Dear <<First Name>>,
It's a wholesome pleasure to share more opportunities to deepen in Dhamma! You are a valued member of our flourishing and diverse community of truth-seekers from around the world and I feel grateful to walk the Noble Eightfold Path in such good company.
Eight weeks ago we began our weekly sutta discussion group which is being well-attended by around fifty people, despite restrictions in the UK slowly easing up. Newcomers are still very welcome! I am also enjoying collaborating with my new PA, Gill and project manager, Yvonne, to help fortify foundations for our future Forest Monastery as the physical hub of our community and a haven of peace.
In this letter we bring you three very special events with both Ajahn Brahm and I (Ven Canda):
1. an interview called "Bhikkhuni Ordination & Why It Matters" (1st May)
2. a Vesak Celebration (27th May), and
3. a 7-day Online Retreat (6th-12th December),
in addition to our ongoing regular events.
We also have places still available for Ajahn Brahmali's retreat, (May 26th-23rd), which I will assist. Click here to read more and register.
Firstly, here are the links to our regular zoom teachings:
~1st & 3rd SUNDAYS: Delving Deeply Into Dhamma (no meeting 16th OR 23rd May ~ SPECIAL meeting on 30th May, see below) 7.30 - 9pm BST
Meeting password: 675909&9
~WEDNESDAYS: Pali Chanting & Blessings (no meeting 19th May) 5.30 - 6pm BST
Meeting password: 364195%L
~FRIDAYS: Social & Communal Harmony Sutta Discussion (no meeting 21st May) 7.15 - 8.30pm BST
~2nd & 4th SATURDAYS: Guided Metta & Sharing (no meeting 22nd May) 9-10am BST
Meeting password: 01140!$M
Details and dates also found here: www.anukampaproject.org/events
N.B You will need to be signed in to your personal zoom account to access the meetings. Please refer to our easy guidelines here
Quiet contemplation by the River Cherwell, University Parks, Oxford
"Bhikkhuni Ordination & Why It Matters"
An Interview with Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda
Saturday 1st May, 12.30-2pm BST
New Buddha Way have organised this special event in support of Anukampa. They write: "Ajahn Brahm and Ven Canda are known throughout the Theravada Buddhist world for fine teachings and for opening avenues to women in Buddhism. This event is an honour and a great opportunity to engage in questions and answers with them in a special Zoom event. NBW is delighted to host this event and will invite people from outside NBW itself. It is free but you must register and places are now filling up."
To register please contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
You are welcome to participate by asking probing questions or to simply learn a little more about this important and inspiring subject!
My bhikkhuni ordination, 27th April 2014, along with Vens Upekkha, Gotami & Karunika
"Beautifying The Mind" Day Retreat with Ven Canda
Sun 9th May, 10am - 5pm, for London Insight
Do you sometimes find meditation difficult or frustrating – and simply trying harder doesn’t work? Fortunately, the Buddha knew that because the mind is conditioned, it can be trained. There is nothing wrong with you; most often, obstacles arise because we haven’t put enough preparation in place.
This retreat will explore wise ways of using thought and perception in daily life to beautify and uplift the heart with qualities like gratitude, patience, forgiveness and peace. We will also draw out the often overlooked aspect of mindfulness as “Gatekeeper” and discuss how we might employ it in meditation to keep friends at home and intruders out.
As confidence grows in our ability to incline towards wholesome states, the Noble Eightfold Path may start to appear like a super highway to unconditional happiness, that is applicable and beneficial to every aspect of our life.
The day will be gentle and include periods of sitting and walking meditation, Dhamma reflections and an opportunity for Q&A. Register here
Anukampa Vesak Celebration
With Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda
Thursday 27th May 13:00 – 16:00 BST
This year again we are having a virtual event to celebrate Vesak, the most important day in the Buddhist calendar. Vesak commemorates the birth, enlightenment and Parinibbana (passing away) of the Buddha and it is usually celebrated on the full moon day of May.
Each Buddhist culture has its own traditions of celebrating Vesak, but generally people take the time on this day to observe 8 precepts, reflect on Buddha’s teachings, bring offerings to the Vihara and do wholesome deeds.
Since we still cannot meet in person, we welcome you to join us online via zoom. Be inspired and uplifted by a Dhamma talk and meditation with Ajahn Brahm and Q&A with Ven Canda, renew your commitment to the Buddhist Path by taking the (optional) Refuges & Precepts, and meet old and new Dhamma friends! If you are interested in formally becoming a Buddhist, you could also take this opportunity to make a commitment to living a life of harmlessness on this very special day.
13:00 – 13:45 Dhamma Talk (Ajahn Brahm)
13:50 – 14:30 Guided "Vesak" Meditation (Ajahn Brahm)
14:30 – 14:50 Refuges and precepts (Ajahn Brahm)
14:50 – 15:00 Tea Break
15:00 – 16:00 Q&A, discussion groups, closing metta meditation & blessing (Ven Canda)
Four Important Notes ~ Please read!
1. Full time attendance is necessary as places are limited.
2. Due to an average 25% no-show rate, even at registered events, we will overbook this event by 25%. To be sure you get a place, please arrive early at 12.45pm BST.
3. If you need to cancel at any time, please use the link at the bottom of your booking confirmation email, which includes the Zoom link.
4. Please keep your confirmation email handy - we cannot re-send the link!
Vassa 2021 & Changes Beyond
Over a year since lockdown began, I am reflecting on my great fortune in being comfortably positioned here in Oxford throughout, in what become "The Zoomi Bhikkhuni Headquarters!" Now, as restrictions begin to ease, change is nigh. My time in this pretty University City is coming to a close. The owner of the property had tried to sell the house last year, but was unable to do so due to the pandemic, so in one sense I have had a bonus year here! This has given me a wonderful sense of stability and an opportunity to make lasting connections with people who are now invested in our charitable aims.
As the annual rains' retreat (vassa) is coming up shortly after I leave, the Trustees and I have chosen a quiet rural location for a summer of solitude (see Derek's article below on how you can help support this step). After the retreat, we aim to rent in the vicinity of Stroud; an area only 1.5hrs from both London and Oxford that we think may be suitable for a larger monastery.
The beauty of Zoom means we can continue to connect wherever I am and this season of change feels timely. New places bring new inspiration and ideas and I am excited to see how the community develops. I know that the friends I have made in Oxford will be with me in the next steps, and by moving I will meet many new friends.
Opportunity to Support Our Vassa!
Message from Derek on behalf of Anukampa's admin team
As most of you know, Theravādin monastics rely on the generosity of lay supporters to provide for their needs. Since March 2020 it has hardly been possible for Venerable Candā to receive any guests or in-person food offerings at her residence in Oxford due to the Corona pandemic and lockdown rules. So over the past year, the team of Anukampa admin volunteers have been organising a rota system for people to kindly offer Venerable her weekly grocery shopping, and send it to her via the delivery service, Deliveroo. So many of you have generously written to us to ask to be added to the weekly rota. Thank you so much for your support!
In June, Venerable Candā will be leaving her residence in Oxford, as the owner is selling the property. She will be spending the next 5 months (including the annual rains retreat period from July to October) in a very small cottage in Wiltshire, where she will have the well-earned time for a personal retreat.
During this time, we would very much appreciate your continued support to provide for Venerable Candā's needs. We will continue to make a weekly or bi-weekly rota, but instead of sending donors a shopping list and delivery instructions, we will ask donors to transfer the costs for the weekly shopping, which will then be purchased and kindly delivered to Venerable by one of the Anukampa trustees, as Deliveroo do not deliver to the rural location in Wiltshire where Venerable will be staying.
If you would like to be included in the rota to offer the costs for Venerable's food shopping, please write to us at email@example.com . As always, your support is very much appreciated. Thank you on behalf of the whole Anukampa team!
Cherry blossom in the Spring evening, Japanese painting circa 1935
Introducing Another Bhikkhuni Sister
Special Zoomi Bhikkhuni Session Sunday 30th May
On 30th May I am joined by a dear bhikkhuni friend who I have not yet introduced to our community. I shall keep her identity a surprise!
This is an extra Zoomi Bhikkhuni session to replace the one that we will miss during Ajahn Brahmali's retreat and so the link, password and joining instructions are the same as usual:
Meeting password: 675909&9
Don't miss this special opportunity to hear another bhikkhuni's story and share the wisdom she has learned along the way!
"Emboldening The Mind With Fizz & Sparkle!"
Seven-day Online Retreat with Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda
6th -12th December 2021
“Ajahn Brahm and Ven Canda create a really safe, supportive and nurturing environment. It softens the heart. The teachings are wise and profound but delivered in a way that is funny, sensitive and warm hearted. They lead by example in how to act through love, acceptance and compassion. I am glad I have found such teachers.”
~ Patricia, a participant in Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda’s “Bliss Upon Bliss Upon Bliss” online retreat, November 2020
After the outstanding success of last year's "Bliss Upon Bliss (etc!)" Zoom retreat with Ajahn Brahm and I, we have organised another one for you this winter - with a precious extra day! We are opening registration now so that you have plenty of time to arrange leave from work ~ if you are blessed enough to do so! With a bit of good luck, in 2022 we will resume in-person retreats.
Meditation is profound, sublime and life-changing, yet it takes courage to go against the stream of craving and embody kindness and gentleness in a world that often seems harsh. Courage can also be an important quality in meditation practice. As we go inside, we come face to face with our own attachments and hindrances, which limit mindfulness, prevent stillness and weaken our ability to see the inner and outer world clearly.
Happily, deep, transcending experiences are also full of joy and as we practice, an ever-increasing mental pleasure becomes the main impersonal force that pushes through the obstacles we face.
In this retreat, the teachers will show how we can nurture happiness and a love of peace so that inner tranquillity blossoms easily, like a fragrant lotus of luminous beauty. Inspiration flows from within and emboldens courage in the mind, enabling us to live with authenticity, and to gradually let go and perceive the liberating Dhamma (Truth) as The Buddha timelessly taught.
The retreat starts at 8:30 on Monday 6th Dec, and finishes at 15:00 on Sunday 12th Dec. On the last day, there will be an opportunity to share your experience with other retreatants. The schedule is deliberately designed to be spacious and allow for plenty of personal practice time and rest, so that you can take a break from the screen and find a supportive rhythm and pace. You will be guided as to how best to make use of your personal practice time and given instructions in walking meditation.
08:30 – 10:00 Dhamma talk, guided meditation and precepts (Ajahn Brahm)
10:00 – 12:00 Lunch for those on 8 precepts
12:00 – 13:30 Teaching and discussion (Ajahn Brahm)
13:30 – 14.30 Lunch or rest
14:30 – 18:00 Personal practice period
18:00 – 19:15 Tea or dinner
19:30 – 21:00 Short talk, guided meditation and Q&A (Ven Canda)
N.B Full time attendance – including the personal practice period – is necessary for this retreat, so you can experience the full potential of the practice. Due to the timing it will therefore work best for people in the UK and Europe (or the east coast of the US if you are willing to adopt forest monastery time and rise early!) Places are limited to 93, so we kindly ask that if you only want to attend the teacher-led sessions, to please watch them via our Facebook live-stream, or after we upload them to our YouTube channel.
Registration is now open!
Blessings & Action for the Myanmar People!
The people of Myanmar have diligently preserved and faithfully disseminated the priceless teachings and practices we inherited from the Buddha for thousands of years. I personally discovered the Dhamma teachings through the Burmese lineage of Ledi Sayadaw, to which the Western Insight Tradition and Modern Mindfulness movement also trace back. After ten years of dedicated practice and Dhamma service in India, Nepal, Myanmar and beyond, I ordained in Myanmar in 2004 (for three months) and then again in August 2006.
On pilgrimage at Alon Daw Kassapa, Upper Myanmar with my preceptor Sayadaw U Pannajota (centre), 2007
My gratitude to the people of Myanmar who nurtured the early years of my monastic life knows no bounds, and my heart goes out to everyone now severely suffering under the brutal terrorist military regime as well as to those engaged in horrendous acts of violence who are creating untold suffering for themselves as well as others. As a small token of gratitude and support, I gave a talk for Oxford Insight in March called "Gratitude To The Golden Land: Dedicated to the Myanmar People."
I hope you enjoy this talk which also offers various ways you can help at the end. I kindly ask that any donation you feel moved to offer in response, goes to Insight Myanmar's campaign Better Burma; a non-profit organisation run by Joah McGee, a trusted Dhamma friend who has lived for many years in Myanmar teaching English. Insight Myanmar's Podcasts offer first-hand stories of life before and after the coup, (from monks, nuns and lay people who live or have lived in Myanmar), and you can read about how your donation is saving lives on their blog.
May peace in the Golden Land quickly be restored and may all beings everywhere be safe ~ free from danger, poverty and war!
At the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda for meditation in formerly peaceful times.
As part of a wonderful dialogue between Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and other monastics, called "A Buddhist Response to Modern Ethical Issues - Based on Discourses of the Buddha," Ven Soma of Empty Cloud Monastery asked about kamma (related to the situation in Myanmar), on my behalf:
Question (Ven Canda): "The brutal military coup in Myanmar is being condemned by individuals, leaders and governments throughout the world and the Myanmar people are inspiring many through their courageous commitment to peaceful protest, even at the risk of their lives. However, a minority of people in Buddhist circles are stating that what the Myanmar people now experience is their "kamma." (Some are even more specific and say it is their "kamma" for complicity in the Rohingya genocide). How would you respond to this - for example, is there any concept of group kamma in the suttas? What is the right understanding of kamma that leads to compassionate action?"
Answer (Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi): "This is quite a big question. Let me not get into the theme of kamma but speak about the situation in Myanmar now. This is one of the most distressing things that is taking place, not only in the Buddhist world, but in the entire world today. It was a very imperfect government previously, but at least could make some claim to democratic legitimacy, even though it was at fault for condoning or allowing military acts against Rohingya to take place and drive 800,000 out of the country to Bangladesh, but still it had some claim to democratic legitimacy until a little more than two months ago.
The problem with that partly democratic constitution was that the military still had a major voice in the running of the government and that at a point in beginning of February, it was decided for some reason known to themselves, just to completely overthrow the democratic government and to imprison or to detain the leaders of the National League for Democracy and to take the government entirely into their own hands. And so the people rise up in protest, peacefully, even now joining with the marginalised other ethnic groups, in the hope of establishing a new constitution that would give scope for the participation of people from all ethnic groups to join in the administration of the country and now they're just being shot, peacefully protesting, sitting and protesting, and the military is just coming without any discrimination and indiscriminately shooting and killing. And then imprisoning thousands, rounding up thousands and imprisoning them. We can't [say] ... perhaps it's due to kamma, perhaps not, and even if it is due to kamma, kamma is not a fixed force but it operates only with the unfolding of conditions. So, I don't want to make any judgement in terms of kamma but rather say that this is something that the world in some way has to address and to help the people of Myanmar to depose the military leaders; to put them back into their place simply as commanders of the army and allow the people to democratically elect a government that would truly represent them.
How to do this is extremely difficult. I know that there are groups in Thailand that are at least trying to funnel support, aid, to the protestors in Myanmar - this is the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, which is based in Bangkok. There's a little group based in California run by my friend Hozan Alan Senauke - it's called the Clearview Project - which is collecting funds in the US, for people in the US who want to support the protestors (and) has another wing which is providing support to the Rohingya people in Bangladesh."
Latest Teachings on Anukampa YouTube :-)
"Gratitude To The Golden Land" Dedicated To The Myanmar People 15.03.21
With Ven Cittananda :-)
Sutta Discussion Group (8 teachings) - latest: "Protecting Countless Beings"
"Power Mindfulness" Day Retreat (3 teachings), Ven Canda for Bristol Insight
Zoomi Bhikkhuni Dhamma Talks, including Mudita 1 & 2 - latest: "My Life As A Forest Bhikkhuni", with Ven Cittananda
"The Calm In The Eye Of The Storm" Retreat (3 teachings), Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda
"Patience & Forgiveness" Retreat, (6 teachings) Ven Canda for Bodhi Tree Brighton
"Hard Questions To A Soft Teacher" Part 3 Ajahn Brahm for Anukampa
Metta Meditation: "Ven Canda's 'Bhikkhuniversary' Special Forest Metta"
NB If you want to be sure you don't miss any of our teachings, you can subscribe to Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project's YouTube channel here. You will receive a notification as soon as Paul and or any of our YouTube team upload new videos.
Boats to cross the River Ganga, India, by Liz. Holding the people of India in our hearts :-)
We greatly look forward to seeing you at our next events and until then be well and take to heart the essence of the Path:
"Refrain from unwholesome actions,
perform wholesome actions,
and keep on purifying your mind."
The Buddha, Dhammapada vs. 1
Whether you identify as a Buddhist or not, this recipe for happiness works for everyone in the end!
With deep loving kindness,
Ven Canda and the Anukampa team :-)