hilltop newsletter

New Moon Update: October 2020

Today, Friday 16th, is the New Moon day for the month of October, 2020. The next uposatha day will be the Full Moon which falls on Saturday 31st October.

So far it seems that a good number of our friends and supporters have been taking the opportunity to visit the monastery and leave offerings in the vestibule to the Dhamma hall. I am pleased about this. Even though we don't get to see you and to speak, I am glad there is now the possibility that you can visit. As far as we are aware, people have been keeping to the protocols of wearing face masks, no mixing of households, and maintaining social distancing. It is also good to see the stack of our 2021 Forest Sangha calendars is going down. Please help yourselves.

There has been a change in arrangements for collecting pots, plates and utensils etc. that donors leave behind. They are now named and laid out underneath the free book distribution display. We should also warn anyone who is thinking of requesting a 'sponsored dana', that these days it is taking significantly longer to receive a delivery from the supermarket. For this and other reasons, although we have said we need ten days notice, it could take longer so we recommend giving as much notice as possible. 

It is understandable that people are feeling frustrated, however, by comparison with what has happened in this part of the country in the past, we are fortunate. One of the longest wars ever fought in Europe took place around here. And before that, invasions by Vikings were not rare. More recently there has been the plague, and then the pandemic of 1918 and the bombings in the 1940s. I mention these incidents cautiously because I am aware that the current pandemic is reeking havoc in many peoples lives, but perhaps it helps us remember that this human existence is not the picnic that Hollywood might make it out to be. 

At a public talk that I once attended in London the speaker was comparing different Buddhist traditions, and commented on how, in his view, the Theravadins focus too much on suffering. I wouldn’t want to comment on all Theravadins, but I would say that it is also possible that we make the mistake of measuring progress in practice in terms of good feelings. Certainly our store house of goodness helps sustains us on our spiritual journey, but temporary good feelings are not the goal. You might be indulging in thoughts of kindness, and they could possibly even be leading to lovely states of concentration, but we mustn't forget the Buddha's teachings: You continue to suffer because you fail to see two things – not seeing dukkha and not seeing the cause of dukkha. We equip ourselves with goodness and a sense of well-being, but we also need to train ourselves to see suffering as a message, and not as a sign of our inadequacy. With the strength and resilience that goodness give us, we train ourselves to fearlessly face dukkha and enquire: ‘What is this suffering?’ ‘What is the cause of this suffering?’ Let's not be intimidated by the values of the casual culture and become caught up in complaining. Life is difficult; it always has been. Momentary happiness can be refreshing and renewing, but let's be careful not to become lost in it.

Once 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 dana@ratanagiri.org.uk or telephone us on 07958  394 796

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The road from the A696 that comes up the front of the monastery is due to be closed for road works from 19th October for approx. 6 weeks. Visitors should use the road that comes from the north i.e. upon leaving the village of Belsay, follow the fork to the right leading towards Bolam lake. If in doubt look at this map before setting out. Be aware that this road up the hill can be muddy and slippery; drive carefully.

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