hilltop newsletter

New-moon Update - June 2020

Today, Saturday 20th, is the New Moon day for the month of June, 2020. The next uposatha day will be the Full Moon which falls on Sunday 5th July.

Here on Harnham Hill our community has grown somewhat with two new people joining us. After a lot of careful consideration the decision was taken to support Tan Tikkhinyano's flying in from Thailand and Samanera Sucinno’s returning from Cittaviveka. A lot of time and effort, and not an insignificant amount of money, had gone into obtaining a visa for Tan Tikkhinyano, and if he didn't arrive by 7th June there was a likelihood all that would have been lost. As many of you will already know, Samanera Sucinno spent the Winter Retreat at Cittaviveka Monastery in West Sussex and, had it not been for the lockdown, he would have returned here many weeks ago. With the arrival of Tan Tikkhinyano it was convenient for him to return at the same time. They have both spent two weeks in quarantine and thankfully emerged last Tuesday without any symptoms.

However, this latest development does not, I’m afraid, indicate that the monastery is now open to the general public. Although government regulations and guidelines are relaxing, there is still strong advice to be cautious. Hence our decision to wait before opening up. Please do keep checking our website where an announcement will be posted if the situation changes.

Ajahn Punnyo continues to support his mother in Ampleforth and has been making use of this time to improve his understanding of the Pali language. The community at Harnham continue to make use of this period of restrictions to improve our familiarity with traditional chants. The system that was set up when the lockdown began to provide food and medicine etc. continues to be adequate.

In a talk I gave last Saturday called, When We Get To Feel Too Pleased With Ourselves, I offered a reflection on how we might be contemplating the current disruptions in society. Many people are feeling very threatened. As if the pandemic was not already distressing enough, dissatisfaction over issues of injustice and inequality is now being expressed, in some cases aggressively. In that talk I tried to encourage us all to remember that, whatever views we hold about how things should or shouldn't be, if we really want to contribute to a better world then we need to better our own hearts and minds. To that end I spoke about cultivating an inner sense of contentment. The suggestion that we cultivate inner contentment is not to say that appropriate action is not needed, but was to point out that if we lose touch with our inner well-being, then our perspective is likely to be biased and we risk contributing to further imbalance. Even if our views are right, when we cling to them, we lose perspective on the bigger picture. People with differing views also think they are right. Without an appreciation of this fact there is a chance we will just end up pushing against each other. Regularly putting time aside to reconnect inwardly with a sense of ease and clarity, can be like regularly eating food; we stay nourished. It is about optimizing on the opportunities we have to make a difference without compromising Dhamma and without burning out.

In two weeks time, as indicated above, the full moon of July occurs on 5th; the next day being the beginning of our annual Rains Retreat (pansa/vassa). It is possible that during the Rains Retreat, Samaneras Adicco and Sucinno will travel to Amaravati Monastery near Hemel Hempstead, to take part in an upasampada ceremony i.e. be received as monks (bhikkhus) into the sangha, with Ajahn Amaro as their Preceptor. This is not how we would have wished to arrange things but then neither is having a pandemic. So, once again, we make an effort to apply mindfulness and careful reflection and try to accord with the way things are.

Wishing that you are all well in all ways.

Luang Por Munindo