December Newsbyte


Trust all is well!
Wishing you a Joyous  Christmastide
a fruitful Year to Come

All Past Tips
 Tip o’ the Day below

 ‘Tis the Season … 
Noirin Sheahan

 (Difficulty reading text? Press Ctrl +)

I've just come back from a month long retreat at Panditarama in Bago just an hour and half North-east from Yangon, Myanmar. It was a tryout to see if I can take the East. November should have been cool, but the climate has changed and it hot. The cooler month is now December. I found it drained me of energy even though there were fans in the meditation room. Perhaps the body is too old for such a change. I have a heaty constitution. I had a sore throat for three weeks! However, the centre is wonderful and I would encourage anyone who wants to go East to go there. But, and a big but, you do need to have the technique well rehearsed. Teachers don't help you. Generally they tell you that you need to be more concentrated, or to just watch the breath, or that more effort is needed. Luckily because of my past experience I was left to carry on by myself. I've taken lots of photos of the place. Below are two, but you can access them all here:

Refectory for over 300 meditators with lake full of koi.

My veggie meal. Very tasty. I was the only vegetarian! Rice in metal pot.


Winter Mahasi :  Sat. 13 January – Sun. 11 March : 

I started a new long session of retreats last year and now mean to continue it indefinitely.

It is eight weeks long and runs along the same lines as the Summer Mahasi,  except – only those can apply who have done at least one full week retreat here with any of the teachers or a week with a recognized Mahasi teacher.

NB Applications are open for the Winter Mahasi, but for other retreats please don't apply till early January.
See website for 2018

Karuna Book: Every morning at puja we call the names of those who are sick or dying, or are having a hard time. 

Mudita Book: Every evening at puja we call the names of those who have something to rejoice about.

The Complete Calendar for 2017

Assistants Needed

N.B. All the courses are serviced by assistants.
As an assistant, we do not expect payment of the deposit because you have kindly offered your time.
And as usual any dana by you is entirely in your gift.
However, your commitment is essential, for the course would be very difficult to run without an assistant and may indeed have to be cancelled.

 If you are interested, follow this link: Course Assistant

 For info. about Retreats and teachers see website

See drop down menus: especially About Us, Teachings and Retreats

 If you would like to come and assist on a course?
Scroll down to see where we need you.

 Click on teacher names for bio. 

 New Year Retreat

Fri. 29 December to Tues. 02 January

Bhante Bodhidhamma

Assistant : Anne Ashton

 N.B. This retreat is reserved for those who have completed a Retreat as Satipanya.

The first day will be a normal retreat schedule though we shall rise at 5.30.

An opportunity to make it a day of fasting

in solidarity with the one in nine people undernourished and starving.

On the second day, the Eve, we will see in the New Year.

During a group event, you will be asked to tell us about an event which has had a effect upon you - international, national or local or personal.

A day to reflect on the past year, plenty of time to oneself.

Retreatants will be asked to say a little about an virtuous event chosen by them.

The third day, New Years Day, is communal with a walk – weather permitting.

 For Bhante’s courses away from Satipanya:

Day Retreat
Kick Start/Top up
Saturday 06 January

Bhante Bodhidhamma
Local Assistant : Needed
Arrive 09.30. Finish 17.00
Please bring veggie food to share.

Winter Mahasi
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Assistant(s) : May be needed
Eight week roll-on, roll-off Retreat.
Start dates restricted to these Saturdays :  
Sat 13 Jan – Sun 21 Jan : Sun 21 Jan – Sat 27 Jan
Sat 27 Jan – Sun 04 Feb : Sun 04 Feb – Sat 10 Feb
Sat 10 Feb – Sun 18 Feb : Sun 18 Feb – Sat 24 Feb
Sat 24 Feb – Sun 04 Mar : Sun 04 Mar – Sat 10 Mar
Finishing Sat 11 March
Open only to those who have at least one Mahasi Retreat
either at Satipanya or with another teacher
Alternate Sundays possible: 22 Jan.; 05 & 19 Feb.; 05 Mar.
You are encouraged to stay for more than one week.

Sat 13 Jan – Sat 27 Jan  Jim Tibby
Sat 27 Jan – Sat 10 Feb  Mark Blaxland
Sat 10 Feb – Sat 24 Feb 
Assistant : Needed
Sat 24 Feb – Sat 10 Mar  Mark Blaxland

 ‘Tis the Season …

Jolly isn’t a word we readily associate with Buddhism. What’s jolly about the truth of suffering? Even the Buddhist “good news”, that there is an end to suffering, doesn’t sound particularly jolly.

And yet joy is a big part of the path. It’s a factor of enlightenment. Meditative joy is termed ‘piti’. It describes the joy of coming to know what suffering is and how to escape its clutches.

Another form of joy, termed ‘mudita’, describes  the joy stirred the beautiful aspects of life – such as our Christmas get-togethers,  reading a Christmas card, wrapping presents, decorating the tree.

In the Parinibbana Sutta, we follow the Buddha through his last months of life. Despite his frail, sickly, painful body, we find him declaring again and again how beautiful certain shrines are, letting their beauty invigorate his will to live, turning around for one last lingering gaze at the region of Vesali where he had met his first spiritual teacher and later returned to teach his own Dhamma.  Although he had full access to transcendence, he didn’t ignore worldly beauty and meaning. He let it touch him deeply.

In our unenlightened state, the touch of the world can also hurt us. No sooner do get together with our friends than it’s time to say goodbye, buying Christmas presents brings out the Scrooge in all of us, and all the emphasis on joy and cheer makes us feel our loneliness more acutely.  It’s tempting to retreat from society and shun the Christmas festivities as a waste of money, time and effort. And yes, there is a huge amount of waste generated over Christmas.  And the feast may have no spiritual significance for us.

So why bother? Well, what about using Christmas as mudita practice? If the Buddha could let the beauties of the world mean so much to him, shouldn’t we learn to appreciate our connection to the world and to family and friends? Even if we feel completely turned off, Scrooge-like, despising the glitter and glee, we can simply note that and participate anyhow.  That’s the spiritual path – always asking us to do what we don’t want to do.

If we do get infected with a bit of Christmas cheer, we can detect when joy is turning into excitement and excess (the ‘near enemies’ of mudita) and bring ourselves down to earth with a reminder that none of our purchases can guarantee happiness or that others will appreciate our efforts.  We’re celebrating what is trickling between our fingers, outside of our control. To help us assimilate this poignant truth, we can take regular breaks from Christmas busyness to sit on our cushion to let our internal busyness rattle around until, exhausted, it peters into silence or transforms to meditative joy.

So let’s deck the halls with boughs of holly … grateful for their fleeting beauty even as we toss their withered stems into the New Year’s bonfire!

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Many thanks.

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Directors - Richard Benjamin   Maureen Tibby   Jim Tibby    Mike Regan

Limited Company Number 05924965 Registered Charity Number 1116668

Satipanya, White Grit, Minsterley, Shropshire  SY5 0JN
0044 (0)1588 650752  email:  info:

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