New Moon Update: December 2020
Today, Monday 14th, is the New Moon day for the month of December 2020. The next Uposatha day will be the Full Moon which falls on Tuesday 29th December.
The doors to our Dhamma Hall vestibule are once more open for visitors to enter to make offerings of dry goods, to collect a calendar or Dhamma book, and to pay their respects at the shrine. Also, please note that the main road up from the A696 is open again.
Those of you who have been joining us for the live-streaming of our Evening Puja might have noticed an extra person in white. On Friday 20th November, Anagarika Gabriel joined the community. These days he is also serving as the monastery kitchen manager. (Tan Sucinno is still the Kitchen Overseer and the go-to person if you have kitchen questions. See details below.)
In one of the recent talks I gave at the monastery I reflected on according with success and failure. The talk was prompted by a phone call from someone who said they knew many meditators who, even after lots of practice, still felt like they were failing. I have also observed how often people speak in disparaging ways about their meditation. This is indeed a pity. The fact that they are making any effort is great. Turning our attention around and going against the stream of conditioning is hard work; however, if we don't do this sort of inner work, we are defined by the conditioning of the past. It is important that we learn to appreciate the effort we are making; similarly to how we would express appreciation for a child who is learning to walk. Particularly during times when we are feeling challenged, outwardly and inwardly, we are more likely to see the painful consequences of taking sides 'for' and 'against' the efforts that we are making - habitually praising and blaming ourselves. If we are attentive in the right way, it is possible to learn from our habits, but this requires acknowledging our tendency to always be judging.
Because of the way our brains have been programmed to look for faults and to try and find ways of improving our situation, it is natural that our minds are critical. But if we believe we are the thinking mind, then we run the risk of becoming compulsively critical; we can't stop criticizing and comparing. Our critical faculties have the potential to protect us, but if we are not developing a right understanding in regards those faculties, they have the power to cause inner turmoil. Thankfully we have Dhamma teachings that highlight the value of living with integrity, mindfulness and wise reflection. When these inner capacities are well-developed, there is a chance that we will discover how to step back and observe the thinking mind; begin to see that there is much more to us that thinking. We might also learn to observe the tendency to take sides and, in the process, let go of compulsive judging. Even the compulsive judging mind is something we can step back from and not-judge. 'No judging the judging mind'.
Some of you might be wondering whether we will be observing the approaching New Year's Eve. There will be the normal 7pm puja live-streamed but nothing special at midnight.
Perhaps this is also the time to inform everyone that our annual Winter Retreat begins on Sunday 10th January 2021, and for the following three months the live-streamed evening puja will only take place on Saturday nights. Earlier recordings of evening pujas will still be available at the usual address (on the right underneath the video, where it says 'More from Live - Evening Meditation and Chanting') or you can also click on this link to find a selection of chanting sessions.
May I remind you all again, anyone wishing to come to the monastery to leave offerings should be sure to read this announcement for full details.
If you have any questions or concerns, either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us on 07958 394 796
Our Evening Puja is still live streamed every night at 7pm BST, except Mondays, and you are warmly invited to join us.
With sincere well-wishing,
Luang Por Munindo