February Newsbyte

Trust all is well!

Wishing you a fruitful Year to Come

All Past Tips
 Tip o’ the Day below
Scientism meets Buddhism

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We are now at the end of the second week of the Winter Mahasi. The weather has been in the main kind. But the meadows are awash with water. The valley that runs down all the way to BIshops Castle is one huge underwater reservoir that drenches the clay.  Even though the water is running off, even the walking circles around the stupa area flooded.

 Accounts: If you are an accountant or bookkeeper  or you now someone who it with some experince of claiming Gift Aid, do contact us if you would like to do our books. Usual contact email: info@satipanya.org.uk

See Calendar below for courses and Assistants needed. One during the Winter Mahasi would be greatly appreciated for the last week of the course.

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.

Click for Bhante's Away Courses

The Complete Calendar for 2018
Assistants Needed
N.B. All the courses are serviced by assistants.

See website for up-to-date Assistant need: http://www.satipanya.org.uk/calendar/
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
Would you like to come and assist on a course?
Scroll down to see where we need you.
Teachers: Click on names for bio.

Day Retreat
Kick Start/Top up
Saturday 06 January

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

Winter Mahasi
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Assistant(s) : Jim Tibby and Mark Blaxland with help from John Macdougall
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  Jim Tibby
Sat 27 Jan – Sun 04 Feb : Sun 04 Feb – Sat 10 Feb Mark & John
Sat 10 Feb – Sun 18 Feb : Sun 18 Feb – Sat 24 Feb Mark & John
Sat 24 Feb – Sun 04 Mar : Sun 04 Mar – Sat 10 Mar Richard Gilpin first week 
 Needed last week

Finishing Sat 10 March
Open only to those who have at least one Mahasi Retreat 
either at Satipanya or with another teacher
Alternate Sundays possible: 21 Jan.; 04 & 18 Feb.; 04 Mar.
You are encouraged to stay for more than one week.

Day Retreat
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Local Assistant : Needed
Kick Start/Top up
Sat. 17  March
Arrive 09.30. Finish 17.00
Please bring veggie food to share.

Easter Mahasi Retreat
Noirin Sheahan
Assistant : Needed
Sat. 24 Mar – Sat. 07 April
The usual schedule and format – see website.
Preference given to those who want to stay two weeks.
Vipassana means “Seeing clearly”. When we see the world as it really is, we will be free from the distress that comes from identifying with a limited view of who and what we are.
During the retreat, we relax from all our usual busyness to give our full attention to present experience.  We learn to see the world more clearly, and to disentangle the knots of confusion that bind us to emotional turmoil.  At precious moments, the heart opens and we may sense what it means to be free.
Mahasi Retreat
 Guus Went
Assistant : Needed 
Sat.14 – Sun. 22 April
Sayadaw U Pandita's definition of Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the observing power of the mind, which clearly and simply experiences an object, without reacting to it.
We start actively to develop this power with the body as primary object. That makes it possible not to get fully entangled in the hindrances and to come to know something about them. Sitting meditation, walking meditation and daily activities are fully equal in importance. Gradually we come to know other objects of meditation, both internally and externally.
Practical thing: It is useful to take a small notebook and a pen, to make notes of observations after a session or during the day. This will be helpful to make the interview sessions useful and relaxed. 

Mahasi Two Week Retreat
Noirin Sheahan
Assistant : Needed 
Sat. 28 Apr. – Sat.12 May
The usual schedule and format – see website.
See above for Noirin’s description.

Buddha Day
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Local Assistant Needed 
Saturday 19 May : Start 09.30 

Honouring Our Exemplar and Teacher
Taking Refuges and Precepts Ceremony 

Morning Meditation
Noon Lunch
Please bring veggie finger food for lunch.
Afternoon Talk : Taking Refuges and Precepts : Procession
Tea and Biscuits 16.00

Vipassana : Metta : Bodycare 
Bhante Bodhidhamma
with Bryan Lester, Reiki Master
Come Friday evening if you want to join in Buddha Day Celbration 
Fri 18 / Sat 19 – Weds 23 May 
Towards a Right Lifestyle 
The first day, Saturday is the celebration above.
The rest of course is devoted to Mahasi vipassana and metta /Loving-Kindness 
and exercises that heal and/or invigorate the body. 
Discussion on how to develop the spiritual life. 

Mahasi Weekend Retreat
Jenny Birkett
Assistant Needed 
Fri. 01 – Sun. 03 June
The usual schedule and format – see website.

Mahasi Weeklong Retreat
Carl Fooks
Assistant Needed 
Sat 16th – Sun 24th June
The Mahasi system can feel challenging, and its emphasis on moment-to-moment mindfulness can prove to feel particularly difficult.
Carl teaches a gentle approach to the practice encouraging a skilful and effective orientation that helps practitioners to commit themselves fully to the practice and the schedule, and thereby get the most out of the course.

Summer Mahasi Retreat
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Assistant Needed 
Eleven week roll-on, roll-off Retreat.
Minimum stay eight nights.
Start dates: Saturdays:-
30 June & 14 & 28 July; 11 & 25 Aug. 08 Sept.
Finishing Sun. 16  Sept
Celebration Sat 15th Sept. See below
N.B. Start restricted to listed Saturdays.
Alternate Sun. possible for Mahasi devotees.
A challenging Retreat easily modified for beginners.
See Beginner’s Testimonials on website.
You are encouraged to stay for more than one week.
Assistants :
Starting and ending on following Saturday.
30 June – 14 July : Ignacio Duque Sanchez
14 July – 28 July : Assistant : Sita Brand
28 July – 11 August : Assistant Needed 

11 – 25 August: Assistant Needed 
25 August – 08 September: Assistant :Jim Tibby
08 – 16 (Sunday) September: Assistant : Dea Paradisos

Sangha Day : Ninth Anniversary

Bhante Bodhidhamma
 Assistant Needed 
Saturday 15 September
Please bring veggie food to join us for communal lunch at noon.
Ceremony starts 13.30
Talk: To be announced.

Weekend Retreat 
Fri. 28 Sept.– Sun. 30 Sept. (Finishes  13.00)
Carl Fooks
Assistant Needed 
See usual weekend Schedules
Mahasi  Two Week Retreat
Sat. 06 Oct.  – Sun. 21 October
Noirin Sheahan
Assistant Needed 
See above for Noirin’s description.
Preference given to those who want to stay two weeks.
The usual schedule and format – see website.

Day Retreat
Saturday 27 October
Jenny Birkett
Local Assistant Needed 
 Kick Start/Top
Arrive 09.30. Finish 17.00
Please bring veggie food to share.

Autumn Mahasi Retreat
 Sat. 03 – Sun. 25 Nov.
Noirin Sheahan
See above for Noirin’s description.
Assistants Needed 
Preference is given to those who wish to stay for the full three weeks.
The usual schedule and format – see website. 


There are those of us whose feet are firmly cemented in the empirical, objective truths of science, whose hearts a dedicated to the Buddha's teachings, and whose head negotiates an understanding that makes sense and gives direction to their lives.

Unfortunately approaching the Buddha's teaching from a belief that the scientific method of observation, hypothesis and repeatable experimentation is the only way that truth can be determined means that some teachings must be simply discredited as ‘unprovable', with added subtext that it is all deluded imagination. (see below Bertrand Russell definition of scientism)

It is also possible to ‘prove’ something false by approaching the teachings from a particular point of view (hermeneutics). Because the Discourses are not the exact words of the Buddha (which is true), or at least, that only a minute amount might be verbatim, then there must have been a lot of additions and interpretations. This allows us to form our own interpretation.

We might, therefore, decide that some teachings like rebirth were introduced to align Buddhadhamma with prevailing ideas of reincarnation and so make the Buddhadhamma more palatable. Presuming the Buddha did not teach rebirth or any form of afterlife, puts the Buddha in the annihilationist camp.  And this means that Nibbana can only be either momentary or if attainable as a constant state by an occasional person, comes to an end at death. It cannot be a transcendent state beyond space and time, mind and matter,

It is one of our cultural biases that the scientific method is the only way to determine what is true. This is an extreme for it denies that for every individual an inner, personal, private, non-repeatable experience is an event as real as an eclipse of the moon.

The Buddha did not conduct objective experiments to prove his teachings. For instance, there is no instance of control groups where one set is given the Four Noble Truths with the practice of vipassana, another a set of Ignoble Truths and vipassana and a third, no Truths at all with vipassana in order to see which is the quickest way to awakening.

The Buddha's approach is what we would call phenomenological. It is about our personal experience of life. When he talks about the world, he sometimes calls it the All. He is referring not to the objective worlds out there which science investigates, but how we actually sense and feel and react to the inner world that appears in consciousness – the world out there as perceived by the individual, plus all the sensations, emotions and thoughts. The two can be very different. Take time for instance. Scientifically we can measure a minute. But as a personal experience a minute can flash by as we watch a film or crawl by as we wait for the kettle to boil.

When someone who has an out of body experience or a past life recall, such experiences are real for them and often life changing. For them their experiences are as true as gravity. And Nibbana by definition is unprovable to the sciences. The Buddha tells us there is nothing of the material world or the mental world in that experience and yet insists it is never changing and the greatest happiness of all.

If you are one of those who are not entirely convinced of Scientism, the secular belief that that there is only matter and that everything is ‘an emergent property’ out of matter and yet can’t quite get your head around rebirth and a transcendent Nibbana, surely the better position to take  is one of ‘don’t know’ or ‘not sure’. We need not feel compelled to come to a conclusion, for so long as honest doubt guides our investigation, we will come to know for ourselves through our own direct experience.

If you don’t know, hang loose. You never know!
Bertrand Russell: Religion and Science p 242: "Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know."

Here are two books, downloadable and donation only, that collect a lot of the sayings from the Discourses around Nibbana and the process of awakening and a book that tackles rebirth. Don’t be put off by the title. It is quite readable.

Mind like Fire Unbound by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
The Island by Ajahns Passano and Amaro
Rebirth and the Stream of Life: A Philosophical Study of Reincarnation by Mikel Burley
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Directors - Jim Tibby    Richard Benjamin   Maureen Tibby   Mike Regan
Limited Company Number 05924965 Registered Charity Number 1116668
Satipanya, White Grit, Minsterley, Shropshire  SY5 0JN
T: 0044 (0)1588 650752  
bodhidhamma@satipanya.org.uk  info: info@satipanya.org.uk


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