Our latest newsletter...

July 2012
Welcome to the July Newsletter... 

There's been lots happening in the last 2 months since our May newsletter - here are a few highlights...
My first Dharma Day
It was flooding down as I set off with great excitement to my first Dharma Day at the Bristol Buddhist Centre. A lovely group of people were already gathered, drinking tea and chatting. The focus of the day was the Dialectic Analysis of Self and Other, led by Simhanada and Satyalila. As a beginner, the topic was quite a challenging but very interesting; the content of Simhanada’s talk was very concentrated and intense, but he may be able to put some notes on the web-site. I hope this is possible, I look forward to revisiting the subject and maybe getting to grips with some of the more complex ideas. Satyalila, with her usual joyful enthusiasm, gave us through a writing workshop, ‘What Causes a Buddhist?’ It was both fun and thought-provoking, based on a conversation she had had with Sangharakshita. Our writing started with the thought “Were it not for…” and led us back to the roots of our beliefs and journey along the way.
After a splendid and varied shared lunch we settled to consider the nidanas, led again by Simhanada. For me as a novice his explanations and analysis were most useful and will encourage me to further reading with greater understanding. “Mind the gap!” Yes, the gap was the topic of our second writing workshop considered our responses to the nidanas … openings, opportunities, choices… We shared our thoughts and writing in groups and then Satyalila gave us a fun five minute exercise to create acrostics using some of the concepts we had been looking at. The results were fun, meaningful and thought-provoking.
The day concluded with a Manjusri puja, designed and led by Simhanada; it was the first time I had attended a puja and I found it most moving. Altogether a great day… and the sun was shining as I travelled home!
Men’s Day Retreat Bishopston Suburbs – Sat 30 June
The last day of a soggy June and 8 men (4 order members and 4 ‘regulars’ at the Centre) gathered in the cloisters of a Bishopston terrace for a day of shared practice. I enjoyed decorating the front of the house with prayer flags – one of the neighbours asked whose birthday it was! Janaka had organised a gentle day of meditation, reflection and sharing. One highlight for me was getting down a dusty Buddha figure from my study shelf and having it as the centre of attention on the coffee table during a short puja. It was like a dedication – maybe I will accord this rupa more respect in future (?).
Some prepared questions on subjects such as ‘What conditions help to deepen my practice?’ were used as a basis for sharing and appreciating the potential for a creative ‘spiral’ within our personal experience. In the afternoon Ananda led some writing exercises which he encouraged us to see as supportive for the integration of our total experience – to enter into the process of writing rather than being concerned with the ‘outcome’. The topics were: • What scares me about the world? • My ideal morning • The rules in my life.
Unfortunately our bountiful lunch could not be taken in the garden as June continued in soggy fashion until the very last day – it was nevertheless appreciated! And in the evening some of us stayed on to watch an excellent Mike Leigh film – ‘Secrets and Lies’. It was, on reflection, very fitting that we should have picked a film director who treasures the creative process of guiding his actors through structured improvisation to create a compassionate evocation of the human (and suburban - again) condition. The film had quite a happy and productive ending – just like our wee day retreat in Bishopston! Tim Mason
International Retreat - quite a few people from Bristol went.  Clare sent us these words:
Despite the rain and general gloomy June weather, it was heart warming and enlightening to see over 400 members of the Triratna Sangha gather together for the International Retreat. The talks were thought provoking, the rituals spectacular and the children's performances provided a light hearted portrayal of Buddhist Tales, together with crazy costumes and zany musical interludes.
Our recent Monday nights have been very lively and stimulating. Sally Malsingh says:  The last couple of Mondays I have had the great good fortune to have attended the Friend’s evenings at the centre to hear talks given by Dhivan and Prajnamati (also the afternoon session with Dhivan). These sessions gave me an overwhelming sense of being immersed in the Dharma and has raised in me the awareness of the importance of Sangha – to have the opportunity to listen to and learn from those who have greater learning and experience. Dhivans talks were both intellectually challenging and amazingly enjoyable, shedding light and giving a new perspective to things. Last night Prajnamati gave a talk on Conditionality and Emptiness that was deeply thoughtful, expounding his own experience to help our understanding. So put away your books and get down to the Centre, listen with open heart, open mind and alert attention – feel what the Dharma means for others on the Path, you can learn so much from them.
Women's Day...It is not necessary to be wilful! This was the topic of our ponderings and discussion on the Women's Order / Mitra day on Sunday 24th June. Do you tend towards coasting or is your 'foot on the floor'? How do you spot when to stop? Do you have planned-in gaps? These and other questions formed the basis of our discussions. A large group of us (including friends from Wales) came together to share, meditate, reflect and to create some beautiful shrines. Take a look at the photos on the Bristol Buddhist Centre's Facebook page! See: We also enjoyed poetry and the simplicity and beauty of a tea ceremony. I really value these days - a chance to come together with other women to explore aspects of the Dharma, ourselves and each other. I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Satyalila and Khemajoti for leading such a nourishing and thought-provoking day, and thank you to all who came. May we have many more days like this to come!
New to vegetarianism?

The Vegetarian Recipe Club is a dedicated, all-vegan/veggie site with over 500 recipes and growing. It offers a blog, articles, a new dedicated A-Z of vegetables with preparation tips and links to recipes - great for unconfident cooks. Jane Easton also offer advice/tips etc to new veggies and vegans and can be a sort of buddy. They just need to email her  . She can recommend other resources and websites too.




Order Day with Vessantara - on a recent Sunday about 18 members of the local Order Sangha met with Vessantara to discuss meditation and explore gritty topics - eg the difference between 'ambition' and the 'heart's wish'.  We had a very stimulating and inspiring day and Vessantara was very generous in sharing his experience with us.
And coming up....
Aug 15 &29  Sangha works:

Two day of meditation and working together. Come for a whole day or half a day.
See website or noticeboard  for details.

Book of the month....
has to have been Dhivan's 'This Being, That Becomes' which has formed the basis for a very lively and stimulating series of Friends' Nights with talks from a wide range of Order members from near and far, including Dhivan himself. Even our youngest readers have been taken by it!

I'm looking forward to a new book from Sarvananda 'Solitude and Loneliness' - universal themes.  Should be in the bookshop soon....(Khemajoti)

More upcoming events:
Sat Sept 15 - our next Open Day.   
Our previous open days have been lots of fun for the Sangha as well as giving newcomers a chance to visit the centre and try out the many things we have on offer.
If you'd like to help out, get in touch with Khemajoti in the office.

Looking ahead to September....
the Friend's night classes (and probably others) will be exploring the 5 Buddha mandala....

And in the autumn there will be two retreats:
Sangha retreat 19-21 Oct 
Introductory retreat 9-11 Nov

Both at Anybody's Barn in the Malvern Hills.
More details on the website or contact the office.

Monthly newsletter

compiled by Khemajoti
Hope you like our new-look newsletter.  We're aiming on a weekly events email from Jvalamalini with an 'Around this Mandala newsletter' each month from Khemajoti.  If you have reports or photos for the latter, do email them to me in the office -  With many thanks to Bahiya for all the previous newsletters.
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