A few resources for resilience

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

Eight-week online Dharma Study class series October-November 2020

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

Karuna-virus

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

Continuing compassion

[Forest and wildlife officer Lachlan Clarke checks a koala for injuries – photo courtesy of the Guardian] In my last newsletter and last post here, I’ve been exploring compassion as a resource to navigate all the various global challenges happening right now. Just today there was a moving photo essay about all the efforts that are being made to help koalas injured in the recent … Continue reading Continuing compassion

Compassion for all beings affected by the Australian bushfires

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

September 2017 full moon – Taking A Stand

Stand Against Suffering: A Call to Action by Buddhist Teachers “‘As long as a society protects the vulnerable among them, they can be expected to prosper and not decline.’ The Buddha, in the Mahaparinirvana Sutta Buddhism does not align itself with any party or ideology. But when great suffering is at stake, Buddhists must take a stand against it, with loving-kindness, wisdom, calm minds, and courage.” … Continue reading September 2017 full moon – Taking A Stand

November 2016 full moon – Turmoil

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

September 2016 full moon – wisdom and (self) compassion

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Emaciated Buddha figure, Spirit Rock

The ascetic Buddha

Back at the end of July, I was an assistant teacher on a nine-day retreat at Spirit Rock, together with a friend and fellow teacher-trainee, DaRa Williams.  One day, as we walked from the teacher housing to the meditation hall, I happened to notice a solitary Buddha figure set among some bushes on the hillside behind our cottages.  Unlike the other Buddhas at Spirit Rock, this one was tucked almost out of view.  There was no path to it, no clearing around it, and no place to sit nearby, but perhaps because of that, I felt compelled to go and take a closer look.

So I scrambled up a slight hill through the dry grass and discovered that the figure was what’s known as an “ascetic Buddha.”   These images depict a phase in the life of Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, before his Awakening, when he was practising extreme austerities such as sleeping on beds of nails, and eating very little food – hence the skeletal look in the image above.  Continue reading “September 2016 full moon – wisdom and (self) compassion”

August 2016 full moon – Seven Factors of Awakening and Equanimity (again)

rock balance 3

Seven Factors of Awakening

I’ve recently enjoyed leading a couple of longer residential retreats in New Zealand and Australia, exploring the teachings from the Satipatthana Sutta on the Seven Factors of Awakening: mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy or rapture, tranquillity, concentration or stability of mind, and equanimity.

When cultivated together and brought into balance with each other, these seven factors provide the optimum conditions for the deepest insights to arise, so they play a very important role in the development of wisdom.  In fact Bhikkhu Anaalayo, in a recent study retreat exploring the Satipatthana Sutta, said that all the various techniques and methods found in that sutta are designed to develop these Seven Factors of Awakening.  Continue reading “August 2016 full moon – Seven Factors of Awakening and Equanimity (again)”

February 2016 new moon – sea anemone heart

Sea AnemoneSea anemone by Virginia Draper
http://www.virginiadraper.com/p822038089

Opening, closing, opening, closing …

Everything has its natural rhythm, including the human heart.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to understand this, but a childhood memory – of exploring rock-pools with my father while on holiday in Scotland – helped.  On family visits to chilly windswept beaches, he and I would wander at low tide among the exposed rock basins in search of marine life: crabs and starfish and sea anemones and jellyfish and small see-through shrimpy things. Continue reading “February 2016 new moon – sea anemone heart”