Buddha-Mettā UK

Buddha-Mettā UK
Puja (chanting and meditation) 5am & 7pm, Dana (meal offering) 10:30am.

08 November 2012

Civara Dana Ceremony

Luang Poh Sudiro, the monk leading the project, said: “Cambridge has a long association with Buddhism going back to the 1930s.
“We hope that a Buddhist temple will be a new chapter in this story, offering a place where everyone can come and learn about Buddhism.”

05 November 2012

Bubbles of Wisdom: Reflections on a Day Retreat at Harston

I think I have waited a long time to hear words like those of Luang Poh Shudiro. I first had a glimpse of Luang Poh walking along the A10 while I was driving into Cambridge some months ago, a sight most unexpected in that vicinity. There was gaiety and serenity in his walk, his saffron robes bright in the midday sun. Now I know that not only can he walk the walk, he can also the talk as well!

The day retreat was like joining a group of friends. All pomp and ceremony were abandoned at the entrance of the Vihara, along with the rows of shoes. The temple, still a work in progress, has a nice relaxed atmosphere, and time went by amongst talks, meditation, lunch, with questions and answers at the end. Without too much success, I tried to show some flare with my questions, to show some wit. However, why is it that asking so called unskilful questions is the one skill to be picked up first? I am new to Buddhism and meditation, but luckily the monks maintain that there is not much you can do wrong in the Temple as far as rules go. Luang Poh Shudiro, as well as the
younger monk, Than B, showed genuine warmth and wisdom, and were happy to joke about their own human frailties. They made everybody welcome, and most found the place a peaceful refuge. Outside, the autumn trees had tucked themselves in a blanket of leaves, ready for the winter. In the Temple, Luang Poh Shudiro and Than B’s teachings created a little cosy bubble of wisdom, and all the participants shared that feeling.

A Visit to the Studs of Cambridge

It was a windy, rainy, and cold, cold, cold November eve.  Nurses with smeared mascara stumbled through ancient, cobbled lanes with half-empty bottles of vodka in their hand.  Vampires roamed vacant and near-leafless gardens, tapping inscrutably and incessantly into their smartphones.  Century old churches, their brickwork slumped with age, perched on corners and serrated the skyline, their windows vacant and unlit. A Big Bird, confused and desperate, stumbles to his knees before the gates of these citadels of the Lord - and vomits. 

No, not the apocalypse, as I had originally suspected as we drove down Trumpington, just Halloween in Cambridge.

The more restrained, or perhaps patient, students of Camb sat quietly practicing and contemplating non-Theistic ethics, ethanol-free, in an ancient classroom named, ironically enough, Godwin. But if God was anywhere that evening, He, or She, for that matter, certainly would have taken refuge with these silent and serene students rather than the roaming bands of half-naked cowboys and witches haunting the streets.

After being led in meditation by Than B, Luang Poh Sudhiro discussed precisely the quandary which these students now found themselves faced with: the pulls of partying and youthful revery and the simultaneous calling to live a life of greater integrity, principle, and worth. The topic which he discussed, prompted by a question by a student, was of the importance of seeing the whole of your life as practice, and to fit your practice to your life, rather than the other way around. Buddhism is not simply something that you do cross-legged and with your eyes closed. It encompasses and requires a new mode of being and relating to every aspect of our lives, from the lofty moments of ecstasy and insight in the womb of retreat to the stress and crunch of exams at semester's end. What matters is the attitude: one which looks at every moment as an opportunity to learn, to understand, and to let go.

As Luang Poh reiterated, again and again:

Let go.

This is the beginning and the end of the path, and, fortunately for all of us, we can do this wherever we are and with whatever we are doing.

Students, and intellectuals in particular, are overburdened by their doubting and speculative minds. Luang Poh gently reminded this cerebral-giants to let go of living from their heads, and to ground their life, practice, and understanding from the wisdom which arises from their own lives and experience, not exclusively from books.  Yes, it really can be that simple, if we allow it. 

At the discussions end, the students slowly dripped out of the classroom, perhaps to do some devilish deed later in the eve, others, perhaps saintly.  The monks returned to their 1970s bungalow called a temple where they could hear only the sound of rain. 

A special thanks from us at the Vihara to all those who made that evening a God-win, Buddha-win, and even Krishna-win evening, especially the organizers of the event, the bold adventurers who dared to navigate the monks through the treacherous, apocalyptic Cambridge streets, and all the students.

Wishing us all the courage to practice right where we are. 

04 November 2012

A students perspective into a meditation retreat at Harston

Cycling to Harston isn't half as bad as one might think. There are
cycle paths all the way and a warm and welcoming atmosphere with
plenty of tea to look forward to at the end. It's certainly an unusual
way to spend a Saturday in Cambridge, at a Buddhist monastery. Just as
unusual as it's location, inside a typical English bungalow opposite a
porsche garage. It seems slightly ironic that the two should be in
such close proximity, but also appropiate, the counter action to the
consumerist culture is this. The universe always has a neat way of
balancing the world out. The retreats atmosphere is very relaxed, more
so than any other retreats I have been to. The schedule is open to the
individuals own practice, you can sit, walk, and lie down as you wish
without a rigid format. This is great for me, especially as it's quite
miserable outside, so I choose to stand or to sit on the sofa to rest
my body. Everyone seems to settle down into their own rhythm this way.
The Thai people arrive to prepare food at 11, and as usual it is like
eating at a restaurant, I try not to be too attached. In the afternoon
Ajahn Sudhiro gives a dhamma talk which is full of insight. I like the
way he uses his own experience of physicial pain through his disease
to remind us all of impermanence and to teach us to bear with and
witness conditions instead of react with aversion and hatred. I
consider it a great blessing he has come to Cambridge to teach and
share his presence with us. Tahn Bee, the younger American monk and a
highly disciplined meditator, is a gentle giant, him and Ajahn Sudhiro
seem to form an excellent partnership to uphold and protect the
Dhamma. Sadhu sadhu sadhu.

01 November 2012

Winter's First Snows: A Practitioner's Tale of a Day of Retreat

The first snowfall of winter arrived just before dawn on Saturday 27 October 2012. Fortunately, it was just a dusting as I was driving  45 miles to the Day of Meditation at Wat Buddha Metta, Harston near Cambridge. Not that I am good at meditating. Quite the opposite, in fact: having turned 60, sitting for much longer than half an hour at a time is notnearly as comfortable as one might suppose.

But there were plenty of things to compensate as such a Day is special and for many reasons. Not least, I could renew my acquaintance with Luang Por Sudhiro and Than B, the Buddhist monks in the Thai Theravadan Forest tradition who are currently based at Harston. One is immediately both impressed and at ease on being with them. I am always made to feel welcome – like I’m a member of the family!
As well as opportunities for collective and individual meditation, the programme for the Day included some chanting, some Dhamma talks and a very nice lunch offered by local Thai people. It also afforded an opportunity to chat to the various friends who were also participating in the Day and contributing from their own particular perspectiveThe atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed throughout.
Although I have some experience of meditation, I still regard myself as very much a beginner. My practice has a very long way to go. Fortunately, sitting is not the only way one can meditate and I spent some of the afternoon practicing walking meditation in a quiet country lane nearby the Wat.

I especially enjoy listening to Dhamma talksThere is always something new and interesting in the Buddha’s teachings. On this occasion Luang Por told us about the deeper meaning of the Triple Gem: the qualities of being a fully ‘awakenedhuman being demonstrated by the historical Buddha; the Dhamma – the Buddhist teachings and the truth they embody; and the lay and the monastic community that together constitute the Sangha. We also learned about the Three Universal Characteristics of all phenomena – impermanence, suffering and not-self. If we see and know the truth of this we can “let go” and avoid the dangers and adverse effects of attachment to these worldly things.   In such ways the teachings can help us all to improve ourselves and become the very best that we can be - not just on special days like this but throughout our lives.

Before closing the Day, Luang Por explained that he is trying to establish  a permanent centre  in the area and that  the Sangha  - in Thailand, UK and elsewhere - are gradually working to this end. Many people in UK are as yet unawarethat Buddhism is a superb resource which really can help us to live our lives well. So I hope his endeavour succeeds and helps make this resource available to anyone and everyone.
The Day is over all too soon and, after chatting over a cup of tea, I find myself making my way down the M11 in heavy traffic, in a torrential rainstorm and in the deepening dusk – asharp contrast to the bright autumn sunshine and peacefulnessthat had characterised so much of the day. Now what was itthat Luang Por was saying about impermanence….?

13 October 2012

Day-long Saturday Retreat on October 27th

Saturday meditation retreat at the new vihara at Harston near Cambridge with Luang Poh Sudhiro and Than B on 27 October 2012.
All meditators welcome including complete beginners.
Luang Poh Sudhiro is a senior monk in the Thai Forest Tradition. He spent many years practising in seclusion, but for the last ten years he has been active internationally, teaching especially in the UK and New Zealand.
The retreat will run from 9.00 – 5pmwith sitting and walking meditation, dhamma talks and meditation instruction especially for beginners, and time for questions and answers and will be largely in silence.
Please bring food to share for lunch and a cushion or stool. Chairs are available for those who need them. 
The vihara is at 135 High Street, Harston, Cambridge CB22 7QD opposite the Porsche Centre. There is parking on site, or you can take bus 26.
No advance booking is necessary and there is no charge but donations towards the vihara are welcome. If you have any enquiries phone Dick Allen on 01353 659082 or email bodhi.d4@gmail.com