The Orchard Sangha Newsletter This precious human birth
New Shoots, New Growth As spring begins to turn into summer, and the season of new growth and vision transforms into blossoming and fruition, I reflect on how heartening and inspiring it is to receive the contributions for the newsletter. Practice can move us deeply and touch the very core of our being; it can sometimes make us feel vulnerable and sensitive. To be willing to undertake the sometimes difficult task of expressing those feelings, those experiences, in words and then to share them with us all is very special indeed. So thank you to all those who have contributed to the newsletters, and to The Orchard for holding the space that nourishes this unfolding. Ad Ad’s operation went well. He returned from hospital earlier than expected and is now recuperating back at The Orchard. Many thanks to all those who held him in their thoughts. Inspirations – Rinpoche’s Story Here is where I make an apology. The last issue contained Rinpoche’s Story, which came from Sonia. Unfortunately I omitted Sonia’s name from the final copy so, my apologies Sonia. In metta Sandra Contents
Editorial and This Precious Human Birth
Insights in the Spring by Tony Birch
Poetry Corner & Contact details
A star hurtles through space a vessel of luminous radiant light Its destination unchartered journeying on a voyage of discovery Into the depths of an infinite ocean of possibility and potentiality Oblivious to its inevitable doom it is magnetically drawn towards a formless void Caught in the web of its insatiable appetite resistance is futile Frustration gives way to exhaustion, capitulation, resignation and surrender The release and letting go of effort yields transformation engendering acceptance and joy Perpetual motion gathering momentum a cosmic dance of mutual attraction Form spiralling around an invisible axis enacted on the stage of spaciousness Driven by love in perfect harmony Meeting and merging a fusion of opposites as form and emptiness embrace Fulfilment, Completion, Union Compression, consumption, extinction, expansion An orgasmic explosion of bliss and awareness bathing the universe with light Stardust navigated by karma condenses into form the genesis of life Within a distant galaxy on the outer reaches of the expanding cosmos Inside a small blue planet orbiting its golden sun Life consciously witnesses itself unfold Peace to all beings May all beings be well and happy and free from fear John
The Orchard Sangha Finance Group report that there are still funds available in the bursary fund and would welcome applications. If these financially challenging times are preventing you from attending a workshop or undertaking a private retreat then do please contact Gini at firstname.lastname@example.org
TARA SPACE As reported in the last newsletter, changes have been taking place to the kitchen at The Orchard. The following photos show just how stunning those changes have been. Now re-named the Tara Space it provides a modern, fitted kitchen and a larger, much improved relaxation space. Our grateful thanks to all who made it possible.
DEDICATING P RACTICE Dear Orchard Sangha It has been very moving to receive the recent requests asking the sangha to hold and remember those people you know who are in need at times of dedicating the practice. The messages you send to us will be sent out to about 150 other sangha members, including Ad and Sonia of course, and, whenever possible, their names will be put in the blue Medicine Buddha healing bowl in the zendo - in this way they will be held by the practice of many, many beings.
Work in Progress
So, please continue to send any future requests, or if you are not included on this database and would like to be, to email@example.com Thank you May all beings be well and happy Jane and Sarah The Relaxation Space
TUESDAY AT THE ORCHARD: PRACTICE DAY AND MEDICINE BUDDHA MEDITATION Tuesday is a day of silence, a joyful mind attending to deepening the practice of mindfulness, releasing grasping, bringing the mind home, resting in the natural state, free from fabrication arising from hope and fear. The 5.30 pm sitting will be dedicated to the practice of the Medicine Buddha using the short version, for the benefit of all those in need, including Sonia Sensei and Ad Sensei.
The Productive Space!
tandj on 21st March 2009. Tandj.... ......the zendo filling with sounds, uplifting songs of devotion, and the stirring of a thousand yearnings in the heart......... ..........a beautiful evening, thank you................ Jane Sethi
Those of us who attended the 'Musical Rasalila' with Tanji on 21st March were richly rewarded with an exhilarating performance by Tim and Jon. The zendo was flooded with Tim's passionate singing and Jon's mesmerizing tabla playing. Occasionally the audience was invited to join in the singing which many of us did with joyful enthusiasm. Bodies were swaying to the rhythm of the music, feet were tapping, hands clapping - if we can persuade Tim and Jon to come back and play for us again, next time we may even get up and dance! After the performance everyone was invited down to Maitreya house for refreshments which included delicious scones and cakes handmade by Barbara, Jo and Sarah. Thank you to everyone who helped to make the evening such a success. Eleri
A reminder that the Orchard Sangha Summer Celebration is happening at The Orchard on Saturday 20 June 2009. No programme as such, just a relaxing day of connecting, celebrating and ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. Do come along – partners and/or families welcome - as are contributions of food. For further information contact: Eleri on firstname.lastname@example.org or Gill on 01981 241315 To book accommodation at The Orchard please contact: Ad on email@example.com or 01873 860207.
INSPIRATIONS As promised in the last newsletter Sonia’s teachings are now available on CD. Details are as follows:-
CD-1: Flowering the Mind of Loving Kindness (1 CD) £12.00 with postage free within the UK
CD-2: Peace to All Beings Meditation (1 CD) £12.00 with postage free within the UK
CD-3: Medicine Buddha Meditation: a set of 3 CD’s including: Medicine Buddha Meditation; Explanation of Text; and Tom Thumb Blue Healer Meditation. £25.00 with postage free within the UK NB: only available for those who have attended a Medicine Buddha retreat with Sonia A second set has the Medicine Buddha Meditation with a German Translation
NB: postage for Europe, outside UK: £ 1.50 (1 or 2 CD’s) or £ 2.50 for 3 or more CD’s postage for rest of the world: £2 (1 or 2 CD’s) or £3 for 3 or more CD’s Make all cheques payable to Sonia Moriceau and send to: The Orchard, Lower-Maescoed, Hereford HR2 0HP UK www.soniamoriceau.org Tel: 01873 860 207
“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be realised by myriad things”. Eihei Dogen, 13th century Zen master
Insights in the Spring by Tony Birch
I read a chapter from ‘Food for the Heart’ by Ajahn Chah at the beginning of the retreat, and in it he makes the point that the Buddhist path is a training, a discipline, that has to be practiced continuously if the mind is not to endlessly fulfil its own desires. Through walking and sitting meditation and mindfulness the mind begins to be controllable and useable as an effective tool in moving away from perpetuating inner turmoil and pain, and we see clearly how clinging, grasping and attachment all create their own future. My average working day is often pressured, adrenaline-fuelled and stressful, but now I realise that although I may still be working to deadlines they don’t have to control how I respond, I can (with a lot more practice!) experience my day with an open heart, in the present moment, and in doing so choose an alternative response. The retreats have left me feeling empowered and more in charge of my life than I think I have ever felt before, and with an even deeper gratitude and respect for Sonia, for her teachings and her wisdom and compassion.
This year has presented a rare opportunity for me as I seldom have the luxury of being able to do two retreats with only a few weeks between them; these were the two Insight retreats in March and April. On the first, the practice centred on developing an open heart and the contemplation of impermanence, and the second developed the open heart practice further and focused on instant presence, being fully in the present moment with an open heart. Retreats at The Orchard always produce profound insights, but after the short break which allowed the effects of the first to be integrated and digested, when I started the second my practice really deepened, leading to a more pronounced state of letting go than I think I have ever experienced before. In that calm state I came to understand more fully many of the things Sonia had been trying to teach me over the years that through my own failings I hadn’t fully comprehended. I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences of this time…... When we practice with an open heart we merge our awareness with each unfolding second, so that the ‘present moment’ stops being a concept and becomes a dynamic and endlessly creative experience, and in the silence of no internal dialogue we become aware of the spaciousness of our mind. At such moments it’s possible to see a gap, and to feel and widen that gap, between awareness and conceptualisation, between contact and conditioned response. In that gap we have a choice. All our habitual ways of thinking, all the different energies that flow through our minds each day, attraction, non-attraction, differing levels of stimulation or excitation, keep us firmly tied to a feeling and emotional rollercoaster all of our lives. They are just transient states and not mind itself, and as such we can choose whether to be dominated by them or not. But to do so we need the right tools, it is not enough to simply be aware of the present moment, we need to know how to work with it, we have to develop meditative calm and concentration.
Like stars, mists and candle flames Mirages, dew-drops and water bubbles, Like dreams, lightning and clouds In that way I will view all composite phenomena Kagyu Wishing Prayer
Jump! Lose your balance. Let gravity be your mother. Trust. Patricia asked me, what was your feeling as you arrived at the Orchard? Being at home. Coming back to a space and a time, I never left. What is your experience now, two months later? Sitting in front of a computer. The sweet smell of wild daffodils in my nostrils, a wind is moving branches and leaves and there is a soft long breath –the wind, the computer, inside, outside? Being at home. Sitting on a regular chair, how joyful, how pleasant. All these long bones folded up on the earth again and again, released. A seat is contacting a seat. Warmth. A hand is contacting a chin. A day is falling into a night. The screen is too bright to contact this small line of between. Branches? Leaves? Do know it from yesterday. They are green. Now there is a black, moving thing with small gleaming holes in it. Being at home. A mind is tired. A body is filled with energy. Trust. Lose your balance. Slow walking. Is that walking or a mind story? A head one metre in front of a body, knee and shoulders, the deputies of a not trusting mind, holding on to tension. What is the risk? Following gravity. And? A trusting and a not-trusting being are close together. A mind is tired to hold on. Jump! Open your heart, no matter what. Being at home. An itch. Who is that, mind or body? It’s green and moves. Oh, the branches from yesterday. Being at home. Can you follow me? No? You are in front. It doesn’t matter. Shall I carry on? Shall we jump together? Being at home. Christina
Do you have difficulty downloading the newsletter? Currently the newsletter is emailed out to the majority of the Sangha, as this is the most cost-effective method. However, if you have difficulty in opening or receiving the newsletter, do please contact Sarah or Sandra so we can add you to our mailing list.
Offers of assistance - Gill - firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01981 241315 Helping at Events and Cards - Sarah on email@example.com Bursary Fund - Gini at firstname.lastname@example.org Finance - Jo on email@example.com or on 01432 890312 Website - Tony on firstname.lastname@example.org or 17 Goodwood Mansions, Stockwell Park Walk, London SW9 0XY. Newsletter - Sandra - for comments and contributions – at email@example.com or on 013873 70787 (and if there is anyone out there with DTP skills who would like to offer their services to the newsletter, please do get in touch!)