IN CELEBRATION of ASALHA PUJA and ENTERING THE VASSA ANGULIMALA

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IN CELEBRATION of ASALHA PUJA and ENTERING THE VASSA ANGULIMALA Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                              July 2004 / 2547




                                   Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammaa-sambuddhassa
At THE FOREST HERMITAGE           Honour to the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Fully-Enlightened One


IN CELEBRATION of                 I decided to get down to preparing this
                              newsletter soon after returning from my
                                                                                For years, I have thought of persuading
                                                                            people to read more from the Pali Canon
ASALHA PUJA and               annual trip to Scotland to visit and          or Tipitika instead of all these books about
ENTERING THE VASSA            encourage those who keep the Angulimala
                              flag flying north of the border. I don’t
                                                                            Buddhism and I used to dream of creating
                                                                            popular versions of the suttas. Now I
Vegetarian food to offer      much like going to bed as soon as I get in    think a better way is to read them at our
and share.                    so although it had been a long day - we       Monday and Friday evenings and some of
                              left shortly after 7 a.m., arrived at         these have been recorded and put on CDs.
Sunday August 1st             Portobello in Edinburgh just before one,      I don’t like to see the Buddha’s words on
From 10 a.m.                  talked all afternoon, then left at four-      sale but most translations are only
                              thirty, called at Harnham monastery for an    commercially available and therefore
                              hour in the evening and got back here at a    copyrighted. Fortunately, some publishers
ANGULIMALA                    quarter to twelve – I took the dogs out for   have given permission for recordings,
                              a walk, then opened my laptop and began.      especially for distribution in the prisons.
WORKSHOPS                         As I started with the Scottish trip       So far, what I’ve done is not quite of the
(mainly for Buddhist Prison   perhaps I ought to report that although we    standard I would like, but at least it’s a
Chaplains) on                 have a very dedicated team at Angulimala      start. Also on CD are a few of our
                              Scotland they’re not having a very easy       Monday and Friday sessions and those
Sept 18th with the AGM        time. It’s a different system from England    and some talks are also on the website.
and Dec 4th.                  and Wales and so far as prison chaplaincy         One thing I don’t think I have yet
                              is concerned has a long way to go to catch    recorded but which I shall be reading and
                              up with what we’re doing down here. But       talking a lot about over the next two or
MEDITATION,                   then what we’re doing here is very            three weeks is the Buddha’s First Sermon,
A DHAMMA TALK,                advanced indeed and probably nowhere
                              else in the world is there a Multifaith
                                                                            also known as Setting in Motion the
                                                                            Wheel of Dhamma. The reason of course
A SUTTA READING               chaplaincy developing like ours. At the       is Asalha Puja, which this year falls on
& a cup of tea on             Portobello Buddhist Priory, I met with a      July 31st, when we celebrate the
                              small group, four of whom were already        anniversary of that Full Moon long ago
Mondays & Fridays, 8 pm.      trying to function in various prisons, one    when the Buddha sat down with his five
                              with a supportive interest and another who    former companions in a deer park not far
                              wanted to be a Buddhist prison chaplain,      from Benares and told them what had
                              and the afternoon sped by as we talked. It    happened to him since they had parted.
                              was clear that through not having ease of     The ruins in the picture over the page are
                              entry to the prisons and with no training     at the place where this happened. When
                              available and not much chance to learn        we were there on our pilgrimage two
                              from experience it was proving a slow         years ago, we too sat there and close to the
                              learning curve. As well as suggesting         very spot where it happened I read aloud
                              how they might lobby for better access        and explained the Buddha’s First Sermon.
                              and recognition I encouraged them as I            When the twelve-year-old daughter of
                              would anyone who is keen to practise and      someone who comes here asked me about
                              share the teaching of Buddhism to learn it    becoming a Buddhist, I told her about that
                              well and from original texts.                 First Sermon.       It’s always a useful
introduction      because    it’s    simple,
straightforward and covers the essentials
of the Buddha’s message: the Middle
Way, the Four Noble Truths and the
Noble Eightfold Path.         Through the
centuries and as it spread so Buddhism
acquired ceremonies, customs, and
cultural additions, which can be rather like
icing on the cake, sometimes attractive
and enjoyable, sometimes helping your
appetite, but sometimes distracting and
confusing as to where the nourishment
really lies. Of course, the Buddha taught
much more than you’ll find in his First
Sermon: principles and virtues such as the
cultivation of loving-kindness and
compassion, the practices of generosity,
patience, and determination and so on but,
as he sometimes said, it was suffering and      these days. Lately it’s been the turn of the       Buddha and the Sahibs’ by Charles Allen.
the end of suffering that really concerned      British Empire to be rubbished as though               This book mentions Sir John Marshall
him and that’s what that First Sermon           all that that was about was oppression and         as one of those who reversed the process
focuses on. Especially at this time, I          exploitation instead of an expansion not           of destruction and began the recovery of
recommend a study of those words, which         just of trade and territory but of human           India’s past. At the age of 26 in 1903, he
more than two and a half thousand years         endeavour, knowledge and experience as             went out to be Director General of the
ago set rolling the Wheel of Dhamma.            well. Let me ask you to look again at that         Archaeological Survey of India. In 1990,
    You will not be too surprised to hear       picture above of the ruins on the site of          his daughter then aged 85 I think, wrote to
that in my time I have levelled a fair share    the Buddha’s First Sermon.           In the        me, and sent me two Pagoda Stones that
of criticism at some of the conventions         foreground, you can just see the base of           her father had brought back from Burma.
and traditions of this country but I have       what was once an enormous cetiya, the              They appear to be tiny agates and when
also grown to appreciate the Buddha’s           Dhammarajika Stupa. When in 1794 it                you hold them up to the light, you can see
advice that for a nation to prosper and not     was demolished for materials to build the          in them the image of a pagoda. I still have
decline it should abide by its ancient          Jagatganj marketplace a casket was                 them and her letters and I treasure them
constitutions and respect and honour its        discovered containing bones and relics of          even more since reading this book.
shrines. Ancient traditions may only be         the Buddha, which were tossed into the                 This year it seems unlikely that we will
conventions but they often protect              Ganges. The other huge cetiya, still               be holding the celebration at the Buddha
important principles and safeguard a            standing and on the right of the picture is        Grove in Springhill Prison. Although our
nation’s stability.      Without stability,     the Dhamekh Stupa. It was also damaged             Thai supporters generously donate most of
growth and prosperity are unlikely. We          and nearly ended up as building materials.         the food as well as the cooking of it, other
acknowledge that in our Buddhist training       But for the British in India there might be        costs may be difficult to meet.
where our first concern usually is to           much less there for you to see and the                 Angulimala continues to flourish but
advise people to stabilise their minds by       discovery of this and other ancient                more prisons are being built, the prison
learning to gather and concentrate their        Buddhist sites might never have been               population continues to grow and so too
attention and to stabilise their lives by       made and the entire growth and                     does the number of inmates with an
adhering to the precepts. In Britain, we        development of Buddhism in the West                interest in Buddhism. With some comings
live amidst plenty and are free to express      been quite other than it has been. It’s an         and goings, the number of chaplains in our
our opinions and practise our religion          extraordinary story and one that you might         team hovers at around forty-five but we
without fear of a knock on the door late at     like to read in a fascinating book that I’ve       need more and so if you are interested
night. It isn’t stable and safe like that       enjoyed browsing lately called ‘The                please check the website for where there
everywhere or for everyone and when                                                                are vacancies and be in touch.
you’re hungry or frightened it must be            UPOSATHA OBSERVANCE DAYS                             Here at the Forest Hermitage we’re
difficult to make something of your life                                                           struggling a bit at the minute and need to
and develop your wisdom.            Like all                  C        D       E        A          involve you some more. We’ve monks
conditioned things including people,                                                               and two properties with gardens to care
conventions are imperfect but have their           JULY        9       16       24       31        for but no live-in lay helper and no driver,
good points as well as their bad. I often          AUG         8       15       23       30        although I am being helped with drives
point that out about people in general, and        SEPT        7       13       21       28        and managing to get out to prisons and on
prisoners in particular who are so easily                                                          prison business. With the Vassa upon us,
dismissed as being no good and nothing             Asalha Puja falls on July 31st and              you might think about deepening your
else, as well as some British traditions that    The Entry to the Vassa on August 1st.             practice, coming to sit more often, and
no one seems to have a good word for                                                               caring for the Hermitage as well.

                           Newsletter from Ven. Ajahn Khemadhammo O.B.E. of
             The Forest Hermitage & Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation
                   The Forest Hermitage   Lower Fulbrook   nr Sherbourne       Warwickshire      CV35 8AS         United Kingdom
              For Ven. Ajahn Khemadhammo & ANGULIMALA - direct telephone: 01926 624385 mobile: 07941 013319   facsimile: 08700 467283
             Email address: prakhem@foresthermitage.org.uk               Websites: www.foresthermitage.org.uk & www.angulimala.org.uk
             THE BUDDHA-DHAMMA FELLOWSHIP, Reg. Charity No 289913                                  ANGULIMALA, Reg. Charity No 294939

				
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