New Moon Update: April 2021
Today, Sunday 11th, is the New Moon day for the month of April 2021. The next Uposatha Day will be the Full Moon, which falls on Monday 26th April.
Winter Retreat for 2021 is over, spring is here, and gradually life at the monastery is entering a somewhat more active mode. Tan Samvaro has already moved to live at Cittaviveka Monastery in West Sussex for one year and Tan Mahesako has taken over as our work master. Tan Sucinno remains as the kitchen overseer and is the go-to person if you have any questions about making food offerings.
As the UK in general inches towards increased openness we are looking at when, and to what degree, we can relax restrictions. We have ongoing consultations with a number of informed friends and supporters and although it is tempting to move faster, on balance, it seems better if we wait a bit longer. Sadly, as was mentioned in the 'Spring Update' message, this means that once more we will not be marking the traditional South and Southeast Asian New Year (Songkran).
I am sure this is disappointing for those of you who are used to enjoying the gatherings at the monastery and I apologise if anyone thinks we are being too cautious. It is a balancing act. Our preferences tell us what we like to hear, and if we are not sufficiently alert we are convinced by them. In a talk I gave last Saturday 3rd April called, Including the Sense of Self , I attempted to lead a contemplation on the theme of how we relate to our desires. Unfortunately, many Buddhists hold to a view that desire is the cause of suffering. On a conceptual level something like that is true, however in terms of actuality it is clinging to desires - i.e. craving - that causes us suffering, not desire itself. And until we bring mindfulness into the whole body-mind we are unlikely to understand this point. As a result we can be fighting our desires in a futile effort to be free from them. Wanting to get rid of desire is like wanting to get rid of fire. There is nothing wrong with fire if it is contained in a fireplace. There is nothing wrong with wanting if it is informed by right understanding. Desire is a movement and if we are attentive we can observe that movement. Going for refuge to the Buddha means abiding as that observer. From this perspective, even if we desperately want this pandemic to be over, even if we want to be able to visit friends again, the wanting does not have to be a cause for suffering. Pain is one thing; resisting pain is suffering.
Though the monastery is still not open to the public the live-streaming of our Evening Puja is up and running again, 6 nights a week. I hope you will join us.