Tuesday drop in class, Dharma Day and a reflection on suffering

Hi there,

I hope you are enjoying this lovely warm weather. It seems that Summer has finally arrived.

Why not come along and join us at our Tuesday night drop in class. Newcomers and beginners are always very welcome :-

02 July 2019 Keith (video night)
09 July 2019 Mangala
16 July 2019 Padmajata
23 July 2019 Khemananda
30 July 2019 Not sure yet
06 August 2019 Keith and Leah
13 August 2019 Alex Crowe
20 August 2019 Karunanatha

Also July is a very special month as it is a time for one of our very special annual festivals – Dharma Day.

This will be at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Sunday 14th Jul 2019 – 10.00am to 5.00pm, and I think quite a few of us from Hertford will be going. The people at Hertford always love us coming and have coined a name for us “The Hertford Posse”, and sometimes give us a shout out from the stage 🙂

The day is probably not suitable for complete beginners, as there is no meditation instruction or anything, and there will be some devotional ritual. But if you have been along to our classes a few times and like it, then you will love Dharma Day, as these festival days have a beautiful heart opening energy.

Plus there is often time for a short walk by the River Cam at lunchtime.

More info is at https://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/dharmaday2019

The info below was pasted from the Cambridge Buddhist Centre website:-

Dharma Day: The Dharma as a Personal Invitation

Dharma Day is a celebration of the Enlightened State communicating itself.

This is the blue jewel in The Three Jewels. Shakyamuni Buddha (the Buddha of our time) first communicated the Dharma to the five ascetics in the Deer Park, 2500 years ago. The first turning of the Wheel of the Dharma. He taught what we now call The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eight-fold Path.

This year’s Dharma Day is a personal invitation to the whole sangha to celebrate this great event. Please come and join our collective meditation, discussion, workshop, friendship, Dharma worship, mantra chanting, readings and joy.

We invite you to bring an offering which expresses the personal invitation the Dharma presented to you.

Please join us for all or part of the day.


10am Introduction to the day, followed by Sangha meditation.* Led by Saddharaja

10.40am Tea break

11am ‘The Enlightened One Speaks’ talk* from Saddharaja

12pm Discussion groups with facilitators

1pm Lunch (please bring vegetarian/vegan food to share)

2pm ‘Offerings to the Dharma: Everything Belongs’. Inclusive meditation, workshop and mini-puja. All welcome. Led by the Families Sangha and Amarachandra in the Lower Shrine Room.

3.30pm Dharma Day puja.* Led by Jinamati

5pm Finish and clear up

*The quiet and meditative nature of these events, with sometimes long periods of silence, mean they are not suitable for children to attend.

See you at a Tuesday night and/or Dharma Day hopefully.

All the best


p.s. Here is a short excerpt from one of my favourite books: “Buddhism – Tools for Living your Life” by Vajragupta.

Vajragupta will actually be visiting us on 17th September to lead the meditation and talk about his new book on time “Free Time!: from clock-watching to free-flowing, a Buddhist guide” . It will be a very special evening, so put it in your diaries now!

  1. suffering

The fourth and final reminder is that there is suffering in life. We try to look honestly at our own lives and to acknowledge or admit those things – large or small – that we find unsatisfactory. They might be physical discomforts or hardships, painful relationships, or dissatisfaction with an aspect of life such as our job. We can try to see that all this is part of life. Everyone experiences dissatisfaction; not just us.

This doesn’t imply that we should be passive in relation to difficulties and not try to put them right where possible. It is rather that reflecting in this way can help us relate to our suffering or dissatisfaction more lightly, and avoid unhelpful responses such as self-pity. We can also see that since the world is large and complex and ever changing, we are never going to get things exactly how we want them.

If we watch TV or look in newspapers, we soon become aware of suffering on a larger scale. In the world around us we see conflict, oppression, famine, and natural disasters. Closer to home we see sickness, the indignity of old age, mental illness, depression, anxiety, stress. We see that even people who have so much materially are often unhappy and restless, and can behave in ways that cause themselves more suffering.

Maybe we feel we don’t need to be reminded of this. Why would we want to think about such things? Awareness of suffering can be uncomfortable, so sometimes we want to forget it, shut it out, and desensitize ourselves. But this fourth reflection encourages us to be aware of the reality of this side of life. Challenging though it is, it might help us to avoid being complacent about our lives. Like the first reminder, it helps us to see how lucky we are, most of the time. It can also discourage any tendency to think of the Buddhist life being about creating a cosy, peaceful escape from the world, and help us instead to be compassionately aware of the world. It can encourage us to make the most of opportunities to act with kindness and relieve suffering whenever we can.

If, however, we do feel ourselves becoming despondent or overwhelmed, it is good to go back to the first reminder and restore a sense of the preciousness of life.

I can’t entirely avoid suffering.
There will be times of illness and discomfort.
There will be times when life doesn’t give me what I want.
Sometimes people, even trusted friends, will disappoint me.
This is part of life.

It happens to me, and it happens to everyone.
So how should I resolve to respond to suffering in my life?

Life is constant change.
I will never get everything in my life to stay just how I want!
I should resolve to remember this truth.

All around me I see so much suffering.
On TV there are wars, famines, or disasters.
On the streets I see people suffering stress, old age, or lack of meaning.
In nature, many animals are either hunting or being hunted.
There is always a struggle for survival.

Sometimes I can act with kindness and relieve suffering.
Let me resolve to try to do this when I can.
At other times, I cannot take away all the suffering I see.
But at least I can be aware of the pain of others.
I can hold their suffering – tenderly – in my heart.

When people use these reflections they are often surprised at how stirring they can be, and also how they can feel strangely liberating. They seem to bring us back to that sense of what is essential, who we really are, and what truly matters about our lives.

It is with this sense of the stories of our individual lives, and our desire to discover their deepest possibilities, that the Buddhist life begins. We may feel increasing discontent at splashing around in the shallows, and want to swim into the deep. There is an emerging awareness of old habits of behaviour, patterns of communication, and ways of thinking that hold us back. We want to break out and change direction. But we often need help in knowing how to go about this, and Buddhism offers a wide range of practical methods for bringing about this self-transformation. It is to these tools for living your life that we now turn.

© Windhorse Publications