We will (hopefully) be restarting face to face classes on the 14th June.
Many people are asking me when we will restart. People either seem to have a strong preference for zoom or for face to face.
But I think it is looking like the time is right to restart. It has been over two years now on zoom, but I think most people are starting to realise that face to face does have a lot of advantages (as well as the obvious disadvantages).
This is what is coming up:
5 more Zoom evenings
10/5 Meditation evening led by Keith and Maisie
17/5 Meditation evening led by Paramajyoti
24/5 Meditation evening led by Amber
31/5 Not yet known
07/6 Not yet known
On 14th June we are expecting to resume face to face classes at the Millbridge Rooms after more than 2 years on zoom.
This is slightly up in the air, as it may depend on the covid situation, or something else unforseen. But it is my present intention 🙂
See you at one of these evenings hopefully!
p.s. Excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life” by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications
The wide range of people taught by the Buddha practised in a variety of ways. Some followed his earlier example and went into the forest to explore the depths of meditation. Some remained in their lay lifestyles, but still pursued the spiritual life and made substantial progress. Some became renunciants, living on the outskirts of towns and villages, but travelling into them to gather food from the laypeople, give teachings, and conduct the business of the order.
It is much the same today. There are a variety of ways in which we can follow the path. Each will have particular strengths and potential dangers. When finding a way to practise, it is also a question of finding what suits our temperament. It is not the case that what is right for one person will work for all. It is important to realize this, otherwise we may become discouraged.
Sometimes we see that a person who teaches Buddhism has a different lifestyle from us – one that we could not follow. Perhaps they live with other Buddhists and go on retreat a lot, whereas we have a busy family life. So we start thinking that practising in our situation is impossible, and we become despondent. Or we might be genuinely impressed with the teacher’s qualities and attributes, so we think we should be able to be like them. But then we find we can’t – our temperament and talents are just different. We have to find our own way – a path that suits our particular abilities and character. This just takes time.
Many people, when they come across the Buddhist path, have responsibilities such as family that they cannot, and do not wish to, leave. So most people pursuing Buddhism in the West are probably going to be practising ‘in the world’. One advantage of this mode of practice is that the world will keep you on your toes! If we are active in the world, ethical challenges are guaranteed. We encounter people we find difficult, and there are multiple demands on our time and generosity. Although we might wish at times that these problems would all go away, they can be challenges that spur us on to develop. Without them, we might not make much effort in our meditation.
This is my experience. It is often when life is difficult, and I’m struggling, that I’m most motivated in meditation. At these times I know I have to meditate – otherwise life will be hell! When times are easier, meditation can seem less of an imperative.The danger inherent in practice in the world is that we can become overwhelmed by the world. We struggle to find the time to meditate, and when we do find it, our minds are so stimulated by the busyness of our day that our meditation seems hopeless. We find it too difficult to implement ethical ideals when surrounded by people who have no interest in them. Perhaps we are so immersed in the world that we even start to lose sight of those ideals ourselves.
With practice apart from the world it is the opposite. The strength of this approach is that we will not be swamped by the world. On the contrary, we have time and space to explore the spiritual life, relatively free from stress, worry, and distraction. We can do so in ideal conditions – perhaps in quiet, beautiful countryside, or with others who are doing the same thing and therefore support our efforts. We dwell in a place where everything is designed to remind us of, and support, our ideals and aspirations.
At the same time, unless we are sufficiently self-motivated and alive to the dangers, we might just tread water. We might be going through the motions in our practice, but our lives don’t really challenge us, spur us on, or provide the medium in which we learn to consider the needs of others. In a way, it could become too supportive.
There is no perfect solution: however we choose to live the spiritual life, there will be opportunities and potential dangers. We just have to be aware of these, and negotiate the territory as best we can. Assuming that most people who will be reading this book will be practising in the world, most of what follows concerns that path.