Sitting together with Priory closed

With the Priory closed thoughts have gone toward how we can sit together. Below is a list of times when I will be sitting and you can, if you wish, join me. I hope this is of help.

6.30am – 7.00am Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri

7.30pm – 8.00pm Tues, Thurs, Saturday

Wednesday evening 7.30pm – 8.00pm / 10 mins walking / 8.10pm – 8.40pm

Friday afternoon 2.00pm – 2.30pm / 10 mins walk / 2.40pm – 3.10pm

 

Priory closed

As of Monday eveningĀ  the 16th the Priory is closed.This is due to the Governments latest advice and direction. Although this move has become necessary it is still with regret that I have had to make it. I will endeavour to replace the usual sessions and events with some sort of remote contact. This could include zoom or skype meetings or set meditation periods which we can all join in with. I will keep you updated.

Cancellation update

I am sorry to say that I have had to cancel my visits to both Kings Langley and Milton Keynes this weekend due to the current coronavirus outbreak. Deep apologies for any inconvenience. I hope to support these two groups by doing Skype talks etc if possible.

Stroud Retreat update

As it stands Brownshill Monastery is open and therefore the retreat is going ahead. According to the Sisters the situation may alter if Government advice changes. If you are due to come but have changed your mind please let me or Alison know because very low numbers may affect our decision.

 

Coronovirus: message from the Prior.

I would just like to say a few words about the current situation and how it relates to the Priory’s activities. Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey has recently closed for a couple of months so that they can help in the lessening of the virus spreading. A small temple like this one with mainly a local congrgation is in a slightly different position. Firstly the numbers attending aren’t as high and from all over the country and Europe. The virus also has a chance of not spreading so much because there are gaps between activities, i.e. a couple of days where the virus can die off, as long as I am careful myself not to spread it. I will be travelling across the South of England this weekend by train and the current Government advice is still not so strigent as to not allow this. At a recent trustees meeting this week we decided that it was good and proper to follow Goverment advice but also act independently if it was felt good to do. If you would like to attend the Priory over this period of heightened health awareness then please do so but I ask you to think twice before doing. I will close the Priory if I have to self isolate but I am thinking, as others are, as to how to carry on in some way. This may be Skype sitting, or giving a talk via Skype etc. I may close for Introductories and do them this way. Maybe we can sit together at the same time just by knowing when that might be.

The spring retreat at Brownshill monastery is still going ahead as I type, but I will be in contact with them to see where they stand on it. The decision may be taken out of our hands.

I hope you are all keeping safe at this time and I look forward, as ever, to your presence here at the the Priory if it is good to do so.

Study group update

The new study group will be reading and discussing the Platform Sutra by Hui-neng with the Diamond Sutra as complimentary reading. I will be using the Price/Wong translation. Other translations would probably be ok if that is what you have but usually better if we are using the same text.

I am looking into ways for those who live further afield and won’t be able to attend but would like to take to take part. This could be by emailing in discussion points or Skype maybe. I think that of all the things we do here this would be the most appropriate use of distance participation.

There are some online sites where you can download commentaries and the scripture itself. One is

http://all-med.net/pdf/the-platform-sutra

This is the robe and bowl sculpture, which sits in the courtyard at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, and represents the part of Hui-neng’s story when somebody tried to steal them by lifting from a rock but was unsuccessful as they wouldn’t budge. He then proclaimed that he had come for the dharma not for the robe.

Ceremonial descriptions and illustrations

If you struggle with some of the aspects of ceremonial here are a few photos with descriptions to hopefully help you.

Bowing:

Understanding bowing is key to going deeper into an appreciation and understanding of Buddhist practice. To fully bow is to truly let go of whatever we are holding on to.

Going clockwise from the top left we a picture of a seated bow. This is mostly used during the evening service ceremony where we recite Rules fo Meditation. Whether we are on a cushion, bench or chair the movement is the same by bending forward at the waist as far as we can and raising our hands, with palms up, after the ting of the signal gong.

Next we have what is called a monjin which is used mostly for the gratitude bows at the end of ceremonies. Turning towards the altar and putting our hands together in gassho bow from the waist as described in the previous picture.

Finally we have the full bow. This is where we kneel on the ground, if we can, bend forward and raise our hands. If we can’t do this it is fine to do a standing bow which is similar to the monjin but we raise the hands rather than stay in gassho.

Candle Offering:

We often offer a candle instead of incense here at the Priory. An offering of light is the offering up of the dharma of enlightenment in much the same way that the incense of the dharma spreads out and infuses all places and things.

You may wish to offer a candle before a meditation period or maybe offer merit privately on an altar. If you are a chaplain you will need to hand over the candle to the celebrant so that he can offer it. If so here is a handy guide to how to do this. To hand the candle to the celebrant have it in the palm of your hand so that it is easy for them to take it. This will help with fumbling, awkward manouvering and less likelihood of dropping it, see top two pictures. The bottom two pictures show how to offer the candle up. The right hand photo shows that when we hold it up it is not advisable to hold it to the forehead as your hair may singe or indeed catch fire. Then hold it out as you quietly say the Three Homages, which are Homage to the Buddha, Homage to the Dharma, Homage to the Sangha. Then place the candle on the altar. Pleaqse make sure that lit candles are placed safely so that that can’t be knocked off or set any materials , like the altar curtains, alight. Please extinguish if the candle is to be left unattended i.e. when leaving the room after the ceremony etc.