Feeling stretched? As the bad news continues and intensifies in various parts of the world, I’ve started collecting news articles, books and courses to turn to when I need some inspiration. Below are just a few suggestions – let me know if you have any favourites of your own! Finding good news in the midst of the pandemic The intent behind KarunaVirus.org is to amplify … Continue reading A few resources for resilience
Registration closes 10 October Cultivating resilience in challenging times: Learning from the “heavenly messengers” This eight-week online course offers an opportunity to develop and strengthen our inner resources of kindness, compassion, calm and clarity, through an exploration of what are traditionally known as “the four heavenly messengers.” In Buddhist teaching, these are four archetypes that symbolise the existential challenges we face, and the way … Continue reading Eight-week online Dharma Study class series October-November 2020
In the Buddha’s teachings, karuna is a Pali word that means compassion. There’s a lot going on around the world right now, and due to coronavirus, many people are navigating intense suffering on multiple levels simultaneously: The suffering of health challenges, food insecurity, financial distress, longer-term economic uncertainty, separation from friends and family – or having to be with friends and family in ways that … Continue reading Karuna-virus
Season’s greetings from Waipu, New Zealand I’m unexpectedly having to spend more time here in New Zealand, after my nine-day retreat outside of Sydney over New Year was just cancelled due to the bushfires in Australia. The Blue Mountains has been a kind of second home to me, so I’ve been staying in contact with friends there who have been sending me heart-breaking reports of … Continue reading Compassion for all beings affected by the Australian bushfires
Resisting the tyranny of productivity Over the last few months, I’ve been having conversations with students – and with myself! – about what feels to be the increasingly relentless busyness of our lives. People often say to me that they don’t have time to meditate every day, and they certainly don’t have time to go on retreat, because of work or financial or family pressures. … Continue reading Retreat as rebellion
Before and after A couple of years ago, I wrote a post titled “Retreat and pre-retreat practice“, which explored ways to navigate some of the anxiety and other challenges that often come up before we go on retreat. This month, I’m writing about another aspect of retreat practice that doesn’t always get a lot of attention, and that’s what happens after retreat. This exploration feels … Continue reading April 2018 full moon – Retreat and post-retreat practice
almost super-moon, Newcastle Beach NSW Australia 13 November 2016 Turning towards and turning away Whether it’s global political upheaval, worsening social injustice, natural disasters, personal stress, emotional pain, relational crises, or health challenges, we seem to be in a phase of intense turmoil right now. Many of the communities around the world that I care about are struggling in relation to recent political developments in … Continue reading November 2016 full moon – Turmoil
Rainstorm near Te Moata Retreat Centre, Coromandel, New Zealand Exactly two years ago in July 2014, I wrote a post based on some well-known lines from the Dhammapada: Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed. This is an ancient and eternal law. 1 Lately, that same post has been getting some views again, perhaps because there seem to have been just … Continue reading July 2016 full moon – Hatred STILL never ceases by hatred …
Planning to go on retreat?
I’ve had a few conversations recently with people who are planning to go on retreat soon, and at some stage in the discussion, there’s often an embarrassed acknowledgement of feeling some anxiety about it. Even for people who have been on retreat before and have some familiarity with the set-up, each retreat is unique, so we never really know what to expect. In some ways, that’s the point of it: to open ourselves to the unknown, to explore new territory, and to experience aspects of ourselves that we may not have come into contact with before. Continue reading “March 2016 full moon – Retreat and pre-retreat practice”
Last month I wrote about the hindrance of “sloth and torpor,” the dullness of body and mind that gets in the way of clear seeing, insight. This month, I’ve been more aware of the opposite of sloth and torpor, which shows up in the form of “restlessness and worry”, the fourth of the five hindrances. And I’ve been noticing it not just in myself, but in many people coming on retreat.
The first few days of a retreat often involve swinging from one extreme to the other: from sleepiness to restlessness and back again, over and over. That’s probably always been the case, right from the time of the Buddha. But these days, restlessness in particular is intensified by our addiction to all things electronic, which keep us in a state of perpetual stimulation and/or anticipation of stimulation. It’s getting harder and harder to unplug. So in response, some meditation centres are asking retreat participants to commit very specifically to “undertake the training to refrain from using electronic devices while on retreat” as a part of their commitment to Noble Silence. Continue reading “October 2015 full moon – Digital detox (or finding antidotes to “restlessness and worry”)”