On Thursday June 22nd I was delighted to perform the wedding blessing of Glenda and Paul Holder at the Priory. The couple have been married for a year and wanted it blessed in a Buddhist ceremony. The couple processed in to Vadana Ti – Sarana and this was followed by The Litany of the Great Compassionate One, both chosen by the bride and groom. Glenda is a long standing congregation member who I first met many years ago at Throssel. It was a pleasure to meet Paul for the first time. It was an intimate occassion attended by two others, Annie and Cliff. It was a wonderful day all round and we enjoyed our lunch in the garden with a fresh cooling breeze which was much appreciated, the forecast thunder storms and heavy rain failing to appear.
This years retreat at the Brownshill monastery was attended by nine lay guests and Rev. Saido from Telford Priory and Rev. Gareth. This was my first visit and it is an excellent setting for a contemplative retreat. It was lovely to catch up with old friends and for me also to meet new. We were well looked after and generally left to do our thing. The usual mix of sitting, ceremony and dharma was interspersed with outside walking meditation of up to 30 mins. An addition this year was to do the Renewal of Precepts ceremony in a version which Rev. Saido does at Telford. Before the ceremony he gave a talk covering aspects of the ceremony and it’s history.
Everyone seemed to appreciate the extra day. We are intending to book again this length of time for next year but hopefully revert to spring time if we can get a slot. It fell during June this year because they were already booked up. Most people managed to come on the Thursday but just a reminder that it’s fine to come on the Friday if that is what is manageable.
On May 4th Tara Bailey, who some of you will have known as a congregation member of Reading Priory, was ordained by Rev. Master Daishin. She received the name Houn Kojo which means Bright Rising. Let us offer her our congratulations and very best wishes for her future training as she becomes a novice monk.
She was ordained alongside Shooie Lucas who was named Houn Kanshin, which means Patient Dragon. Let us offer similar best wishes also as he embarks on this important stage of training.
Many thanks to Paul for building a new pergola for the garden’s wisteria. The wisteria was planted 20 years ago and needed a new support and also retraining. There are a couple small additions to still be added. With this and some expert pruning I hope the wisteria has many more years of life to come.
The Priory garden is constantly being reviewed and this weekend I will be looking to purchase a raised bed to go towards the back of the garden so I can grow some veg and salad crops.
Major project idea
Over the next couple of years we are looking into a change to the front garden by building a parking bay for two to three cars possibly four and redesigning the planting area up by the building. If between us we can do much of the labour ourselves hopefully the cost can be cut considerably. If any body has good knoweledge in this area I would appreciate advice in the matter.
I was delighted to give the Assembly at Birch Copse Primary for 400 children on Friday 12th May. Talked about Buddhism, Wesak, and being a monk and Prior. We sat for 2 mins in meditation and then I answered questions. My visit was arranged to coincide with the schools interest in Wesak as you can see from the board behind me. I took along a statue of Buddha, a Kanzeon, as well as a gong for the meditation. The questions were well thought out and interesting. I thank the children and the teachers for making me welcome and I hope to visit there again in the future.
July is going to be a bit different in some ways. The Introductory evening is on the 4th. The two day retreats are on the 6th and 29th.
The meditation hall will be redecorated during the week of 10th-16th. The downstairs back room will be a temporary meditation hall and the usual group meetings will take place. If you would like to lend a hand during the week email me or phone. The week will be mainly painting. More details nearer the time. If you would like to help in some other way let me know. Maybe someone coming in to cook lunch would be helpful.
The other new event is what I have called the Prior’s retreat. I will be on retreat for 3 days, 21st – 23rd, but in effect for yourselves these are ‘drop in’ retreats, so if you would like to come along during the day, or stop over and do a bit more, which might be the whole retreat, that would be fine. I will post a schedule and more details so that you know when the sitting periods are, or if would like to come and do some working meditation etc. I hope these are beneficial in as much as you can come when it is suitable for yourself. The normal group meetings will take place. If you have any queries over this just get in touch and we can discuss it. I hope these can be a regular event on the calender.
Wesak day and Festival was a wonderful occassion all around. Here is a photo of the children and myself after the Festival. The day started out with a live interview over the phone on BBC Radio Berkshire to talk about the meaning and significance of Wesak to the Buddhist world, which I was delighted to do.The Festival was attended by 14 sangha members and was a joyous occassion. After the Dharma talk those who stayed enjoyed an appetising array of food which was brought along, including one of Wasim’s splendid dhals. The weather was very warm as we sat in the garden and chatted. We ended the day with clearing up the dishes and dismantling the pavillion and bunting etc. Thank you to everyone for your support and again showing the meaning of sangha.
The Priory will be holding the annual Festival of the Buddha’s the Buddha’s Birth on May 7th. This important and significant Festival is held throughout the Buddhist world around this time of year. If you would like to come along and especially if you are bringing youngsters it would be helpful to book in advance. Just phone or email. If not just come along. There will be a dharma talk given after the Festival. There will be a bring and share lunch and if you would like to stay on into the afternoon please do.
With warmer weather on the way I would like to take this chance to put out a reminder about the Retreat shrine we have at the Priory. A much underused resource it is available to those who have previously attended the Priory. Tucked away at the bottom of the garden, the shrine is a comfortable and spacious place to meditate, relax, sleep and drop those daily concerns. The Priory itself is still available of course during the day and night for kitchen and toilet facilities for example.I am available as well for spiritual counselling. It doesn’t have to be a long stay so don’t be put off. If you are interested email or phone me and we can try and arrange something.
Here are the details for booking on the Stroud Retreat