hilltop newsletter

New Moon Newsletter: Thursday, November 22nd, 2022

Today, Thursday 22nd, is the New Moon day for the month of December 2022. The next Uposatha Day will be the Full Moon which falls on Friday, 6th January, 2023.

We are approaching the turning on the year. Saturday, 31st December will be New Year's Eve and Sunday, 1st January, New Year's Day. As was the case prior to the Covid outbreak, many of our friends and supporters mark these occasions by gathering at the monastery. All are welcome. The programme for both days can be found here .

On Sunday, 11th November I offered a talk titled, 'What Do We Identify As .' It was an attempt to offer some clarity for those who are struggling over the question of identity. This modern preoccupation might appear annoying to some and irrelevant to others, but for many it is extremely relevant. From what I can tell the central issue is to do with where we turn to find a sense of security. When we feel insecure, we feel afraid and don't always behave rationally. The model that I presented in that talk suggests we might see the psychological structure of identity as consisting of several dimensions: we are not just one thing. On the surface dimension there are aspects of who we feel ourselves to be that change quite readily, such as our age. These days, aged 71, I am considered as 'older'. It wasn't long ago that I viewed others this age as older and myself as still young. Then, around the middle dimension we could place aspects of our sense of self such as our nationality, gender, and race. Not that they are necessarily all equivalent, but they are not changing surface aspects. Then comes the important core dimension. When we are in a crisis where do we turn? When we are about to die, what are we thinking about? This is the space in our personality that ideally is informed very early on in life with core beliefs that offer a sense of security and stability. Beliefs such as accountability (law of kamma) and where we came from (rebirth). Also views on why we suffer and how to deal with suffering (the Four noble Truths). In other words, from a Buddhist perspective, Right Views. If it happens that teachings that accord with reality - True Principles - are not instilled early on in life, we end up feeling a lack of inner stability. When we are under stress, instead of turning to deeply established beliefs that accord with truth, we are inclined to cling to the less stable middle and surface dimension of our identity. I suggested in that talk that this is partly why so many people find themselves slaves to anxiety: at the core of their being they were not informed with dependable beliefs and end up clinging to things that are inherently insecure. From the feedback I have received the suggestions appear to have been at least somewhat helpful.

The next Lake Work Days will be in the spring and will be announced nearer the time.

In the meantime, our winter retreat starts on 7th January and lasts until 31st March. Friends and supporters who wish to make offerings at the normal mealtime are always welcome. Guest accommodation is not usually available during these months. Anyone wishing to contribute generally towards the winter retreat food, please contact Bee Wan on:
Tel: 07912683576,
Email: gohbee1@hotmail.com

Our annual marking of Ajahn Chah’s memorial day takes place on 16th January, with Puja at 7 pm.

For announcements of Saturday guided meditations, public pujas and dhamma talks please check our online calendar.

With good wishes,

Ajahn Munindo
PS the photo of Harnham Hill, taken from the monastery lake, is from a previous year. These days I don't dare to try to walk down the hill while it is icy.