anxiety, community, compassion - karuna, dukkha, fear, Uncategorized

Karuna-virus

Kuan Yin sunbeam

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 are stressful!

Given that social contagion works not only in relation to anxiety, but to positive mind-states too, I hope that in whatever ways we can, this coronavirus situation can be used to spread karuna-compassion to all who need it, including ourselves.

Personally, I have just landed in the UK a couple of days ago and am in social isolation and lockdown in Birmingham. I’m still getting myself set up here, but I wanted to at least offer a few resources for helping reduce the stress and anxiety that so many people are dealing with right now. I’ll keep adding more resources as I find them, and please send me links to any that you might have found helpful.

If anyone would like an individual meeting online to talk about your meditation practice in these challenging times, you can make a booking on my booking calendar now. As usual, these meetings are on a dana basis, but if money is an issue at the moment it’s fine to still meet with me.

I will also be converting some of my planned retreats into online offerings, so please check my revised teaching schedule on this page.

A few selected resources to support karuna-compassion

Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure

Among my academic colleagues and friends, I have observed a common response to the continuing Covid-19 crisis. They are fighting valiantly for a sense of normalcy — hustling to move courses online, maintaining strict writing schedules, creating Montessori schools at their kitchen tables. They hope to buckle down for a short stint until things get back to normal. I wish anyone who pursues that path the very best of luck and health.
Yet as someone who has experience with crises around the world, what I see behind this scramble for productivity is a perilous assumption. The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never.
Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed.


Judson Brewer – US Neuroscientist and Addiction Psychiatrist

A Brain Hack to Break the Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle
Uncertainty about coronavirus spreads anxiety through social contagion. This New York Times article offers some ways to minimize that.


IMS teachers including Sharon Salzberg, offering daily metta/kindness meditation

https://www.youtube.com/user/InsightMeditation


Zohar Lavie – UK meditation teacher

2020-03-14 Coronavirus and the support of the Dharma – Part 1 31:38
We are living through an unusual period. As coronavirus spreads, much of what we take for granted is being shaken. There is uncertainty and fear around us, and also within us. How can Dharma teachings and practices support us? How can we deepen understanding and compassion in the midst of it all? This talk offers reflections on possibilities that are available to us, including practices that we can engage with, lean into, and cultivate.


Tara Brach – US meditation teacher

2020-03-18 Facing Pandemic Fears with an Awake Heart 59:14
While it’s natural to feel fear during times of great collective crisis, our challenge is that fear easily takes over our lives. This talk explores how the mindfulness and compassion of the RAIN meditation can help us find an inner refuge in the face of fear, and deepen our loving connection with each other.


Jill Shepherd

2020-03-26 Guided meditation: orienting to compassion 26:18
A guided meditation orienting to compassion, in response to coronavirus

2020-03-26 Short talk: some responses to the coronavirus/karuna-virus situation 15:37
A few reflections on the coronavirus situation, and the possibility of cultivating karuna/compassion as a resource for ourselves and others


A beautiful video – Letter from the Virus

Stop, just stop
Halt … stop … don’t move
It’s not a request any more, it’s an obligation
I’m here to help you
This supersonic rollercoaster has run off its rails and can’t go on any further
Stop the planes, trains, schools, shopping malls, gatherings
We broke the frenetic vortex of illusions and obligations that stopped you from looking at the sky
Look at the stars, listen to the sea
Let yourself be rocked by the chirping of birds
Roll in the grass
Pick an apple from a tree
Smile to an animal in the woods
Breathe the mountains
Listen to your common sense
We had to break it
You can’t play God
Our obligations are mutual, like they’ve always been
Even though you’ve forgotten
We’ll now stop this broadcast
This endless cacophonous sounds of separations and distractions, to tell you this:
We’re not OK
None of us is
We’re all suffering
Last year, the firestorms that set the lungs of the earth on fire didn’t stop you
Nor did the melting of the poles
Or your sinking cities
Or the simple acknowledgement of being the sole responsibility for the sixth mass extinction
You didn’t listen to me
It’s difficult to listen while being so busy
Struggling to climb higher and higher
On the scaffolding of comforts you are creating for yourself
Now the foundations are crumbling
They’re collapsing under the weight of your fictitious desires
I’ll help you
I’ll light the firestorms inside your body
I’ll drown your lungs
I’ll isolate you like a polar bear on a melting iceberg
Will you listen to me then?
We’re not OK
I’m not  your enemy
I’m just a messenger
I’m an ally
I’m the force that will rebalance everything
Now you have to listen to me
I’m screaming for you to stop
Stop, hush, listen
Now look up to the sky
How is it?
There are no more airplanes
How healthy do you need to be to enjoy the oxygen you breathe?
Look at the ocean
How is it?
Look at the rivers
How are they?
Look at the earth
How is she?
Now look at yourselves
How do you feel?
You can’t be healthy in a sick ecosystem
Stop!!!
Many people are afraid now
Don’t demonise your fear
Don’t let it control you
Let it speak to you
Listen to the wise words it has to say
Learn to smile with your eyes
I’ll help you … if you’re willing to listen

Text: Darinka Montico
Voice: Giulia Chianes


Matthias Horx – an influential futurist in the German-speaking world

The Post Corona World
… A massive loss of control suddenly turns into a veritable intoxication of the positive. After a period of bewilderment and fear, an inner strength arises. The world „ends“, but with the experience that we are still there, a kind of new being arises from inside us.
In the middle of civilisation’s shutdown, we run through forests or parks, or across almost empty spaces. This is not an apocalypse, but a new beginning.
This is how it turns out: Change begins as a changed pattern of expectations, perceptions and world connections. Sometimes it is precisely the break with routines, the familiar, that releases our sense of the future again. The idea and certainty that everything could be completely different — and even better.

May it be so!

More soon …

Brahma Vihara practice, climate change, Climate crisis, compassion - karuna, death, Uncategorized

Continuing compassion

rescued koala

[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 Australian bushfires. I find it helpful to keep orienting to positive news as an antidote to overwhelm, so here’s the link:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/gallery/2020/feb/11/drones-thermal-imaging-australia-koalas-bushfire-crisis

anxiety, climate change, compassion - karuna, death, dukkha, fear, Uncategorized

Compassion for all beings affected by the Australian bushfires

trunk red sap close

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 the situation they’re enduring.

In the face of such intense destruction, it’s hard to know how to respond from afar, but I’ve decided to make a commitment to practice compassion every day for the next two weeks, and to send out this message to see if anyone would like to join me in that commitment.
(Originally I was just going to send this message to people in Australia, but a US friend asked to be included, so now I’m sending it to everyone on my mailing list in case you’d like to join us.)

My plan is to sit for 15 minutes every day at 1:00 pm NZT, which is 11:00 am Sydney and Melbourne, 10:30 am Adelaide, 10:00 am Brisbane, and 8:00 am Perth. That’s midnight in the UK, sorry, but 4 pm on the US West Coast and 7 pm on the US East Coast.

I’ve made a fifteen minute guided meditation that focuses on practising compassion specifically for the bushfire situation, which you can find on Dharmaseed here:
https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/637/talk/60035/

Of course, you can practice compassion in any way that works for you. And, depending on the situation and how your heart feels each day, it may be that one of the other brahmavihara practices might be more appropriate. If you’re not familiar with brahmavihara practice, you might listen to this talk which gives an overview of the relationship between kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.
https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/637/talk/58585/

wombat and baby 1.JPG

Wombat mother and baby, Newnes Plateau NSW

What’s been happening in Australia

For those who might not be aware of the situation, more than four million hectares of Australia have burned and nine people have died since September 2019, in an “unprecedented” start to the summer fire season.

New South Wales

The total area burned in NSW is 3.41m hectares, according to the Rural Fire Service. … “To put it in perspective, in the past few years we have had a total area burned for the whole season of about 280,000 ha,” RFS spokeswoman Angela Burford said. “This year we’re at 3.41m and we are only halfway through the season.”
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/24/australian-bushfires-the-story-so-far-in-each-state

climate change, ethics, Right Action, Uncategorized

Readers suggestions for taking action in relation to climate change

Many thanks to all the people who sent in suggestions in response to my last newsletter.
Below are a few highlights, and I plan to keep updating this from time to time.

pink bike path 2

Bike path, Auckland, New Zealand


Speaking of New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand is on the ‘right side of history’ as MPs pass zero-carbon bill

2019-11-07 This landmark climate legislation has passed in New Zealand parliament, with historic cross-party support, committing the nation to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and meet its commitments under the Paris climate accords.


MS NSW Australia

Our XR harbour project went very well – astonishing police presence for a picnic – 2 vans of riot squad police, a helicopter and a patrol boat just for little old us on some picnic blankets with babystrollers, the odd mermaid, a bit of hand-holding & banner waving at the harbour wall.


WN NSW Australia

Food: I shopped for items not packaged in plastic, were organic, and needed rather than wanted. Buying without plastic reduces your options substantially. The stuff is everywhere. I found a food coop where I take my own containers and volunteer to get a discount. I’ve given up dairy milk and make oat milk.

Travel: My neighbour gave me her electric bike. I know it’s run on electricity which is not perfect but it makes getting everywhere really easy. One neighbour swapped the car for ebikes which changed her family’s life. A keen cyclist friend said that since ebikes came on the scene there are many more bikes on the road – yay!.

Clothes: I buy black, white and grey clothes. Everything is effortlessly colour-coordinated. I buy men’s undies because they’re thicker and better made (the joys of the pink premium). An article said washing on the delicates cycle is the worst for plastic microfibres into the ocean so definitely don’t do that!

Socialising: I suggest to friends to meet at home or the park for pot-luck instead of cafes and restaurants. It’s more relaxing, too.

  • Put the timer on when having a shower – 4 mins is actually quite a long shower.
  • An online horticulture course to learn to grow my own fruit & veg.
  • If I get a stain on a piece of clothing I find a natural way to turn it into a pattern (e.g. soak it in mulberries).

But I think the most useful way of working with the climate crisis is to imagine how many people are involved with making my morning cuppa – from how did the water get to my kettle, to how did I get a kettle, to how did I get the tea, mug, milk, electricity, building, and how do I pay for all these things? and then what happens when the kettle doesn’t work – do I throw it away, get a saucepan instead, what do I do with the tea leaves, the tea leaf packet, the milk container – and what are the labour conditions for all the people involved? That’s what keeps me motivated… 🙂


GC QLD Australia

New book by Ajahn Sucitto

Recently I have been listening to Ajahn Sucitto and reading his blog and other articles as well as some of his online books. This is a recently published one about the environment that others may find interesting.

Some recent blog posts on the topic too: http://sucitto.blogspot.com


SR New Zealand

Wanted to also let you know about the new most ethical KiwiSaver that has been set up in NZ if you haven’t heard about it. Caresaver. There’s a great website.  I’m switching.


AK Massachusetts USA

I am part of a group of practitioners working to take action and raise awareness about the climate crisis. Several of us practice at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC), although we do not have any official affiliation with CIMC. Our plan is to do regular “Sitting for Survival” events in front of the Cambridge City Hall beginning next Thursday November 7. Below is a description of our action:

“Join us in holding meditative space to raise awareness of our planetary emergency. We will sit or stand in silence, bearing witness to the destruction of the Earth we love and our holding hope for a better future. Come for 5 minutes or 50 minutes, as long as you can. Show up for our children, families, ancestors, and for all living beings.”

My good friend Brother Fulfillment (Phap Man), a monk in the Plum Village tradition, has been very active with Extinction Rebellion in NYC. He has written a few articles, which I found moving and inspiring:

My Time in Jail with Extinction Rebellion: One of the Most Meaningful Experiences of My Life (Oct 23)

 

community, Insight meditation - vipassana, Insight Meditation Society, retreat, Retreat practice, Uncategorized

Insight Meditation Society 2020 Registration Now Open

Just letting you know that the Insight Meditation SOciety in Barre, Massachusetts, has just announced its 2020 retreat schedule and registration is now open. Based on previous years, most retreats tend to get fully booked within a few days, so if you’re interested in practising at IMS, best to register as soon as you can to avoid missing out.

IMS images

I’m scheduled to teach a five-day metta retreat in February 2020, the first six weeks of the three-month retreat in September, and the whole month of November at the Forest Refuge.

I look forward to meditating with some of you at IMS again soon!

Uncategorized

¿ Hope ?

cow wall peeking

I arrived back in New South Wales just as the 16th Sakyadhita International Conference for Women in Buddhism was happening in the Blue Mountains, and I was fortunate to be able to attend a keynote address by Roshi Joan Halifax on the theme of “Wise Hope.”
Her reflections on the differences between optimism, pessimism and what she refers to as “Wise Hope” struck a chord.

Since then, the word hope seems to keep appearing everywhere I look, even as the news it emerges from feels increasingly hopeless – particularly in relation to climate change. But the words of Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist also hit a nerve for me.

Instead of looking for hope, look for action.
Then, and only then, hope will come.
Greta Thunberg

A conversation with a climate activist friend in Sydney gave me plenty of leads to follow, and has inspired me to set up a new page to draw some of this information together. From the explorations I’ve done so far, it’s clear that I’m not nearly as powerless as I’d previously believed, and that if enough of us take even seemingly small actions, change is possible.

Through insight meditation teachers such as Yanai Postelnik‘s climate activism in the UK, I knew a little about the Extinction Rebellion movement, but only recently found out about the research behind their methods:
Extinction Rebellion operates on a metric drawn from the research of political scientist Erica Chenoweth and policy analyst Maria J. Stephan. In their long-term study of campaigns for revolutionary, secessionist and regime-change movements from the past 150 years, they come to a few vital conclusions. First, that nonviolent movements have a vastly improved chance of success over those that pursue armed struggle or terror tactics, including under authoritarian regimes where the consequences of even peaceful dissent can be life threatening. And second, that you don’t need everybody: you only need about 3.5 per cent of the population to achieve a critical mass of sustained popular noncompliance.
“Extinction Rebels” by Scott Ludlum The Monthly July 2019 See full article here

Aside from direct action, there are plenty of other initiatives we could take that are less personally risky, but can have a big impact if enough of us make these changes. The book “Drawdown” describes 100 of the most substantive solutions to climate change, and surprisingly, two of the top five solutions are to do with food. Number three is reducing food waste, and number four is about moving to a plant-rich diet:

Plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease. According to a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs. $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity would be saved. … As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said, making the transition to a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change.

A summary of solutions by overall rank from the book Drawdown can be found here

I’m mostly vegetarian myself, but as a start in this direction, I plan to try eating a vegan diet once a week. I’d also love to hear from any of you, what changes you’re making in your own lives as a result of the climate emergency, and any book references and website links you’d like to contribute to the new page.


Suggested resources from readers

from MM

An ordinary person who joined an Extinction Rebellion blockade

I’m an ordinary person who joined an Extinction Rebellion blockade. Here’s why you should too. It was way out of my comfort zone, but as a scientist I can tell you that the climate emergency is much more terrifying.


from WN

Jonathan Rowson: Integrating Our Souls, Systems, and Society

Applied philosopher Jonathan Rowson insists on holding a deeper appreciation for how our inner worlds influence our outer worlds. His research organization, Perspectiva, examines how social change happens across “systems, souls, and society.” “If we can get better and more nimble and more generous about how we move between those worlds, then the chance of creating a hope that makes sense for all of us is all the greater,” he says. We engage his broad spiritual lens on the great dynamics of our time, from social life to the economy to the climate.


from DP

Soft plastics recycling and where to recycle it in Australia

RED Group is a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation who has developed and implemented the REDcycle Program; a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic.


from IB

Danish–Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson exhibition: In Real Life
11 July 2019 – 5 Jan 2020 Tate Modern, London

Part of his goal here is to highlight climate change. At the Paris climate conference in 2015, and on multiple occasions since, he has placed lumps of melting ice in cities to highlight the glaciers’ demise. Here, he has cast an ice block in bronze to emphasize the space where lost ice should be. Eliasson is also capturing the ebb of Icelandic glaciers in a series of photographs, some on display. Like all his works, these seem to transport you to another world — then remind you that it is this world.


From WN

You mentioned in the blog only 3.5% of the population is required. Here are some figures:
In Australia, that’s 861,000 people
In New Zealand, 167,790 people
In the UK, 2,311,400 people
In the USA, 11,452,000 people
In Canada, 1,297,100 people
Do we know how many people in each of these countries are on board, i.e., how close are we?


From JC and JW

Here are some of the papers and books we have been looking at:

Norman Fischer “The World Could Be Otherwise”

Pema Chodron “Becoming Bodhisattvas”

https://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf and a number of Jem Bendal’s Youtube presentations. (His work on Deep Adaptation seems really important, to support people to look at how things are)

“A Buddhist Response to The Climate Emergency” editied by John Stanley, David R Loy and Gyurme Dorje

“This is not a Drill” An Extention Rebellion handbook

“No one is too small” Greta Thunberg

“This changes everything” Naomi Klein

 

anxiety, climate change, community, freedom, retreat, Retreat practice, Uncategorized

Retreat as rebellion

mens shirts 7

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. There are just too many other demands on their time, energy, and resources.

Sometimes there are genuine obstacles that get in the way of making time for formal practice. But sometimes, the busyness is a convenient rationalisation, one that allows us to avoid looking at what might be underneath the frenetic activity. On top of our own individual conditioning, most of us are impacted by the dominant values of mainstream society, which demand us to be constantly productive. As a result, we often develop  a compulsive need to be doing; doing; doing; almost as a way to justify our existence. Capitalist values tend to define us by what we DO, so unless we’re constantly busy, we’re no-one. For many people, the idea of simply BEING – even for a few minutes at a time – is terrifying. As a society, our flight from stillness and solitude has gone into hyperdrive.

wrong way 1

Resisting time-pressure

One of the side-effects of this speeding up of everything, is that time spent meditating or on retreat is easily devalued, because it’s not productive. More and more, there’s pressure to achieve the same meditative “results” – whatever they may be – in shorter and shorter times.

We can even see a shift in the retreat schedules of some insight meditation centres around the world. The nine-day retreat has shrunk to seven days, the seven-day retreat to five days, the five day retreat to three days, and so on, so that more retreats can be fitted in to each calendar year.

Retreats should be getting longer, not shorter

Yet if anything, retreats should be getting longer, not shorter, because most people come into retreat chronically stressed and tired. Much as we might like to deny it, we are organic beings. We’re made of meat and bone, flesh and blood. We’re not machines or electronic devices that can just be plugged in, switched on and kept going 24/7. But more and more, this is what we expect of ourselves, and it’s often not until we go on retreat and do stop, that we realise just how exhausted we are.

This means that the first one or two days of the retreat are spent in recovery mode, catching up on sleep and giving our fried nervous systems some time to recuperate. Then, because of our achievement-oriented striving, we feel like we have to make up for this lost time during the remaining days of the retreat, otherwise we’ll fall behind, won’t measure up, won’t achieve anything, won’t make any progress …

Our drivenness damages our own health, and the planet’s health

This drivenness is bad not only for our own health, but for the planet too, as we try to alleviate the stress of our over-full schedules by consuming more and more resources. Constant busyness gives us an excuse to ignore the damage we’re doing to the world – and each other. So in some ways, going on retreat and taking time to not be productive is an act of rebellion.

When we are able to take some time to slow down, the shift from DOing to BEing is often uncomfortable at first. It brings us face to face with the powerful conditioning that tells us we’re worthless, unless we’re involved in fifty different activities simultaneously. But as we start to see through that conditioning, we begin to taste moments of deep ease, peace, and freedom, and the insanity of our old way of being loses some of its appeal.

Every moment of meditation is a moment of resisting the tyranny of productivity

It still takes courage to resist that conditioning and prioritise living a more contemplative life, so we need the support of others who are oriented in a similar way, to help us maintain confidence that we are heading in the right direction. Each time we go on retreat, we’re strengthening our own intention to live a more sane and healthy life, and we’re helping others to do the same. In that way, every moment of meditation can become a moment of resisting the tyranny of productivity.

May our collective efforts to live with more ease, sanity and peace be a contribution to the welfare, the happiness, and the freedom, of all beings on our planet, and the planet itself.

Lake Freestad reflection

 

Uncategorized

Christchurch mosque shootings

Again and again and again we need to understand …

HATRED NEVER ENDS THROUGH HATRED.  BY NON-HATRED ALONE DOES IT END.  THIS IS AN ANCIENT TRUTH.

The Dhammapada: Teachings of the Buddha translated from the Pali by Gil Fronsdal 2008

Whether you are a Muslim, or an ally, this is a moment to show up for those in New Zealand who need our active support. To help support the victims and families of the Christchurch mosque shootings please donate here

Mosques in New Zealand and around the world have been inundated with floral tributes and messages of support after a massacre in Christchurch that killed 49 Muslims.

Christchurch mosque Guardian photo

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/16/we-love-you-mosques-around-world-showered-with-flowers-after-christchurch-massacre

For those in Auckland, you might consider attending AUT’s Islam Awareness events this week, starting Monday 18 March. More info here

Other options in New Zealand for showing your support to Muslim communities (courtesy of the Green Party):

As we grieve, there are gatherings happening around Aotearoa to help share our aroha and confront hatred. Here are some of the planned vigils:

  • Christchurch – Thursday 21 March from 8.30pm – 9.30pm at Cathedral Square.
  • Dunedin – Thursday 21 March in the Octagon.
  • Auckland – Friday 22 March from 6pm – 7pm at Aotea Square.
  • Nelson Race Unity Day – Sunday 24 March 24 in Victory Square.

Please attend events in your area and do all you can to come together to support each other and all our diverse communities.

Some further suggestions about how to help, courtesy of ActionStation

Listen to the perspectives of Muslim people

Like with any religious, ethnic or age group, there are multiple perspectives and experiences within the Muslim community. Muslims are an ethnically diverse demographic hailing from 80 different countries around the world. They have been in Aotearoa since 1860.

Widening the articles we read, and the podcasts we listen to, to include a range of Muslim writers or producers is one way we can begin to understand these different perspectives. Here are a couple of pieces that have been written in the wake of the Christchurch attack.

Here is a podcast that came out in 2017, but is essential listening for anyone wanting to understand what life is like for a Muslim person living in New Zealand today.

  • Public Enemy is an award-winning four-part podcast series from RNZ looking at the growing Muslim communities in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and how elections, counter-terrorism policies, war and xenophobia have changed lives.

Condemn racism

This violent attack on Muslim people who were praying peacefully was based on the gunman’s idea that white people are superior to people of colour. This idea was fuelled by the renewed rise of neo-Nazis, xenophobia and far-right extremism all over the world.

For the last few years, powerful people with platforms (some politicians, some media commentators, almost all giant tech corporations) have stoked racial division to sell ads, generate headlines and create fear among us for cheap votes and clicks.

This racism and hate was also allowed to fester, because we have not been doing enough to condemn casual racism when we see it.

Report Islamophobic and xenophobic comments when you see them. Read this guide from Amnesty International on how to tell someone you love they are being racist.

This is a good book for people working through how they might be complicit in white supremacy.

You can also check out the NZ Human Rights Commission’s toolkit on their Give Nothing To Racism website.

Volunteer to teach former refugees and migrants English

English Language Partners New Zealand has a volunteer teaching programme providing free English lessons to former refugees and migrants. They will train you to provide those who need it with the language skills and confidence necessary to integrate and participate fully in Aotearoa.

Volunteer for The Red Cross

Contact your local Red Cross and see what they need. Volunteer tasks may include setting up a home for a refugee family, helping them with everyday admin such as enrolments, budgeting and shopping, and generally welcoming them into New Zealand.

Take action to end hate speech

For the last few months, our team has been researching the links between online hate, online misinformation and the rise in hate crimes.

One thing is abundantly clear: Extreme words lead to extreme actions. We need to do all we can to stop both.

Sign this petition that we’re delivering in a couple of weeks if you want our government to crackdown on online hate and misinformation:

I support an end to hate speech and misinformation online.

Take action to ban semi-automatic weapons

A member of the ActionStation community, Nik Green, is calling for a ban on all semi-automatic firearms. You can sign his petition today:

I support stronger gun laws

There are many other ways you can take action. Find your local Muslim community support group or mosque and reach out to ask how you can help.

Some people have been pledging to form human chains of protection around mosques so Muslims can worship and pray. Others have offered to accompany Muslims to wherever they need to go if they do not feel safe going out in public. We will be in touch again soon with other ways you can help as we find them.

Sending aroha (love) and kaha (strength) to all at this horrific time. Especially to our Muslim, migrant, and refugee communities,

Laura, Madeleine, Eliot, Leroy and Kassie, on behalf of the ActionStation team.

P.S. If you need someone to talk to about grief or trauma you may be experiencing, please call or text 1737. Both are free, confidential and available 24/7.

Art, Buddha, Uncategorized

January/February 2018 super blue blood moon – Buddhist visual art and architecture

This month, I felt the need for some inspiration of the senses, so I’ve decided to set up a webpage dedicated to visual art that’s either been created by practising Buddhists, or features images or sculptures of the Buddha, or evokes meditative states.
Below are just a few samples I’ve found recently.  There are larger images and more info on the new webpage here:
https://jill0shepherd-insightmeditation.com/buddhist-inspired-visual-art-and-architecture/
Feel free to send me any of your own favourites.


Dharma and Art: A Practice of Investigating Perception

And, if you’re interested in exploring the connection between creativity and dharma more fully, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies is offering a new online and residential six-month program which looks fascinating.
Applications for that close soon – 1 March 2018 – and you can find more info here:
https://www.bcbsdharma.org/yearlong-programs/dharma-and-art/


Karl Martens

https://mymodernmet.com/karl-martens-watercolor-paintings-birds/


Miya Ando

http://www.miyaando.com/


James Turrell

http://jamesturrell.com/work/type/


Tadao Ando

https://www.dezeen.com/2017/08/08/tadao-ando-hill-of-the-buddha-lavender-mound-makomanao-takino-cemetery-sapporo-japan/

 

daily life, mindfulness, motivation, retreat, Retreat practice, Ten Parami, Uncategorized

January 2018 full moon – re-set

Sydney Insight Meditators 2018 New Year’s retreat

meditators - Rena drawing
Drawing by retreat participant Rena Czaplinska Archer

Making positive changes

The New Year is traditionally a time to try to make positive changes for the year ahead.  And yet most of us have had the experience of starting out with a rush of good intentions, only to find ourselves collapsing back into old habits very quickly.

Having recently finished teaching a seven-day retreat over the New Year, the same pattern can be seen after a period of intensive practice.  Many people experience a wave of inspiration, and have the intention, post-retreat, to renew their commitment to meditating on a daily basis.

Yet again, these intentions often don’t last very long.  The momentum of daily life re-asserts its hold on us, and we’re soon back where we started.  When one retreat participant was recently asked on their retreat registration form to describe their daily practice, they wrote that it mostly consisted of “looking at their meditation cushion and feeling guilty!”

Establishing and/or maintaining a daily meditation practice

Most of us can probably relate to that description, at least at times.  So this month, I’d like to focus on some strategies for establishing or maintaining a daily meditation practice.

Continue reading “January 2018 full moon – re-set”