Coming soon …

Online weekend retreat: Rest, Resilience, Renewal, Release – Exploring the four brahmavihāra heart qualities in daily life

for London Insight

Friday May 12 7:00 – 9:00 pm UK
Saturday May 13 9:00 – 5:00 pm UK
Sunday May 14 9:00 – 5:00 pm UK

The four brahmavihāra heart practices of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity are powerful tools that strengthen our inner resources, helping us to navigate the individual and collective challenges of our times.

Although the brahmavihāra are often taught as formal meditation practices to develop concentration, in this online weekend retreat, we will explore a range of different approaches aimed at cultivating these skillful qualities in the midst of everyday life. Through a mix of guided meditations, dharma talks and small group discussion, we will develop the capacity to rest in kindness, strengthen resilience through compassion, orient to appreciative joy for renewal of our energy, and experience the peace of equanimity that comes through the release of reactivity.

This retreat is suitable for beginners as well as more experienced practitioners. However, please make a commitment to attending all of the sessions over three days as this is not a drop-in event.

More info and to register here


Auckland Insight community celebration day 2023

Sunday 21 May 9:30 am – 4:30 pm NZST

In the Buddhist calendar, the full moon in May is used to commemorate the Buddha’s birth, Awakening and passing away, and is a time of celebration in Buddhist communities all around the world.

Auckland Insight warmly invites you to attend our own day of celebration, an opportunity to come together for a day of meditation practice, short dharma talks, small group discussion and informal socialising. 
Morning and afternoon tea and lunch will be provided.

Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend, whether you have previously been to our Auckland Insight group meetings or not.

Cost: $12 + dana* 
Location: Westmere, Auckland 1022
More info and to register: here

*The registration fee covers only a contribution to room hire and catering. 

In keeping with Buddhist tradition, the teachings are offered on a dāna basis which means the teacher is not paid to offer this workshop. Instead, they rely on the generosity of the participants to help them continue to share their teachings with others, and there will be an opportunity at the end of the workshop to offer donations to support their ongoing teaching.


sunlit-bell-1-1

Opening to the flow of vedanā (feeling tone):
A day of online meditation

with Jill Shepherd, Willa Reid and Elizabeth Day

You are warmly invited to join our international sangha for a day of online meditation practice together, to strengthen our capacity for an embodied wise response to the vedanā (feeling-tone) that arises in response to our experience of the world.

We will offer regular 30 minute meditation sessions every hour between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm NZT (see below for other time zones).

Each session will begin with a few minutes of guidance followed by silent meditation for 30 mins, then a half hour break before the next session begins. There will be a break in the middle of the day, with an optional session of relational practice in the afternoon, where you can connect with other meditators in breakout rooms to contemplate a dharma theme together.

You’re welcome to join as many of these sessions as you like, and as suits your time-zone.

This event is offered on a dāna / donation basis and is free to register.
NOTE Please make sure to register for a ticket, so that you can be sent the Zoom registration link a day before the event starts, plus more detailed information about the timing of meditation sessions throughout the day

Meditation Sessions at hourly intervals throughout the day

Auckland 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday 25 June 2023
Sydney 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Sunday 25 June 2023
Singapore 5:00 a.m. – 1:00 pm Sunday 25 June 2023
San Francisco 2:00 p.m. – 10:00 pm Saturday 24 June 2023
New York 5:00 p.m. – 1:00 am Saturday 24 June – Sunday 25 June 2023

Cost: $0 + dana* 
To register: here

*There is no registration fee for this event.
In keeping with Buddhist tradition, the teachings are offered on a dāna basis


Coming Home to the Heart: A Brahmavihāra Retreat

Friday, June 30, 2023 – Sunday, July 2, 2023

2023-01-26-close-1

This online retreat offers an opportunity to strengthen our natural resilience and capacity to meet life’s challenges with more steadiness, ease, and even appreciation. We will meet together throughout the weekend to explore the four brahmavihāra practices of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity, to directly experience the possibility of a balanced heart – no matter what our current life circumstances might be.
Each day, there will be teaching sessions that everyone is asked to attend. Outside those required sessions, you are encouraged to follow the retreat schedule of formal meditation practice to whatever extent you’re able, within your current life context.
This retreat begins on Friday, June 30, at 7:00 pm ET and concludes Sunday, July 1, at 12:00 pm ET. A full home retreat schedule and instructions will be offered.

To register: here


You can find more information about these and other online events on my Teaching - Online webpage here

Glimmers of Good News p2

In relation to the climate crisis …

A few resources and trainings that might help us to stay motivated in the face of so much intensely difficult news.

Despairing about the Climate Crisis? Read This
A conversation with scientist Susanne Moser about climate communication, the benefits of functional denial, and the varied flavors of hope.

These days, the relentless tide of bad news can take a toll on our mental health — and on our motivation to stay in the fight. How can we find that sweet spot between denial and despair?

“I’ve come to the conclusion we have very little hope literacy in this country, and in the world, actually. There are many different flavors of hope.
One is sometimes called grounded hope, active hope, or authentic hope. That’s where you are not at all convinced that there is a positive outcome at the end of your labors. It’s not like you’re working towards winning something grand. You don’t know that you’ll able to achieve that. But you do know that you cannot live with yourself if you do not do everything toward a positive outcome.
And then there’s ‘radical hope,’ a term coined by a man named Jonathan Lear, an anthropologist. With radical hope, you don’t know at all whether the outcome is positive or negative. Neither the means nor the ends are clear, and you have to reinvent yourself completely to come to peace with whatever that new future is. Between grounded hope and radical hope, that’s what we’re going to need for climate change.”


Not Too Late: Finding Hope in a Time of Despair

In relation to hope, this upcoming conversation between Rebecca Solnit and Roshi Joan Halifax should be interesting, as they both have spoken about hope very beautifully in previous books and talks.

It’s part of the Buddhism and Ecology Summit: Transforming Anxiety into Awakened Action organised by Tricycle magazine, a week-long event series 17–21 April 2023.

Conversations around confronting the climate crisis often focus on what we will lose in moving from an “age of abundance” to a time of austerity and scarce resources. But what about what we stand to gain in these times of transformation—and how we might challenge the ways that we are currently impoverished? Writer Rebecca Solnit, celebrated author and editor of the forthcoming book Not Too Late, and beloved Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax, a contributor to Not Too Late, explore the new realities we are facing at this time as well as the powerful possibilities before us—and how to manage our emotions through it all. As Rebecca writes: It is not too late. Join Rebecca and Roshi Joan, in conversation with Tricycle’s publisher Sam Mowe, to discover a radical view of transforming our sense of impoverishment to hope, connection, and faith in our shared future. 


Caring for our Precious Earth

A series of online dhamma reflection sessions with James Baraz, Jean Leonard and Jeremy Logan

Saturdays 1:30-3:30 pm NZST 29 April, 27 June, 24 May

Many Buddhist practitioners will regularly ask themselves how to respond to the deepening climate emergency. As illustrated by Cyclone Gabrielle in New Zealand and massive fires, storms and floodings around the world, nowadays anyone can be directly affected.
How not to lose oneself in deep grief? How to balance concern and distress with a sense of personal wellbeing? What does Right Action look like in this context?

Wellington Insight Meditation sangha invites all to join us for this series
of Zoom events. After a meditation, a guest teacher will speak about their
personal experience in holding questions like the above. This will be followed by Questions & Comments, aimed at having a lively conversation.
For registration and any questions, please contact welinsight.events@gmail.com
Registrations close 21 April NZST


Not Too Late

#NotT00Late is a project to invite newcomers to the climate movement, as well as provide climate facts and encouragement for people who are already engaged but weary. We believe that the truths about the science, the justice-centered solutions, the growing strength of the climate movement and its achievements can help. They can assuage the sorrow and despair, and they can help people see why it’s worth doing the work the climate crisis demands of us.


Gen Dread

A newsletter about staying sane in the climate crisis, Gen Dread is the first newsletter out there that shares wide ranging ideas for supporting emotional health and psychological resilience in the climate and wider ecological crisis.


Climate Crisis, Fragmentation and Collective Trauma

A powerful exploration with Bayo Akomolafe, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq & Dr. Gabor Maté

Glimmers of Good News p1

In relation to social justice, some recent shifts in the media, in the UK …

Cotton Capital

A special series by the Guardian newspaper on how slavery changed the Guardian, Britain and the world.

It focuses on Manchester, the city where the Guardian was established, because of its connection to transatlantic slavery through the cotton trade.

Manchester is also where both my parents are from, and many people in my grandparents generation worked in the cotton mills and associated industries there. Until seeing this series though, it had never occurred to me that there was any connection between Manchester cotton and slavery in the United States!

In the Buddha’s teachings, ignorance is one of the three poisons, together with greed and aversion, that cause and perpetuate suffering. Ignorance is not merely a lack of knowledge, but a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of reality and the interdependent nature of all things. So …

“If we want to overcome racism, we need to start by acknowledging the ways in which we are complicit in it, whether through our own actions or through the systems and institutions that perpetuate it.”

Rev. angel Kyodo williams “Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation”

Lest We Remember: How Britain Buried Its History Of Slavery
by Gary Younge
Slavery is a central and indisputable fact of the nation’s past. But our failure to remember what really happened is more than mere forgetfulness

Illustration by Diana Ejaita

When heroic myths about slavery or empire have become thoroughly embedded into a culture, they do not simply evaporate on impact with reality. “Awareness” cannot be the cure for a disease that is not about forgetting, which is why the publication of hundreds of new books about British colonialism every year cannot, in itself, repair our collective memory.

“You already know enough. So do I,” writes Sven Lindqvist on the first page of Exterminate All the Brutes, his exploration of the consequences of European imperialism. “It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions.

Restorative justice

As a result of their research … the owner of the Guardian has issued an apology for the role the newspaper’s founders had in transatlantic slavery and announced a decade-long programme of restorative justice. It expected to invest more than £10m, with millions dedicated specifically to descendant communities linked to the Guardian’s 19th-century founders.


… and in Aotearoa / New Zealand

Back in 2020, news company Stuff researched their own reporting in relation to Māori and discovered a long legacy of biased reporting, for which they apologised publicly.

Illustration by Johnson Witehira

Stuff’s apology to Māori – Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono

The project began by researching the company’s archives to ask:
Had we marginalised Māori, stereotyped Māori, been responsible for shaping social stigma against Māori? Importantly, had we failed our own editorial checklist of fairness, accuracy and balance with one important segment of our audience, of New Zealand?

And perhaps unsurprisingly, the research revealed that:
Our coverage of Māori issues over the past 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori.

Apologies are hollow without a commitment to change, to do better in the future. We’ve begun that journey, with much distance to travel.

See here for more information on Stuff’s specific commitments to change

Carmen Parahi on Stuff’s public apology to Māori: ‘One of the most stressful times in my life’

Carmen Parahi (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Hine, Rongowhakaata), the journalist and editor who led the process, reflects on the progress and the personal cost of the project.

It’s now been more than 19 months since the public apology, and while Stuff has made progress on this kaupapa, head of news Mark Stevens concedes mistakes have continued to be made and “we’ve still got work to do”.

Parahi says she’s had to adopt a more realistic timeframe for the deep institutional changes she’s envisaged to come to fruition.

“What I didn’t realise – and what I should have, just from knowing the stories of our tūpuna and what they’ve been through to take their fights forward – was that it’s not going to take two years to change the whole world.
I actually thought it would. I thought that after the apology, when we got our work programme sorted out, that we would resolve all of the issues of the past and that would be the end of it.
No, it’s going to take a generation or two. I’m just here to start it and help it along its way. But it will be for others to benefit from it, and it will be them that will take it to the next level.
But she’s confident things are moving in the right direction.


Latest ONLINE practice opportunities

I’m happy to announce a few new opportunities to practice with me online, starting soon:

Online meditation and dharma talk

for Insight Meditation Community of Western Mass

Working with Afflictive Thought Patterns

Wednesday April 19; 7:00 – 8:30pm ET


sunlit-bell-1-1

Embodying Awareness: A day of online meditation

with Jill Shepherd, Willa Reid and Elizabeth Day

You are warmly invited to join our international sangha for a day of online meditation practice together, to strengthen and deepen our capacity for embodied awareness.

We will offer regular 30 minute meditation sessions every hour between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm NZT (see below for other time zones).

Each session will begin with a few minutes of guidance followed by silent meditation for 30 mins, then a half hour break before the next session begins. There will be a 1.5 hour break in the middle of the day, ending with an optional session of relational practice at 4:30 pm NZT, where you can connect with other meditators in breakout rooms to contemplate a dharma theme together.

You’re welcome to join as many of these sessions as you like, and as suits your time-zone.

This event is offered on a dāna / donation basis and is free to register.

NOTE Please make sure to register for a ticket, so that you can be sent the Zoom registration link a day before the event starts, plus more detailed information about the timing of meditation sessions throughout the day.

Times and date:
Meditation Sessions at hourly intervals throughout the day
Auckland 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday 22 April 2023
Sydney 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Saturday 22 April 2023
Singapore 5:00 a.m. – 1:00 pm Saturday 22 April 2023
San Francisco 2:00 p.m. – 10:00 pm Friday 21 April 2023
New York 5:00 p.m. – 1:00 am Friday 21 April – Saturday 22 April 2023

Cost: $0 + dana* 
To register: here


Coming Home to the Heart: A Brahmavihāra Retreat

Friday, June 30, 2023 – Sunday, July 2, 2023

2023-01-26-close-1

This online retreat offers an opportunity to strengthen our natural resilience and capacity to meet life’s challenges with more steadiness, ease, and even appreciation. We will meet together throughout the weekend to explore the four brahmavihāra practices of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity, to directly experience the possibility of a balanced heart – no matter what our current life circumstances might be.
Each day, there will be teaching sessions that everyone is asked to attend. Outside those required sessions, you are encouraged to follow the retreat schedule of formal meditation practice to whatever extent you’re able, within your current life context.
This retreat begins on Friday, June 30, at 7:00 pm ET and concludes Sunday, July 1, at 12:00 pm ET. A full home retreat schedule and instructions will be offered.

To register: here


NEW: Start Your Week Well
with the Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Centre community

Mondays 7:30-8:00 am AEST – see below for other times
Please register here to get the Zoom link

Auckland (New Zealand – Auckland)

Monday 9:30 am

NZST

Sydney (Australia – New South Wales)

Monday 7:30 am

AEST

Singapore (Singapore)

Monday 5:30 am

SGT

San Francisco (USA – California)

Sunday 2:30 pm

PDT

New York (USA – New York)

Sunday 5:30: pm

EDT

London (United Kingdom – England)

Sunday 10:30 pm

BST


NOTE: this event is in addition to the ongoing …

Start Your Week Well
with the Auckland Insight Meditation community

which continues on Mondays 7:30-8:15 am NZT


You can find more information about these and other online events on my Teaching - Online webpage here

More ONLINE practice opportunities

I’m happy to announce two new online courses starting soon:

Photo by Alex Baker Photography

You can find more information about these and other online events on my Teaching – Online webpage here
Please register soon to avoid missing out!

NEW online meditation opportunity – Start Your Year Well

Since June 2020, I have been offering an online meditation on Monday mornings, called “Start Your Week Well.” As an extension of that idea, you’re invited to join me and meditators from around the world for a full day of drop-in online meditation to help start your YEAR well

This will be an opportunity to strengthen your meditation practice and connect with friends from around the world, so that we can begin 2023 on a positive note.

I will lead our usual Monday morning online meditation at 7:30 am NZT for 45 minutes, which you’re welcome to join even if you haven’t previously attended. Then we’ll start regular 30 minute meditation sessions every hour between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm NZT (see below for other time zones).

Each session will begin with a few minutes of guidance followed by silent meditation for 30 mins, then a half hour break before the next session begins. There will be a 1.5 hour break in the middle of the day, followed by an optional session of relational practice at 2:00 pm NZT, where you can connect with other meditators in breakout rooms to contemplate a dharma theme together.

You’re welcome to join as many of these sessions as you like, and as suits your time-zone.

This event is offered on a dāna / donation basis and is free to register.
Please make sure to register for a ticket, so that you can be sent the Zoom registration link a day before the event starts, plus more detailed information about the timing of meditation sessions throughout the day.


Times and date:

Monday Morning Meditation Session – Start Your Week Well

Auckland 7:30-8:15 a.m. NZT Monday 2 January 2023
Sydney 5:30-6:15 am AEST Monday 2 January 2023
Singapore 2:30-3:15 am SGT Monday 2 January 2023
San Francisco 10:30-11:15 am PST Sunday 1 January 2023
New York 1:30-2:15 pm EST Sunday 1 January 2023

Meditation Sessions throughout the day – Start Your YEAR Well

Auckland 9:00-4:30 p.m. NZT Monday 2 January 2023
Sydney 7:00-2:30 pm AEST Monday 2 January 2023
Singapore 4:00-11:30 am SGT Monday 2 January 2023
San Francisco 12:00-7:30 pm PST Sunday 1 January 2023
New York 3:00-10:30 pm EST Sunday 1 January 2023

Cost: $0 + dana* 

To register: https://events.humanitix.com/start-your-year-well-online-meditation-2023

*There is no registration fee for this event.
In keeping with Buddhist tradition, the teachings are offered on a dāna basis which means the teacher is not paid to offer this workshop. Instead, they rely on the generosity of the participants to help them continue to share their teachings with others, and there will be an opportunity at the end of the workshop to offer donations to support their ongoing teaching.

Some information and support for Ukraine

Lovingkindness In Troubled Times

Metta Meditation & Community Gathering organised by IMS

At times it seems like goodness may be getting harder and harder to find. In this moment, all around the globe—from Ukraine to Ethiopia, Afghanistan to Myanmar, as well as in the fractured United States—the prevalent expressions of grasping, hatred, and delusion can feel overwhelming. Yet the cultivation of our essential goodness is something we can all prioritize and elevate. As the Buddha taught, it is an eternal law that hatred can never cease by hatred—hatred can only cease by love. 

This month, join us as we practice lovingkindness together as a way to explore compassion, the power of love, joy in the happiness of others, and balance of mind experienced as equanimity. This practice is not a replacement for other actions we undertake as we try to make this a better world; it’s an affirmation of the forces that strengthen and empower us to keep doing whatever we can in the face of challenge and adversity.

Guided metta meditations will be led by: Sharon Salzberg, Winnie Nazarko, Guy Armstrong, Trudy Goodman, Tara Mulay, Alexis Santos, and Jack Kornfield.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday

March 7, 9, 11, 13 March 14, 16, 18, 20 12:00 – 12:15 pm ET = 6:00 am next day, NZT


Bearing Witness to Ukraine’s Suffering

By Joan Halifax Roshi 28 February 2022


Dialogue between Rupert Spira and a young woman in Kiev, who asks him, “How do I stay courageous while facing death?”


The Shambhala Warrior Prophecy with Joanna Macy

There comes a time when all life on earth is in danger. In this time great powers have arisen barbarian powers … Now the Shambhala warriors go into training … they train in the use of two weapons … one is compassion and the other is insight …


They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine

Moustafa Bayoumi

Are Ukrainians more deserving of sympathy than Afghans and Iraqis? Many seem to think so

While on air, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata stated last week that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen”.


Russell Brand interviews Yanis Varoufakis, who talks about “fashionable” and “unfashionable” victims of war

New online retreat opportunity!

Eight-day on-line retreat with US dharma teacher Gil Fronsdal
12-20 February

Due to Covid, this retreat is NOW FULLY ON-LINE and there are just a couple of places available

This eight-day on-line retreat offers a rare opportunity to connect with one of the most highly-respected insight teachers in the US, Gil Fronsdal.

Option 1: Online retreat 

Held in silence and grounded in the practice of mindfulness, each day, there will be sessions of guided and silent sitting meditation, walking meditation, dharma talks, and practice discussion with the teachers.

Gil will offer daily practice instructions each morning NZT, and a dharma talk in the early afternoon via Zoom. Jill will give a short evening dharma talk and provide other support as needed. 

Participants who can commit to attending most of the sessions each day are invited to choose this option, which gives them two individual practice discussions with Gil online.

Option 2: Audit option

A small number of places will be available for people to join the retreat online as auditors, following the same retreat schedule at home and at a minimum, attending all three instruction sessions each day.
The audit option allows people to join Gil’s on-line teaching sessions via Zoom and to have access to recordings of the talks and guided meditations. 
Auditors will not have individual practice discussions with Gil, but there will be two optional opportunities to meet with Jill for a small group practice discussion on Zoom. 

Teachers: Gil Fronsdal (USA), supported by Jill Shepherd (NZ)

Gil Fronsdal is the founding teacher, and a co-guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California and the Insight Retreat Center in Santa Cruz, California. He has been teaching since 1990. Gil has practiced Zen and Vipassana since 1975 and has a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Stanford. He is a husband and father of two boys.

You can read Articles by Gil and see information on Gil’s Books on this site.
You may listen to Gil’s talks on Audio Dharma.

Jill Shepherd is the founding teacher of Auckland Insight. See her bio here.

Experience level: This retreat is best suited to people who have done at least two previous insight meditation two-day residential retreats or equivalent.

Retreat fees: $100 + dana*

Cancellation policy: The payment is refundable up to thirty days before the retreat begins.  If you cancel after this time, the retreat cost will be forfeited and used to help provide scholarship places.

If we have to cancel the retreat due to Covid-19, you will receive a full refund.

*Dāna: In most Buddhist traditions the teachers are not paid to teach. Instead, the teachings are given on a ‘dāna’ basis – dana being the Pali word for generosity or giving freely – so there will be an opportunity to offer a donation for the teaching at the end of the event.

More info and to register here

Some Climate Change Actions and Trainings

ONLINE

EcoSattva Training – Series 3: An Online Course for Aspiring EcoSattvas

In the backdrop of a pandemic and state actors actively hostile to science, ecological breakdown looms. The potential for overwhelm is real. While we take steps to demand racial justice, protect voting rights, or defend ecosystems, we can also invest in our inner resources. With the support of community, we can turn toward difficulty and transmute it into wisdom. Supported by a diverse and rich set of teachers, we invite you to gather with others online and explore our respective edges, meeting all that arises in us and discovering an authentic way forward.

The EcoSattva Training has been specifically designed to support self-paced and self-scheduled participation, with core video teachings and plentiful resources for contemplation and interacting with fellow participants. It is ideally experienced in a small group, which can be in-person or online; no matter where you are or whether it is safe yet to meet up, you can start or join a group to progress through the course. Then join the monthly live sessions to connect with the global community of registered EcoSattvas in training, no matter where each is in the course.

This course is offered by One Earth Sangha and includes presentations by well-known Western Dharma leaderes such as Thanissara, David Loy, Dan Siegel, Lama Willa Miller, Yanai Postelnik and Myokei Caine-Barrett.

More info here


The Active Hope Foundations Training

A free, video-based, engaging & practical online course.

If you’ve been despairing about the state of our world since the release of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, this free online training could be supportive. It’s based on Joanna Macy’s the Work That Reconnects, and is presented by Chris Johnstone, who co-authored the book Active Hope with Joanna.


NEW ZEALAND

Please consider signing this letter, and sharing it widely
https://www.climatejusticenow.nz/

Tell the Global Climate Conference: “This is a Climate Emergency! Go Hard & Go Early!”

Extinction Rebellion is challenging Jacinda Ardern to use the global platform of COP26 to commit to urgent, effective measures for Aotearoa – and inspire others to do the same.
Measures like:

  • Stopping fossil fuel use to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 – yes 2025! (The latest IPCC report shows how essential this is.)
  • Planning for Aotearoa to ‘power down’ and consume less while we treat our energy sources as precious.
  • Repairing and protecting the land, water and wild areas we depend on for food and life.
  • Reshaping the economy to meet people’s needs. Prioritising connection, fairness, quality of life, secure homes, clean water and healthy whanau over “wealth” and “growth” for their own sakes.
  • Setting up a Te Tiriti based climate assembly that ensures equity between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Te Tiriti and gives a voice to ordinary people’s concerns, rather than the groups with powerful vested interests in the current system.

We believe this Open Letter reflects the concerns of many others who want urgent and decisive action – on the climate crisis, on the damage to our land and rivers and, not least, on the inequality and human suffering that result from our GDP-obsessed economic system.

More information here: https://www.climatejusticenow.nz/


AUSTRALIA

October 15 #ClimateStrike

All around Australia, people are taking the day off to demand climate justice for everyone.
We are in the thick of the climate crisis. 
Yet our government continues to subsidise their mates in the fossil fuel industry, putting all of us at risk. 
We are already seeing the impacts of climate change hurt those closest to us.

If we don’t take action now and transition swiftly away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, things will only get worse. But it’s going to take all of us working together to succeed.
Australia is ranked last in the world on climate action. 
If we do not take action now, Australia risks being left behind, resulting in economic and climate impacts beyond what we can comprehend.
The government thinks that our movement of young people can’t hurt them. 
Think again. Thousands of us can now vote since our first strike in 2018, and that number is only going to grow. 
Join us on October 15, two weeks before the COP 26 global climate summit by taking the day off school, work or uni to tell the government that we’re serious about climate action, and won’t go away until they stop selling our futures. 

The world isn’t waiting, so neither are we.
Sign up here

Some bhikkhuni news from around the world

Sri Lanka

Bhikkhuni Kusuma passes away 28 August 2021

The internationally acclaimed Buddhist monastic, scholar, and vocal advocate for full female monastic ordination Venerable Dr. Bhikkhuni Kusuma Devendra died of Covid complications late on Saturday in Sri Lanka. She was 92 years old. 

photo from Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women

Some personal reflections on meeting Bhikkhuni Kusuma

Bhikkhuni Kusuma was for me, a real life example of someone who embodied all four of the brahmavihāra qualities of kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.

I first heard about her from a friend in Thailand, who told me that Bhikkhuni Kusuma had been one of the first women to take full ordination as a nun back in 1996, in Sarnath, India. That piqued my interest, and through my friend, I made contact with her and found out that she was planning to visit Australia. At that time, in the early 2000s, I was managing a meditation centre in New South Wales, and I was able to invite her to come and teach a weekend retreat for us.

The first time I met Bhikkhuni Kusuma, I immediately felt her warmth, openness and grandmotherly kindness. She seemed to me to be the embodiment of mettā energy. Whenever I was around her, she just wanted to hold my hand, not for support because she was elderly, but because of her natural warmth and connectedness.

On that first weekend retreat, I was supposed to be doing the cooking and she was supposed to be doing the teaching. But Bhikkhuni Kusuma spent almost as much time in the kitchen as she did in the meditation hall. She very good-naturedly supervised me in the preparation of her favourite Sri Lankan dishes, which she wanted to share with the meditators. And when the food was served, she watched with delight when people went back to take second helpings

As I got to know her a little better during that weekend and subsequent visits, I discovered there were many other dimensions to her beyond the warm grandmother. She had been a high school science teacher for 12 years then an English lecturer for 20 years at a University in Sri Lanka.

Her life changed when she started studying for a Master’s Degree in Buddhism, and stumbled across the Therigatha, the Poems of the Buddhist Nuns, and according to her biography, her mind became filled with “… thoughts of enlightenment for women”

She secured a small research grant to write a doctoral thesis, which helped to drive interest in reviving the Bhikkhuni lineage of fully ordained nuns. She then found a senior monk, Ven. Vipulasara Thera, who was willing to hold an ordination ceremony for women, even though this was controversial in Sri Lanka at that time.

There were many twists and turns in the events leading up to this ceremony. Bhikkhuni Kusuma told me that although most of the details of the ceremony had been organised in Sarnath, India, as the time got closer, hostility grew and some of the nuns received death threats.

Shortly before the ceremony, Ven. Vipulasara Thera asked her to be one of the first to ordain. Her first response was NO, I’m just the researcher, I’m not a nun! But she told me that when she thought about it more, she thought to herself:

“I’m an older woman, I’ve lived a full life, if there are death threats, let me be the one who dies, not one of these younger nuns”

So in 1996, she went ahead and became a bhikkhuni, a fully ordained nun, out of compassion for the other women who wanted to take that path.

She was interviewed by a Sri Lankan newspaper in 2012, and I was struck by her equanimity as she reflected on those events.

Somewhat to my surprise, I find that the incidents in the past which at that time may have been so difficult and sad to deal with now do not arouse any strong emotional response in my mind. The events that had made deep impressions on me seem to be long dead and gone, and I do not feel any strong likes or dislikes, or anger or sadness. Everything is buried in the sands of time, and I know that all of it will fade away with my death and dissolution.

Bhikkhuni Kusuma and family visit IMS and meet Joseph Goldstein, June 2010

Post-script

Almost ten years after I first met Bhikkhuni Kusuma in Australia, I was living and working at IMS in Barre, Massachusetts. Someone in the Front Office told me that a fully-ordained nun from Sri Lanka wanted to visit IMS and if possible, to meet Joseph Goldstein. It turned out to be Bhikkhuni Kusuma!

I think she must have been eighty years old at that time, and although she had no idea that I was at IMS, when her car arrived out the front, she rolled down the window, looked at me and without missing a beat, said: Hello, Jill from the Blue Mountains, Australia!

Then Joseph came out to meet her. She told him that in the 1980s she had served him lunch at her home in Sri Lanka, and ever since then, she had wanted to visit IMS before she died. The three of us went into the meditation hall and Bhikkhuni Kusuma started prostrating to the Buddha. Tears were rolling down her face, tears of happiness. She said again: All my life I wanted to visit IMS before I die, and now I’m here!

I bowed with her, and I was crying, filled with muditā for how much it meant for her to visit IMS, even though she had been to all the pilgrimage sites in India and her home country of Sri Lanka. Bhikkhuni Kusuma’s courage and kindness and efforts to support women on the dharma path have been inspirational to me. In her own words:

I wish that bhikkhunis—not only in Sri Lanka, but all over the world—will be educated, will be practicing, will be talking about the Dharma and giving that knowledge to the world. Then, it will be a different world altogether. — Ven. Dr Bhikkhuni Kusuma

May it be so!


New Zealand

Please Help Establish a Sanctuary for Bhikkhunis in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Throughout the ages, people have sought places of refuge to engage in deep meditative practice – quieting their minds and opening their hearts for the sake of others as well as themselves.

Some have sought to become monastics, to dedicate themselves to contemplative practice and a life of service.  For example, in the time of the Buddha and for centuries afterward, men and women were ordained as bhikkhus and bhikkhunis.

Unfortunately, full ordination for women in the Theravada (South East Asian) branch of Buddhism gradually died out.  Consequently, the support that would enable them to give themselves full-time to monastic life and deep practice has been greatly restricted and often denied.

To help remedy this situation, the New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust (NZBST), a registered charity in New Zealand, is establishing the first meditation hermitage for bhikkhunis (fully ordained female monastics) in that country. The first step is to purchase a residence in Hamilton, where monastic women can live, practice, and offer teachings to the community. 

Through the generous support of donors, we have paid the deposit and secured most of the funds to purchase a house in Hamilton. However, we require additional funding ($65 000 NZ) to establish our residence.

We hope you will find it in your heart to help us. 

This is a historic step! Please go to our webpage to learn more: https://bhikkhuni-sangha.org.nz  
And please share this appeal with others who might be interested. 

In America, please make your tax-deductible charitable donation via the Alliance For Bhikkhunis.

For other countries please donate either via our Givealittle Page or directly to the New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust (tax deductible in NZ).

Your help will make a real difference in supporting full access to Buddhist practice for women. And it will make a profound difference to all those who come to this hermitage, and to all those whose lives they touch.

With respect and gratitude,
New Zealand Bhikkhuni Sangha Trust

If you have any questions, please contact: nz.bhikkhunitrust


USA

Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery

Many of you know of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in Placerville, California, which was established by bhikkhunis Anandabodhi and Santacitta as a place where women can train as monastics and lay visitors can practice and serve.

Due to the recent and ongoing wildfires in California, the monastery has had to be evacuated. All the sisters are safe in Sacramento, and miraculously, it seems the monastery’s main buildings haven’t been damaged.

As the nuns say in their most recent update:
This is thanks to the efforts of the 2,119 Firefighters who are giving their all to protect homes from the Caldor Fire.
We appreciate the many people around the world who are chanting and praying for the safety of Aloka Vihara and for the many beings that are suffering in the fire and smoke. We would like to invite you to join us in generating metta (unconditional love) each day at 6:30 am and/or 6:30 pm PDT for the benefit of all beings and this beautiful planet Earth.

Ayya Anandabodhi, Ayya Ahimsa, Ayya Niyyanika

UPDATE 8 October 2021 from MaryAnn Gallo and Friends of Aloka Vihara

Kathina-Almsgiving is a very important ceremony every year, but this year feels especially poignant, coming in the wake of a terrible forest fire that the vihara – though threatened – survived. Out of concern for the health of the AVFM resident community as well as its supporters during the ongoing pandemic, the ceremony will be held virtually again this year. You can learn more about it here: Kathina-Almsgiving 2021. I hope you will be able to join us!