Showing posts from March, 2008

Peterborough, Tibet and Wolverhampton

I seem to be all over the place at the moment. Physically I'm busy shuttling back and forth between Wolverhampton, Cambridge and Peterborough. But my mind travels further afield to the people of Tibet and the Tibetan refugees I met while traveling in India.

There has been much in the news regarding the civil unrest in Tibet and also concerning the protests at the opening ceremony to Chinese Olympic Games held in Greece. It would seem that whether for good or bad, the civil rights issues in Tibet are going to be an integral part of our memory of these Games.

The Greek police are accused of incompetence for allowing protesters to make such a highly visible demonstration so close to the Chinese delegation and also for "roughing up" two other protesters during the procession of the Olympic flame. The Olympic Committee, meanwhile, struggle to justify allowing China to host the Games.

The Committee claim that inclusion of China and the high media presence during the Games can onl…

Buddhist Meditation Group in Peterborough, UK

I have been back a while now it seems, because I am looking for a new project - and I have found one.

The Cambridge Buddhist Centre made it known that they had received some inquiries from some people in Peterborough,UK, who wished to learn about Buddhism and or learn to meditate. It sounds like a great opportunity , so I have agreed to give it a shot.

I have so far managed to make contact with around half a dozen interested people in Peterborough and hope to start some advertising soon.

We have booked a room at the Quakers, Friends Meeting House in Peterborough, starting on Monday March 24th. It will be a weekly drop-in meditation class open to Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. I feel both excited and a little nervous about taking this on.

I have already received offers of support from good friends in the community including Padmadeepa, Nagavira, Paul Wiseman and my old friend Jayamuni.

I intend to offer introductory meditation in the mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana and genera…

Back to Work

So here I am back in Cambridge, UK and back at work after around nine months of adventures. Firstly, six months at Gampo Abbey and then two pilgrimages back to back in India.

I am beginning to settle back into life here. It was a difficult transition at first and I often felt grouchy and dislocated.

Luckily, I am now back in the bosom of my old community (Bodhicharya community) in Newmarket Road. This is thanks to the generosity of Graham Denton who offered to move to a neighboring community to make space for me. Many Thanks! It feels good to be back here amongst good friends. I feel a sense of warmth, support and common purpose.

I am back working at windhorse:evolution a Buddhist team based right livelihood business/charity (not for profit organisation). My new role here is in the Retail Team. I am project managing the opening of five new evolution (fair trade giftware) shops this year. I handed over the first of these in Walsall, Birmingham, fully shop fitted to our merchandising team …

Hello from Sikkhim - Goodbye India (30/11/07)

Hi All

Made our way out of Kalimpong with a police escort (we have local connections!) and managed to avoid the worst of the political strike.

A whistle stop tour of Gangtok then on to Pelling far up into the hills and fantastic views of the mountains. Clean, fresh stunningly beautiful and very cold. Got up at 5am to watch the sun rise on the snows of Mt. Kachenchunga - well worth the trouble.

Next stop Tashi Ding. A magical shangri-la sort of place in the middle of nowhere. Strong associations with Guru Rinpoche, it has it's own cremation ground and a really special atmosphere. A great place to finish our pilgrimage.

Back down to Siliguri (West Bengal) stopping off on route to pay our respects to one of several caves associated with Guru Rinpoche in this area. This involved a somewhat claustrophobic crawl through a very small tunnel into a bell-shaped meditation chamber (most excellent!). To get to the cave we crossed a wonderful river - video below:

Have finished my antibiotics I am …

Hello from Kalimpong (24/11/07)

Hi Chaps,

I've been here in Kalimpong for three nights now. We are staying in Sangharakshita's old hermitage. It has lots of colonial character if a little cold and damp (no heating).

It's pretty cold here (4000ft) but a bit warmer than Darjeeling. It looks like we were lucky to get out of Darjeeling before the general strike and limited violence of the last couple of days, the army are still on standby. It would have been a bit unnerving to get stranded in the middle of all that.

We still have a general strike here in Kalimpong and this cafe shouldn't really be open. There were some running street fights and one political attack two days ago. Things seem to have calmed down a lot. We leave tomorrow in a police jeep (the brother in law of our friend Wangpo).

This part of West Bengal is fighting to be recognised as an independent state (Ghuorkaland) as it is made up of Nepali's, Tibetans, Tamangs and other hills peoples in addition to displaced Indians pushing up from t…

Hello from Darjeeling (21/11/07)

Hi you All,

Just a quickie, my jeep beckons.

Have evacuated Bodhgaya - although not without saying Hi to HH Karmapa that we nearly met in Sarnath. He arrived after the "other" HH Karmapa had left and we happened to be staying in the Hotel he was using. A very handsome chap and no mistake.

A whistle stop tour of Rajagir and Nalanda University:-

(what an excellent place and the museum is tops) before heading out for a short train journey (only 12 hours) to Siliguri.

A crazy jeep drive up to Darjeeling (7500 ft). My fear of heights is most intense when driving on twisty mountain roads. Thoughts of "Why did I come here?" It's worth the nail biting corners though - what a beautiful place (and cold 7 celcius when we arrived last night). Snow covered mount Kachenchunga on the horizon. So many beautiful Gompas.

15 Mins to go before another nail biting night drive to Kalimpong. Have to leave Darjeeling a day early because of a 4 day political strike starting tomorrow - i.e.…

Hello from Bodhgaya - again (14/11/07)

Hi All,

Second time around and I'm back at Bodhgaya.

After finishing our retreat at Bhaja we were off to Arungabhad where we enjoyed the hospitality of some local mitras (Order friends). From this base we explored the ancient caves of Bhaja, Ajanta and Ellora. Fantastic sculpture and painting. Great atmosphere.

Next stop was Jalgon, to catch a train up to Varanassi. We had a few spare hours here and took the opportunity to enjoy a Bollywood movie (When we first met) in a local Cinema. Three hours of hit musical and very hi energy love story - a bit like 1960's Cliff Richard movies. When the couple finally kissed the whole audience got up and cheered and clapped! Lots of fun, even without subtitles.

The train journey to Varanassi was my third overnight train trip. This was my longest so far, about 21 hours including signal problems. When the points were jammed we all spilled out onto the tracks to walk about and talk. Very Indian.

At Varanassi we walked around the rabbit warren of …

Hello from Pune (28/10/07)

Hi Chaps,

Today finds me in Sunny Pune.

After Sanchi and Bhopal I trained it down to Nagpur (means Snake City). Nowadays
known as Orange City and very juicy they are too. Train delayed three hours - not too bad really - can be a lot worse.

I spent three days in Nagpur exploring archaeological remains of a monastery, stupa and small college patronised by Nagurjuna no less. It's said he experimented in Chemistry here - Alchemy perhaps? Looked like a mini Nalanda.

I had the guided tour of the area by Dhamma Mitra Kapil and our friend from Bodhgaya Dhamma mitra Sheilesh. What a lovely suprise to see him here, such a positive and helpful guy.

We toured the Nagaloka College - a great TBMSG institution, which trains 40 youngsters per year in Buddhist studies during a one year intensive course. About forty students per year attend from all over India.

I was asked to give "short" talk to which I obliged, although with question time it ran into 2 hours! The students were very interested…

Hello from Bhopal (23/10/07)

Hello me Chucks,

Sad goodbyes to Paul and Padmadeepa at Gonda railway station. Alone on a busy platform in a very strange country - gulp!

I've now experience the 2AC overnight sleeper train! Great way to meet people. Air con a little to cold for me. Got a crick in my neck! Meet a couple of very nice railway engineers. Lots of discussions about marriage, divorce and sex! The Indians are not always so reserved as I was led to believe.

A mid price hotel in Sanchi was a pleasant little treat after our cheaper accommodation to date. The Sanchi Stupa site is a real Jewel. I had the extensive site mostly to myself without any hassle from beggars, hawkers of pushy tour guides. Meditated at the big stupa, explored ruined monastery complexes and great little temples. A very relaxed and enjoyable day.

Today I traveled to Bhopal by local bus, sharing a back seat designed for 4 with 6 other people! So many people and rice sacks. No goats or sheep though. Local people smile and point and test out t…