Report on conclave

I thought I would write a little bit about the trip to the States I made in September. The three week visit was to attend the OBC Rules conclave meeting at Shasta Abbey. A group of five monks, four from Throssel and myself flew from Heathrow to Portland, Oregon on a direct ten and a half  hour flight. Three then went to Eugene priory and myself and Rev. Master Berwyn stayed at Portland priory for a few days with Rev. Leon the prior. Rev. Master Koten and Rev. Master Aurelian from Canada joined us aswell as Rev. Master Hugh for the long drive down to Shasta, picking up Rev. Wilfrid, Rev. Jishin and Rev. Elinore on the way.

We all arrived at Shasta in good shape and soon settled, in preparation for the conclave. It was good to meet up with old friends aswell as be greeted by monks I had not met before. I didn’t realise how much Mount Shasta dominated the landscape. It is much closer than I had thought and seems to tower over the Abbey. The atmosphere is extremely dry and because the Abbey is at four thousand feet it has it’s effect on the body. I was quite woozy for some of the time and couldn’t do as much physically as I had hoped.

The conclave is now held every six years and alternates between the UK and The States.This is when we as an Order ratify the rules that have been privisionally been in place between conclaves. We needed to look at thirty rules, many of which were fairly straight forward and were just a matter of changing titles and names to bring the rules up to date. Nevertheless great care is taken over the wording so that they read properly and can be enforced (if necessary) without misunderstanding their meaning. Many of the rules were to do with priories. In the rules priories became temples and priors chief priests. This is bring all the temples, including Abbeys, in line with the rule. Nevertheless priories are still priories and priors are still priors. During the course of the conclave there was a chance for a couple of outings. I went a on a local trip on the first one but unfortunately came down with a heavy cold during the second week of the conclave and so missed out on another chance. To close the conclave we held a memorial ceremony for Rev. Master Jiyu. It was held outside at the stupa (pictured), and we chanted scriptures and circumambulated it three times. Rev. Master Haryo was celebrant as he was for morning service during the conclave. We were also joine during the conclave by three lay ministers, two from the Shasta congregation and Chris Hughes from the Telford congregation. They provided much imput to the meetings, and helped to show how we as an Order function as a totality.

The filght back was smooth and uneventful and only took a couple of hours from landing to opening the priory front door. The expected jet lag never happened and I was soon back into things. Thank you to all who helped keep the priory open during my absence, I realy appereciate it.

Holly & Jeremy’s wedding

I was very pleased and happy to be the celebrant for the wedding of Holly Baker & Jeremy Petherbridge, who are both regular congregation members. It was an intimate and relaxed occassion in which the couple were able to show and share their commitment to living together in a way that will express outwardly a bond which have has love, compassion and wisdom at it’s core.The wedding was attended by Holly’s two daughters Imogen (left) and Freya (right) and friends Tony and Atia. Many thanks to Barney for precenting. In the top picture the couple are holding the wedding candle, which they light together, and take away with them.

Congratulations to them and wish them both a happy and contented life together.

Irene’s farewell evening

On the evening of Friday November 3rd the priory will be hosting a farewell evening so that the sangha can say goodbye to Irene Mueller – Harvey. Irene is someone many of you will know. A Lay Minister of the Order who has supported the priory and the priors here for twenty years.

If you would like to come along please let me know by email or phone, it would be helpful to know numbers. The evening will consist of a regular group evening with meditation and evening service. During the sitting you are invited to share a piece of teaching or scripture etc. that means something to you and to read it out. This is only if you wish of course. Afterwards we will say goodbye with refreshments. I hope you can make it.

Alton retreat, places left.

Just to remind you all about the Alton retreat October 27th – 29th. There are a few places left and we can also guarantee you a single room, so no need to share. Alison will be letting the Brothers know numbers after the 16th.

Late summer sangha social

Wasim and Jafrina hosted this sangha social at their house in Bracknell. A wonderful meal and good company made it an excellent way to see out the summer. These socials are an excellent way to come together as a sangha outside of the Priory. Thank you to everyone for making it a success.Off to Shasta Abbey via Portland Priory tomorrow. See you all when I get back on Oct 3rd.

New afternoon group meetings

From November 3rd I would like to introduce a new feature to the calender. This being afternoon group meetings on Fridays to run alongside the already existing evening meeting. I hope this will help those of you who find it difficult to attend in the evenings, especially during the dark winter months. They will run from 2pm to 4pm.

Sangha social

This year’s late summer sangha social will be hosted by Wasim and Jafrina at their home in Bracknell. It will be a curry lunch and all those associated with the priory are welcome to attend. It is on September 10th and will begin after the group morning session at the Priory. They would appreciate a couple of days notice of attendance. Please let Wasim know by phoning 07956138292 or emailing Wasim.haque@gmail.com

I would like to thank them both for this kind and generous offer. I hope you can attend. Sangha socials are a wonderful way for people to get together outside of the Priory.

 

The complaining mind

This short article in Food for the Heart is about something which we all will be familiar with, the complaining mind. It affects us all at sometime or other and can be particularly insidious when we let it worm its way into our life. It’s most obvious forms can appear in ‘I don’t want’, ‘I don’t like’ and maybe ‘I object to’. If we believe that there indeed may be a better more efficient way of doing a task for example, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are incorrect. That isn’t the issue at hand. It is the problems that come when we approach these things from a divisive position which is fixed from the point of ‘I’ ‘and ‘me’. A position which finds it difficult to see outside of this place. It can be hard, insistant and forcing. It is good to look at what we are doing when we sense this is happening. The complaining mind often comes from such a place. Clinging to a point of view which radiates from a single point doesn’t help to release us from suffering. The suffering comes when that position is challeged and we aren’t able to be fluid and move ourselves when it is good to do so. Our attachments are challenged and we don’t like it. The mind revolts and tries to defend itself with the effect being that we try to find a safe place. Rather than take a step forward into new territory we take refuge in the known, because that is more comfortable. We only defend when there is something left to feel defensive about.

One of the Ten Great Precepts is:

Do not be proud of yourself and devalue others.

‘Every Buddha and every Ancester realises that he is the same as the limitless sky and as great as the universe: when they realise their true body, there is nothing within or without; when they realise their true body, they are nowhere upon the earth.’

When we complain we divide. Division of the indivisible is our creation. By creating division we have a separation in our minds. We step outside of meditation and add to what is naturally present. An artificial division which stops us seeing ourselves as other. Here we create a falsehood which in the end is unsustainable because it doesn’t allow us to step off the cycle of hurt.

Harmony in the sangha is vital in this. Recently at the Priory we have had to adapt some ceremonial because of the situation we found ourselves in. This isn’t a problem but what really helped to make it work was that people were able to put down their preconceptions and make it work. Something larger than our own wants and desires came to the fore and the sangha was able to co-exist in harmony. All were doing their best and working with what they have. ‘Shakyamuni’s enlightenment is the dharma of all existence’ as it says in the Precept Do only good. Not my enlightenment, not yours and not his. To face every moment afresh with as few filters as we can manage is to start to see how much we can help situations flow and adapt. By not coming from a place of complaining we allow ourselves and others to exist together in a way which ceases from doing harm and showing us all the potential which is enfolded by the Precepts. Each moment brings forth a chance to drop what it is that we are carrying around and see that our opinion is one of many and at best only a partial view.