March Newsbyte

March NEWSBYTE
Trust all is well!

All Past Tips
See below for the Tip o' the Day :  Equanimity by Carl Fooks

For Calendar and assistant opportunities see below .
 

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Diary: 
Soon the Winter Mahasi will be over. The weather here has been crisp in the morning and warm during the day. The birds, I'm sure, think it spring. Beware the 'Beast from the East!' I warn them. To no avail. Their whistles tell me they are too busy falling in love.

I found this video quite moving. Afterwards I thought, 'Thank heavens for the Buddha!'
An ageing philosopher returns to the essential question: ‘What is the point of it all?’

Announcements:

Easter Mahasi Retreat Noirin Sheahan    Assistants: Needed Sat 15 - Sat 27 April

'Satipanya Mahasi Devotees' group set up on the Insight Timer app by Mark Arthur

I'm a great fan of Insight Timer available on Android and iOS, it's a great way to keep a track of meditation sittings, with a nice selection of bells and gongs with options to customize each sitting in a variety of ways.  You can also browse talks, guided meditations, learn some mindful yoga, and dabble in a course or two, if you like that sort of thing.

Personally I like to keep it simple and just use the timer each morning, which helpfully mutes any interruptions whilst I sit.

However, in addition, there is also a communal aspect to Insight Timer, and I enjoy reflecting on the collective effort and resolve as I see a visual of fellow meditators around the world practicing together on there. I have found that just the simple act of sitting silently together, even virtually, is a powerfully supportive factor for my practice.

I therefore recently set up a group on the app called 'Satipanya Mahasi Devotees' with the hope that this will slowly help build a Satipanya Sangha on there, that is, help forge both online, and offline, friendships (this has personally happened on a number of occasions for me), motivate one another and strengthen each others' resolve between retreats.

The group is simply a way of linking users together and allows them to post messages within the group if they wish and see when other members are meditating. Potentially, as the group develops it could also start providing a forum to discuss any issues, questions, topics etc. that may arise. Who knows? However, I believe the group offers, at the very least, a virtual space which can recreate that lovely moment sitting together in the Vihara at Satipanya when, after the bell sounds, the eyes open and one realises that you're not alone on this path....Mudita! Onward!

If you feel inspired, and don't already have the app, it's probably easiest to visit their website https://insighttimer.com/ and then look for the relevant the App Store or Google Play link. To find the group, upon downloading the app to your device, search for 'Satipanya Mahasi Devotees' within the ‘groups’ section on the app's front page and then request an invite from us.

At present the group settings are ‘private’ and access is available only for members who have sat on a retreat at Satipanya so we will therefore message you to check your credentials before approving your request. If you have any problems with the technology etc by all means email me on markarfa@gmail.com  and I will be happy to assist. 

Looking forward to seeing you meditating on Insight Timer!
Metta, Mark

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.

Click for Bhante's Away Courses

The Calendar for 2019

Assistants Needed
See below Assistant need or: http://www.satipanya.org.uk/calendar/
As assistant  you have the opportunity to serve others. It can be a way of expressing gratitude for the gift of Dhamma.
Although the morning is mainly taken up with breakfast preparation and cooking, the rest of day is for practice.
You can see the menus
here.
As an assistant, we do not expect payment of the deposit or a donation because you have kindly offered your time.
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 www.satipanya.org.uk
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
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Local Assistant : Alison Weeks
Kick Start/Top up
Sat. 16 March
Arrive 09.30. Finish 17.00
Please bring veggie food to share.
 

Easter Mahasi Retreat
Noirin Sheahan
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 sense what it means to be free.
Assistants:
Needed 15 -27 April
Sat 06 - Sun 14 Robert Narayan-Taylor

Start dates: Sat. 06, Sun 14 and Sat 20 April
Finishes Sat. am 27 April
The usual schedule and format – see website,
easily modified for beginners.
 

Buddha Day
Honouring Our Exemplar and Teacher
Taking Refuges and Precepts Ceremony 
On Saturday 04 May : Start 10.30 
Local Assistant: 
Needed
Morning Meditation
Please bring veggie food to share for 
communal lunch at noon.
Ceremony starts 13.30
Afternoon Talk : Taking Refuges and Precepts : Procession
Tea and Biscuits 16.00

Vipassana : Metta : Bodycare 
Bhante Bodhidhamma
with Bryan Lester, Reiki Master
Assistant: Ruth Wogan

Come Friday evening if you want to join in Buddha Day Celebration 
Sat 04 – Weds 08 May 
Towards a Right Lifestyle 
The first weekend is devoted to Mahasi vipassana and metta /Loving-Kindness 
and exercises that heal and/or invigorate the body. 
After that, one can choose what to practise. 
Discussion on how to develop the spiritual life. 
 

Mahasi Weekend Retreat
Jenny Birkett
Assistant Needed
Fri. 17 – Sun. 19 May
The usual schedule and format – see website.
Especially for beginners.
 

Weeklong Mahasi Retreat
 Guus Went
Sat 25 May – Sun. 02 Jun.
Assistant Mark Blaxland

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. 
 The usual schedule and format – see website.

Weeklong Mahasi Retreat
Carl Fooks
Assistant Needed
Sat 15 Jun  – Sun 23 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.
The usual schedule and format – see website.

 

Summer Mahasi Retreat
Bhante Bodhidhamma
Assistant Needed
Eleven week roll-on, roll-off Retreat.
Minimum stay eight nights.
Start dates: Saturdays:-
29 June & 13 & 27 July; 10 & 24 Aug. 07 Sept.
Finishing Sun. 15  Sept
Celebration Sat 14. 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 : Needed
29 June – 13 July : Needed
13 July – 27 July : Assistant : Needed
27 July – 10 August : Assistant : Needed
10 – 24 August: Assistant : Needed
24 August – 31 August: Assistant : Needed
31 August – 14 September: Assistant : Needed

Sangha Day : Twelth Anniversary
Saturday 14 September
Assistant
 
Needed
Please bring veggie food to share for
communal lunch at noon.
Ceremony starts 13.30
Talk: To be announced.
 

Weekend Mahasi Retreat 
Carl Fooks
Fri 20.  – Sun. 22 September
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.
Assistant 
Needed
The usual schedule and format – see website.
 

Day Retreat
Jenny Birkett
Saturday 26 October
Local Assistant 
Needed
 Kick Start/Top
Arrive 09.30. Finish 17.00
Please bring veggie food to share.
 

Mahasi Monthlong Retreat
Noirin Sheahan
Start dates Sat 2, Sun 10, Sat 16 Nov.
Sun 24th possible for Mahasi devotees
Ends Sat am 30 Nov.
Assistants: 
Needed
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.
Assistant Nov.Sat.02 - Sat. 16 : 
Needed
Assistant Nov.Sat.16 - Sat. 30 : Needed
The usual schedule and format, easily modified for beginners. 

Day Retreat
Saturday 04 Jan 2020
Bhante Bodhidhamma 
Local Assistant Needed
 Kick Start/Top
Arrive 09.30. Finish 17.00
Please bring veggie food to share.

 

Equanimity

I have a recurring conceit that amuses me. It is that I have identified the single ingredient that makes vipassanā “work”. It becomes the topic of my thoughts for a short period until I notice some other aspect which then becomes the one key thing. Recently it’s been equanimity.

Equanimity is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation”. Apparently, it derives “from Latin aequanimitas, from aequus ‘equal’ + animus’ mind’” and also has the sense of “fairness, impartiality” , as Bhante says, we would hope to expect of a Judge presiding over a trial.

If you’ve done a retreat with me, you may remember me defining suffering as “wanting things to be other than they are”. This is the opposite of equanimity; it’s the disturbance of the mind trying to make experience fit the ideal, the rejection of the present.

Another way of defining equanimity, then, might be as “contentment with things being just as they are”. But this appears to carry the invalid suggestion that we should be content with things like poverty and hunger, ecological collapse and war.

So, maybe, instead of “contentment” it should be “allowing things to be just as they are”? But the problem with “allowing”—with its connotations of “permit” and “let”—is that it suggests too much control. We see from meditation that we are not in control. If we were, we would choose not to have incessant destructive thoughts and strong emotions like fear and anger arise.

Equanimity is something of all of these, though. In the Vipassanā Guidelines we read on retreat, we are encouraged to examine our experience “without any interference whatsoever, … simply watching” in a way “that does not control or manipulate … judge or question”.

What this is really pointing out is the kind of needy manipulation of experience we habitually make. Whatever our experience, we interfere because we want it to be different; we control and manipulate because we want it to go a different way; we judge and question from a place of imagined superiority or inferiority. This wanting things to be other than they are is the fundamental dissatisfaction the Buddha labelled “dukkha”. The work of meditation is finding a way where our relationship with experience isn’t one of habitually interfering like this, isn’t automatically wanting things to be other than they are.

It’s clear that there is something in the relationship we have with experience that makes it dissatisfying. When this relationship is based in “greed” (wanting something to bolster our sense of self), “ill-will” (wanting something to diminish our, or somebody else’s, sense of wellbeing), or “delusion” (not caring), it results in dissatisfaction, in dukkha.

We know that when we don’t react to difficult situations, when we give ourselves time to calm down, to get perspective, we generally handle them better. It is this same mechanism that these vipassanā instructions develop. They contain all we need. We simply watch, without any interference whatsoever—without controlling, manipulating, judging or questioning—whatever arises in our experience. It is in this way that we develop equanimity, and with more equanimity there’s less dukkha.

So this is why my topic of the month is equanimity. But as I write this, it occurs to me that, without awareness, without mindfulness, we would find it difficult to develop equanimity.

Hmm, so maybe mindfulness is that one key thing then …? 🙂

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Finally, please forward this email if you know someone who may be interested. Thanks.

                                              Metta
                                                 Onward 
                                                            Bodhidhamma

 


SATIPANYA  BUDDHIST TRUST
www.satipanya.org.uk   
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  
  info: 
info@satipanya.org.uk
 


 

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