New Moon Update: June 2021
Today, Wednesday 9th, is the New Moon day for the month of June 2021. The next Uposatha Day will be the Full Moon which falls on Wednesday 25th June.
What a difference a few weeks and a bit of sunshine makes. The clematis are flowering, the birds are singing and several good friends joined us for a thoroughly productive and pleasing lake work day. Their company and their contribution - the first time in over a year - was indeed welcome. Work continues apace on reconstructing the Memorial Garden and Tan Mahesako has been repointing the capping stones on the main Dhamma Hall building. Another lake work day is planned for the end of this month of June. Please check our calendar for up to date information.
As mentioned in the UPDATE on 16th May, the vestibule to our Dhamma Hall is open again and available for anyone wishing to make offerings. The situation with guests staying keeps changing depending on what the government allows and various other variables. It is still important to remember that there are some older and vulnerable people living here on Harnham Hill and this helps inform the decisions that we take. For the latest details please go to the VISITING and STAYING page of this website.
It won't be long before we enter our annual Rains Retreat (vassa) and this year Samanera Jotisaro has the good fortune or being able to spend it with the sangha at Amaravati. Bhikkhu Atthadassi, who is usually resident at Amaravati, will be joining us here for that same time. Also expecting to join us before long is Bhikkhu Samacitto, a young German monk presently living at Wat Pah Nanachat in Thailand. He and Ajahn Kevali are currently working their way through the complexities arising out of the Covid pandemic and Brexit. Being caught up in wanting things to be straightforward is a source of suffering.
In a talk called Bowing to Suffering that I gave on 29th May, I suggested that we would do well to pay attention to the way we view the struggles of life. When, for example, we feel disappointed, whether it be triggered by apparently burdensome bureaucracy or a workman not turning up when he said he would, that feeling of disappointment is ours to deal with. It does not belong to anyone else. If we fail to pay close attention to these things we can easily become caught in reacting in ways that only increase suffering. If we heed the Buddha's encouragement in these matters we might find that suffering is not a sign that we are failing, rather it could be a message saying, 'pay attention here'. The pain that we experience when we stub our toe is an important message: we need to pay attention otherwise our foot could become infected. The pain is not wrong. When we experience emotional pain, such as disappointment, likewise, it is an important message. Our heart is hurting for a reason and the Buddha pointed out that so long as we ignore such hurt we remain unaware and susceptible to further suffering. Hence his teaching, 'It is through not seeing two things that you remain lost: not seeing suffering and not seeing the cause of suffering.'
Obviously a great many people have been experiencing a lot of suffering lately and my raising this aspect of the Buddha's teaching risks appearing insensitive. On the other hand, if we don't realize now that life is not an endless picnic, then when will we? Thankfully there are times when we can enjoy a nice picnic, however when the picnic is over, are we ready for what comes next? Sooner or later, 'what comes next' will be apparently burdensome bureaucracy, or some other sort of suffering. It is up to us whether we accept responsibility for how we feel and learn from it, or miss the opportunity and fall into blaming. Fortunately we have spiritual teachings that show us in very practical ways how to ready ourselves so as to be able to get this all important message: clinging and getting lost in any experience, joyous or sorrowful, spoils things. The Buddha taught that by understanding just this much, letting go of suffering can happen naturally. So, it is not only to the Buddha image that we bow, suffering also is our teacher.
Luang Por Munindo