice relaxing time over Christmas, and are ready to embrace another year.

We all know that New Year resolutions tend to get forgotten about after a few days back in the “real world”. But even so, this time of year it is sometimes very useful to take a step back and think about what we are doing with our lives.

Are we doing things that we know will help make us better people, and this world a better place?
Do we want to have more meaning and freedom in our lives?
Do we have really good friends who support us, are a pleasure to be around, and who bring out the best in us?
Are we truly satisfied and joyful a lot of the time?
Or are we just biding our time on a lonely semi conscious hamster wheel of alternating stressful work and indulgence, just putting up with things till our next holiday?

However you answered those questions, maybe it is a good time to come along to Hertford Buddhist Group. We have some really good things coming up. Newcomers, beginners, meditators, Buddhists and non-Buddhists are all welcome.

7th Jan: Jnanavaca is visiting us for the first time to lead the class. He was chair of the London Buddhist Centre for about ten years, and is now the president of Cambridge Buddhist Centre.

14th Jan: We start a Mindfulness and Meditation course over 8 Tuesday evenings. You will need to buy the book “Life with Full Attention” by Maitreyabandhu, which is available at Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Life-Full-Attention-Practical-Mindfulness/dp/1899579982 and other book shops. More info at https://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/mindfulness-and-meditation-8-week-course-beginners-welcome/ . Week 1 will be led by Leah and Keith
21st Jan: Week 2 led by Keith and Leah
28th Jan: Week 3 led by Khemananda
Following weeks led by Padmajata, Mangala and Amber.

Hopefully you can make it to some or all of these 🙂

On another subject, I am very happy that my good friend Leah has been invited to go on a three month retreat in Spain starting in April. During this retreat she will be ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order.

She will be our first “home grown” order member at Hertford, and it will have a very positive and deepening effect on our group.

She has created a page https://www.gofundme.com/f/ordination-at-akashavana with more information, and where people are able to give money to help fund her retreat if they wish to.

All the 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

In order to explore further how we might develop mindfulness in daily life, we’re going to look in a little more detail at two dimensions of awareness drawn out in the texts from the early Buddhist tradition.9 First, sati, a Pali word which could be translated as ‘bare awareness’. Secondly, sampajanna, or ‘continuity of purpose’.

Bare awareness is that simple state of being collected, rather then semi-absent. You are more fully present in your experience. Your body, senses, heart, and mind are alive and receptive. You feel as though your feet are firmly on the ground – earthed and connected.

Some people can remember a moment in their childhood when they first became self-aware. I can remember one very ordinary day when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was in the bathroom washing my hands and I can clearly recall the sandy orange of the walls, the white ceramic sink gleaming under the electric light, turning the soap in my hands, and holding my hands under the running water.

Suddenly, there was this strange sense of excitement and wonder that this was happening to me right now, right there. Perhaps bare awareness has something of the freshness and immediacy of that experience. We are aware, and aware of being aware. Perhaps you can recall other times or places in your life when your awareness has felt heightened in this way.

When we dwell in this kind of bare awareness, we become more attuned to things. Our awareness becomes more refined, subtle, and sensitive. We notice small changes and more detail. We look more, so we see more. Only those who know how to ‘stop and stare’ will notice the primroses nestling in the hedgerow, catch sight of a sparrowhawk as it hurtles through the trees, or enjoy the sodium orange of the streetlamp splashing and sparkling on wet tarmac on a winter’s night.

© Windhorse Publications