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Post-Vassa News From Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project
Newsletter # 26  December 2019

> Deep States of Samadhi: Special Wisdom Podcast with Ajahn Brahm and Shaila Catherine
Anukampa Bhikkhuni Residence: A Magnet For Kindness
> Commemorative Video Of 14 Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations
> Complete Set Of Talks From Ajahn Brahm's 2019 UK Tour
Creating Loving Community Is Possible! 
> Ven Canda's Upcoming Talks and Retreats
> Bacteria Deserve A Good Rebirth Too! 
> "Liberation Through Kindness" Retreat Talks 

Dear <<First Name>>,


Warm greetings from Anukampa Bhikkhuni Residence, Oxford.

The last month has been packed with activities, including a day retreat at Gaia HouseAnukampa's AGM, an interview for Tricycle magazine and happily bringing new people into the team. Dinuna is trying out the volunteer coordinator role; Adrienne, a project manager, has been working with me at the Residence to identify and document the various organisational strands of the project, and Heenali and Dawid are graphically transforming and updating our website~ a surprise for you in Spring.

Immediately after leading a New Year Retreat in Sheffield, near my home town, I'll be headed over the Atlantic for a rejuvenating month-long silent retreat at Forest Refuge, with Sayadaw U Jagara and Shaila Catherine. After the retreat I'll be spending time with Bhante Suddhaso and Ven Soma, at Buddhist Insights, NJ, and leading a weekend retreat for the community there, before returning early February to a calendar full of guests. 



Before updates on life at Anukampa Bhikkhuni Residence, and recent teachings, here is a little treat for Christmas:

Podcast on the Deep States of Samadhi  (stillness or jhana absorption) with Shaila Catherine and Ajahn Brahm, recorded in Berkeley, June 2019. 

For those who prefer a video, just click on the photo below:



"...Both Shaila and Ajahn Brahm are widely revered for their knowledge on jhāna practices in the Theravada tradition. In this conversation, they discuss their shared and contrasting points of view on theory and practice. Both speak to the necessity of “letting go” as a primary orientation, and how deep states of absorption allow one to return to the world of the senses with unprecedented insight. Ajahn Brahm teaches the practice of letting go as a non-effort—that you can’t “do” letting go and how one must completely disengage from the “doer” frame of mind. Shaila shares a more systematic approach to this notion of letting go, and stresses the importance of developing a clear understanding of how one both enters and exits jhāna states."

Anukampa Bhikkhuni Residence: A Magnet For Kindness


As winter draws in, I continue to be blown away- not by the wind- but by people's kindness. I want to say "thank you" from the depths of my heart. Here I am, a Caucasian nun in Oxford~ a small city in a non-Buddhist, capitalistic country. Yet it is proving possible to live a life of renunciation as the Buddha intended, surrendering all control over and access to money and without preparing my own food.

And I am not losing weight! Almost every day, incredibly generous, thoughtful people around the world, send self-described "little" gifts ("it's nothing," they say), but my, how it all adds up! An organic vegetable box, a pre-ordered meal for lunch to fill in any visitor gaps, a hand-made embroidered cushion, stamps, hot water bottles, a donation to our account, Anukampa calendars produced by volunteers, gift vouchers and, most recently, an ENORMOUS Tibetan yak wool shawl, with a moving little note:

"Please accept this small gift, to help keep warm in winter. 
Thank you for all your hard work, and just for being here in the UK


I wonder if people realise how encouraging such sentiments are? 
 

Many, many hearts and hands help bring our vision to life and your combined "little gifts" (including every good wish) have already added up to create a cosy base from where Dhamma is regularly shared. For our trustees annual report, we discovered that we uploaded 95 Dhamma teachings to our YouTube channel in one year alone!

Considering that we started from scratch ~ without a Trust (ie Committee), no bank account or funds, nor even a name~ this falls not far short of miraculous. I remember getting goose bumps when Ajahn Brahm encouraged: "You have MY kamma behind you!" I remember the joy when we received our first donation of £10 in Spring 2016, into our recently opened account. I was inspired, thinking, "someone I don't even know wants this to happen too!" Please never regard your contribution as anything but precious.

That our project means so much to so many, makes it mean so much more to me! Your loving kindness, friendship and support is the juice running through heart and mind to keep me going~ with a smile. If we sustain this momentum, I hope to be able to train another nun in no long time!


Happy gathering on 21st December our treasurer, bookkeeper and Oxford resident Manal.

Perth Bhikkhuni Ordinations: Commemorative Video


 

"It was a small step for one monk and a HUGE step for Nun-kind!" says Ajahn Brahm of the first bhikkhuni ordinations in Perth, on October 22nd, 2009. Since then, another ten ordinations have happened at Dhammasara and Bodhinyana Monasteries, and live footage of each is shown in this 13 minute film, including mine around 4-5 minutes in. Enjoy the bold star-wars like music at the start!

To watch the film, just click on the photo below:

Rain fell as though in celebration of the first part of our ordination, followed later by a rainbow! 

  Complete Set Of Talks From Ajahn Brahm's "Wisdom of Stillness" 2019 Tour
 

"Wisdom Of Stillness" Weekend Retreat at Gaia House, 25th-27th October (4 videos) 
"Words The Heal & Words That Harm" Dhamma Talk at Rudolph Steiner House, 27th October 
"How To Let Go Without Pushing Away" Three-day Retreat at Kairos Centre, 28th-30th October

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be alerted for future teachings.

Creating Loving Community Is Possible!

 

~Seven Days of Loving Kindness in Devon


Relating to our mind, body, and others, with love, literally creates love. It was a privilege to lead the beautiful "Love to Break All Boundaries" retreat at The Barn, with a gentle, sincere group of people and incredibly heartening to experience the speed at which a harmonious, safe and inclusive (mini) community can grow. Let this be a lesson to take outward, into the wider world!

Let us find the courage and clarity necessary to veer away from divisive perceptions of "us and them" and strengthen the communities on our doorsteps. However diverse our circumstances and conditioned beliefs, we wander the cycle of birth, ageing and death, together. Differing views may never be reconciled, but we CAN reconcile to our shared humanity; as is so beautifully stated in the Kandaraka Sutta (MN:51): "All beings desire happiness and recoil from pain." We and wider society are defined by how we treat our neighbours (and especially the most vulnerable among us) and you can make a big difference by showing love to the people around you. Life can be tough for everyone from time to time, but escape is never found in hardening with anger, freezing in fear, closing down in despondency or cutting people out. Instead, opening with kindfulness and wisdom, again and again, to despair, fear ~ and also to joy!~ may just be the way to freedom. 

 

~The Magic of Metta by Retreatant Mel P. 


Sharpham Barn Retreat in Devon was bathed in a golden light of metta (loving kindness) last week, as Venerable Canda successfully led her first seven-day residential retreat, entitled “Love to Break All Boundaries.” Retreatants were skilfully guided through the practice with increasing depth as the week progressed, sharing at the end of the retreat that the metta teachings were the best they had ever experienced! The atmosphere throughout the retreat was very caring and warm-hearted with strangers quickly becoming friends and a sense of community apparent. The barn manager noticed a tenderness around the dining table not usually present in such abundance, which we all attributed to the metta meditation. The retreat closed with expressions of gratitude for Ven Canda and each other; our hearts a little softer and more open, parting company tenderly, wishing each other well.


Most people had left but here remain a few, with happy smiles!

Upcoming Teachings With Ven Canda 


The Barn Retreat was intimate with a capacity of just 12, but around 50 on the wait list! Encouraged by this evident demand, Anukampa hope to organise another retreat with a similar theme and welcome recommendations for venue hire for around 40 folks. Until then, we look forward to seeing you at some of the below events:


Dec 30th & 31st Dec until Jan 1st:  3-day Non-residential Retreat "Between Knowing and The Known," ~ ending the year by letting go, beginning anew with metta~ Sheffield Insight  Book Here 

On this retreat we will cultivate the three Right Intentions ~ of renunciation, loving kindness and gentleness ~ as wholesome ways of relating to our inner world. When we understand freedom lies not in manipulating experience but in transforming our relationship to it, then every situation provides an opportunity to deepen our wisdom, compassion and peace.

* For Friends In America:

February 7th to 9th: Weekend Retreat: "Stopping The World With Contentment29 Ridgeway Ave, West Orange, NJ 07052-3217, United States. For further details and booking see buddhistinsights.com

The Buddha said, "There is no way to end suffering without reaching the end of the world." (AN 4.45) But how can we possibly reach the end of the world? Contentment helps us remain present to our experience as it unfolds, bringing the worlds of past and future to an end. Contentment settles the winds of wanting and douses the fires of ill will, the main hindrances to stillness and insight. As inner contentment deepens, the relentless search for pleasure in the sensual world gradually loses its meaning, and a taste of freedom becomes possible.

February 23rd: Day-Retreat "Contented and Easily Satisfied"
Bristol Insight Book Here
 

8th March: Day Retreat "Emotional Agility" London Insight Book Here


March 23rd: Dhamma Evening with the Northants Buddhists
 

May 9th: Day Retreat, Oxford Insight (details to follow)

May 16th or 17th, Vesak CelebrationDhamma & Social Gathering, TBC.
 

Regular Dhamma Evenings In Oxford:


A majestic Autumnal copper beech, in a local Oxford park


From February until June 2020, Ven Canda will again be teaching regularly for Oxford Insight. 

Exact dates
(for planning your trip to Oxford!): Feb 17th; March 2nd, 16, 30th; April 13th, 27th; May 11th, 25th; and June 8th.

Address: The Friends' Meeting House, St Giles, OX13LW, 
Mondays, 7- 8.30pm 

Bacteria Deserve A Good Rebirth Too! 


This is a note of gratitude to everyone who is involved in supporting my health care, by providing the low FODMAP diet and medicines that I have been prescribed. Recent test results show that the long term bacterial infections and parasites, picked up over more than a decade living in rural India, Burma and Nepal, are reducing, and I'm on track to heal! I couldn't have done this without Anukampa's Trustees, our guests and our visitors. I'm especially grateful for Ajahn Brahm's amazing support in ensuring I was able to maintain my treatment plan throughout the Rains Retreat at Jhana Grove. Here is Ajahn's humorous congratulatory note on the progress made so far:

"Dear Venerable,
Glad to hear that your health has improved. May the bacteria that were culpable realize the bad kamma of infecting the digestive system of a good Bhikkhuni, seek forgiveness and get a better rebirth as bacteria composting nuclear waste! ... Mega Metta, Ajahn Brahm
"  6th Dec 2019


The bacteria haven't sought forgiveness yet, but one can live in hope ;-) Thank you for your gifts of suitable food and amazing moral support, and may we move into the New Year intending to forgive and let go (of everything!)  

By the Indonesian Stupa at Jhana Grove, Oct 2019

Ven Canda's "Liberation Through Kindness" Talks 


To end, we leave you with these teachings, from my day retreat at Gaia House on November 10th.


"Kindness is like snow: it beautifies everything it covers."
~Kahlil Gibran 


Sending love and best wishes for the turn of the decade and I look forward to strengthening bonds and nurturing Anukampa with many of you over 2020.

In Kindfulness, Ven Canda 

 
Donate Here To Multiply Joy

The Woodshed at The Barn, for those good old fashioned log fires. Do keep warm this winter!

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