Friday, September 28, 2007

March in Support of Freedom for Burma

On Thursday September 27th, around 70 people from various groups and backgrounds met at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre.

This was to show our support for the people of Burma in their peaceful protests against repressive government.

Local BBC Radio and Television were in attendance, and recorded the chanting of the traditional pali "May all Beings be Well".

Those gathered then formed a silent procession to the Cambridge Guild Hall, lead by the organiser Dharmachari Vajrapriya. We then collected signatures for a petition to be submitted to the Burmese Embassy in London. Some people then meditated on the street as a mark of solidarity with the people of Burma.

If you are interested you can sign a petition on-line and send details to your friends. The address is:-

At the time of writing, over 177,000 people have registered their protest.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Goodbye to Gampo Abbey

Hello All,

This is my last post from Gampo Abbey. It's really hard to believe that I have been living here for just under seven months. Time really does fly when your having fun and also when you have a full schedule. I feel like have had both.

I feel a strong sense of gratitude to everybody here at the Abbey for making me feel so at home. I have made many good friends here and I hope these contacts continue into the future.

My meditation instructor, Jerry has been very helpful, bringing me right up against my own "stuff", face to face, so to speak. This has felt uncompromising and very challenging at times. Just what I needed. Jerry has shown a lot of warmth and compassion. Thank you.

It's great that this place exists at all. Much of this is down to the founder (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche), Ani Pema Chodron (resident teacher, author and generous benefactor) and the other monastics here (especially, Ani Palmo, Ani Migme and Lodro Sangpo) who have devoted decades of their lives to making this place work.

I have learned a lot about myself from living here. I have also learned a lot about Tibetan Buddhism, the Karma Kagyu lineage and aspects of Tibetan monastic life. I have also learned the importance of trying to keep an open mind in new situations and being open to different approaches and points of view.

My two fears when coming here were my ongoing problem with back pain and a morbid fear of having to eat with chopsticks. The back was painful at times but has loosened up during my time here. It was never unbearable and I feel a stronger faith in my meditation practice by working through it. The fear of using chopsticks soon went. I rarely dropped food (although I did drop an entire bowl) and would eventually look forward to eating porridge with chopsticks.

My last few weeks here have been a time of great joy. The summer season has continued and the "In House" retreatants have come and gone at a regular pace. It's been really enjoyable meeting so many different practitioners.

I passed on my job to Lisa a couple of weeks ago. She picked it up very quickly with minimal training and this left me some time to relax a little more and spend some more time showing tourists around the Abbey.

I have enjoyed walks into Pleasant Bay for ice cream and exercise, swims on the beach and hikes into the beautiful wooded Cape Breton hills. I have seen moose, Gardner snakes, fox, chipmunk a plenty, whales, seals and golden eagle.

We had an Order Member from Mexico come here in August for a solitary retreat. His name is Kavindu. It was lovely to meet another OM out here in Karma Kagyu land and we spent some time together when he arrived and again just before his departure. What a delightful guy.

Yeshe, a temporary monk who had been here a couple of years, left just recently. I was sad to see him go and had really treasured his company. He had taught me the office job when I first arrived. A very kind and thoughtful chap. We had a communal "leavers choice" movie night together. We both chose Monty Python's "Life of Brian". I had a great laugh watching this and it made me feel quite homesick (considering it was set in Israel and filmed in Tunisia). I certainly came out of the movie feeling very "English".

I have also been on solitary retreat myself for the last six days in a cabin called "Cliff Hanger". With high winds at times, I was unsure if it was hanging on or hanging off, as it swayed in the breeze. The views were spectacular, both for sea, coast line, eagles and sunset. My meditation practice finally clicked into gear (perhaps 6 months fairly intensive preparation helped a bit) and I had a great retreat. I really enjoyed reading "A Yogi's Joy" by Sangharakshita. A great read and very inspiring.

I am now into my last couple of days and have started thinking about practical stuff, such as washing my clothes and inspecting the dust under my bed (I knew I shouldn't have left it so long).

Love to All,


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cancer Society Sponsorship

Thanks to all of you who sponsored me for the Cancer Society walk all those months ago. The event was great fun as well as being for a very worthy cause. It's great that Gampo Abbey supports this local event each year with their enthusiastic participation.

Particular thanks to the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order in Letchworth for their kind donation of 100 GBP. The final total raised was 225 GBP ($479CAD). Thank you all for your generous support and many thanks to Jayamuni for collecting up the money on my behalf. May you all be well!

Reporting in from the Hermitage

Here is a copy of a reporting in that I prepared for our AHS Quarterly Journal (called Tendrel). As the journal is only available to member...