December Newsbyte

December NEWSBYTE 2020


Despite all the havoc of 2020, hoping you will find peace and joy this Christmas! 

Trust all is well!


All Past Tips


For calendar and assistant opportunities, see below.

Tip o' the Day

Christmas Blessing: "Try not to not make things worse!" 
Noirin Sheahan

See Below

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Diary: Noirin here, as Bhante is still on retreat, along with the mice who want their share of his peace and joy! He gives them lots of metta as he deposits them miles from Satipanya whenever the scent of peanut butter lures them into a trap. But they keep finding reinforcements. He's sealed lots of tiny holes in the brickwork, cemented around drain pipes, placed ingenious obstacles at strategic positions in the gutters ... but a score of 20:0 in favour of the mice is the sad reward for all this effort!

Our bricklayer unfortunately suffered a minor stroke and we wish him a full and speedy recovery. He was well enough to kindly find another bricklayer to construct the commemoration wall which now awaits a capping stone on which to sit the Buddha rupa.    

The November retreat was a great joy to teach. A number of people made interesting arrangements for this e.g. living with a friend who is also doing the retreat so as to support one another, swapping homes with a relative for the duration, renting an AirBnB so as to have less distraction than at home. If you don't think an on-line retreat would work in your own home, perhaps one of these ideas could work instead? 

A winter moon over the stupa and a robin as reminders to ask you to look out for seasonal pics for our Satipanya Christmas Card (PDF)!

Announcements

Christmas events have been detailed in a separate newsletter. Briefly these include Christmas Eve MeditationCompanionship over Christmas  and a New Years Eve Vigil . (All links to PDFs.)

The Watering Seeds Project is a bursary scheme aimed at Buddhists who are Black, Asian or from other ethnic minority groups who are interested in climate issues.   They are now looking for Black, Asian or other ethnic minority Buddhists (or people inspired by the Dharma and Buddhist practise) to sit on a Steering Group.   For more information see here.  (PDF)

Satipanya Online Meditation Hall on Zoom: Bhante will continue to lead the 6am, 2pm and 8pm sits throughout December. Join us for your daily meditation. Info . (PDF)

Satipanya Spiritual Companions:  An informal meditation group to meet on a monthly basis via Zoom for a full day of meditation, and over the Christmas break (see above). Email Magda for details.

London and South East Satipanya Sangha: Fortnightly meetings, currently on Zoom. If you're interested in joining, please email satipanya-lse@genko.co.uk .

Introduction to Buddhism with Julian Wall  - Julian teaches this course for the London Buddhist Vihara. Contact for details: lectures@julianwall.com

Encouragements to Awakening on Retreat and Encouragements to Awakening in Daily Life: The paper backs are available on Amazon . But you can download PDF, Mobi for Kindle and ePub versions for all other readers from the website .

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.

The Calendar for 2020

Vipassana as taught by the Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma

The Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma, one of the most influential vipassana insight meditation teachers of the last century, developed techniques to help us maintain moment to moment mindfulness from the instant we awake to the instant we fall asleep.

This leads not only to spiritual insights into our true, unborn-undying essence, but also, equally important, to the purification of the heart. So that we not only become wiser but more caring, generous, joyous and compassionate.

Applying the techniques on this retreat we follow a robust schedule, but meditators can modulate their practice to fit their level of experience, even absolute beginners. The accent is on relaxation and curiosity, rather than striving and concentration. And regular teacher contact, daily Q&A and personal interviews ensures students are supported throughout.

The retreat ends with advice on how to bring the practice into ordinary daily life to enhance our relationships and give spiritual meaning to our work and everyday tasks.

Christmas ​E​ve
Join us 16.00  – 21.00  in the On-line Meditation Hall . (PDF)
You can come for part or all of the time and do either sitting or walking meditation. At 20.00  Bhante will lead metta meditation and afterwards we can wish each other a happy Christmas. Send Noirin a picture or greeting to contribute to our Satipanya Christmas Card  (PDF) which will be displayed after we break silence.  
Click  here  (PDF) for more information. 


Companionship over Christmas
Magda's "Spiritual Companions" will spend a few days meditating together from 27 Dec onwards and joining the New Year Vigil (see below) for their final day. The group will move into the On-line Meditation Hall for this period which will hopefully inspire many to use the Hall more frequently during this time - the schedule will not change. 
Email Magda for further information and if you wish to join her special effort.

 

New Year's Eve Vigil
Bhante invites you to join this vigil, starting 04.00 ! and finishing at midnight. The hope is to have at least one person (hopefully many) present in the On-line Meditation Hall throughout the whole day. At 09.00 , Bhante will lead a Metta Practice, at 20.00  a Goodwill Ceremony  and at ​​ midnight  the Refuges and Precepts and Metta chant. We will then break silence to wish each other a Happy ​N​ew ​Y​ear!
To participate, email ​ Bhante  for more information.
Hope you can join us for the midnight hour!

Calendar for Start of 2021

Online - New Year Day Retreat

A kick start to the year!
Bhante Bodhidhamma

Saturday 09 January
Meeting at 09.00 : Ending 17.00

Schedule and details will be sent with application.
Email Marion : info@satipanya.org.uk

Winter Mahasi Online Only

Fourteen week roll-on, roll-off Retreat.

Saturday 16 January to Saturday 24 April

First 8 weeks: Bhante Bodhidhamma. Last 6 weeks: Noirin Sheahan

Applications open.

You can start or end on any of the following dates,
Saturdays: 16 Jan, 30 Jan, 13,Feb, 27 Feb, 13 Mar, 27 Mar, 10 Apr, 24 Apr,
Sundays:  24 Jan,  7 Feb, : 21 Feb, 7 Mar, 21, Mar, 4 Apr, 18 Apr.
For a 5-day retreat, start on a Sunday (19.30) and finish on the following Saturday (7.30).
For a 7-day retreat, start on a Saturday (19.30) and finish on Sunday (7.30) the following week.  
Longer retreats - up to the full 14-week period - also possible.
Please enter the dates you want to attend on the Application Form. 

Beginners welcome

Calendar to Book

The usual schedule and format .

Bhante's Away Calendar

Christmas Blessing: "Try not to make things worse!" 

Noirin Sheahan

How can we prepare for Christmas this year? We might not know till a week beforehand whether we will be able to meet friends and family. Should I book a flight home? Will there be twelve people for dinner, or will it just me and the dog? Would it be irresponsible to visit my gran? How will she feel if I don’t? And don’t even start thinking about New Year and Brexit!

Uncertainty is hard to bear. We sometimes see this in meditation when we explore neutral feeling. We can’t decide whether the sensations are pleasant or unpleasant, so we also can't decide which of our habitual reactions to choose: Should I be grasping at this or pushing it away? The 'self' we construct in our attempts to navigate the world is in a dither! It can feel very threatened.  Sitting with the fear, we learn the difficult but liberating truth of anatta 'not-self'. That we can stop constructing a belief 'this is me'; and when we stop this construction process, we stop grasping at pleasant feelings, struggling against unpleasant ones, getting into a dither about neutral ones. Such relief!

Then we get up from the cushion, remember Christmas, Covid, Brexit and another self gets constructed in a flash, asking the same old questions, demanding answers! Until we're fully liberated uncertainty will be hard to bear. It brings out our habitual demons like irritation, depression, even total panic. These are made ten times worse because the expectation is for happiness at Christmas. 

Because of living such a quiet life here at Satipanya, I’ll be spared this turmoil. But if I was out in the world, I would start practicing my favorite mantra for hard times: "try not to make things worse than they already are!"

I’d take time to sit down to acknowledge that the 'festive' season might actually feel more stressful than joyful; that I should expect to be irritated, frustrated, exhausted much of the time; that loneliness tends to visit at Christmas time and perhaps especially this year;  that I'll probably catch myself shooting second and third arrows – grumbling & blaming and comforting myself with cake and idle distractions. The motivation here is not to depress myself. It’s self-care. If I’m expecting my demons, I’ll be in the best place to look after myself wisely when they arrive.

I’ve heard the spiritual life described as one of ever decreasing expectations! Delusion easily persuades us that we can be good-humored, wise and serene in all circumstances. With practice we learn to embrace our shortcomings. The wish “try not to make things worse” provides a reasonable goal – not too lofty but very practical. 

As soon as I notice the demons I would recite my good-wish, summon all my willpower to resist their temptation, find something purposeful to do, do it mindfully. Even when we have no practical answers to all our pressing questions, its amazing how a few moments of mindful action can lift the spirits, make us feel more hopeful, stronger. With that I would change the good-wish to “let’s make the best of things”.

Wishing for the best, preparing for the worst, it’s entirely possible that we might even have a happy Christmas after all!

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Many thanks.

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  Noirin Sheahan  Mike Regan  Alison Weeks
Limited Company Number  05924965  Registered Charity Number  1116668
Satipanya Buddhist Trust Satipanya White Grit Minsterley, Shropshire SY5 0JN United Kingdom
T:  +44 (0)1588 650752
info:  info@satipanya.org.uk

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