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 members of the Awakened Heart Sangha, I thought I'd share this more widely amongst my non AHS member friends:
Another three months slips by almost unnoticed. They say that time fly’s when you are having fun! This has been an activity packed period for me, including a three-week trip away from the Hermitage during September and October when I combined some holiday with Lama’s teaching day at the Shambhala Centre in London.
The first week was spent in my home town of Royston in Hertfordshire. It was great to stay with an old school friend Fran, and visit my old haunts. I had lunch with my sister Jackie, her grown-up daughter Kylie and my three-year old great nephew, whom I had not met before. It was great to see what a good mother my niece had turned into – so grown up!
My second week I spent in Cambridge, staying with my old Triratna community. I went to the Cambridge Buddhist centre each morning to meditate with old friends and then spent the day catching up with more old friends. I really love Cambridge: the river, the colleges, the museums. I am really pleased that I have managed to maintain my connections there.
During this week I visited a middle school to give a talk to a group of about 50 thirteen-year olds. I had bumped into their RE teacher about 6 months ago and he invited me to visit the next time I was in town. Buddhist robes do tend to turn you into a walking bill-board. We did a short meditation session with the kids and they asked some very interesting and funny questions, including: “what would happen iff the next Dalai Lama is born into a Muslim family?” A good question indeed!
My third week was spent in Spittalfields, London with a Triratna friend called Paola, who used to come to a group I led in Milton Keynes. She always puts me up when I am in town. We went to visit the Japanese section at the British Museum. The quality of some of the Buddhist sculptures was breath-taking – really refined. I have to confess to preferring this far-eastern aesthetic to the Tibetan one. We also visited another old friend Shirley (ex MK Group) at the Jamyang Centre where she is living and volunteering, good to see how other groups do things.
The day before Lama’s talks (both excellent & available on Youtube) I visited Serlingma at her home in London to give her the Zamcho Genyen precepts, the same ordination that I hold. This falls into a grey area between householder and monastic ordination, combining the most essential elements of monastic training but without many of the minor rules contained in the Vinaya.
My ordination was carried out by a fully ordained nun called Ani Migme Chodron and it is unusual for one Zamcho Genyen to ordain another as I did with Serlingma. Lama Shenpen had asked me to seek permission to do this, so that we could explore a wider range of lifestyles within the AHS. Ani Migme obtained permission for this from her preceptor, Thrangu Rinpoche, for which I am very grateful. It was wonderful to watch Serlingma making her commitments and I felt honoured to act in that capacity (photo attached).
Arriving back at the Hermitage I bought myself a car, only the second car I have ever owned. I hope it proves more reliable than my first one, which was a money pit with a leaky windscreen, meaning the carpets were always wet and sometimes grew mushrooms! Fingers crossed. This new car will allow me to get out and about a bit and enjoy some independence. This feels important to me after one year living at the Hermitage. We are a bit isolated! More importantly, this will allow me to get out and about from January to start a Liverpool Meditation Group, a Manchester Meditation Group and a Leeds Meditation Group. Plans for these are coming together and I feel very excited about this project.
Between now and January we have the Vajrasattva retreat and a Mind & Body retreat with Elizabeth Callahan. I will then pause for Christmas pudding before taking a three-week solitary retreat. I am enjoying the darkening winter days and looking forward to my semi-hibernation in my man cave.
Love to all,