A refreshing break, but soon back in action
I am writing this from Penzance where I am on holiday, staying with my friend Akashadevi (whom some of you may remember as she taught at the WLBC before she moved to Cornwall). It is only my second time outside London in almost two years and it is such a joy to be by the sea amidst so much beauty. The sight, smell and sounds of the sea, the ever changing relationship between the sky and the sea, the play of light on the sea, the subtle range of colours even when both the sky and sea are grey…all these touch my ‘soul’ and psyche in ways I can’t describe.
Just as there are deep levels of awareness and experience beyond words and concepts that I’ve been accessing lately through meditation, chanting, ritual, poetry and music, so simply being in this amazing landscape creates a sense of connection with the world and puts me directly in touch with a more Dharmic perspective. How quickly the tide comes in, how quickly the sea mist comes in, how quickly the weather changes as you move from one area to another just a few miles away – impermanence is an embodied experience moment by moment.
I’ve also been swimming in the sea which, though cold, has been another joyful experience. The ocean is sometimes used as a metaphor in Dharma teachings and just being in the ocean is a truth teaching in itself. And it’s been fun, hanging out with a friend, going for walks, eating ice cream….I still have a way to go with working with my craving, but for now I’m not bothered and am indulging in simple pleasures wherever I can.
The West London Buddhist Centre has been closed now for a week and will continue to be closed for both in-person and online events for two more weeks while the team is on leave until 26 August. Until then there will be no-one answering emails, however, you can now book on both our next online retreat, ‘The Unobstructed Heart’ from 27-30 August (led by Bodhilila and Prajnanita) and our next Wednesday night going deeper Buddhism course, ‘Opening the Jewel Box’ from 8 September – 13 October (led by Ratnadeva).
The Unobstructed Heart is another retreat inspired by Amoghasiddhi, the dark green archetypal Buddha who is particularly associated with effective, ethical and ‘all-accomplishing’ action. He achieves this partly through his confidence and fearlessness but also through freeing, integrating and directing energy. His name can be translated as ‘unobstructed success’ or ‘he whose actions are never in vain’. On the retreat we will be exploring the tantric precepts – ethical principles and guidelines focusing on how we use energy. Do join Prajnanita and me as we come together as a community for a weekend of practice, connecting with sangha and with our spiritual values. As usual the retreat will include teaching input, reflection and discussion alongside meditation, chanting and ritual. You can find more details about the retreat on our website and you can book via Eventbrite.
I would also like to encourage you to attend ‘Opening the Jewel Box’, a 6 week course studying the Tiratana Vandana, a set of verses listing the qualities of the three jewels, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. These verses are chanted all around the world by Buddhists of many different traditions and we are told that the Buddha himself commended the content of the verses as supportive of the goal of Awakening. It is a great opportunity to explore these with Ratnadeva who has studied Pali, the ancient language in which the verses were written, and is able to combine an experiential approach while looking closely at the meaning of the original text.
Any queries about these and other events will not be dealt with until after the team comes back from leave at the end of August. However, we want anyone who wants to attend our events to be able to do so, so do contact us just before the retreat or the course if you cannot manage the booking fee and would like a bursary place.
From September there will be a small in-person programme which will include a weekly Saturday morning meditation class, a weekly Tuesday lunchtime meditation class, a monthly Friday ritual night, a monthly Saturday afternoon sesshin and a monthly Sunday morning meditation club. These will be on a drop-in basis and you will no longer have to book in advance. There will also be some in-person workshops and courses for which you will need to book, including an introduction to Buddhism course led by Prajnanita and our secular Mindfulness for Stress and Mindfulness for Health courses. We will continue to offer a rich and varied programme online.
More details about our Autumn programme will be available once the centre re-opens, in the meantime I hope to see some of you on the retreat and at a very special Dharma Night on 31 August when we welcome Prajnanita as our new Women’s Mitra Convenor.