Dear <<First Name>>,
Breezy Autumnal Greetings from Wiltshire!
I hope this finds you happy and well and, if you are in the northern hemisphere, enjoying the cool and colourful Autumn, where rust-coloured robes harmonise with the trees.
After nearly 4 months of solitude, reconnecting with our community ~ whether in person, by mail or online ~ is a joy. Following a special post-rains' talk on 24th October, the online fun continued with a wonderful End Of Rains' Celebration, co-led with Ajahn Brahm (shared below).
In this letter, we share a rich teaching programme to take you through early winter ~ including a special teaching event with the amazing Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and a New Year Retreat with Ven Canda; the Global Metta Retreat playlist, and much more. We also update you on Anukampa's property search, now in full swing, and ask for your input to help us find the right thing!
Before that, we invite you to sign up for one of the few remaining places on "Emboldening the Mind With Fizz & Sparkle" - a special seven day online retreat with Ajahn Brahm and I in December ~ not long! In my evening talks I will be exploring the themes of virtue and the five spiritual powers or strengths (five indriya(s) or bala(s)); of confidence, energy, mindfulness, stillness and wisdom, to help empower and brighten the mind.
(Ir)regular Teachings With Ven Canda: Nov 21- Jan 22
~Please note that the dates are different from usual to accommodate other events, so it might be best to note down the precise dates.
Sunday's Delving Deeply In Dhamma
7.30 - 9pm GMT
Sun 21st November (Q&A), 19th December, 9th January
Meeting Password: 145401
Wednesday's Pali Chanting & Blessings Group
5.30 - 6pm GMT
Wed 10th, 17th & 24th November;
1st, 15th, 22nd December;
5th, 12th Jan...to be continued.
Meeting password: 364195%L
Saturday's Guided Metta & Sharing Group
Sat 13th, 27th November;
4th, 18th December;
1st, 8th January
Meeting password: 01140!$M
Friday's Sutta Discussion Group
7.15 - 8.30pm GMT
Fri 12th, 26th November;
3rd, 17th, 24th December;
7th January...to be continued.
Meeting Password: 909557
All our teaching events are also found here: www.anukampaproject.org/events
N.B You will need to be signed in to your personal zoom account to access all meetings. Please refer to our easy guidelines here.
~For security reasons please do not share links on social media, but instead refer people to our website :-)
Special Event With Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo!
Saturday 27th November, 1.30pm - 3pm GMT (UK time)
Jetsunma (Venerable Master) Tenzin Palmo is known to many as the amazing bhikkhuni (bhikshuni in the Mahayana tradition) upon whose life the book "The Cave In The Snow" is based.
Born in London in 1943 to a fishmonger and a spiritualist, she travelled to India at the age of 20 and found her spiritual calling as a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Jetsunma ordained in 1964 and in 1973 took full bhikshuni ordination, which makes her now the senior-most female western bhikkhuni across traditions, world-wide. After training her mind for twelve years in readiness, her spiritual search led her to seek complete solitude in a very remote cave tucked away at over 3000m altitude in the Himalayan mountains. She remained there for a further twelve years on retreat, meditating and sleeping sitting upright in a box. Since her retreat ended in 1988, Jetsunma lived in Assisi, Italy, and in 2000 at the request of her Teacher H.E 9th Kamtrul Rinpoche, established Dongyu Gatsal Ling; a monastery for Himalayan nuns.
Needless to say, we are absolutely delighted and honoured to be blessed by Jetsunma's wise and compassionate presence online especially for us! The format of the session will be question and answers and Jetsunma has requested we send the questions in advance. We hope you will make wise use of this wonderful and rare opportunity to ask a Meditation Master anything about life, meditation, women in Buddhism, or whatever else you might wish!
Please send your questions to email@example.com for us to organise. We will group questions in themes to avoid repetition and attempt to include as many as we can. (Please DO NOT send questions to the return address given by Zoom!)
~ Due to high no-show rates we will overbook this event by 25% to ensure the best attendance possible. Please turn up 15 minutes early on the day to get a place! We will also be recording (and possibly live-streaming) the event so no one will miss out :-)
~ A few days after registering you will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link. You need to keep this safe as we cannot re-send the link!
Rains' Retreat Reflections: "Inclusive Peace"
Less than two weeks ago, I (Ven Canda) completed my 8th bhikkhuni vassa (rain's retreat as a bhikkhuni); my 16th vassa in total as a monastic. It was perhaps one of the most challenging yet; largely owing to physical exhaustion, the prolonged social isolation and marginalisation I experience as a bhikkhuni and the "in-between" phase of the project we are in. It also gave me chance to learn. For nearly four months, I am immensely grateful to have had a tranquil, soothing environment in which to rest and turn toward all that arose! Thanks to the generous contributions of many people towards suitable lodgings and nourishing food, I was able to dig a little more deeply into the causes of suffering and how we fabricate a sense of self.
With a beginners' mind I returned to the basics of practice repeatedly. As Ajahn Chah famously said: "We meditate not to gain things but to let go of things" ~ and this includes abandoning ideas of how practice "should" be. I found it humbling to notice how much of what I do in life, (including meditation!), can carry a very subtle agenda to avoid suffering ~ and yet paradoxically, resisting that suffering builds and keeps it going! On the other hand, when I learn to gently open to all experiences with compassion, (including less pleasant emotions like loneliness, anxiety, or doubt), I have an opportunity to see their impermanent, insubstantial and conditioned nature. As a result of such clear seeing, a natural letting go occurs. I call this an inclusive, (rather than exclusive) approach to samadhi.
Although I may not have voted for all my experiences (!) and cannot overemphasise the importance of a safe environment and spiritual support, I am grateful for the resilience and insight that arose by meeting the edge of my comfort zone.
My little retreat cottage was nestled next to the white farmhouse ~ here it is hidden from sight
So long as we resist the truth of suffering it wields power over us. The same is true for struggling with unwanted thoughts. Suffering does not end when we deny it, or do something we enjoy. It won't end when Ajahn Brahm visits the UK again, when we find a suitable property for our monastery, or when I get to Perth! Suffering ceases only when seen, investigated and understood, and from here, a different response can arise - the response of turning away or repulsion that is nibbida. This response is based not on the negativity of defilement, but on the wisdom of seeing things as they truly are (yatha bhuta nyanadassana) ~ you have simply had enough of seeking lasting happiness in places it cannot be found.
Arising naturally as part of the process of meditation, nibbida turns us towards the path of inner peace, leading to the fading (viraga) and cessation (nirodha) of unhappiness and discontent. Obstacles will re-arise both in practice and daily life, but now we know the cause for their disappearance: not fuelling the problem with wanting ~ not clinging to anything as "mine." The beauty of this path is that we can have a taste of this peace every step of the way ~ even within the difficulties we might be facing now. Such an "inclusive" peace is durable and trustworthy, because it arises from seeing and making peace with reality, rather than pushing it aside.
~And now for a little light relief: "Cows Love Metta"
I made good friends with the cows in the meadows around the cottage on retreat and discovered that they love listening to the Karaniya Metta Sutta. Click the video link here, or on the photo below!
Ordinations, Travels & Property Hunt!
So much has happened in the Theravada Buddhist world during vassa! In August, four novices took bhikkhuni ordination at Dhammasara Monastery, my former training monastery near Perth. It was an historic occasion, as having reached twelve vassa's in seniority, Ajahn/Ayya Hasapanna qualified as a preceptor. This meant that for the very first time, the community did not need to fly in an overseas bhikkhuni to perform the ordination, but they could have it "in-house." We can surely look forward to bhikkhuni ordinations becoming easier and easier as the Sangha matures! Another bhikkhuni ordination of four on the other side of the globe followed shortly afterwards in September, with Ayya Tathaaloka Mahatheri as preceptor. With an estimated fifty Theravadin bhikkhunis living outside Asia, eight more is a significant step!
Since vassa ended on 20th October, I was blessed to be invited to conduct an online engagement ceremony for a gay couple, and enjoy Ajahn Brahm's wisdom along with a full Zoomi community at Anukampa's End Of Rain's celebration (video below).
I also had the wonderful opportunity to thank Jake, a local supporter who had been dropping off food for me in silence thrice weekly during vassa, and spent a day travelling south with Kelly to visit the monks in Honiton, friends in Lyme Regis and finally our beloved supporters Veronica & Roger in Bridport for evening tea. I saw more people that day than I have seen in many months during the corona pandemic and it brought home beautifully that there really are people out there for whom this project means a lot! The loving support was very nourishing ~ Veronica had even knitted two beanies ~ a brown one for me and a white one for a future anagarika; so confident was she that it will happen some day!
L-R Ajahn Vimalo, Kelly, Ajahn Jutindharo (abbot) at Honiton Buddhist Monastery, Devon.
In between all that, I have been busy catching up with the various volunteer teams I am responsible for, (admin, property search committee, media teams etc), which at times has been a little overwhelming for the senses (a bit like digesting a heavy meal after a very long fast!). It is encouraging see how the mind leaps to the silence when given a chance and gets recharged sitting on that very same retreat spot. I am however, getting ready to pack and leave as I write this letter. My next abode will be a temporary solution with a friend in rural Oxfordshire whilst we keep our eyes open for properties ~ and ask the devas and you for your help!
On the theme of property, we are now at a juncture and considering many different options. House-prices continue to sky-rocket what with people leaving cities to live and work online in the countryside. We were thrilled to receive a very generous anonymous donation as a post-birthday present to Ajahn Brahm, yet our dreams are still not entirely within reach. Properties in Stroud in particular (where we have an enthusiastic group of supporters) are going like hotcakes ~ perhaps all our supporters are moving there before us?! ;-) More seriously though, we are exploring different options such as middle step property more centrally located or renting again, whilst we keep working towards our goals.
With all options open and many minds on the case, we would love to receive your input too! If you would, please copy and paste these questions in an email and send them, (along with your answers of course!), to firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Have you ever been to a monastery?
2. Have you ever stayed overnight?
3. What would draw you to a monastery?
4. How far would you be willing to travel to offer a lunchtime meal to the Sangha (or drop one off in the evening for the next day)?
5. Would you be interested in coming to stay and help out for longer periods?
6. UK-based people only: where do you live and is there a community in your area that you think would like to support and could benefit from a monastic community?
7. Do you have any fundraising ideas?
8. Is there anything else you would like to add, or any area you suggest might be suitable?
We look forward to hearing your responses, however brief, and to what the next few months may bring!
Example of a suitable property: 5 bedrooms, 8 acres, nearby caves ~ but around £2 million!
"Time To Love The Breath"
End Of Year Online Retreat with Ven Canda:
29th -31st December, 9.30am-5pm daily
For the third year running I have been invited to lead a three-day end of year retreat, by the lovely people at Sheffield Insight; Mary Ann, River and Sue. The retreat will be online via Zoom to enable as many people as possible to safely participate and develop a supportive space.
Do you struggle to keep your mind on the breath and wonder if you should try a different technique?
This retreat will explore the powerful practices of loving kindness (metta) and mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati). Together we will discover how they can work in harmony and synergy to help brighten and calm the mind, leading to insights that relieve suffering.
We will start by establishing an attitude of metta as a way of opening our heart to the present moment, in a non-judgemental way. This will form the basis of practice that can be returned to throughout the retreat.
We will also cultivate metta meditation as a joyful means to develop stillness (samadhi) and overcome restlessness and discontent; hindrances that can make it difficult to stay with a subtler meditation object like the breath. As feelings of contentment and ease develop through metta practice, mindfulness increases and the breath becomes easier and more enjoyable to watch. The stages of breath meditation may then start to unfold naturally. With guidance, we will learn to intuitively sense how loving kindness and breath meditation can be alternated or even combined, to deepen our meditation - through wisdom rather than force.
The schedule will be relaxed and include Dhamma reflections drawing on the Buddha's teachings, guided meditations and opportunities for Q&A. On the closing day we will share the metta phrases we have been practicing with and offer blessings out to the world.
~Registration will be open in the next few days so please keep your eye out on the website here or on Anukampa's events page.
Photo by Mr Paul Burton, our incredible Facebook page coordinator & media volunteer!
Latest Anukampa YouTube Videos
~To be notified of new teachings, SUBSCRIBE to our YOUTUBE channel here!
One hundred zoom participants and hundreds more via Facebook live joined us for this joyful celebration. Rich with Dhamma inspiration, the event included a talk by Ajahn Brahm, to generate energy for doing good, a guided meditation, a Q&A with both Ajahn and Venerable, as well as a metta practice and blessing to end. Thank you all for participating, lending your support and enriching our community with your beautiful practice.
"The Ultimate Rebellion" Special Post-Rains' Retreat Talk by Ven Canda 24.10.21
Summer Dhamma Offerings with Ayya Anandabodhi & Ven Cittananda:
~Ayya Anandabodhi: Dhamma Talk "Loving and Letting Go" 03.10.21
~Ayya Anandabodhi: Meditation & Dhamma Talk "Wise Attention" 05.09.21
~Ayya Cittānandā: "Is This A Good Day To Die?" 01.08.21
~Ven Cittānanda: Guided Meditation, Short Talk On "Time" and Q&A 04.07.21
Lyme Regis, Dorset, on a blustery and changeable Autumn day
Twenty-Six Hours of Guided Metta & "A Life Of Kindfulness" Documentary:
Dhamma offerings for Ajahn Brahm's 70th Birthday on
7th August, 2021
Global Metta Meditation Retreat (Playlist)
The Global Metta Meditation Retreat 2021 was organised in honour of Ajahn Brahm in the week leading up to his 70th birthday on 07 August 2021. Some twenty two of Ajahn's bhikkhuni and bhikkhu disciples contributed by wishing Ajahn well, sharing how they are connected to him and guiding a Metta Meditation. The series of videos offer many different approaches and ways to meditate with Kindfulness.
"A Life Of Kindfulness"
This documentary is a tribute to Ajahn Brahm, prepared for his 70th birthday. It has clips from interviews with eminent monks and nuns, such as Ven Somdet Thepsirin, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ven Analayo, Ven Bhikkhuni Kusuma, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, and Ven Mettavihari. There are scenes from Bodhinyana and Dhammasara Monastery's and Thailand.
Screenshot from the documentary; footage at Dhammasara Monastery, Perth, voice of...?
May these humble Dhamma offerings, as well as our upcoming teachings, blessings, sutta study classes and retreats, support you in living a life of virtue and kindfulness, wherever & however you are.
"We harm ourselves by comparing ourselves to others" Ajahn Brahm 13.10.21
(and even to our former or imaginary selves!)
I hope to see you somewhere very soon :-)
With much loving kindness,
First morning frost, from my Wiltshire hideaway, November 2nd