Crediton Group

Everyday….is a good day… to wake up!

It’s good to be alive, to be able to breathe, to be able to pray, to be able to practice the dharma.

The compassion which arises from wisdom, like wisdom itself, is not something artificial, so not something  we can construct  by our efforts.

But we can use many methods to soften our sense of being an isolated, separate self…  and bring ourselves into a more healthy orientation with those we see as ‘other’…a deconstruction of our ego-centrality…it’s all about me, mine, and my opinions.

Prayer is one such method… done with full attention the ever- present connection is  energetically illuminated.

Although it is harder now to reach out towards those who are suffering in a physical or  practical way… the prayers and meditations that we do can actually be more beneficial.
 This is a bit hard to realise…  it took me many years… the ego wants to do something to fix situations…
Of course, often that move can be entirely appropriate, the problem arises dependant  on how much  ‘I-Me!‘ is involved in the doing. If the move arises easily (but not habitually) and is released, rather than credit taken, then that’s harmonious with  the dharma, with life.
So no-one one would say ‘please don’t do good things’…
but the direction of  dharma travel, of increasing  wisdom, changes our own conception of what is most valuable beyond the relative notions…
…taking us towards the pure relative…in the direction of the ultimate level of compassion, of the expression of our buddha-nature.
The energetic attention flowing out in the world from our heartfelt prayers does make a difference both to ourselves, as our orientation changes, and to others in the way we relate to them… a much bigger difference than you might imagine is possible through this.
A few days ago I was asked by one of you for some prayers that would be easy to use and easing…
So here are  some daily prayers which you can use if you like…
I used to do the first two immediately I woke up (before getting stuck into ‘thinking about’ my situation!’)

Then sitting up in bed I would  say the Four Immeasurables prayer….

then some meditation before getting out of bed…a good start to the day!

1.

 May I be full of loving-kindness

 May I be well

 May I be peaceful and at ease

 May I be happy

2. 

May all beings be happy, content and fulfilled

May they be healed  and whole

May all have whatever they want and need

May they be protected from harm

and free from fear

May all know inner peace and ease

May they be awakened, liberated, free

May there be peace in our world

and throughout the universe

 

Variations on similar lines say would be:

May no sentient being be unhappy, malicious, or ill,

neglected or despised;

and may no one be despondent

and:

Courage to the fearful,

freedom to the enslaved,

strength to the week, 

mutual affection to all sentient beings

( that’s a prayer from Shantideva’s writing  of the Bodhicaryavatara ’the way of the bodisattva ‘)

3.

The Four Immeasurables  prayer that we say in the group goes like this:

May all beings be happy and know the root of happiness    (love)

May they be free from suffering and cut the root of suffering    (compassion)

May they abide in happiness free from suffering   (joy)

and may they be free from aversion and clinging – feeling close to some and distant from others  (equanimity)

A full explanation of the profundity of this prayer is to be found in macclesfield audio talk 10

An alternative  with the same meaning is:

May all sentient beings be free from aversion and clinging, 

feeling close to  some and distant from others

May they win the bliss that is specially sublime

May they find release from the ocean of unbearable suffering

and maybe they never be parted from freedom’s  true joy

 

In this way we can begin every day with the wish to devote it to the good of all living beings,

 to bring peace and ease into every situation we encounter,

 to be able to develop the spaciousness and qualities – the wisdom and compassion – required to fulfil these wishes.

That should keep us going for a bit…!

If you later wish to take refuge… (i.e. step on the Buddhist path) and take the bodhisattva vow 

there is a brief daily meditation practice (these are the foundational practices from a Buddhist perspective)

and much more!

Just let me know if anything doesn’t make sense and we can talk it through

…but also, if you keep an eye on the Simplybeing.co.uk website Homepage and also Events you will see there is more activity and suggestion coming from James as to how orientate yourself, to be most at ease in and able to work with this particular situation in which we find ourselves operating…

…among which, currently on the right-hand side of the homepage at the top, there are some short  guided meditations…which I recommend for relieving fusion with stress and tension and releasing back to your open state…allowing those movements to flow though without being defined by them.

 

The audio and video recordings of the Macclesfield in February teachings
 are now available …links here   audio video

 

Just let me know if anything you find you need a bit of help ‘unpacking’….

 

all good wishes
wendy

 

Photo credit ‘ Dreamer’ from LoveThisPic … (which describes itself as a  place for people to come and share inspiring pictures, quotes, DIYs, and many other types of photos.)

 

Sunday sitting…?

A few people  have expressed  a wish to come to the group but are too far away for the travelling to and fro to make sense.Some might like a little longer to practice together.

So I’m suggesting that we might meet occasionally on Sunday with a little talk and sit maybe between 10 and 12 then share a bit of food afterwards.

The dates available currently are 11th Aug. 1st Sept and 15th Sept.

R.S.V.P.

The Four Immeasurables

Here is the link to that prayer.

The words in the translation wish for all beings to have happiness and the cause of happiness…
To  be free of sorrow and the cause of sorrow.

Following James’ talk in Macclesfield  this year i have changed the words above that to those he used:  wishing ‘for all beings to know the root of happiness’ and  ‘for them to cut the root of suffering’.

Film club!

Just let me know if you’d like to see a film together and we’ll find a date.

Appointments and disappointments.

I have been thinking about appointments and disappointments, expectations and assumptions…. so whether you are new to the group or an ‘old hand’ I would ask you to read chapter 15 in the book Simply Being by James Low as I think it  is important to explore your own expectations about the Dharma and how it is taught.

Just as a student cannot be known and labelled judged and discussed as if they were  a thing, so neither can a teacher.

It’s wise to check a teachers credentials and important find out if there is a connection and whether you learn anything from them. Later, if issues arise which cannot be integrated then it is appropriate to raise this directly with the teacher. Friends will often confirm each others assumptions or opinions, and then what started out as  a thought can end up as a ‘solid definition’.

If the student is disappointed with the teacher, or the teacher disappointed with the student, this means that one party has made an appointment for another to behave in a particular way, and an expectation has formed which has not been met.

Expectations are usually based on assumptions formed from past experiences mixed with imaginary hopes or fears, yet these can be taken for granted as self-evident truths. ‘You should be this…  or you should not be….!’

Whether you are practising with a hinayana view,  a mahayana view,  or that of a non-dharma practitioner  then a teachers behaviour will  not always fit your frame of reference. This may trouble you but does not necessarily mean that an error has occurred. However if they should get  a bit lost, and teachers are finding their way too,  an apology should be forthcoming.

The dharma is very precise, as a medicine it has been used, tested and proven to be effective over thousands of years. However, as with contemporary medicine where only fifty percent of chronically ill patients take the prescribed medicine correctly, students can forget to take it, double the dose, mix it with other things or apply it incorrectly.  Whilst the dharma teachings are the antidote to the ills of samsara  the patient has to both trust the doctor and take the appropriate medicine regularly for it to work.

Others will have more facts at their finger tips and surely greater teaching skills but I have been given validation, within a lineage, to teach hinayana mahayana and vajrayana buddhism, including dzogchen, by someone who has full authority to do this. If you are unsure about this then you can check with me or with James Low. At the very least, this should mean that you have confidence that from the  dharma point of view there is sufficient realisation and understanding to teach, and that I can be trusted never to be malicious.

I have also completed the Bangor mindfulness teachers training course…this kind of mindfulness is derived from one of the eight stages of the Noble Path practised  in the Hinayana view.

At times i can be teachery and sometimes even preachery but i am also in the process of change!

When the recluse speaks much ’tis on and of “the Way” (zen saying) …

They criticise when he says too much

and when he says too little…

and when he does not speak   (the Dhammapada)

So…it’s genuinely hard to strike the right balance.

But whatever occurs, the Dharma speaks of the truth of impermanence and dependent co-origination (on the basis of this, that arises) so any opinion, view, situation or behaviour is transient and contingent. Learning how to teach is a process and hopefully my skills will increase with practise. James Low teaches in a very different manner now from that which he employed twenty years ago..

So for students all this invites examination of the assumptions they hold about the dharma and the teacher.

In your opinion should the good teacher leave you to travel at your own pace or encourage you?

Should they be always sympathetic and understanding  and never challenge your views?

Should they be kind and gentle or a bit rough and acerbic?

Do they have rules to follow?……

A good teacher will do  what’s appropriate – this will vary…their function is not to fall asleep with you but to help you wake up.

I wrote a verse which relates to this

What we can do with super glue!

Identity is a CV— a story used to limit me, which  stunts my creativity.

If you stick stories onto me you’ll make a shape which seems to be a person of ‘solidity’.

If I bind with your certainty I compromise our liberty and movements are no longer free.

The truth of our reality is openness and vitality displaying momentarily.

So, if ever you’re upset by me the Bristol talk – first MP3 is a perfect  apology.

(the talk is on this web-site under audios and videos)

Growth and change is not easy. If you’ve seen a chick picking its way out of  an egg, a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, or a snake sloughing off its skin you know that perseverance is vital…samsara with just a sprinkling of dharma doesn’t taste too good and is not sustaining.

A student may be keen for a while, even very appreciative of the teachings, however the winds of karma blow and off they go.The teacher cannot hold on to them, they themselves have to do the holding  on until the view becomes not ‘second nature’ but first nature. Progress is not necessarily onwards and upwards. There is hope that students will study, reflect and practice —  that they will respect the Dharma and the efforts of teachers  who for thousands of years have studied practised and made many sacrifices to maintain the continuity of the teachings  but they may not. So teaching also helps the teacher with the  development of equanimity. Thank you if you have contributed to that somewhat uncomfortable process!

We are lucky to have James’ advice and I had a chat with him about the way forward for the group this year. The thinking is to  give a short (15 mins) talk, meditation for half an hour and then study maybe fifteen lines of the Dhammapada. We’ll see how it goes.

As always, if there are issues which you would like to discuss outside of the class i am happy to talk on the phone or meet up with you and have a chat.

best wishes….

Wendy

How should a teacher behave?…

Well…. perfectly! Surely that is obvious.

But what do you mean by ‘perfectly’?

Well… perfectly…  according to the  rulebook in my head.

But if the teacher  shares your  rulebook you might not learn very much from them. As my teacher’s teacher told him —  ‘the buddha is not a “nice man”.’

Awakening to the unborn natural state or ‘buddha nature’ results in a change of operating system…no longer standing apart and judging with a dualistic perspective but responding to dynamic situations with freshness and attunement.

A good teacher acts to wake us up to our attachment to the illusory nature of the fixed patterns we use to create  the duality of samsaric existence. Some will even be kind enough to continue to point out that our shoes are far too tight until we wake up and feel the pain of our blisters, callouses and corms. At the same time they remind us that our feet are naturally beautiful and, with the right kind of dharma massage, these corms and blisters will become wings. Then we will work at freeing ourselves from these shoes and discover the pleasure of walking barefoot and moving through space in different ways!

Depending on your condition these may be the kindest teachers of all, but sometimes they may seem unpleasant. We want them to appreciate our lovely shiny shoes and sympathise with our limp however whilst they see our view  they do not share it —  they see beyond our felt limitations.

On the other hand a teacher may  be just being rather unpleasant; karmic winds can shift a teachers behaviours, so this is something to look at —  can we learn something by engaging with this person as they are and as we feel uncomfortable?

The ego will not readily choose to engage in a struggle where it feels its existence to be threatened but in dharma practice we are engaged in a process of softening and becoming undefended, allowing the ego to be what it is, just an aspect of our awareness,  relaxing to the point  where this awareness is revealed to us.

There is  more on this theme, and  about the relationship between teachers and students  in chapter 15 – The Transmission of the Dharma —   in the book Simply Being by James Low. It is important to try to have a sense of this relationship so please let me know if you have any questions.

I’d also be delighted to hear from you when you have read the preceding chapter, on refuge and bodhicitta…we can formalise taking the taking of refuge and bodhicitta vows  if you would like…and discuss any questions which arise.