I hope that all is well with you!
Why not drop in to one of our Tuesday evening meditation evenings on zoom? For the next 4 Tuesdays we are doing a meditation course, and then after that (from November onwards) the evenings are first half mediation, and second half Buddhism.
Each evening is self contained, so it does not matter if you just drop in for one of them. Newcomers are always welcome. All classes are free of charge. Go to the home page for more info and the link.
Meditation is really a fantastic thing to add into our daily schedule. I know many of you use headspace and other apps, but I have found it is much more powerful when we get in the habit of meditating in silence on our own, without an app.
This makes it a lot easier to access these states at any point during the day, even for just a few seconds. And the more times we do this during the day it just shifts our awareness and positivity, and colours the rest of our experience (in a good way) during the other parts of our day.
I know this requires a bit of effort and discipline, and coming to a meditation class and meditating with others is a great way of supporting ourselves with this.
Another purpose of our evenings is just to build community, and connect with like minded people trying to grow spiritually. We usually have breakout groups so we can get to know each other a bit.
So this is what is coming up:
05/10 – meditation course by Keith
12/10 – meditation course by Padmajata
19/10 – meditation course by Paramajyoti
26/10 – meditation course by Keith
02/11 – meditation and Buddhism by Jnanadaya
09/11 – meditation and Buddhism by Mangala
That’s all for now. Have a great October!
p.s. Excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life” by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications
avoiding intoxicants, acting with mindfulness
This final precept is about taking mindfulness into everyday life. It suggests we avoid anything that intoxicates, or detracts from, our mindfulness. We have to decide for ourselves what these things are, and where we want to draw the line. We might find that we can have the odd drink without affecting our awareness too much, or we might decide that even one glass of wine mars our clarity. Our experience might be that there are other things that detract from our mindfulness.
For example, we find that spending too long in front of the computer spaces us out. Again, there are no hard and fast rules, but a principle that we have to apply in the world.
However, one could argue that a strong characteristic of our culture is our over-reliance of drink and drugs. Karen Armstrong, a writer on comparative religion, has recently suggested that many are seeking ecstasy through drink, drugs, sport, sex, dancing and clubbing, art, and even shopping.
We are looking for an experience that takes us out of ourselves. This is natural, and what humans have always sought. In the past, many did this through religious experience, but these traditions have today lost their vitality. Much contemporary religion has lost touch with its mystical roots, and may even be suspicious of them. So today we use different means. The problem is that this is often not grounded in ethics. This can lead some people to dependence on, or addiction to, drugs, or to the violence one sometimes sees on the football terraces. Also, the satisfaction it can give us just doesn’t go very deep, nor does it last very long.
This is because true ecstasy is a product of a way of being, not something we consume. So we either have ethics that is wary of ecstasy (much contemporary religion), or ecstasy not grounded in ethics (much of modern culture). Karen Armstrong suggests that the current western interest in Buddhism is connected to this search for an ecstasy that is firmly grounded in ethics. With this precept, we are also exploring the whole area of mindfulness in everyday life as discussed earlier in Chapter 2.
If we are not mindful, we cannot be aware of our actions, words, and underlying motives. In other words, mindfulness is the necessary condition for practising the other precepts, for dwelling more fully in the possibilities of our lives, for bringing more loving-kindness into the world.