I hope all is well with you. Our course is going very well. We have been averaging about 25 attendees which is not bad for zoom.
Also several people on the course have been giving great feedback about how attending is helping them experience a positive change in their lives. Each week is self contained, so it is fine to drop in any week, and it does not matter if you have never been before, or don’t know anything about Buddhism.
We also always try and have breakout groups in our zoom sessions to give people more of a chance to get to know each other and explore the course content. Also, if you want to find out more you can always google “The Journey and the Guide”, you might find versions of it on youtube, mp3s, and also of course the actual book, if you are interested.
Coming up we have the final 4 weeks of the course:
08 February 2022 Week 5 – Amber
15 February 2022 Week 6 – Keith
22 February 2022 Week 7 – Paramajyoti
01 March 2022 Week 8 – not yet known
We are staying on zoom for the moment, but will go back to face to face at some point when covid rates drop a bit more.
That’s all for now. Have a great February!
p.s. Excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life” by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications
Anne Donovan has written a funny and perceptive novel called Buddha Da.16 It is the story of a Glaswegian family: Jimmy, a painter and decorator, his wife Liz, and their daughter Anne-Marie. Jimmy has become interested in meditation and started going along to the Buddhist centre. At first, Anne-Marie wonders whether it is just one of his practical jokes, but she gradually realizes he is serious. She and her mother find it weird that dad, who used to spend his evenings sitting with them watching telly and cracking jokes, now goes upstairs to sit for hours on his own in a darkened room. Liz cannot understand why Jimmy comes home from the centre in such awe of what the lama said that night.
To her, it sounds little different to what the priest says on Sunday – but Jimmy has never been interested in church. Anne-Marie’s religious education class at school goes on a visit to the Buddhist centre and she is in terror of the potential embarrassment: what if her dad is there, or one of the lamas recognizes her? You can see that something has awoken in Jimmy, albeit imperfectly – he is at times rather oblivious of the effects he is having on his family. He struggles to explain why it is so vitally important to him, but he can’t quite put it into words. Mutual incomprehension abounds, and the novel goes onto tell us the results.
Where there is such conflict and difficulty, we usually, in time, work through it. In the end, relationships are often stronger and closer as a result. My parents were understandably wary when I got involved in Buddhism. They had brought me up as a Roman Catholic and must have wondered why I was rejecting that faith. They had done their best to explain and teach me their faith – why wasn’t it good enough for me? In time, however, they saw that I was happy and that what I was doing suited me. They are now very supportive of my Buddhist life, and I feel very close to them and grateful for all they have done for me. My father sometimes comes and stays with me in the Buddhist community where I live, and I am glad he’s able to get a closer glimpse of my life in this way.
Sometimes, however, such a resolution and understanding is not possible: friends or partners realize that their paths through life are diverging. They simply have different goals and aims, so they may decide to part. Though this is sometimes sad and painful, they feel it will be better for all concerned in the long run.
How can we negotiate this difficult territory? There are obviously no easy answers or simple formulas. We first need to be aware that if we start getting involved in meditation and Buddhism, it might seem strange to people who are close to us but don’t share our interest. They might not be able to understand why it is meaningful to us. It might even seem alien and threatening to them; they fear our new interest will come between us and them.
We need to attempt to understand this and to communicate what meditation and practice is all about and why it is significant for us. We do our best to help them understand. At the same time, we try not to ignore the call of our heart, even when it causes difficulty for others. We can only remain true to others if we are first true to ourselves, so we try to listen to that voice within that tells us how we really want to live our lives.