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The latest from Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project
Newsletter #8, Mar 2017
> "Real Dhamma" with Ajahn Brahm, 2017
> Ayya Anandabodhi and Ven Canda teach together in June!
> Talks and retreats with Ven. Canda
> Bear Awareness: A Letter from Ven. Canda at Aloka Vihara
> Shaving heads for the Bhikkhuni Sangha
> Volunteer bookkeeper needed
 

Dear friends,

We are blessed again this year with another visit from our Teacher and Spiritual Adviser! If you missed out on Ajahn Brahm's programme last time, or want to practice in his kind-full presence again, (afterall, meditation's supposed to be addictive!), then set aside some holiday time between 10th and 18th October.

The tour, entitled "Real Dhamma," will comprise a lively assortment of talks and mini-retreats, similar to last year, with a trip to Manchester thrown in. We aim to have the full schedule out by mid-April.

No doubt Ajahn's visit will enable us to take a few more steps towards establishing our Bhikkhuni monastery in the UK.

Ayya Anandabodhi & Ven Canda teaching in June!

Ayya Anandabodhi has very kindly agreed to share her wisdom and lend her support to Anukampa by co-teaching with Ven Canda, during her family visit home. For those who don't know this wonderful Bhikkhuni- one of our team of valued advisers- a short biography is given below:

Ayya Anandabodhi encountered the Buddha’s teachings in her early teens, igniting a deep interest in the Buddha’s Path of Awakening. She lived and trained as a nun in Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist monasteries in England from 1992 until 2009, when she moved to the US to help establish Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women. She now resides at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, California. Her practice and teaching are guided by early Buddhist scriptures and through nature’s pure and immediate Dhamma. In 2011 she took full Bhikkhuni Ordination, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this path given by the Buddha.

Programme:

9th June, 7.30-9.30pm: Meditation, Dhamma Talk: "Meeting the Dhamma Within" and Dhamma discussion at Thames Buddhist Vihara.

11th June, 10am-5pm: One day retreat at Primrose Hill Library, London Insight, "The Courageous Heart."

Retreat Description: The Buddha pointed us to turn towards the challenges of our lives and understand them as a way to find freedom and release. With a little courage and great kindness we can turn to face the patterns that keep us stuck and begin to transform them in the light of awareness.  

This day will be held in noble silence as a support for deepening. We will offer guided meditations and Dhamma reflections, times of silence and a chance to ask questions. Sitting meditation will be interspersed with standing and walking.

Places are limited so please register here, as soon as possible.

All donations from the talk and retreat will go to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project.

Talks and retreats with Ven Canda 

On 7th January, Ven. Canda was invited to talk about her spiritual journey at Jill Satterfield's yoga teacher training course in San Francisco and a recording of the talk, "Letting Go Into What Life Asks", is now available on our YouTube channel. Jill takes a deeply meditative, integrative approach to yoga, and this was evident in her student's depth of interest in meditation and the topics discussed. Topics include reconciling science and religious dogmatism, finding ones path, and working with doubt. Ven. Canda also led a "Guided Body Sweep with Metta Chanting".

Upcoming talks and retreats with Ven Canda:

4th April, 7-8.30pm:
Dhamma Evening: "Developing a Soft Mind"
New York Insight, Sixth Street Community Centre, Manhattan, USA

15th April, 3-7.30pm:
Afternoon Meditation Workshop: "Befriending Our Inner World"
Leicester Buddhist Vihara, 9 Una Ave, Braunstone Town, LE3 2GS, UK

How often do we view our body, thoughts and emotions as enemies that need to be conquered or subdued? Together we will investigate how to make friends with our inner world, through Dhamma reflections, guided meditations, sutta discussion and opportunity for Q&A.

Bear Awareness: A Letter from Ven Canda at Aloka Vihara

One sunny day after the last snow melt I am drawn deeper into the forest for the mornings' meditation. A welcoming breeze rustles through tall pines and dappled sunlight softens the scene. I find a well-placed bench, sit down and close my eyes. My mind rests gently and effortlessly with the breath...for a time.

I soon realise I'm unfamiliar with this landscape; its animals and perculiar sounds. I've heard tales of bears and mountain lions, but so far only encountered timid deer. Anyway, bears must be hibernating now. Still, I do wonder, who made those claw marks on the bench? Oh! That's right; probably a racoon.

It strikes me that the stirring of fear is largely a response to the unknown; one of the ways 'Mara' (the personification of troublesome mental states) imprisions the mind. In an "I know you mara!" moment, I see the fear for what it is. Sure enough it dissipates, leaving heightened awareness and ease in its wake.

Continuing to meditate, I recall tales of forest monks practicing in tiger terrain, and brave bhikkhunis who often confronted the most dangerous animal of all- the human being. In the Buddhas day, an enlightened Bhikkhuni named Subha was accosted by a man in the forest, who became creepily obsessed with her 'bashful doe-like eyes.' With a mind unattached to her body, she promptly gouged out an eye, saying "take it, its yours!"* Needless to say, this fellow quickly came to his senses and realised his mistake (and for those who like happy endings, her sight was later restored!)

Inspiring though these reflections are, I can't deny that there's a strange sound, which sounds like a rumble- even a growl. I keep my eyes closed, but there it is again- distant for sure, but behind me! If a bear appeared would I run or stay put? I decide I'd like the chance to leave early.

With 'bear awareness' I turn around and am astonished to discover the source of this sound- two humming birds in a bush! Perception turned a harmless hum into a growl! I have a good laugh at my mind and go on to enjoy a pleasant day's practice.

That evening I relate this story to an American friend and casually mention the claw marks. She tells me she once found the bench over-turned. Knowing a racoon wouldn't be able to lift it, she did some research into animal marks and discovered that they belong to a bear! Id better go down to the woods again soon, before the bears start looking for their post-hibernation picnic!

*Subha of the Jivakamba Grove', in 'Therigatha, Poems Of The First Buddhist Women', translated by Charles Hallisey.

Enlightened Times Article

This season, the official BSWA newsletter, aptly named 'Enlightened Times' will run a feature-length article on Anukampa and Ajahn Brahm's UK tour. You can join the BSWA here as a member and receive their quarterly newsletters.

Shaving heads for the Bhikkhuni Sangha

Veronica, a brave and generous young lady from Perth, has come up with a novel idea for her birthday this year. She has decided to forgoe gifts- and her lovely long hair- to raise funds for the Bhikkhuni Sangha! If you would like to sponsor this noble endeavour, click here.

Volunteer Book-Keeper Needed!

We are looking for a volunteer to assist our treasurer by helping with the accounts as a book-keeper. If you are interested in more information about this role, please click here.

As time unfolds we will be looking for volunteers in other capacities to enrich our team, so please keep your eye out for opportunities to make excellent kamma!

With loving-kindness,
The Anukampa team

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