October Newsbyte

October NEWSBYTE 2023

Trust all is well!

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All Past Tips


For calendar and assistant opportunities, see below.

Tip o' the Day

Equanimity


Bhante Bodhidhamma
see below

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Creating a World That Works for Everyone
Saturday, October 28, 2023 : 7 to 9 pm CET
Buddhist Global Relief

 

Treasurer's Note  

From the time Satipanya started the first retreats in 2007 until 2020 we were able to keep the deposit to £10 a night. Then in 2020 for various reasons we had to finally raise the amount to £15.

Since then we have the war in Ukraine and rising inflation. So, I'm sure you will not be surprised by our need to raise the deposit to £20 a day in 2024.

Our expenses in general have risen, but we have been particularly affected by the rise in the price of electricity which this year we expect to rise to £7000 as opposed to last year's £3000.

While we regret this extra expense at this time of rising living costs, we still feel that this is a very reasonable amount and hope the donations following retreats will remain at the same level so that we can continue to develop our teaching programme and prepare for the changes we shall have to manage in the medium term as Bhante and Noirin approach 'retirement'. 


Diary

It was quite a fandango getting the grass baled this year. A neighbour with two horses said she wanted the bales, but then found the person she had hired was too expensive! So in the one week free of rain for the most part we had to scramble and find someone to bale the hay. This year, I agreed to give the hay to the local farmer who came to our rescue. I regret this because we had decided our hay was not to be used as feed for sheep and cattle that were to be slaughtered. At least we did not profit financially by it. In fact it cost us £150. Next year, I shall go back to our normal procedure of placing the hay onto the verges where it it rots back into the ground.

We have put up curtains to hang outside the windows. This stops the radiant heat of the sun coming into the rooms. The glass radiates any heat back into the room so that it slowly becomes a baking oven! It has been very sccessful in keeping the Walking Room at a bearable temperature.


 

Announcements


Northwest area Satipanya Sangha: Anyone living in the northwest, particularly in Chester, Manchester, Liverpool and surrounding areas who would like to explore options for practicing together please contact Martin Ratcliffe who hopes to form a local group.

Regular Online Meetings:

Meditation Hall on Zoom:  Join us for your daily meditation - 06.00, 09.00, 14.00, 16.00 and 20.00 sits.  Info.

Satipanya Spiritual Companions:  An informal meditation group meets on a monthly basis via Zoom for a full day of meditation. Email Magda for details at  [email protected]

Zoom Study Group: 
This collaborative study group has evolved out of the fortnightly London and South East Satipanya Saṅgha which has been meeting via Zoom since the beginning of the Covid outbreak.  We are currently studying the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta , as set out by Joseph Goldstein in his 46 part discussion on the Dharma Seed site and in his book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening . We intend to continue this group on Zoom and warmly extend an invitation to any practitioner who would like to join us. Currently meeting on the second and fourth Sundays of each month at 10:30am - midday. Please contact [email protected] for further information. (By the way, please try again if you've emailed to attend and haven't received anything back, Carl has been particularly busy lately.)

Full Moon Celebrations:  Join 20.00 to 21.00 on the Sunday closest to the Full Moon. Bhante gives a short dhamma talk, followed by a 30-min sitting, refuges and precepts and we end by reading and chanting the metta sutta.  For date of next Celebration.   
 
Opening to the Impact of the Climate Emergency:   Following on from the Zoom with Gwen Sanderson and Bhante Bodhidhamma in September last year, there are two options for ongoing engagement:
  • Gwen Sanderson is facilitating monthly Climate and Dhamma Conversations which are held using Zoom . Email Gwen for further information or to register. 
  • Noirin Sheahan has set up a Satipanya Forum focussing on the Six Maxims (ethical training to prepare for the social and environmental consequences of climate change - see tip below). Contact Noirin for further info or to register.  

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.

Satipanya Courses

Coronavirus: Requirements for visiting Satipanya.

We are asking everyone to take an antigen test before setting out in their journey to Satipanya and not to come if the test is positive.

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.

Assistants Needed

N.B. All the courses are serviced by assistants.

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 (PDF).

As an assistant, we do not expect payment of the deposit or make 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?

See calendar on website for up-to-date assistant need.

Satipanya Calendar 2023

PLEASE NOTE
We have taken away all time restrictions on when you can apply for a course.
You can apply any time, but please only when you are certain.

Bhante's Away Calendar

Equanimity

Bhante Bodhidhamma

Ven.Nyanaponika, the German monk, who founded the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy wrote what is still a classic: The Heart of Buddhist Meditation. He also wrote A Vision of the Dhamma and there he says Equanimity is the most important of all the virtues.

So what are the qualities of Equanimity, uppekha ? The word has animus as its basis. Animus is part of the trilogy that makes up a sentient being: corpus/body,  animus/heart and mind and spiritus/spirit or as we would say Nibbana or the Buddha Within. We tend to think the mind with thoughts and imaginings and the heart with emotions and moods to be separate, but they work together. Perception always arises with feeling and vice versa.

So, equanimity has two sides - an intellectual and an emotional side. Intellectually it means not to hold on tightly to any view or opinion, but to see whatever one believes is but a perspective. It limits the conceit of I am right and everyone else is wrong! Emotionally it means that we are not biased by acquisitiveness, aversion, fear or preference. These are the qualities you would expect of a judge – not to be seduced by bribery or some sort of personal gain, not to be swayed by clever arguments from lawyers, not to be afraid of threats, not to be biased towards the accused by dislike or aversion and have no preference as to the verdict of the jury. It leads to composure, to an unrufflable poise.

This becomes obvious when we consider the Climate Crisis. What I do that affects the climate impacts on every other being and vice versa. Equanimity prevents us from becoming panicking preppers, people who are building up supplies and bunkers for future disasters. It undermines fear and anxiety of imagined future scenarios, although frankly what’s happening to temperatures, fires and floods doesn’t leave much to the imagination. It stops us from being angry with deniers and helps us maintain an attitude of whatever the outcome I shall remain true to my principles. This has been tackled by Noirin in her Tips for the Newsbyte around the Six Maxims.

This attitude naturally develops a calmness, a tranquillity, an inner composure, a serenity.
 
As to all the other social virtues, the balanced heart and mind, stops them falling into their subtle enemy.  Metta, love or goodwill, can easily fall into attachment whereby we become dependent on the other, possessing them and presuming them to always please us;  compassion can be distorted by pity, feeling sorry for someone which may mean we give them preferential attention or if in the caring services preferential treatment, and there is also the danger of falling into the do-gooder trap; joy easily slips into excitement. We’ve all had the experience of a party or holiday where we have said we must do this again and the second time it has lost the sparkle. Equanimous joy stops us believing we can repeat experiences. It means we can just enjoy something, appreciate it and then let to go. Equanimity stops courage falling into foolhardiness; humility from becoming humbleness, false self-effacement. Take any virtue and equanimity will stop it falling into its subtle enemy.

Equanimity, however, also has its subtle enemy and passes of as cool indifference, aloofness, apathy, a lack of concern. The antidote is the applicable virtue. If we feel we lack a sense of caring, for instance, we can develop it through a compassion contemplation.
 
Factors of Enlightenment. The Seven Factors of Awakening or Enlightenment are headed by Sati/Awareness. One teacher said that if you were to choose one word to encapsulate the Buddha’s teaching it would be Sati! This is the supremely important Factor. All other factors are there to establish Right or Correct Awareness. They are paired to balance each other.

Focus or steadiness of attention needs a steady Effort. Interest or curiosity needs to be prevented from becoming excited by Calmness. The Investigation of the Dhamma in vipassana is to clearly see The Three Characteristics of Existence – impermanence, how we create suffering for ourselves, self-inflicted dukkha, and not-self. This is made possible by Equanimity which stops us from becoming emotionally reactive or investigating with some preconceived idea or concept in the mind. Equanimity allows us to stand apart, objective to whatever we are experiencing. It allows the investigative, intuitive intelligence, paññ a , to come from a place where it is not being distorted by acquisitivness, aversion and delusion!

In daily life, these Seven Factors express themselves in how we speak, behave and work. It is the quality of equanimity as a base line that keeps us from over-reacting and supports wise response.        

Vipassana: During vipassana practice, what we are specifically investigating are those Three Characteristics of Existence – impermanence, how we cause suffering for ourselves, dukkha and not-self. We are undermining the delusion which manifests as experiencing continuity especially the sense of self always being there, seeking ways to establish happiness as best and as long as we can, and having a persisting sense that this I, that I sense to be, is really real. Equanimity, especially around these tightly held views, is needed for our effort is to see these delusive perceptions for what they are.

Such equanimity rests upon certain virtues. There must be that interest that finds the investigation fascinating and the courage to look where we may experience truths that frighten us for they undermine that sense of self, 'who I am'. As insights arise, these virtues are strengthened and so the process of vipassana, to see and understand the causes of unsatisfactoriness, becomes even more alluring.

From a transcendent viewpoint , all human beings are seeking the end of Dukkha, suffering and unsatisfactoriness. Since what prevents them to achieve this is a delusion, it is inevitable that at some time, the veil of misunderstanding will fall away for the Dukkha itself forces us to seek the end of Dukkha. And that is what we mean by Nibbana, unshackling the bonds that bind us to Samsara, the relentless cycles of days, months, years and lifetimes, driven by the insatiable Self.

So we can see equanimity is as the base line as on a cardiogram. Whatever the strength or rapidity of the beat, the heart always falls to a resting place. How can we develop this virtue in daily life?

As usual there has to be some practice that begins to develop an attitude. We are all familiar with the Metta Practice. So, in the same way we choose a set of words and begin to wish these qualities for ourselves and all the categories we go through with Metta.

May I be :      calm – this refers to a physical relaxation, loosening bodily tensions and with it calming the heart. Using the outbreath to relax.
                        Peace-loving – this refers to the attitude of always wanting to engender an underlying sense of safety and peacefulness
                        Open – this refers to our attitude towards others, receiving their opinions, even if supported with strong emotion and not refusing to listen, but to engage.
                        Composed – this is our basic posture, a serene, unruffled poise (as best we can!)

You may think of other qualities to add.

Once you have your set of attributes, go through all the categories.

Then, the hard bit, taking it out into daily life. Keep drawing ourselves down into that composed state –  before eating, before meeting, before a phone call, before doing anything.

It is just another habit, like any other habit we can develop it if we will it.

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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  Gwen Sanderson
Limited Company Number  05924965  Registered Charity Number  1116668
Satipanya Buddhist Trust Satipanya White Gritt, Minsterley Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY5 0JN United Kingdom
T:  +44 (0)1588 650752
info:  [email protected]

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