I hope that all is well with you.
Our “Not About Being Good” Course has just finished. It was well attended, and it was really interesting to grapple with questions about what sort of life it is best to live. Is it really true that if we act kindly, we tend to experience more joy than if we indulge in mean, bitter mental states? Our brief introspective experiment in week one indicated that this was indeed the case. So the other weeks just took a deeper dive into our daily lives from a variety of different angles corresponding to the five precepts or “five doorways to joy” as I have heard them described.
So for the next few months we will have an assortment of topics, and pretty much every class will continue to be devoted to meditation for the first half of the evening.
Coming up we have:
06 Jun 2023 Amber and team: Buddhist Action Month
13 Jun 2023 Keith
20 Jun 2023 Kuladipa
27 Jun 2023 Padmajata
04 Jul 2023 Helen
Also I wanted to mention that the manager of the North London Centre has sent me an email inviting anyone connected with the Hertford Sangha to join them on retreat at Vajrasana on 9th to 11th June https://www.northlondonbuddhistcentre.com/upcoming-retreats/weekendretreatjune . The cost is £200 (or £160 concessionary rate). Vajradaka and other teachers from their Tuesday night class will be leading it.
Also Dharma Day is coming up at Cambridge on 9th July https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/DharmaDay2023 . I am hoping to be there, and usually quite a few people from Hertford go up for these festivals.
p.s. Excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism: Tools for Living Your Life” by Vajragupta © Windhorse Publications
exercise – my work as right livelihood?
You might like to go back over the elements of right livelihood we have discussed,
- Supporting ourselves financially
- Benefitting others
- Supporting our meditation and spiritual practice
- Simplicity and consider the strengths and weaknesses of your work or life-activity under each of the four headings.
Allow your observations and thoughts to emerge gradually. It is also good to make a few notes as you go.
Are there areas of your work you are especially happy with? Are there areas you would like to develop? What resources would you need, or what changes would you need to make, in order to do this?
Everyone will have a different way of combining these four elements of right livelihood. These are not hard and fast rules; what is best for one person isn’t necessarily best for another. One person may decline promotion because they know it will entail staying late to deal with the increased responsibilities, and they want that time to meditate; another will seek promotion because they feel they need the challenge and the chance to make a bigger contribution in their organization. One person might be able to live very simply on little money; another might want to earn more because they’ve been used to a higher standard of living all their life. One person might work as little as possible because they are pursuing other interests: a book they are writing, voluntary work, or a study group. Another might be working long hours, but be totally and healthily engaged in their work: it is their medium for developing themselves and making a contribution to the world.
It is our choice. We have to make our own path, and find a way that works for us. We can, however, get the help, advice, or inspiration from others on the path. At the Buddhist centre where I work, there have been, at various times, groups of people who’ve met up to talk about their way of practising. There has been a parents group, and a group for social workers, for example. Having people practising in different ways is healthy. Everyone has their own contribution to make. Overall, it creates a rich mix and allows us to see spiritual ideals expressed in a variety of ways. This can help prevent us confusing the expression of an ideal with the ideal itself.
One friend of mine, after he had been meditating for a few years, trained to become a teacher. He has been a happy and successful primary school teacher for some years now, and you can see the positive effect it has had on him. He also says that his work has changed him as much as meditation, but that he couldn’t have made the change to his work without meditation. His is an example of a life of activity and a life of calm working together.