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NEWS FROM ANUKAMPA BHIKKHUNI PROJECT

Newsletter # 37 March 2021

Dear <<First Name>>,



Early Spring greetings! 

I am delighted to be in touch after a peaceful February retreat and feel gratitude for the vital and precious opportunity to recharge.

Toward the end of the retreat, I watched colour slowly seeping back into what only weeks ago seemed like a monochrome world of frozen flooded meadows, bare trees and snowdrops. Now, early Spring has proudly announced her arrival with vibrant purple crocuses and fresh yellow daffodils, bringing hope and enlivening spirits with the promise of unknown joys to come. Swollen magnolia buds prepare to burst, as the first trees and roses sprout little green leaves. 

In sync with Spring energy, we have fresh Dhamma offerings for you, including a new Friday evening Sutta discussion group and more Ajahn Brahm events! We also encourage you to sign up, if you haven't already, for Ajahn Brahmali's May retreat (see Paul's lovely poster below). I am confident this retreat will bring increased depth and understanding to your practice ~ or give you an excellent grounding in Early Buddhist theory and practice if you are new to meditation. Click here to read more and register.

This letter also includes an update on Anukampa's progress towards a Forest Monastery! Despite challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, we have made steps, if not strides, in a very optimistic direction! In the same way that sila (ethical virtue) is the essential foundation upon which to build the pyramid of wisdom; a strong and committed Dhamma community with an integrated practice that includes selfless service, is the foundation of a viable and successful monastery. Together we are getting closer, so let's increase our combined efforts to close the gap! 

New Friday Evening Sutta Discussion Group!

 

  via Zoomi Bhikkhuni, Fridays 19.15- 20.30 GMT/ BST 

 

This ongoing class is suitable for beginners to sutta study as well as those familiar with the teachings of the Buddha found in the Early Buddhist texts (Sutta Pitaka). Together, we will go through Bhikkhu Bodhi's anthology of the Buddha's teachings on "Social & Communal Harmony," in a way that allows for discussion and close examination of how they can inform, inspire and deepen our practice in daily life and meditation. Whilst this is a great opportunity to gain a comprehensive overview of the teachings, as we approach the material systematically over time, each session will also work as a stand alone contemplation ~ so you are very welcome to drop in as you wish. If you do hope to attend regularly, we highly recommend getting a personal copy of the book; however, this is not essential.

About "The Buddha's Teachings On Social And Communal Harmony" by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

"In a world of conflict and strife, how can we be advocates of peace and justice?

In this volume acclaimed scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi has collected and translated the Buddha's teachings on conflict resolution, interpersonal and social problem-solving, and the forging of harmonious relationships. The selections, all drawn from the Pali Canon, the earliest record of the Buddha's discourses, are organised into ten thematic chapters. The chapters deal with such topics as right understanding, the quelling of anger, good friendship, intentional communities, the settlement of disputes, and the establishing of an equitable society. Each chapter begins with a concise and informative introduction by the translator that guides us toward a deeper understanding of the texts that follow.

In times of social conflict, intolerance, and war, the Buddha's approach to creating and sustaining peace takes on a new and urgent significance. Even readers unacquainted with Buddhism will appreciate these ancient teachings, always clear, practical, undogmatic, and so contemporary in flavour. The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony will prove to be essential reading for anyone seeking to bring peace into their communities and into the wider world."


Link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87463836452
Meeting Password: 909557

 N.B This event does not require registration, but you will need to be signed in to your personal zoom account to access the meetings. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early and refer to our easy access guidelines here.

~For security reasons please don't share links on social media, but instead refer people to our website :-) 

"Hard Questions To A Soft Teacher - Pt 3"

 

 Q&A With Ajahn Brahm, Sat 10th April 12.30 - 2.30 pm BST


Bring your burning questions on deep Dhamma to this Q&A session where Ajahn will unreservedly share his wisdom. There is a maximum capacity for 100 to join via zoom, so do arrive early. If we are full, you can watch us live via Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project's Facebook page instead.


Link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85350400548
Meeting Password: 349141

 

N.B This event does not require registration, but you will need to be signed in to your personal zoom account to access the meeting. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early and refer to our easy access guidelines here.

~For security reasons please do not share links on social media.

Regular Zoomi Bhikkhuni Teachings

 

 (March-June 2021) 

 

Firstly, I wish to thank to Lia and co-hosts Shirley and Derek, for facilitating two peer-led groups in my absence, which I hear went very well!

Here are our upcoming sessions for the next few months. Please note that we will be in BST for our April sessions, as clocks move forward an hour on Sunday March 28th, at 1am.


Delving Deeply Into Dhamma (every 1st and 3rd Sunday)
Next Meeting: Sun March 21st (no session 16th May). 7.30 - 9pm GMT/BST
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89688258572  
Meeting password:  675909&9
 
Pali Chanting & Blessings Group (every Wednesday)
Every Wednesday (except 19th May). 5.30 - 6pm GMT/BST
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88410481720
Meeting password: 364195%L

Guided Metta & Sharing Group (every 2nd and 4th Saturday)
Next Meeting: Sat 13th March (no session 22nd May). 9-10am GMT/BST
Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82533145821
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.

~For security reasons please do not share links on social media, but instead refer people to our website :-) 


Peaceful early morning "snow moon" seen from my window at the end of my solitary retreat.

Four Upcoming Online Day Retreats:

 

 ~ with both Ven Canda and Ajahn Brahm!  

  
 

1. "Power Mindfulness" Ven CandaSat, March 20th: 9.30 - 5pm GMT, for Bristol Insight 


Mindfulness has many benefits to our health and wellbeing. Looking at mindfulness in the context of the Buddha’s teachings, opens up the path to experiencing its full power and how it awakens our potential as human beings.

The mind becomes empowered through letting it settle in stillness. This day retreat will show how to truly rest our mind and explore mindfulness at a deeper level. Ven. Candā will teach how to overcome the hindrances that prevent our active mind from calming down and how we can redirect our energy to supercharge our innate wisdom and sense of happiness.

The day will include periods of sitting and walking meditation, Dhamma reflections and an opportunity for Q&A. Register here

  


2. "The Calm In The Eye Of The Storm" Ajahn Brahm & Ven Canda: Thurs 25th March, 8.30 am - 5pm GMT ~ 5 places left!


In this day retreat, organised by Anukampa, Ajahn Brahm shows us how we can build a reservoir of freedom and peace within, even when everything is chaos on the outside. Ven Canda will also offer reflections, meditation instructions and further exploration of the theme, in her afternoon sessions.

The day will be filled with warmth, humour and practical tips for developing the mind, using personal anecdotes, teachings from the Early Buddhist Texts, and group discussion.


The tentative schedule is as follows (UK/GMT times shown):

08:30 - 10:00 am Dhamma talk and meditation ~ Ajahn Brahm
10:00 - 10:30 am Walking meditation
12:30 - 02:00 pm Guided meditation and Q&A ~ Ajahn Brahm
02:00 - 02:30 pm Walking meditation
02:30 - 03:00 pm Silent meditation ~ Ven Canda
03:00 - 03:15 pm Tea break
03:15 - 04:30 pm Dhamma talk and Q&A ~ Ven Canda
04:30 - 05:00 pm Guided Metta meditation & closing words ~ Ven Canda


*Please note that full time attendance is necessary for this retreat and it will therefore work best for people in European time zones. For those only wishing to come for part of the retreat, please watch via Facebook livestream or after we upload the videos to our YouTube channel.
Only five places left ~ register here!

 

3. "Patience And Forgiveness" Ven Canda:  Sat April 17th, 10am - 4pm BST, Bodhi Tree Brighton


Patience and forgiveness are two powerful spiritual qualities praised by the Buddha. They are indespensible to having healthy relationships with ourselves and with others, and also function as beautiful antidotes to wanting and aversion - the main hindrances to happiness in meditation and in everyday life.

Patience does not mean waiting for a better, more pleasant experience to arrive in the future, but is rather a wholehearted, radical acceptance of the present moment ~ with all it's imperfections. When we are searching for our happiness in the future, or carrying the pain of the past, we are separated from the beauty, freedom and joy available here and now. 

This retreat will explore how we can develop patience and forgiveness, to gently release longing and resentment and arrive more fully where we are.  As we learn to wait in the moment, with a kind, gentle and forgiving attitude, the mind settles and starts moving inward ~ against the current of craving ~ to where contentment, peace and deep insight lie.

 

The day will include guided and waking meditation, Dhamma reflections and an opportunity for Q&A.
Register here  
 

4. "Beautifying The Mind" Ven Canda: Sun 9th May, 10am - 5pm, 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

 Clearing A Pathway To A Forest Monastery

 

~ 5 minute read


"It may be slow progress during Covid, but slow progress can be the best. There is a Buddhist simile of two trees that grow; one in the plains, one in the rocky mountains. The tree that grows in the plains grows fast, but has shallow roots and blows over easily in the wind. The mountain tree takes longer to grow but has stronger roots and doesn’t blow over in the wind. Anukampa is just like the tree growing in the mountains; not fast but will last much longer."

Ajahn Brahm in his Spiritual Advisor's address at our Trust meeting, Sat 6th March.


There is beauty and magic in monochrome: Christchurch's flooded meadows in the snow.
 

"Ajahn Corona's" Blessings In Disguise

The coronavirus pandemic has opened our eyes, perhaps wider than ever before, to the fragility and uncertainty of existence. We can no longer deny that being subject to birth, old age, sickness and death includes being vulnerable to the disappointment ~ even despair ~ of having all our plans shattered, re-made, and then shattered again. This searingly obvious lack of control can be scary and confronting, yet if we learn to surrender to each moment with an open heart, we may find new opportunities, in disguise! Like everyone I have had my wobbles, but "Ajahn Corona" has also brought blessings that I could not have anticipated.  

At a personal level, my initial concern was that prolonged lockdown and consequent absence of guests would bring the project to a standstill, or even knock it completely off course. I had to get creative and find new ways to serve and build our community. A year on I am delighted to say that we have not lost momentum, but rather have made considerable steps to further both our charitable aims. In particular, I want to share the latest steps toward our second aim of a Forest Monastery.

We aim to promote the teachings and practices of Early Buddhism, leading to full Awakening (aim number one)

Moving our teachings online has brought wider international exposure to Anukampa and at the same time more intimacy to our community. It humbles me that in the midst of tremendous physical and emotional turmoil, people had the courage to turn inward toward suffering. I have received letters describing the teachings and community, as a lifeline ~ offering hope, comfort, wisdom and even joy ~ throughout times of overwhelm, loneliness and grief. I have been incredibly inspired to see people renew their commitment to and deepen their meditation practice, and as result my own own saddha (confidence) in Dhamma has increased. Sometimes it is when our backs are against the metaphorical wall, that we discover where our true refuge lies. 
 

We aim to establish the first "Forest Monastery" in England where women can train towards full bhikkhuni ordination (aim number two)

Now, there are three main areas we need to focus on to grow deeper roots.

1. Project management/ admin help
2. Monastery caretakers and local support
3. Finances


Let's look at these one by one and see what actions we can take.

1.  Project management/ admin help: Another wonderful result of our online teachings has been the emergence of new volunteers. Yvonne Fuchs has offered much-needed project management help. She and her trusted secretary Gill, (and Gill's assistant, Emma), are invited to Anukampa's next volunteer meeting to get to know our existing team and see how their professional skills can lighten my admin load. This will free up my energies to flow into teaching, building community and eventually training aspirant nuns ~ without losing sight of my spiritual goal.

Yvonne introduces herself and her intentions, in a personal story, below:
 
"During the first UK lockdown from March 2020, I was struggling, as my husband had recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I joined the Venerable Canda’s weekly Pali chanting and blessing group, which I found beautiful, uplifting, and supportive.
 
I then started to attend many more of her online teachings and learned more about the aspiration to start a monastery where women can take full ordination. I was deeply moved by this. I also felt rather sad to see our dearest Venerable looking tired and realised she must have a lot to do administratively, as well as spiritually, to bring this project to life. I wondered if it might be possible to offer my professional and personal support to enable this process to happen whilst lessening the stress on our dear teacher.
 
Having spent the last 25 years as an advisor, mentor, and coach to growing organisations especially in the charity and social enterprise sectors, I knew I had many skills that I could offer to help bring this wonderful aspiration to fruition, so I was delighted when I was able to speak with Venerable to get more insight into the workload that she carries alongside her spiritual and teaching life!
 
It seemed to me, to use a metaphor, that the path to a monastery was going through a thicket of brambles, to break through to a beautiful vista. To use another metaphor: all beautiful lotuses flourish with their roots in the mud. I felt that Ven Canda’s roots were so well grounded in the mud and the bud of her lotus was on the surface of the water, but we need to clear away some of the debris in the lotus pond, so that the lotus can flourish. The lotus is about to bloom but needs more space and sunshine to enable all kinds of creatures to land upon it and benefit from its nectar and beauty. Then through pollination, more lotuses (bhikkhunis) can grow.
 
Feeling very empowered after that conversation and with the images of clearing brambles and lotus pond debris in mind, I decided to make an offer to support the project more fully. The volition for my life is to enable to the enablers ~ in this case, the channel by which the monastery arrives ~ so, we started making plans.
 
I have had a Buddhist practice for over 20 years and have found it exceedingly beneficial to my development and well-being and to that of others, so I am excited to be part of this project. I am very hopeful that as I help Ven Canda to organise many of the administration tasks, and create the infrastructure systems and processes needed, we will be able to build this monastery on beautiful and sustainable foundations. I am deeply grateful to be able offer this service to a project and teacher that is close to my heart."

 
Action! Yvonne is most generously offering her mentoring as a gift. We welcome donations towards estimated monthly costs of £600 for professional admin help and would love to hear from you if you would like to join our growing volunteer team at: team@anukampaproject.org 



2.  Monastery caretakers and local support: Building a monastic Sangha depends on having committed lay residents who are well-established in Dhamma. It is not easy to find such people ,who are both willing and in a position to live in community and devote their time to supporting the Sangha's daily needs. One of the short-listed areas for our Monastery is Stroud ~ and it seems there may be help in the local area. This is extremely promising news. Nearer the time we will welcome other applications for short visits and possibly longer-term caretaker roles ~ which will hopefully include some aspirant nuns!  


Action! We are currently forming a property search sub-committee for finding accommodation in the vicinity of Stroud (whilst keeping open to options in other areas), with a view to move in November after the annual monastic rains retreat. We will initially be looking at rental properties, so we can check out the area first, but do not rule out purchasing if the right place manifests.


3. Finances: Your combined generosity throughout the pandemic has enabled us to meet our rental costs in Oxford, which suggests that the outgoings of a larger monastery are within reach! We have even been able to preserve and modestly build on our savings and our trustees estimate that we now have about two-thirds of what we need to buy a suitable place. As an independent charity we have no financial backing from any other Buddhist organisation, so this is all thanks to people like you, who come to our events and contribute however you can. The trustees and I therefore feel extremely encouraged, as it shows you truly believe in our aims.  

Action: We now need to build on our savings and would love to hear from you if you have ideas for any fund-raising initiatives (write to team@anukampaproject.org). We continue to welcome regular standing orders and donations of any amount and every contribution is deeply appreciated. 


When soil is fertile, flowers will grow. Headington Hill Park's purple carpet, early Spring.

Devas (and amazing fire services) to the rescue at Dhammasara Monastery!
  

Bush fire season always presents a hazard to forest monasteries in Australia, and in early February, just as I entered my retreat, the massive fires in the Perth hills came 400m away from the boundary of Dhammasara's  600 acre eucalypt-clad  valley's and hills. The monastery was spared by a sudden change in the wind ~ and, who knows, perhaps invisible forces like devas and indigenous ancestral spirits may have lent a helping hand! You can read what happened in this article by Venerable Jotika Bhikkhuni, one of the Dhammasara nuns shown below, on return from their evacuation.


Left of blackboard, L-R: Anagarika Dimi, Vens Parami, Munissara, Jenti, Gotami, Padma (front), Jotika (at the back), Hasapanna, Sorata. Right of blackboard, Ajahn Brahm, Front (L-R) Vens Analaya and Acala, An.Lis. Back (L-R) Vens Upekkha, Pasanna, Karunika, Pasanna, An. Kanchana. What a large community of amazing women renunciants!

Printable Books: Therigatha & Theragatha


(Modern, authentic translations)


My good friend Jess Walton, who co-translated this book with Bhante Sujato, has very kindly been thinking of ways to serve our community from down-under. She recently phoned me to say that she has set up a print option via the online publisher lulu, so you may procure your own copies in book form, of these ancient texts.

The “Verses of the Senior Nuns” is a collection of about 524 verses attributed to 73 of the senior nuns alive in the Buddha’s time, or in a few cases, a little later. These verses celebrate the bliss of freedom and the life of meditation, full of triumphant and joyous proclamations of their spiritual attainments and their gratitude to other nuns as guides and teachers. The Therīgāthā is one of the oldest spiritual texts recording only women’s voices. It is a pair with the Theragāthā, the “Verses of the Senior Monks.” Together these collections constitute one of the oldest and largest collections of contemplative literature. Based on style and content, these collections belong to the early discourses. They are referred to on occasion in the northern canons, but no parallel collections have survived. This new translation of the Therigāthā by Bhikkhu Sujato and Jessica Walton was prepared specially for SuttaCentral.

The fee for the books goes 100% to lulu for the cost of printing etc: no money goes anywhere else.

Therigatha (bhikkhunis)
Hardcover to print here
Paperback to print here

Theragatha (bhikkhus)
Hardcover, linen wrap, to print here
Paperback to print here

Special thanks to Jess for this beautiful Dhamma-dana!

Online Dhamma Class For Children!


(Recommended by friends of Anukampa)


Anupama Weerasinghe writes: 

Sati Pasala was established in Sri Lanka by Ven Dhammajiva (Abbot of the Meetrigala Monastery in Sri Lanka) in 2016 and has since spread internationally. It is a secular program and is free; so children of any racial or religious denomination are welcome! The branch in UK came about in Aug 2019. Since May 2020 we have been conducting monthly virtual sessions on the first Sunday of every month (starting at 10 am).

We are happy to say the sessions are now being run by our lovely youth facilitator's (trained and guided by our amazing adult facilitator team). This is a special feature which has been very well received by the participants. Participation is by registration only. We send out a monthly registration link to the parents who on completion, receive information on joining. If they are happy for us to do so, we add them to our subscription list so they continue to received reminders regarding our ongoing programmes.



The Sati Pasala dates for 2021 are as below: 

DATE

AGE GROUP

TIME

Sunday 7th of Feb 

9yrs and under

10-11.30 am

Sunday 7th of Mar 

10yrs and over

10am- 12pm

Sunday 4th April 

9yrs and under

10-11.30 am

Sunday 2nd of May

10yrs and over

10am- 12pm

Sunday 6th June

9yrs and under

10-11.30 am

Sunday 4th July

10yrs and over

10am- 12pm

Sunday 1st Aug

9yrs and under

10-11.30 am

Sunday 5th Sep

10yrs and over

10am- 12pm

Sunday 3rd Oct

9yrs and under

10-11.30 am

Sunday 7th Nov

10yrs and over

10am- 12pm

Sunday 5th Dec

9yrs and under

10-11.30 am



The official contact email for Sati Pasala, UK, is satipasalauk@gmail.com

"Rejoicing In Mudita" Videos For You :-)
 

 

The practice of mudita (rejoicing, altruistic or vicarious joy) gives you a dose of free happiness! To find out how this works, you may enjoy these talks and meditations, from a day retreat led by me (Ven Canda) for Oxford Insight, on 23rd Jan 2021. 

Rejoicing In Mudita: Part 1, Introduction & Guided Meditation  
Rejoicing In Mudita: Part 2, Dhamma Talk & Guided Meditation
To end, I would like to share some powerful words of wisdom that seem pertinent to the invitation of Spring to let go and open to what comes.

"If it isn't good, let it die; if it doesn't die, make it good." Ajahn Chah.


I look forward to making our next steps together good ~ and to sharing links for a live interview with me and Ajahn Brahm on bhikkhunis, for New Buddhas Way, in our next newsletter! 

With deep loving kindness, 
Ven Canda 
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