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The latest from Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project
Newsletter # 23  June, 2019

Sign Up For Ajahn Brahm's Talks!
> "Love To Break All Boundaries": Winter Retreat
Monastic Visitors; Monastery Visits
> What Happens Next?
Property and Steward Volunteers Needed!
A Rich Teaching Month on YouTube
"Let The Light Shine" With Your Free Book
Retreats: Stairways to Heaven and Beyond!


Dear <<First Name>>

 

We hope you are well. We are happy to be in contact after a busy few months getting stuck into monastery-making!

This update shares the progression of our journey towards our Forest Monastery, what is needed to proceed and the joyful beginnings we have already made. Sign up for Ajahn Brahm's talks if you haven't done so already; join me (Ven Canda) for a winter metta retreat; and find my latest teachings ("Compassion and The Inner Tyrant" and more) and your free book, below, to "Let The Light Shine" a little more brightly in your heart and on your day.

Sign Up For Ajahn Brahm's Talks!

 

Tickets are still available for Ajahn Brahm's talks, as part of his fourth UK tour from 22nd to 30th October, 2019.

Once again, Ajahn is teaching in the UK to support Anukampa’s monastery aim, which, as you can read below, continues to make good progress. We still need your support to serve up larger helpings of wisdom, peace and joy and so would be grateful for help in spreading word of these events. Please download our lovely poster, designed by Amanda, or contact team@anukampaproject.org for a high resolution, printable copy of the same.

Yoga centres, Universities, funky cafes and of course your local Buddhist Centres and Dhamma groups might be good places to post the news, in addition to social media outlets.




Here are the direct bookings links to the only talks with remaining places (the talk on 22nd October is open to all on a donation basis):

23rd Oct, 2 - 4pm: "It's Not Your Fault!" October Gallery, Russel Square
23rd Oct, 7 - 8.30 pm: "Kamma Without Belief" Wolfson College, Oxford
24th Oct, 6.45 - 8.45 pm: "Celebrating the Ordinary" Bermondsey
27th Oct, 7 - 9.30pm“Words That Heal & Words That Harm" Baker Street

once again kindly sponsored our Kairos retreat and we express our heartfelt gratitude to them. May you all find unshakable inner peace.

"Love To Break All Boundaries"

 

Winter Retreat with Ven Canda, 8th-14th December

 

Metta, or loving kindness, is a boundless quality of heart that embraces all beings, including oneself. Metta overcomes the tensions that arise from human interaction, by gradually dissolving the forces of selfishness at their root. It is therefore a great peace-maker and promoter of harmony.

The Buddha said that whatever one frequently reflects upon becomes the inclination of one's mind (Dvedavitakka Sutta). This retreat will encourage the flourishing of loving kindness as a way of relating to our experience and as a systematic cultivation that dissolves the barriers we erect between "self" and "other."

Metta seals and other furry creatures can help to get the loving feelings flowing!

As we learn to incline away from harmful states of mind through loving kindness, the heart opens to ever deeper experiences of well-being and calm, which provide a powerful basis for insight.

During this retreat you’ll:

  • be living in community with like-minded people, sharing experiences and tasks, including the making of meals and taking care of the house
  • experience guided meditations and periods of silence and quiet contemplation
  • have a single-occupancy room and your own space in which to rejuvenate, with free time to deeply rest and reconnect with yourself
  • have access to 24-hour hot teas, coffee & infusions in the kitchen
  • be able to explore the beautiful Sharpham Estate, set within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to nature, amid breath-taking scenery on the banks of the River Dart
  • Bookings and more information here


Views from the Barn Retreat Centre, to soothe and uplift the heart 

Monastic Visitors; Monastery Visits

 

Anukampa Residence and her nun were blessed with a monastic visitor in May. A dear friend, Ajahn Brahm (-avara!) is a Siladhara nun trained at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries. We had much to enjoy sharing, such as the trajectory of our monastic lives, animated Dhamma discussion and the overall uplift of spiritual friendship. Ajahn's total years in robes out number mine by two, so although she is not fully ordained, it felt natural to both of us to express our mutual respect.

Not only were Ajahn Brahmavara and I in India for many years in the 90's, meditating on long courses with our first teacher S.N Goenka, we were still as-yet-unknown to each other (except through common friends) when in 2001 ~ON THE SAME DAY~ we both independently asked Goenkaji's advice about ordaining. She was advised to seek a Burmese or Thai monastery, whilst I asked whether the inequality between nuns and monks would change, to the obvious reply that "everything changes!"  This was at Dhammadipa Vipassana Centre in England, where I had been serving retreats with the then Susan's mother! I eventually ordained in Burma (2004 for three months, then 2006 ongoing); she in the Wat Pa Pong lineage at Amaravati in 2004. We finally became friends some years later and our unpredictable journeys continue to unfold and interweave...

 Another story of reuniting with a monastic friend~ this time in Tilorien Monastery in the Belgian Ardennes. Ven Vimala and I met when I was serving a retreat with Goenkaji around 2000 and during the four years I lived in Burma they visited Thephyu Monastery twice and took temporary ordination for a month each time. Later they ordained as an Anagarika at Anenja Vihara then came to Santi Forest Monastery, where I was then residing in 2013.

Fast-forward several years and we both find ourselves pioneering monastic communities back in Europe, which neither could have foreseen. Exchanging notes on the challenges involved, we agreed it was better we didn't know then what was in store! I enjoyed the peace of the monastery and practicing metta meditation with Ven Vimala's simple, clear instructions based on Ajahn Maha-Chatchai's method. 

Heartfelt thanks to everyone at Tilorien~
until we meet again!

What Happens Next?


As our first innings (or "nunnings" ;-)) at Anukampa Bhikkhuni Residence draw to a close, I feel great satisfaction reflecting on the success we have had!

The three years of ground-work that preceded getting our first base in Oxford included forming a Trust; registering as a religious and educational charity; ongoing networking, team-building and publicity; and, of course, organising those special annual teaching tours. Accomplishing this without a base was physically demanding and this year we were ready to put down roots. This was not without some trepidation, as we lacked the ordinarily essential support of a lay steward. The implications of this are quite fundamental as Theravada monastics can neither handle money nor cook!

A renunciates' life by nature involves leaning into risks and this can keep practice very alive and wonder-full. That my basic needs have been met, time and again, by kind, generous people who treasure the Dhamma, gives me enormous faith in human nature and the hearts' calling to be free. At a practical level, our situation enabled me to offer space to more guests than would have otherwise been possible, resulting in a vibrant and truly participatory atmosphere. People of various backgrounds, 



identities and ages; from neighbouring villages to as far afield as Hawaii; came to feed me and meditate~ and in doing so helped co-create the flavour of our community. Inspired by this, I have relished sharing Dhamma reflections and sensing the energies of stillness and joy building up, as though gradually permeating the very bricks and mortar of our abode. In addition to several practice days on site, I led a well-attended day retreat for Oxford Insight in May and hosted several of their evening events, which were a delight. (Recordings below). 

Last month, wishing to harness the momentum made, Anukampa's trustees and I began to explore options for buying property in Oxford. With pleasant streets, abundant riverside parks, accessibility from London and the Midlands and a good Dhamma scene, Oxford is suitable for the stage we are at. Moving to the country-side would be feasible only with long-term admin & maintenance support ~ and ideally a fellow nun! Our logic was that staying longer here might give us chance to develop a more permanent team on the ground, before moving somewhere more rural.  (Drawing courtesy of Anna-Mari ;-))

Two of the Oxford properties I viewed had good potential, but a couple of limiting factors emerged:

1. Legal areas requiring further investigation, including whether we are exempt from or required to pay stamp duty (tens of thousands, comparable to two years' rent) and practical/ legal implications of operating as a Residence or Public Place of Worship.

2. Absence of a trustee or responsible person in the local area to coordinate and oversee necessary renovation or building work, to ensure suitability and a sensible investment.


Prospective property hunting in Oxford- good to know what is around...

With the rains retreat approaching and the time-factor involved in resolving the above, we have now decided to put aside buying in favour of continuing to rent. Although I would love to have forged ahead and created facilities for small residential retreats in Oxford, I am reminded of Ajahn Brahm's wise adage that "careful patience is the fastest way"  (on so many levels, so true)! 

So, we are pleased to share good news that a new lease will be signed on our current abode and from November we can welcome you back! This will give us continuity as well as time to actively search for Oxford-based volunteers to assist me with admin and help with any future property investigations and renovations.

For more information on getting involved, please see the next section, below.


Not far from town: relaxing walks along the River Thames, near Port Meadow, Oxford

Property Management and Steward Volunteers Neeeded!

 

On of these roles might suit you if you would like to be more closely involved as part of our community.

1. From November onward, we require an Oxford-based volunteer with experience in property development, to help hunt for properties and accompany Ven Canda to prospective viewings. In the event of buying property, you would be responsible for organising and overseeing any renovation work, in cooperation with the Trustees. It is an advantage if the volunteer can represent Anukampa’s interests with the Oxford Council.

2. Ven Canda is looking for an admin volunteer to assist with guest bookings, website updates, publicity, and more. The role is likely to include some shopping, cooking and cleaning too, although shorter-term guests will be mostly responsible for this. There will be around 5 hours work daily (though more or less depending on the time of the year) and ample opportunity for daily meditation and Dhamma studies. It is essential that you have had experience living in monastic or other Buddhist communities, have some computer skills and are committed to working harmoniously as part of a team. A short term stay will provisionally be required.

If either of these roles appeal, please contact:
team@anukampaproject.org and give a short presentation of yourself, how much time you have available and why you would like to be considered for either of these roles. 

With kind regards, on behalf of Anukampa Trustees

A Rich Teaching Month: YouTube Talks

 

May you enjoy the latest talks from Ven Canda!
 
Suffering Is A Cause For Happiness (5 talks)
(Day Retreat on 11.05.19)

Wise Companionship (1 talk) (29.04.19)

Creating Peace Through Wise Speech (3 talks) (13.05.19)

Compassion and The Inner Tyrant (3 talks) (20.05.19)

Let The Light Shine! 

 

 

Reminiscent of the ancient Indian Therigatha (Verses of the Women Elders) and the Chinese Biqiuni zhuan (Lives of the Bhikkhunis), this book gathers the reflections, insights and life stories of present-day bhikkhuni pioneers as the Buddha’s teaching breaks new ground in new lands. Like the unique variety of characters in the ancient texts, you will find here a treasure trove of knowledge, vision and understanding gleaned from practice—each reflection a doorway that shines light upon the path. May that light illuminate the brilliance of your heart. May the words contained herein be a blessing for your practice. Download the free PDF HERE

Retreats: Stairways to Heaven And Beyond!


References to Led Zeppelin aside, this beautiful photograph of Bodhinyana Monastery, courtesy of Matt Gibson, shows a genuine stairway to heaven! Ascending these steps and turning left brings one to the wonderful Dhamma-infused Meditation Hall, right next to Ajahn Brahm's cave, which for me is one of the best places to meditate in the world.

This year beginning on 16th July, I look forward to one of the highlights of the retreat, happening every two weeks, when the Bhikkhunis of Dhammasara monastery attend the Wednesday night talks and the whole Perth Sangha together chant (with gusto!) the first teachings of the Buddha. These three cardinal suttas, (Dhammacakkappavattana, Anattalakkhana and Adittapariyaya Suttas), respectively elucidate The Four Noble Truths; non-self; and how the six sense consciousnesses- eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind consciousness- are "on fire" with craving, aversion and confusion (lobha, dosa, moha).

Reflecting on these teachings encourages the mind to turn inward to find a different source of happiness- the bliss of stillness in deep meditation, perhaps akin to the "heavenly realms." Led Zeppelin probably hadn't heard the Buddha teach that even such heavens are limited and temporary and complete freedom lies beyond any fabricated state!

May we keep gently, persistently treading this exalted Path, to experience ever deeper contentment, until every last remnant of suffering fades away. 

May we all experience the highest happiness of Nibbana!


With deep loving kindness, gratitude and best wishes until we meet in Autumn,

Ven Canda and the Anukampa Team

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