Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cutting through Ego - The Extraordinary Practice of the Chod

Chöd Easter Retreat at Namgyal Gar South - Cutting Through The Ego. April 17 - 21, 2014.

The Chöd is a profound method for cutting through the ego and our attachment. It is an extraordinary teaching that unifies the essence of the Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen Teachings.

The way to practice Chöd, as well as the name itself, originates from the female teacher Machig Labkyi Drönma.

Led by authorised Base Level Santi Maha Sangha teacher, Angie Gilbert, this retreat is suitable for experienced practitioners as well as newcomers sincerely interested in the Dzogchen Teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.

The retreat will focus on learning the different aspects of Chöd and understanding the importance of applying presence and awareness - the tools we use to observe the way in which our attachment and ego arises through our thoughts and emotions.

It is through presence and awareness that we discover how our attachment blocks us from discovering true peace and harmony.

During this retreat, as well as learning the different aspects of the Chöd practice,we will also be using various methods from “The Precious Vase”, the Base text of Santi Maha Sangha, to work with our attachment.

Led by authorised Base Level Santi Maha Sangha teacher, Angie Gilbert, this retreat is suitable for experienced practitioners as well as newcomers sincerely interested in the Dzogchen Teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.

The retreat will commence 17th April at 7.30pm
and there will be 2 sessions per day, morning and afternoon on 18 - 20 April.

Please bring your drum and bell if you have these.

Lama Tsultrim Allione (student of Namkhai Norbu Rinopoche) has written a biography about Machig Labdron in her book Women of Wisdom.

Her latest book, Feeding Your Demons, shows how to use the principles of Chod practice in everyday life.

Retreat Registration and Accommodation / Travel information: Viki Forscutt The Secretary

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Transforming confusion into wisdom

How can you shift the sense of confusion you sometimes feel upon waking into a new day with a sense of anxiety about who you are, where you are, what the hell you are doing in your life?

The Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, is someone I always turn to when morning anxieties clutch me in their grip. Her YouTube clips are just a click away and can be a great meditative antidote to your morning malaise.

One of my YouTube favorites  - view Smile at Fear here.

Pema Chodron met her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1972. He is credited as being the first to bring Tibetan Buddhism to the west, setting up centres in Scotland, USA and Canada including the first Buddhist University in the west — Naropa University in Colarado. (The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets at Naropa founded by poets Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Diane Di Prima became a hub for the Beat Poets).

 Pema became one of Trungpa Rinpoche's main students and since his death in 1987 she has been instrumental in carrying on his vision, establishing an abbey for monks and nuns at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. She also teaches in the US and her books have become best sellers: “The Wisdom of No Escape”, “Start Where You Are”, “When Things Fall Apart”, “The Places that Scare You”, “No Time to Lose” and “Practicing Peace in Times of War”, and most recently, “Smile at Fear”. All are available from Shambhala Publications as well as CDs and DVDs.

Even just glancing at one of her quotes is enough to set you right for the day.
You can find an abundance of them at Goodreads.

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. (10)”
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”
Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World 

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

Writer/performer Jan Cornall has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for 25 years. 

(c) Jan Cornall 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy Tibetan New Year

The word Losar is a Tibetan word for New Year. LO means year and SAR means new. Tibetans celebrate their New Year as Losar. The Tibetan New Year is commemorated on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which usually falls in the month of January or February or even in March.

The celebration of Losar can be traced back to the pre-Buddhist period in Tibet. During the period when Tibetans practiced the Bon religion, every winter a spiritual ceremony was held, in which people offered large quantities of incense to appease the local spirits, deities and protectors. The Losar is celebrated even now with lots of fervor among the Tibetan Bon Practitioners here in Exile too. This religious festival later evolved into an annual Buddhist festival which is believed to have originated during the reign of Pude Gungyal, the ninth King of Tibet. The festival is said to have begun when an old woman named Belma introduced the measurement of time based on the phases of the moon. This festival took place during the flowering of the apricot trees of the Lhokha Yarla Shampo region in autumn, and it may have been the first celebration of what has become the traditional farmers' festival. It was during this period that the arts of cultivation, irrigation, refining iron from ore and building bridges were first introduced in Tibet. The ceremonies which were instituted to celebrate these new capabilities can be recognized as precursors of the Losar festival. Later when the rudiments of the science of astrology, based on the five elements, were introduced in Tibet, this farmer's festival became what we now call the Losar or New Year's festival.

A month before the festival arrives, people get engrossed in cleaning their home thoroughly removing every bit of dirt and whitewashing them new. The most attractive and finest decorations are put all across the house and elaborate offerings are made on the family alter. The older prayer flags are replaced with fresh colorful ones. New clothes are made for every member of the family. Eight different auspicious symbols are displayed wherever possible, representing the different offerings made by the Gods to the Buddha, after his enlightenment.
Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is a three-day festival that combines sacred and secular practices of prayers, ceremonies, hanging prayer flags, sacred and folk dancing and partying. A month in advance, homes are painted, new clothes are stitched, debts and quarrels are resolved, good food is cooked and intoxicants are drunk in the run-up to New Year's Day. Homes are decorated with flour paintings of the sun and moon, and small lamps are illuminated in the houses at night. Moreover, the eight auspicious symbols are drawn on the walls using white powder although presently in exile the drawing of the eight auspicious symbols are not done since it requires an professional artist to draw them, however the walls of the home would be having the symbols either as wall hangings or on their doorway curtain or on their family alter. In the monasteries, the monks honor the protector deities with devotional rituals. The first few days of festivities are exclusively family affairs, as are the first days of the New Year. Later, the festivities roll out onto the streets and others.

Thanks to Tibet Homestay for making the above information available on their website.
Read more here

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

About Everyday Enlightenment

We all know the expression: 'being in the present moment' but how often do we manage to put it into practice?

This blog is a place for gathering and sharing different methods, tips and tricks for finding the way in to present awareness.

Many of us already use meditation, dance, performance, walking, swimming, fishing, surfing, skiing or haiku writing to get there.

Here we explore all these methods and more.

Please feel free to contribute your own experiences and techniques in our comments section below.

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh