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London Buddhist Centre Magazine and Programme January–April 2017


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

Contents The London Buddhist our magazine 3 Editorial 4 The Endless Knot Vishvapani tries to sleep on election night 7 ‘Just Then or Not at All’ Singhamanas on why the world needed Buddhism 11 Buddhist Lives Four Order members tell their stories to Vidyasakhi 14 Mindful Mess Navigating the digital universe, with Becky Pate

Programme: January–April 2017

16 Introduction 18 Getting Started 20 Going Further 24 Sub25 & Sub35 25 Festivals & special events 26 Calendar Jan-Apr 2017 30 Yoga & chi-kung for meditation 31 poetryEast

Contributors to the magazine Ollie Brock lives and works at the London Buddhist Centre, and will not be upgrading to iOS10. Barry Copping (proofreading), a mitra, retired from scientific and technical publishing in 2014. His interests include choral singing and railways. Becky Pate: mitra, yoga teacher, smiler. Currently participating in the cosmic dance that some call life. Singhamanas was ordained at the age of twentyfour, exactly one year after he graduated with an MA in History and French from Edinburgh University. Vidyasakhi has lived and worked around the LBC for twelve years. She is a singer, storyteller and editor and was ordained at Akashavana, Spain, in the summer of 2016. Vishvapani was ordained in 1992. He lives in Cardiff and works as a mindfulness teacher. He has been the Buddhist speaker on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’ for ten years and is the author of Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teaching of the Awakened One. London Buddhist Centre 51 Roman Road, London, E2 0HU 020 8981 1225 lbc.org.uk / contact@lbc.org.uk

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The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

Alternative Searches The auto-complete function on a Google search is a reliable mirror for our times. Typing ‘when will’ into the search box a short time ago returned a top-five set of shortcuts that included ‘When will I die?’, ‘When will it snow?’ and ‘When will I ovulate?’ Updates to Apple’s operating systems are anxiously awaited: number three on the ‘should I’ list is ‘Should I upgrade to iOS10?’ The searches may change with the times – as I write this in November 2016, ‘When will Trump take office?’ has shot right to the top of the ‘when will’ charts – but certain themes persist. Many are related to pregnancy, elections and their results, technology and life expectancy (while the poignant duo, ‘How long will I live?’ and ‘How long will it take me to get home?’ seems to cover most of our existential worries). The modern mind is preoccupied with birth, politics, gadgetry and death. And the modern mind has an immensely powerful tool – the web – to go after what it feels it needs. But what do we really need? The sweep of history does not necessarily tell us. Britain felt it needed to leave the EU, the USA to elect Donald Trump. And there’s a loud voice telling us that, yes, we really should upgrade to iOS10. But history has needed alternatives, too. In this new issue of the London Buddhist, Singhamanas shows us the delicate web of historical conditions which, some fifty years ago, made the creation of a new western Buddhist movement possible. Times have changed since then of course, so Vidyasakhi brings us up to date with

what life for four members of the Triratna Buddhist Order looks like today, in a series of short and moving interviews. Those stories give us glimpses of people touched by an ideal, but with their feet firmly on planet Earth. We can’t avoid the world and its creations, says Becky Pate – so what to do about the technology-glut of our lives? So much for the personal sphere; what if we want to engage in the public one as well, but still exemplify a new kind of consciousness? Vishvapani gives some steers to politically-minded Buddhists. The Buddha was said to have transcended this world, but he was born a human being. Trying to live according to this paradox does away with the distinction between helping ourselves and helping others. The world badly needs emotional positivity, contentment, and wisdom, so practising the Buddha’s teaching with sincerity does both these things. All the activities listed in the back half of this booklet are aimed at exactly that. There is a Tibetan tradition of thanking people for going on retreat, because the person coming back has not been getting a spa treatment – they’ve been trying to change the world by transforming their mind. In that spirit, thank you for everything that you come to at the London Buddhist Centre. – Ollie Brock

The London Buddhist online For commenting, following and sharing. Visit thelondonbuddhist.org

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The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

The Endless Knot

2016 was a year of political upheaval in the UK, the USA and beyond. Are things as bad as we think? Should Buddhists get tangled up in it? Vishvapani investigates

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olitics matters. I inherited this belief from my father who discovered it one November evening in 1938 when he made his way home from school in Berlin and saw the synagogue at the end of his street in flames while Nazi Brownshirts cheered and firemen stood and watched. A few weeks later he was on a kindertransport train to England and would never see his father again. That’s the sharp end of politics, the real meaning that has little to do with the news-cycle and political point-scoring. I’ve always lived in the UK where, for all our troubles, we’ve had several decades of stability and prosperity, and although politics has always been important for me, it’s never had the urgency in my life that my parents felt in theirs. But the world is changing. This isn’t 1939, but much of what is happening now resonates for me as a descendent of the Holocaust. A new wave of refugees is struggling to enter Europe, throwing the continent into disarray. Nationalism is on the rise and opposition to immigration – admittedly a much broader issue than the refugee crisis – was central to both the Brexit decision and the election of 4

Donald Trump. As I write, I am struggling to assimilate the prospect of a vast US Immigration Police force and mass deportations. Of course, this barely scratches the surface of the issues we face, and the one that murmurs to me most insistently, beneath the cacophony of events, is the slow but seemingly inexorable warming of our planet. It’s hard to take in what is happening, harder still to know what will happen next. Like many of my Buddhist friends, I want to know how I can respond in a way that makes a distinctive and authentically Buddhist contribution. I don’t pretend to have cut-anddried answers, but here are some reflections.

Practising mindfulness

My main source of livelihood is as a mindfulness teacher, so through my work I meet a lot of people who are experiencing mental suffering of one sort or another. I tell them that when difficulties arise they should acknowledge them with kindness, but I am sorry to say that on the night of the US election I felt no such equanimity. When I tried to sleep, knots of tension in my stomach jolted me awake. I


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

checked the latest figures in the hope that they would offer some reassurance, but of course what I found tied the knottighter still and I struggled through an entirely sleepless night. That’s what politics can do to you – I’m not advocating it, but at least it showed me that I care more deeply and am affected more strongly than I had realised. The question for me is, how can I continue to care while preserving a creative state of mind? Notwithstanding my failure to practise it on election night, I think mindfulness is essential. What it means is stepping back from the rush of thoughts and opinions and noticing how they affect us, rather than letting them pull us along. Since the election I’ve noticed that my mind is adjusting itself to the prospect of President Trump, conceiving of things that yesterday were inconceivable, feeling the impact of the change and finding the space to think more clearly. That’s mindfulness as well. A similar vigilance is essential for anyone wishing to enter a political domain in a way that is true to Buddhism. You need only glance at the news to see that it is often tribal, entrenched and reactive, and that politicians are frequently more concerned with winning than with truth. I’ve often seen my activist friends be drawn into the very states of mind – fear, anger, resentment – that they oppose so strongly in others. Political loyalties are often inherited from parents or

picked up from friends; we’re drawn by appeals to self-interest and can be won over by charisma. We may take our views from a political leader we admire, rather than from considered reflections of our own, or from party affiliation. We need mindfulness to extract ourselves from the maelstrom of the debate without withdrawing entirely. When members of the Kalama clan asked for the Buddha’s help in making sense of the competing claims of different religious teachers he told them to reject all the conventional sources of faith – which included being impressed by a long-standing tradition or some other source of authority, being swayed by what we feel or what others say, or even by apparent logic. (This chimes with the Buddha’s great insight that hidden emotions and attitudes always lie behind our seemingly rational convictions.) Instead, he said, the Kalamas should listen to people who were wise and rely on what they knew to be true in their own experience. For Buddhists, I think this means that political discourse on its own is not reliable, and that the only authentic guide is what we have come to understand through our lived experience and our practice of the Dharma.

There’s no ‘Buddhist stance’

For this reason, political conviction, like religious faith, is a very personal matter. I think all Buddhists would agree that practising the Dharma helps us to reflect more deeply on our values, and that showing others how to do this is a contribution that Buddhists can make, a form of giving. We could add that all Buddhists are likely to make the ethical precepts their reference point and explore political issues not just on their own terms, but also in relation to teachings such as the centrality of mental states and the need for a ‘middle way’ between doctrinaire views. But it doesn’t follow from this that there’s a distinctively Buddhist position. Between the core Dharmic perspective that Buddhists share and our response to particular issues come many 5


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layers of interpretation, and between different Buddhists those layers will vary greatly. In recent years I’ve noticed a growing tendency to assume that Buddhists should be left-wing, or at least liberal. It so happens that this is where my own views are located, but I have learned that other Buddhists can legitimately disagree. When I lived at the Madhyamaloka community in Birmingham for several years I would frequently discuss political matters with Sangharakshita (the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community) over supper. He was a dedicated Telegraph reader and was profoundly sceptical of what he calls ‘pseudo-liberalism’ and ‘pseudoegalitarianism’. We frequently disagreed, but I respected him and could see that his views were the product of deep reflection. More recently, I’ve noticed friends assume that all Buddhists would vote Remain, and some of them have told me vehemently that Buddhists should support Jeremy Corbyn. The reality is that some Buddhists outside their own immediate circle will have a very different viewpoint on these issues. Saying that there can be no single Buddhist political stance isn’t an argument for disengagement from politics. We should debate our different interpretations in the light of the Dharma, but we must anticipate that our differences will persist. That’s why it’s important for Buddhist institutions to be politically nonpartisan. I’m happy to see Buddhist centres encouraging social and especially environmental ethics, but even when the great majority of us feel strongly about an issue – climate change is the clearest example – I think we need to take care that this ethical activism doesn’t become collective affiliation and a matter of group identity.

Engaging as Buddhists

In my experience, if I respond to a political event in the manner of mainstream opinion, I’m probably not seeing it from a Dharmic perspective. If we want to find a distinctively 6

Buddhist response to politics, I suggest that we should think first of the Dharma and only secondly of the issues. This means being realistic about our contribution and prioritising our efforts – choosing between Dharma teaching, humanitarian work, political activism and so on. For some a distinctively Buddhist approach means bringing mindfulness and compassion to activism. For others, it will mean going into the community to offer directly the changes that politics can only legislate for. I’m a contributor to ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4, where I’m asked to comment on the news but told that I can’t make points that are politically or religiously partisan. What’s left over is considering how issues are discussed, and the emotions and views that are involved, or else considering current events as an illustration of the Buddhist vision of existence. For example, in my talks around the time of the financial crisis, I urged people to consider the crash in terms of how craving, aversion and ignorance were playing out on the small scale of individual choices and on the larger scale of the economy. A similar lesson has come through my advocacy of ‘secularised’ mindfulness practice to the UK Parliament and Welsh Assembly, where it is viewed as a pragmatic intervention with crossparty support.

Actions, not answers

I am confident in these reflections, but as I’ve mentioned, I don’t claim to have answers. Perhaps there are no answers, only actions: things we can do in our own lives to make a difference, whether small or large. We may ask if this is a sufficient response to the world’s difficulties. But that throws up another question: what could possibly suffice? The world of ordinary experience is the domain of suffering, an endless knot we can never unravel. But one thing is certain: the world also needs principled people who are deeply committed to acting with integrity – in other words, with wisdom and compassion. It needs us to practise and


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

‘Just Then or Not at All’

Fifty years ago this April, Sangharakshita founded a new Buddhist movement that was to change the lives of thousands of people. What fostered such unlikely success? Singhamanas on a unique point in history

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e already know the story of the Swinging Sixties: LSD, the CND, Beats, Beatles and baby-boomers. Maybe we’re even familiar with the story of Sangharakshita, the founder of the community that the London Buddhist Centre is a part of: the young British signalman going AWOL after the war, donning saffron robes and walking the dusty roads of India for two decades before returning to Britain, being rejected by the Buddhist establishment here and

moved by circumstance to found a radical new movement. Sangharakshita remembers the early years of the movement as being ‘in tune with the mood of the times’, and has even mused recently that it might not have been possible today. He considers the arising of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community as ‘little short of a miracle’, adding that ‘Not only did the lotus bloom from the mud … Perhaps it had to bloom just then or not at all.’


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017 Sangharakshita maintained a long friendship and correspondence with the poet Allen Ginsberg, here pictured with him at the London Buddhist Centre

What was so special, then, about that time, and that pivotal year, 1967? How had the soil become so fertile that a new Buddhist movement like this could grow up out of it? Looking back, three currents of change stand out: religious crisis, economic confidence and a new strain of idealism.

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he upheavals of the sixties were as much a crisis of religion as of anything else. As Christianity lost a large part of its privileged position in Britain, the possibilities in matters of belief, life-path or ‘spirituality’ were suddenly wide open. The Second World War and Cold War had boosted the sense that a British identity was also a Christian one, and the two conflicts were accompanied by a relative boom in churchgoing. Allied propaganda during those conflicts contained a clear streak of Christian nationalism – initially used against Nazi paganism then against the atheist Soviets. By the late sixties, critics of the western establishment and the Vietnam War were attacking the idea that you can go into battle with ‘God on your side’. As church-going plummeted and traditional institutions such as marriage and the authority of the Church were questioned, an opportunity arose to reimagine the world and how we live.

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The resurgence of Christian national identity in the mid20th century had also supported the rise of the ‘nuclear family’ – that promised idyll of security whose name echoed the chief fear of its era. But by the late 1960s, the revolution in sexual morality and, in particular, female identity was shaking the whole complex web of legally and socially accepted rules which governed family structures in post-war Britain. 1967 – the very same year that Sangharakshita founded his new Buddhist movement – saw a shake-up in the laws restricting divorce, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the availability of contraceptives on the NHS for unmarried couples for the first time. Free from fears of divine wrath, public humiliation and unwanted pregnancy, young people in particular were suddenly able to experiment with different relationships. Old moulds were breaking. Speaking to new western Buddhists soon after the establishment of the movement, Sangharakshita made the shift explicit: ‘We go for refuge to the Buddha amidst broken images … we become Buddhists amidst the ruins of Christian civilisation and culture.’ 1967 was also the zenith of what historians call les trente glorieuses: the thirty years from the end of the Second World War that saw the fastest economic growth in the European history. Young people in particular were able to go into revolt, because they now had the security to do so. Living costs were relatively


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

low and many could afford to work part-time. Students were fully supported by the state and welfare was easier to come by. For many ‘dropping out’ was becoming, perhaps ironically, a perfectly safe option. Getting by on a mixture of grants, benefits, low rents and casual work, founder Order members had time and energy to explore their ideals and pour their energies into expressing them. The transformation of an old Victorian fire station in Bethnal Green into the Buddhist Centre we enjoy today, for instance, would never have been possible without a considerable workforce of young Western Buddhists who not only felt little pressure to build conventional careers for themselves, but were highly inspired by their new ideals. The Triratna Buddhist Community was certainly founded on youth: by the time the LBC finally opened in 1978, fully 92% of all Order members were still under the age of forty. This newly confident generation of baby boomers had grown up with wholly different ideals from those of their wartime parents. All forty-nine songs copyrighted by the Beatles in

1964 were about traditional boy-girl romance. But by 1967 the subject accounted for a meagre 5% of their lyrical output. Romance had been supplanted by freer, more mysterious explorations: the anti-war movement, psychedelic utopianism, existentialism and eastern mysticism. The Beatles had inherited a lot of their new subject-matter from the early poster-boys of the counter-culture, the Beats – Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs et al. As Paul McCartney said, ‘We were all reading Ginsberg and that stuff… Everybody was’. Beat culture was heavily influenced by eastern philosophy and rejected social conformity. As rationing ended and churchgoing spiked, Beatniks were black-and-white-clad, existential sceptics. Yet as the sixties closed the counter-culture was flowering into the unabashedly spiritual world of tie-dyed, doped-up hippies. The new Buddhist movement was so characterised by hippie counter-culture that it even become something of a mixed blessing, as Subhuti (now President of the LBC) remembers: ‘We were quite stuck in

1967 saw the ‘Summer of Love’, the peak of the hippie era

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The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

The building of the London Buddhist Centre, 1970s: the back of the van sits in what is now the reception area

the alternative society … If you didn’t have long hair or smoke dope, this wasn’t the place for you’. he dope-smoke has now cleared of course, and the long hair is definitely optional; but the youthful idealism in the movement is still very much alive. As I look around me here at the LBC I see residential communities still thriving, centre workers living on ‘support’ instead of wages, classes once again packed with young people. In most ways we’ve grown out of the naive enthusiasm for free love and drug-fuelled spiritual awakening that was in the air when the movement began. Cultural shifts in that era certainly smoothed the way for the founding of such a movement. Superficial connections in the counter-culture may even have attracted some of the early Buddhist pioneers who might otherwise never have discovered the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, as the nascent 10

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movement was then known. But ultimately, a deeper force was at work both in those early years and in sustaining the vast labour of love needed to grow the community. 1967 was a moment of crisis, but more importantly it was also one of opportunity. Sangharakshita sensed this and was somehow able to channel something wholly new into existence. Asked recently about his particular role in the emergence of the movement he said this: ‘I could be paradoxical and say I personally haven’t “achieved” anything. However I feel that something – the work of the Dharma – has been achieved through me. I’ve often had this sense of being an instrument of some force. In the past I’ve remarked that I wasn’t the best person to start a new Buddhist movement in the West. But one was needed and I was the only western Dharma teacher available in Britain. I suppose mine has been a life of communication, of translation – allowing myself to be a channel for something beyond me.’ ■


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

Buddhist Lives

At the heart of this Buddhist movement is an Order: men and women putting the Buddha’s teaching at the centre of their lives. What does that look like in 2017? Interviews by Vidyasakhi

Vajrabandhu

I grew up in Kent – Medway Towns, Gillingham to be precise. Predominantly a working class place, a lot of heavy industry traditionally, though Thatcher and her lot put paid to that. That’s why I joined the army: I needed a job. It’s freaky to think about – I was only sixteen. When I see a sixteen-year-old now, I realise I was just a boy. They control your life to an extent that can barely be imagined if you haven’t experienced it. So after seven years I bought my way out, £700, which was a lot of money back then, 1988, but it was money well spent. The plan actually was to take more drugs and have more fun. But within a year I was tired of that life too. I got really interested in Buddhism – I came to Buddhism through books initially, then began to get involved at the LBC. Then the first Gulf War happened. I was called up, so I became a conscientious objector. It was a very, very traumatic time for me. I was reflecting a lot on my mortality. I was absolutely terrified. Then one day I was in the bath, I remember, when I had a moment of insight into impermanence, and I entered a whole different

level of consciousness. It’s very difficult to put into words, but immediately I was in tears because I’d been in this very isolated, painful space, and all of a sudden, doof! The complete opposite. I sensed the interconnectedness of everything. I had no clue what had happened. I had no reference point whatsoever. But somehow, on some level, after that I couldn’t go on as I had before. So I moved to the LBC, which I had been travelling to, quite a long way, twice a week. Maitreyabandhu was saying there might be the possibility of a new community so I kept badgering him … He was a key figure for me, a mentor, and he’s still a friend. So I was one of the founder members of Samaggavasa, the men’s community that’s now upstairs at the LBC. When I got back from being ordained, I remember doing my best not to get involved in teaching – I was scared of it and I was definitely being nudged in that direction, so that did cause a bit of internal conflict. But I was so delighted with my name, I was overjoyed; I couldn’t quite believe that there wasn’t already a Vajrabandhu. It means ‘adamantine kinsman’. And now I’m the caretaker of the LBC. 11


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

I do the traditional duties of a caretaker: a bit of cleaning, minor maintenance. I also do the flowers, which is lovely, it’s one of my favourite jobs. And I have volunteers – that’s one of the best bits, because obviously we’re keeping the centre clean and beautiful, but it’s also Sangha-building, if you like: it’s a gateway for people to get more involved in the centre. And volunteering isn’t consuming – I mean, if you’re coming to the centre for the classes in a sense you are a consumer, but this is an opportunity to relate to the centre in a different way. So it’s an opportunity for people to give.  

Suryagupta

Coming to Canning Town when I was six, having been sent to the Caribbean to live during my very early years, was a shock. You can imagine it: after the lush beauty of Antigua, the high-rise blocks, racist slogans scrawled on the concrete. I remember coming home from school, suddenly being aware of the ugliness. I wondered, how do you create beauty in such a world as this? Even my name didn’t seem to belong to me. I decided that one day I’d change it. I’d first encountered Buddhism when I was at university in Bristol. Around that time I had a near-death experience which made me question everything. I was on an aeroplane coming back from the Philippines and suddenly the plane was plummeting; the passengers, even the stewardesses were panicking. Most people being Catholic, they got their rosaries out and started praying. I thought, Wow, this could be the end of me – and I noticed I didn’t have anything to pray to. At that point I looked out of the window and saw these amazingly intense colours and one huge star in the middle of it all. I was transfixed, looking at the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The moment was quite unearthly and I remember turning back to where everyone was still panicking and praying, but I was completely relaxed. Two months later, I realised I was a Buddhist – on an introductory meditation 12

retreat. I felt a change. Someone on the retreat invited me to an event that was happening in London – the anniversary of Dhardo Rimpoche’s death. Even today I recall that experience and that event and know that it was the defining moment for me: so much energy in the room. Sangharakshita was there and I enjoyed his personality, his dry sense of humour. He spoke in a way I could completely understand: there was a depth I hadn’t experienced before in anybody. I was struck by the fact that Dhardo Rinpoche was so strongly compassionate to all people – he had a school and he was very connected to children, but also to his own practice. I didn’t know what my path was going to look like; I’d need to take it one step at a time, get to know some other Buddhists, get to know this teacher, Sangharakshita, work out what a Buddhist lifestyle is. It actually turned out that at twenty-nine, already an Order member, I became a mother, and my vision of parenting was very much inspired by Dhardo Rimpoche. As for that quest to change my name … Suryagupta means ‘she who is protected or guarded by the sun’. I love it. It’s like an ongoing reminder about where true protection comes from – from love, metta, wisdom.

Dayanatha

I’m a doctor, and I’ve started to use my new name at work. I’ve changed it legally – a lot of paperwork! So I’m now Dayanatha on the medical register. It can be a bit awkward; I’m apprehensive about telling colleagues. But if I’m confident about it, then so is everyone else. It means Lord, or Protector, of Kindness. I was given that name at Ordination because that quality of kindness and helping is a strong feature of my life – as a doctor I can’t help but help! I take people’s suffering seriously. And I put myself on the line a bit. What I’m seeing is that even amongst doctors there’s a lot of negativity, especially at the moment. People do a lot of blaming – of the medical regulator, or Jeremy Hunt. I have tried to speak up a bit, but the


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group pressure is strong, especially the negative group pressure. My Buddhist name actually helps with that though. Judy, my old girlfriend, wanted a Jewish family life, children and all that. I knew that wouldn’t work; yet asking for ordination would break her heart. I came back from a retreat one day and I had to say to her, ‘I’m really sorry, this isn’t making us happy’. It was really painful for both of us, she was saying, ‘What have I done?’ But she also understood. Once we’d broken up there was nothing to stop me, if you know what I mean. I moved into a Buddhist community shortly afterwards, it just felt right. I’ve studied Buddhism since I was fifteen, when I went to the Manchester Buddhist Centre. I used to do the Mindfulness of Breathing before bed, that sort of thing. Then I did a gap year in Israel, living on a kibbutz, working on peace projects. But without working directly on hatred, we got nowhere. It wasn’t until I went to university that I realised that my life just wasn’t working. I felt I was on a treadmill. I was expected to party at uni and then go and get a good job. I was thinking, ‘This is really shallow’. A way I could get more meaning in my life was by becoming a doctor, so I applied and I didn’t get in, which was actually quite devastating. It meant I had to move back to my hometown, Manchester. I became very anxious and I wasn’t enjoying life at all. So at that point I remembered the Manchester Buddhist Centre and I had a sense that that was where I needed to go; that meditation was one of the answers. The people there – they were the people I wanted to be with. So then I applied again to do medicine. Second time around I got an interview for King’s College, London. I remember just before the interview, I sneaked off to the library and did the Mindfulness of Breathing. All the questions in the interview were about ethics, and I remember I answered as a Buddhist, really. Lo and behold, a couple of weeks later, I got a letter – I was offered a place.

Amitajyoti

When I encountered Buddhism I was quite young. I was nineteen, and I’d just gone off to Uni in Newcastle, where I was studying Fine Art, and I was exploring Buddhism at the same time, eventually finding Newcastle Buddhist Centre. So the two things, art and Buddhism, have always gone together for me since then. Actually, also at that time my sister was very ill; she had attempted suicide for the first time. I was very affected by that and I think being in a new city and having to face the pain of that, my mind was very open … Very naturally I was asking questions about what life was about. All through my youth, particularly in my teens, I would have long discussions with my grandparents about religion and life – we’d really argue sometimes, which was quite funny! But it was obviously very meaningful for all of us. My grandfather had always been very philosophical, having been brought up in a (Christian) school in India, not far from the Himalayas. He definitely opened my mind up to the wonders of life. My first experience of dhyana [meditative absorption] happened when I was walking home from their house. We’d been talking about everything – geology, astronomy – and I was looking up at the stars and I just felt the expansiveness and mystery of what was out there. I remember a long time afterwards thinking, Oh, that was an altered state of awareness. Then there was this devastation about my sister. It really tore me apart that she had tried to take her life. I was young and I was on this new art degree course and I was quite excited by it, but I also felt slightly out of my depth. Somehow I had to put myself back together. I’ve always been a very disciplined person, but I also had a rather compulsive aspect to my nature, so those two things combined created a tension in me. If I hadn’t found Buddhism I would probably have had to find something else to support that aspect of my experience, to connect to a bigger picture. ■ 13


The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

Mindful Mess

The average adult in Britain now spends more time in front of a screen than asleep. Is it harder than ever to have a healthy mind? Becky Pate on Buddhism in the technological era

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couple of years ago, shortly after coming to the London Buddhist Centre for the first time, I left Facebook. As I started exploring my mind through meditation and understanding the need for good conditions to practise in, I realised just how toxic my relationship with Facebook had become. Each time I opened the app and starting scrolling through, it confirmed one of my worst fears: my life wasn’t good enough. I also became aware that I would only ever post happy things – the highs, never the lows – so it didn’t tell the full story about what was going on and I felt a responsibility for this. So I left – and what a relief! I felt free. It gave me the space I needed to reconnect with myself in a more meaningful way. I also worked in the world of mobile app development for many years. Whether they’re made for grocery shopping, greetings cards or buying new clothes, one thing is for sure: apps are designed to be addictive, to encourage people to keep coming back and create a ‘sticky’ experience. So while being a consumer in our ever more technological world, I was also contributing to its growth. 87% of us have our smartphones with us all the time – and that includes when we are sleeping. On average we check our phones 150 times per day. They have become an extension of us, our virtual arm. And they are designed to suck us in. 14

Last year I quit my app development job to start teaching yoga. Coming to the LBC and learning to meditate was the start of a journey out of my head and back into my physical experience. I felt strongly that I needed to share this experience with others so I started to teach yoga. Now here comes the twist. As a new teacher I needed to communicate my classes to students, advertise events and connect with other teachers. It suddenly dawned on me that the most effective way of doing this was of course via Facebook. So, tentatively at first, I opened a new account. technology-run world is a double-edged sword. As with my yoga classes, technology enables the LBC to share information about events, courses and retreats; it also provides ways for people to stay connected outside of the centre, on the Sub35 Facebook group for example. And it’s quite common to speak to people at the centre who simply googled ‘meditation East London’ and stumbled on the LBC website. Thanks to meditation apps such as Headspace and Insight Timer, as well as platforms such as Yoga Glo, meditation and yoga teachings have gone mainstream and now reach a far wider audience. So it can’t be denied that technology enables so much; without it the LBC

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The London Buddhist Jan–Apr 2017

When even apps can play a role in getting in finding more meaning, how do we find a balance?

might not have so many budding meditators coming through the door, or booked-out retreats. Having this channel of communication is key. But for all the benefits of technology, it also brings great risks, especially in the context of the Buddhist ethics of communication. With four of the ten Buddhist precepts about speech and communication, does the easy, addictive and mindless nature of technology support this? The constant bombardment we face from emails, Whatsapp pings and messenger notifications can make us feel not just overwhelmed but also quite reactive. It encourages us to respond on a more subconscious emotional level as opposed to giving a more considered, conscious response. A key question for Buddhists arising from this is, does it make us less kind? It broke my heart recently to read about a trend on YouTube where young women upload videos of themselves asking the question, ‘Am I fat, am I ugly?’ As if this wasn’t bad enough, the strings of comments under the videos are even worse. Complete strangers seem not to hesitate to post nasty comments about someone’s weight, looks, selfesteem. Does this not strip away the ability to

connect with others on a much deeper, human level? At such a rapid rate of growth, the impact of technology on our society is not yet fully understood, in particular around the way that we communicate with others. However, in a world where facial recognition is already here, artificial intelligence is just around the corner and the LBC’s email database is growing, what is clear is that technology is here to stay! So the work is learning to use the practice to interact with technology in a productive, healthy and mindful way. o as I tap on the blue ‘F’ icon on my phone for the twentieth time today, I pause and ask myself: what is it that I am looking for? Surely I don’t need to see any more cat videos, photos of what people have been up to at the weekend or weird targeted advertising for more things I really don’t need to buy? No, I don’t. The reality is I have been sat at my laptop all morning and I am bored. I am looking for a distraction. I am looking for connection, a buzz, to see if anyone has liked or commented on my latest profile picture. Well that’s fine, a quick check – six more likes, two more comments, zero messages – but ten minutes later I’m bored again. The problem is, it is only a temporary solution. The buzz doesn’t last. That is why we go back and check it again. It doesn’t solve our problems or serve us on the long run. It activates our reactive, cyclical mind. The stimulations from screens trigger the constant comparing, scheming, fantasizing, worrying and ruminating that only make our sense of ourselves heavier. In many ways this is the exact opposite of what we are doing in meditation practice: coming into a more sensory experience, expanding our awareness of others. On that note, I am going to shut Facebook, close my eyes and see if I can find the answer elsewhere. ■

S

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Programme Jan–Apr 2017


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Getting started

For anyone interested in getting a taste of Buddhist meditation and those new to the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana meditation practices

Spring Retreat

Beyond Self-Clinging

Led by Satyadasa & Abhayanandi

True confidence or faith arises from an imaginative connection with a reality that lies beyond self-clinging. This connection grows at every step on the Buddhist path, in our practice of ethics and meditation and in how we see and understand the world. Join us for a chance to explore this through meditation, and to enjoy simple communal living at this wonderful time of year. For newcomers, or those in their first two years of practice. 14-23 Apr at Vajrasana. £450/£340. Booking essential.

Life with Full Attention Led by Vidyadaka & Mahamani

Mindfulness is about living fully and vividly, without rumination or distraction. This course is a systematic approach to mindfulness and authentic happiness, starting with applying mindfulness in everyday life and culminating in mindfulness of the nature of reality. The book Life with Full Attention will be our guide to daily practice. 8 weeks from 17 Jan. 7.15-9.45pm. £140/£110 (includes book). Booking essential.

Intro to Buddhism & Meditation Weekends

An ideal way to encounter meditation and the Buddhist vision for the first time. So join us to learn two fundamental, far-reaching meditation practices, while living communally with diverse but likeminded people.

20-22 Jan, 24-26 Feb, 24-26 Mar. At Vajrasana. £180/£140. Booking essential.

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Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Classes Lunchtime Meditation Taster Monday to Saturday

Drop in and learn the principles of meditating on kindness and awareness in these lunch-hour taster sessions.

1-2pm. All welcome. Donation/dana.

Evening Meditation Tuesday and Wednesday

Meditation is a way of creating a fit and healthy mind and a positive and creative world. Drop in to learn two fundamental practices that cultivate clear awareness, peace of mind and emotional positivity.

7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £11/£6.

Open Mind Club Tuesday afternoons

After school club for young people aged 11–17.

Led by Srivati and team 4.30-5.30pm. Tuesdays 3 Jan–28 Mar (excluding 14 Feb). Free. Suggested donation 10p-£1.

Daytime Class Wednesday Morning

This term we will be taking an in-depth look at one of the most widely-known ancient Buddhists texts, the Dhammapada, and applying its wisdom to our lives. Meditation teaching to newcomers except on the first Wednesday of every month (practice morning).

10.35am-12.30pm. Creche facilities for children 6 mths-5 yrs, supported by experienced staff. Donation/dana.

Yoga, Chi Kung & Meditation Thursday Evenings

A meditative evening starting with yoga or chi kung, followed by sitting meditation, to bring

harmony to the mind and body. Suitable for beginners. Wear warm, comfortable clothing.

7.15-9.30pm. Cost £11/£6.

Weekday Lunchtime and Early Evening Yoga Drop-in sessions of yoga for meditation, encouraging flexibility, strength and awareness of bodily sensations. Suitable for all levels. Classes restart on 3 Jan. • Weekday lunchtimes, 12-12.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £6. No need to book. • Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri evenings, 5.456.45pm. £8. No need to book.

Saturday Morning Yoga Yoga classes re-start on 3 Jan.

• First session: 10-11.15am. (This class finishes with some sitting meditation.) • Second session: 11.30am-12.30pm. £10 per class. No need to book, just drop in.

Courses Introduction to Buddhism & Meditation

Day events Open Day

On these stimulating and lively days you’ll get a taste of what goes on at the London Buddhist Centre. Find out about Buddhism, learn to meditate and try a taster session in Breathing Space, our project offering mindfulness for well-being. Sun 15 Jan, 11am-5pm. Refreshments provided & all events free. No need to book.

Introduction to Meditation

Spend a whole day learning how to keep both your mind and heart in steady focus, with meditation practices that help cultivate openness, clarity and courage.

Sun 22 Jan, 19 Feb, 12 Mar, 16 Apr. 10am-5pm. Lunch provided. £40/£30. Booking essential.

Outreach: Courses in central London

An overview of Buddhist principles and an introduction to two meditation practices that offer a means to self-awareness, change and spiritual insight.

Buddhist Meditation Foundation Courses

Sub25 Series: The Threefold Path

Saturday mornings (10am-12.30pm) starting 7 Jan, 4 Feb, 4 Mar & 1 Apr. £90/£70. Booking essential. At 52 St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4EA

6 weeks from Mon 16 Jan, 27 Feb or 10 Apr. 7.15-9.45pm. £100/£80. Booking essential.

Join us to explore the Threefold Path of ethics, meditation and wisdom. Come to the entire series for a thorough grounding in these three key areas of Buddhist practice, or just drop in when you can. All those aged 16-25 welcome. By donation. 20 Jan, 17 Feb, 17 Mar, 21 Apr, 19 May, 16 Jun. 7.15-9.30pm.

An ideal way to learn meditation – four-week introductory courses supported by handouts, home practice and simple, straightforward teaching.

Weekly drop-in classes and courses are also happening in Hornchurch and in Mid Essex. See hornchurchbuddhistgroup.org.uk

and

mid-essex-buddhist-centre.org.uk

for details.

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Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Going Further

If you know both meditation practices or are a Mitra or Order member, all these events are for you

Mandala Evening

The Wisdom of Words With Jnanavaca

The spiritual community, the Sangha, is the ideal context in which we can practise the Dharma. It is also a force for good in the world and an ideal in its own right. But how is the Sangha sustained? Continuing our exploration of ‘The Four Sangharavastus’ (or Means of Unification of the Sangha), Jnanavaca will launch the year with a keynote talk on the second of these, Kindly Speech. Mon 16 Jan. 7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £7.

Seminar

Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps With Maitreyabandhu & Subhadramati

All Buddhist practice arises out of the Buddha’s experience of Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree two-and-a-half thousand years ago. His quest for ultimate meaning and value, his attainment of Enlightenment, are the keystones for all genuinely Buddhist practice. In this drop-in seminar we will explore the archetypal symbolism of Buddha’s life and how the inner meaning of his life expresses the universal quest for meaning, value, love and mystery. 23 Jan–20 Feb, as part of the Monday Class. 7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £7.

Saturday Morning Meditation Exploring reality through meditation

These drop-in, intensive meditation courses are aimed at deepening our understanding of meditation, and of the ways we can move beyond ordinary, divided consciousness into Samadhi. For those who know both meditations. 9am-12.30pm. (Doors open at 8.45am and close at 9.15am – no entry after this time.) Free. Suggested donation £15/£8. • 7, 14 & 21 Jan. Led by Maitreyabandhu • 4, 11 & 18 Feb. Led by Satyadasa • 4, 11 & 18 Mar. Leader TBC • 15, 22 & 29 Apr. Led by Vandanajyoti

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Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Courses Three Paths to Wisdom: Meditating on Reality Led by Maitreyabandhu & Shraddhasiddhi

The purpose of meditation is to change your life, to realise that there is more to the mind, more to being human, and more to life than we realise. This six-week drop-in course will focus on meditation as a path of discovery, insight and freedom. 6 Wednesdays starting 11 Jan. 7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £11/£6. No need to book.

Sub25 Series: The Threefold Path

Buddhism offers both an inspiring vision of what life could be like and a practical path for living it out. Join us to explore the Threefold Path of ethics, meditation and wisdom. Come to the whole series, or just drop in when you can. All those aged 16-25 welcome. By donation. 20 Jan, 17 Feb, 17 Mar, 21 Apr, 19 May, 16 Jun. 7.15-9.30pm.

Classes Lunchtime Meditation Taster Monday to Saturday

Drop in and take your practice of kindness and awareness deeper in these meditation tater sessions. 1-2pm. All welcome. Donation/dana.

Dharma Night Monday Evenings

Explore Buddhism through lively seminars, talks, meditation and puja. Whether you have done one of our introductory courses and want to learn more, or you

have learned to meditate with us and are wondering what being a Buddhist is all about, you can drop in and participate any Monday evening.

7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £7).

Evening Meditation Tuesday and Wednesday

Meditation is more than just a technique. After learning two fundamental practices, explore how to work with your mind more deeply and thoroughly. With led meditation, further teaching and guidance.

7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £11/£6.

Daytime Class Wednesday Morning

This term we will be exploring an ancient Buddhist text, the Dhammapada – said to be the closest we can get to the Buddha’s actual words – looking at their relevance for our lives today. The first class of every month is a ‘practice morning’, devoted to meditation and ritual practices – a wonderful way to start the month!

10.35am-12.30pm. Creche facilities for children 6 mths-5 yrs, supported by experienced staff. Donation/dana.

Yoga, Chi Kung & Meditation Thursday Evenings

A meditative evening starting with yoga or chi kung, followed by sitting meditation, to bring harmony to the mind and body. Wear warm, comfortable clothing. All welcome. 7.15-9.30pm. Cost £11/£6.

Meditation and Puja Friday Evenings

Devotional practice helps us to engage with the Sangha and strengthen confidence in the Dharma. So bring the week

to a contemplative close with meditation and ritual. Also in this session, several special pujas dedicated to different embodiments of the Buddha:

• Fri 27 Jan: Puja to Manjushri • Fri 24 Feb: Puja to Prajnaparamita 7-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £7.

Transforming Self and World

Mornings exploring Buddhism’s relevance to the social issues of the day and how we can apply the Dharma to transform both ourselves and our communities. Hosted by the Transforming Self and World team, with talks from Order members. Last Saturday of the month, 10am1pm. Free (suggested donation £7). No need to book. • 28 Jan with Akashadevi • 25 Feb with Jnanavaca • 25 Mar with Satyadasa • 29 Apr with Singhashri

Women’s Class Monthly Saturdays

A meditation and Buddhism class for women who know the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana meditations. Led by Mahamani, Sudurjaya, Satyapurna & Tareshvari 3-5.30pm. 21 Jan, 18 Feb, 18 Mar, 15 Apr. Free. Suggested donation £8/£5.

Lunchtime Course/ Meditation Toolkit What is Meditation?

Over six lunchtimes we’ll be learning to transform the resistances that hold us back in meditation, allowing us simply to trust the process of awareness and let ease and contentment unfold. Drop into any one of the classes or come to all six.

Led by Jayaka Mon 16–Sat 21 Jan, 1-2pm. Donation/ dana. As part of the lunchtime drop-in meditation class.

21


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Going Further

Continued

Days & evenings Buddhism & 12-Step Recovery

These days are for people who are in 12-Step Recovery Groups and are also interested in Buddhism and meditation. Come and join us for a day of Sangha, fellowship and practice. For those familiar with the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana.

Sat 11 Mar

Heart of a Dog by Laurie Anderson. Portraying the final illness of her pet dog Lolabelle, Laurie Anderson inventively finds ways to reflect on a seemingly unlikely collision between the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism and the New York cosmopolitanism which characterizes her own life. Anderson’s husband was the great songwriter Lou Reed, who died in 2013: this film turns out to be a tender tribute to him.

Led by Sanghasiha and friends Sun 8 Jan, 10am-5pm. Bring vegetarian/vegan lunch to share. Free. Suggested donation £30. No need to book.

7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £7 per evening. No need to book.

Full Moon Pujas

Total Immersion Day

These monthly rituals give a regular point of devotional focus and the chance to explore Buddhist ritual. In coming together on the full moon of each month, we are joining Buddhists across the world in a tradition that goes back to the Buddha himself. Thu 12 Jan, Sat 11 Feb, Sun 12 Mar, Tue 11 Apr. Times to be announced. Donation/dana.

Film Nights

Screenings of films which have Buddhist resonances, hosted by Vidyasakhi and Kusalasara.

Sat 21 Jan

Great Expectations by David Lean. This 1946 adaptation translates Dickens’s novel gracefully and poignantly into the cinematic mode. It combines colourful characters with an intriguing plot, posing questions about the nature of agency and the self.

22

Intensify your meditation and plunge into the depths of the mind on this silent meditation day. For meditators who know both practices. Led by Vajrabandhu Sun 5 Feb. 10am-5pm. Bring vegetarian/vegan lunch to share. Free. Suggested donation £30.

Buddhist Sunday School

Encouraging and developing our children’s mindfulness and kindness through Buddhist practice and storytelling. Includes meditation, chanting and craft activities. For 3-10 year olds, parents/carers welcome. Led by Jyotismati and team Last Sunday of every month: 29 Jan, 26 Feb, 26 Mar, 30 Apr. 10.30am12.30pm

Date for the Diary Triratna Day Celebrations Celebrating fifty years of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community. The LBC will be

hosting a day of events to celebrate the presence of Bhante Sangharakshita’s vision in the world, and its significance in the unfoldment of the Buddha’s teachings.

Sat 8 Apr. Times and details to be announced nearer the time.

Chi Kung and Meditation Workshop

Bringing body, heart and mind in to harmony. Chi Kung means ‘working with energy’, which we will do by learning some basic movements and standing positions. We will then use the same energy in meditation to bring about an inner harmony and tranquillity. Suitable for all levels of experience.

Led by Jayaka Sat 11 Mar, 2.30-5pm. Free. Suggested donation £15/session. Booking essential.

Compassionate Communication Freeing ourselves from Anger

The longer we choose to indulge in anger and irritation, the greater will be our bondage to reactivity and suffering. On this day we will build our capacity to choose more creative responses in situations we find challenging. Led by Vajraghanta Sun 12 Mar, 10am-5pm. Bring vegetarian/vegan lunch to share. £40/30. Booking essential.

Heart of Mantra Chanting & Meditation

Mantras are sound symbols that can point towards the mystery and beauty of Enlightenment. The day will be an exploration


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

of this mystery, and will include chanting, discussion and meditation. Suitable for those who know both meditations. Led by Dayabhadra Sun 19 Mar, 10am-5pm. Bring veg/vegan lunch to share. Free. Suggested donation £30. No need to book.

Deep Ecology Day

‘We are related to nature... This relationship may be compared with seeing a light through a thick veil; sometimes the veil seems to be so thick that we are unable to see the light at all.’ – Sangharakshita. A day exploring our relationship as Buddhists with the natural world through ritual, music, poetry, meditation, talks, discussion and sound meditation. Led by Sanghasiha and friends Sun 23 Apr, 10am-5pm. Bring vegetarian/vegan lunch to share. Free. Suggested donation £30. No need to book.

Retreats Sangha Retreat

This is a low-cost mid-week retreat at Vajrasana, in the beautiful Suffolk Countryside, with the emphasis on living and working together. We will spend about three hours each day working on the upkeep of the gardens and buildings. The retreat will also include study, meditation, Buddhist ritual and free time. Led by Priyavajra and Jnanaruchi 12-17 Mar. £100/£75. Booking essential.

Regulars’ Weekend Retreat The Liberated Mind

Each one of us has a desire for freedom, but so often this desire and energy gets drawn into things that limit and confine us. How do we harness our desire and transform this energy so that we really can have a taste of a completely liberated mind? For those who know both the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Metta Bhavana. Led by Suryagupta and Vidyadaka 17-19 Mar. £180/£140. Booking essential.

Buddhism and 12-Step Recovery

A weekend retreat for people in 12-Step recovery groups who are also interested in Buddhism and meditation. There will be periods of meditation, talks about recovery and Buddhism, free time to explore the beautiful countryside and plenty of time to talk about 12-Step recovery principles and our practice of Buddhism and meditation. For those familiar with the Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana. Led by Sanghasiha and friends 7-9 Apr at Vajrasana. £180/£140. Booking essential.

Women’s Retreat

On this weekend we will be exploring the relationship between the historical Buddha and the archetypal, mythical realm. By looking particularly at Green Tara, we will seek out the qualities of fearlessness and compassion in our own practice.

For women familiar with the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Metta Bhavana. Led by Mahamani, Sudurjaya, Satyapurna and Tareshvari 31 Mar-2 Apr. £180/£140. Booking essential.

Men’s Weekend at Padmaloka 21st Century Bodhisattva The Bodhisattva is the ideal of Buddhism, the hero working to better the world. On this ‘Great Gathering’ we’ll be exploring how we can live in a more Bodhisattva-like way, aspiring to respond to the modern world as the Buddha would respond. Led by Vajrashura and Dharmashalin 24-26 Feb. Book at padmaloka.org.uk

Volunteering Volunteering can be a satisfying and energetic way of giving to the centre. See the section of our website labelled ‘Support Us’ for more. Volunteer sessions

Straight after the lunchtime class, join in with the work period, cleaning the centre and looking after the shrines. Every Monday & Thursday, 2.30pm.

If you would like more information or would like to chat with someone about this, please contact Vajrabandhu on vajrabandhu@lbc.org.uk or drop in at one of these times.

23


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Sub25 & Sub35 groups

Sub25

Sub35

Third Friday Sub25 Class

Final Friday of the Month • Young Women’s Night

A monthly chance for those aged 16-25 to come together to explore Buddhism and make friends through meditation, discussion and tea. 7.15-9.30pm. All welcome. By donation.

Sub25 Series The Threefold Path

Buddhism offers both an inspiring vision of what life could be like and a practical path for living it out. Join us to explore the Threefold Path of ethics, meditation and wisdom. Come to the entire series for a thorough grounding in these three key areas of Buddhist practice, or just come when you can and get a taste of the Buddhist vision. All those aged 16-25 welcome. By donation. 20 Jan, 17 Feb, 17 Mar, 21 Apr, 19 May, 16 Jun. 7.15-9.30pm.

Day Retreat Living a meaningful life

We all look for meaning in our lives but so often struggle to find it. Spend a day gathered with like-minded people under 25 exploring what it means to live according to real values.

Sun 2 Apr. 11.30am-4.30pm. Bring a vegetarian lunch to share. By donation.

To join the Sub25 mailing list or for more info, email alex@lbc.org.uk

24

Join us to explore meditation and Buddhism in a friendly, relaxed and intimate environment. An opportunity to make friends with other young women at the centre and support each other’s spiritual practice. With meditation, discussion and tea. Experience of both meditation practices required. 7.15-9.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £7.

• Men’s Speakers’ Club

Come along to hear short talks on Buddhist themes, to get involved with debate, or to deliver your own talk and open up to questions and skilful feedback. Improve your speaking skills in an atmosphere of friendship and values. Minimum six months’ experience at the LBC required. 7.15-9.30pm. Free. Suggested donation £7.

Sub35 Retreat: Our Mind, Our World

On this retreat we will be exploring the benefits of Buddhist meditation, which offers a chance to concentrate our minds and become more absorbed in our experience. When we do this we feel more together and positive, brightening our attitudes to ourselves and the world. We are also more in touch with reality. There will be meditation for both regulars and newcomers, periods of silence and ritual – all in a friendly atmosphere, with like-minded people. Led by Kusalasara and Dayanatha 27-29 Jan. £180/£140. Booking essential.

The Sub35 team also runs a programme of events for men, including Dharma study and socials. For an invitation, email nextgeneration@lbc.org.uk


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Festivals & Special Events Open to all

Vajrasattva Puja Led by Vidyadaka

Vajrasattva represents the principle of purification. He is the supreme, primordial Buddha who demonstrates the liberation of the enlightened mind, manifesting the purity of body, speech and mind of all Buddhas. Vajrasattva is associated with death, so, in preparation for Parinirvana Day Festival join us for this special full moon puja and meditation devoted to Vajrasattva. Sat 11 Feb, 3-6pm. Free. Suggested donation £7.

Parinirvana Day Festival Led by Suryagupta & Silapiya

Parinirvana Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the beauty and poignancy of impermanence as well as celebrate the final passing of the Buddha. Even today, thousands of years later, we still feel the benefit of his shining example and the unparalleled gift of his forty-five years of teaching. Join us as we rejoice in the life of the Buddha and his inspiring final days. Sun 12 Feb, 10am-10pm. Bring vegetarian/vegan lunch to share. Check the programme for the day nearer the time. No need to book.

Looking ahead… Entering Enlightenment

Regulars’ weekend & Buddha Day Festival at Vajrasana

This year the LBC will be celebrating Buddha Day in a special festival weekend at Vajrasana retreat centre. ‘Vajrasana’ is the symbolical centre of the universe, the place where the Buddha gained Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. In the context of a weekend retreat for people with a regular practice of the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Metta Bhavana, Maitreyabandhu and Subhadramati will lead an exploration into the mystery of Enlightenment – with stories, ritual, music, meditation and a keynote talk by Jnanavaca. Book for the whole weekend or just come up for the day on Sunday.

Retreat: 12-14 May. £180/140. Booking essential. Buddha Day: 14 May. Free.

Transport will be available for the retreat and the day, details to be announced nearer the time.

25


Monday

6

13

20

27 Intro to Buddhism & Meditation course starts (p19)

Tuesday

7

14

21

28

Wednesday

Thursday

3

Friday

Saturday

11 Intensive meditation morning

with James Meek (p31)

Sunday

5 Total Immersion Day

(p22)

12 Parinirvana Day Festival

(p25)

19 Introduction to Meditation Day

(p19)

25 26 Transforming Self & World (p21) poetryEast

(p20)

18 Intensive meditation morning

(p20)

(p20)

2

17 Sub25 series

24 Intro Weekend

(p19)

10

1

23

16

9

4 Intensive meditation morning

8

15

22

at Vajrasana starts (p18)

Men’s Weekend at Padmaloka starts (p23)

February February


Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

4

Not all events are listed in this calendar

10

3

Our daily, weekly, daytime and evening classes can be found in the Getting Started and Going Further sections, near the start of this programme. Retreats are also listed there.

2

9

11 ‘Three Paths to Wisdom’

Drop-in meditation course starts (p21)

18

Thursday

Friday

6

Saturday

7 Intensive meditation morning

(p20)

14 Intensive meditation morning at Vajrasana starts (p30)

21 Intensive med. morning (p20) Film Night

13 Yoga & Meditation Retreat

(p20)

January 5

12

19

20 Intro Weekend retreat

Great Expectations (p22)

with Max Porter & Evie Wyld (p31)

Sunday

1

8 Buddhism & 12 Steps Day

(p22)

15 Open Day

(p19)

22 Introduction to Meditation Day

(p19)

28 27 29 Sub35 Weekend Transforming at Vajrasana starts (p24) Self & World (p21) poetryEast

Sub25 series

at Vajrasana starts (p18)

26

course starts (p18)

Med. Toolkit

25

(p 19)

31

continues until 21st

17 16 Mandala Evening Life with Full with Jnanavaca (p20) Attention Intro to Buddhism course starts (p19)

Med. Toolkit (p21)

24 23 ‘In the Buddha’s 30 Footsteps’ Intro Buddhism & yoga seminar starts (p20)

course starts (p30)


Tuesday

Wednesday

26

19

12

5

Not all events are listed in this calendar

25

18

11

4

Our daily, weekly, daytime and evening classes can be found in the Getting Started and Going Further sections, near the start of this programme. Retreats are also listed there.

Monday

3

10 Intro to Buddhism & Meditation course starts (p19)

17

24

Friday

1

Saturday

Sunday

(p23)

30

23 Deep Ecology Day (p23)

(p19)

16 Introduction to Meditation Day

9

(p24)

2 Sub25 Day Retreat

at Vajrasana starts (p23)

22 Intensive meditation morning

29 Intensive med. morning

(p21)

Transforming Self & World

(p20)

(p20)

(p20)

14 Spring Retreat

21 Sub25 series (p19)

at Vajrasana starts (p18)

15 Intensive meditation morning

7 8 Buddhism & 12 Triratna Day Steps weekend Celebrations

April

Thursday

6

13

20

27

28 Yoga, chi-kung & Meditation Retreat Long weekend at Vajrasana starts (p30)


Monday

Tuesday

28

21

14

7

March 6

13

20

27

Wednesday

Thursday

3

Friday

Saturday

11 Intensive med. morning (p20) Chi-kung & meditation (p22) Film Night (p22) 18 Intensive med. morning (p20) poetryEast

25 Transforming Self & World

(p21)

with James Meek (p31)

(p20)

2

24 Intro Weekend retreat

at Vajrasana starts (p18)

at Vajrasana starts (p23)

17 Sub25 series (p19) Regulars’ Weekend

10

1

30

23

16

9

4 Intensive meditation morning

8 Yoga for Meditation regulars’ course

starts (p30)

15

22

29

31 Women’s Weekend

at Vajrasana starts (p23)

5

Sunday

12 Introduction to Meditation (p19) Compassionate Comm. (p22)

19 Heart of Mantra

(p22)

26


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

Yoga & chi-kung for meditation

‘When you practise Yoga with genuine interest and commitment, you become more and more conscious of your states of mind. As a result you will experience your aliveness in a more intense and refined way, and your general awareness will increase.’ – Bodhipaksa

Our Hatha yoga classes encourage flexibility, strength and awareness of physical sensations. Loosening up the body and deepening our awareness of it can be a great way into sitting meditation. Chi-kung, meanwhile, is a Chinese practice whose name means ‘the way of energy’. It uses gentle warm-ups and standing postures to encourage awareness of what we call subtle energy – a precious ingredient in our meditation practice.

Weekday Lunchtime and Early Evening Yoga

Drop-in sessions of yoga for meditation. All levels. Classes re-start on 3 Jan. Weekday lunchtimes 12-12.45pm. Free. Suggested donation £6. No need to book. Mon/Tues/Wed/Fri evenings 5.45-6.45pm. £8. No need to book.

Yoga, Chi Kung & Meditation Thursday Evenings

A meditative evening starting with yoga or chi kung, followed by sitting meditation, to bring harmony to the mind and body. Suitable for beginners. Wear warm, comfortable clothing. 7.15-9.30pm. £11/£6. No need to book, just drop in.

Saturday Morning Yoga Classes re-start on 3 Jan.

• First session: 10-11.15am. (This class finishes with some sitting meditation.) • Second session: 11.30am-12.30pm. £10 per class. No need to book, just drop in.

Introduction to Buddhism, Meditation and Yoga Course

A six-week course offering an overview of Buddhist principles, and an introduction to basic yoga postures and two meditation practices that offer a means to self-awareness, change and spiritual insight. Transform your perspective on the world and develop tools you can use for a lifetime. Led by Danayutta and Holly Starts Mon 30 Jan. 2.30-5pm. £100/£80. Booking essential.

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Yoga and Meditation Retreat

A weekend in the countryside working to integrate our bodies and minds to create a positive and unified whole. Meditation teaching for both newcomers and regulars, and yoga suitable for all levels. Led by Danayutta and Priyavajra 13-15 Jan at Vajrasana. £180/£140.

Yoga for Meditation Days

Meditation teaching for both newcomers and regulars, and yoga suitable for all levels.

Led by Danayutta and team Sun 29 Jan, 19 Mar. 10am-5pm. Bring vegetarian/vegan lunch to share. £40/£30. Booking essential.

Yoga for Meditation course for regulars

A six-week course on liberating energy, refining our senses and increasing awareness through yoga postures and meditation. For regular practitioners of yoga – no experience of meditation required.

Led by Danayutta & Dayanatha Starts Wed 8 Mar, 7.15-9.45pm. £100/£80. Booking essential.

Chi Kung and Meditation Workshop

Learning some basic movements and standing positions in chi kung, then bringing the energy they generate into meditation, for inner harmony and tranquillity. Suitable for all levels of experience. Led by Jayaka Sat 11 Mar, 2.30-5pm. Free. Ssuggested donation £15/session. Booking essential.

Yoga, Chi Kung and Meditation Retreat A long-weekend retreat, similar to the yoga and meditation weekend but with the additional opportunity to explore and learn chi kung. 28 Apr-1 May at Vajrasana. £210/£160.


Programme Jan–Apr 2017

poetryEast in association with the

poetryEast is an ongoing series of cultural events at the LBC, exploring the meaning and value of the imagination. Previous guests have included Michael Frayn, Wendy Cope and Michael Longley. This spring, poetryEast is proud to announce a second series in association with the London Review of Books, hosted by Maitreyabandhu, focussing on the modern novel. (Subscriptions to the LRB will be available at a significant discount on these evenings.) To join the mailing list, send a blank email to info@poetryeast.net.

Max Porter & Evie Wyld Saturday 28th January

Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing With Feathers, a meditation on grief and loss and love, is ‘a perfect summation of what it means to lose someone but still to love the world’ (Guardian). Evie Wyld was on Granta magazine’s once-in-a-decade list of ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ in 2013. Her most recent novel, All the Birds, Singing, won the Miles Franklin award, Australia’s most prestigious literature prize, while the Independent called her a ‘young writer with talent to burn’. 7.30pm. £10. Booking essential.

James Meek Saturday 25th February

As well as the author of seven novels, James Meek is a distinguished journalist: his roles at the Guardian included Moscow bureau chief and religious affairs editor, and he has reported on the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, and is now a contributing editor to the London Review of Books. His novels include The People’s Act of Love, set in ‘the world of Kafka and Primo Levi, where the impossible keeps happening’.

John Lanchester Saturday 18th March

John Lanchester is a journalist and author who has specialised in explaining the financial crisis to the general public (his non-fiction books include Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, and How to Speak Money). He is also the author of seven novels, including Capital, which was made into a TV series by BBC One. His memoir Family Romance recounts the story of his mother, a nun who walked out of the convent, changed her name and falsified her age, and concealed these facts from her husband and son until her death. 7.30pm. £10. Booking essential.

Looking ahead... Andrew O’Hagan

Andrew O’Hagan, editor-at-large of the London Review and the author of five novels and numerous works of non-fiction, will join us on Saturday 10th June.

7.30pm. £10. Booking essential.

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Spring 2017 Magazine & Programme