Category Archives: Buddhism

The Retreat – Part Two – Why Go?

A popular Zen saying tells us: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless your too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

In this episode I speak about the different levels of retreat. For the mind, body and soul.

By retreating from the world we can rest and recharge, gain clarity of mind, focus on whats important, develop a plan for the future and much else besides.

Please let me know if you intend to go on retreat this year, or if you have been on one recently.

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The Retreat – Part One – Brook Meadow Farm


The Retreat – Part One – Brook Meadow Farm.

In this episode I speak about the location of my retreat, it’s setting and facilities, and the experience you are sure to have by going to stay there.

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The Retreat – Prologue

This episode is a prologue to a series of four episodes about a retreat I recently went on.

For some it would be considered a retreat, whereas for others it would be seen as a short prison sentence. How do you see it?

A retreat is the act of withdrawing. A time away from the world and the rat race. A time away from technology.

Stay tuned for the coming episodes in which I will cover; location, why you would go, what I got up to, and the return to life.

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Hafiz or Guardian

There is a term in Arabic: Hafiz, and it’s meaning is that of guardian or memoriser. It is a term used by Muslims for someone who has completely memorised the Qur’an.

The Qur’an is divided into 114 Surahs (chapters), containing 6,236 verses (comprising some 80,000 words or 330,000 individual characters). This process generally takes between 3 and 6 years part-time together with schooling.

There are many Hafiz all over the globe. Those noble among us who spend their time focussing on and memorising the Holy Scriptures.

We now have a specific list of the Worlds various lineages and their works. And we have all of the worlds Scripture to draw from.

Where would you begin? The Qur’an, The Gospels, Psalms, Phaedo, Bhagavad Gita? The list is endless. We can’t memorise them all, but it is clear that we can certainly memorise one. Where would you start?

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A Universal Religion

If only the entire world adopted a Universal Religion. One where we focus on the strengths of all the religions and aim to transcend the weaknesses that hold them back.

Investigating the religions of the world it is clear to see that everyone is worshipping the same principle.

If everyone were free to hold on to what they believe, what makes them happy and content. If everyone adopted this attitude there would be no hatred or religious fanaticism.

We could all coexist happily. Free from suffering.

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Life & Mind

The Buddha says;

“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

This is the essence of the Buddha Dharma, and the theme of the Dhammapada. If we can gain control of our thinking process, we have the ability to re-shape our whole character and personality. We can re-make ourselves. 

Destructive and negative ways of thinking can be rechanneled, constructive channels can be deepened, all through right effort, introspection and meditation. “As irrigators lead water to their fields, as archers make their arrows straight, as carpenters carve wood, the wise shape their lives.” 

Our personality can be divided into 5 distinct parts or skandhas according to Buddhist philosophy. These parts are; form (rupa), sensation or feeling (vedana), perception (samjna), the forces, habits and impulses of the mind (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The Buddha tells us that birth is the coming together of these skandhas, and death is their breaking apart. 

If this idea was better understood, the truth that what we think will shape our reality, our experience of life on the planet would be very different. There is an Indian folk story about two princes, one high-minded and generous, the other very selfish. They were both sent to foreign lands and asked to tell what kind of people they found there. The first reported that he found people basically good at heart, not very different from those at home. The second man felt envious hearing this, for in the place he visited everyone was selfish, scheming and cruel. Both, of course were describing the same land.

This story only goes to prove and strengthen the truth behind the initial quote; “our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”  To follow on from this it is clear that If we begin to make changes within ourselves, we will by doing so, change the world and how we experience it. 

Little by little we must begin to make changes in our lives. The image we should have is of a bucket filling with water, it does so drop by drop, slowly and consistently until the bucket is full. Many of us want the bucket to fill much quicker than is possible. When the bucket doesn’t fill and we don’t see any changes after a week or two, we give up. If only we could be aware of all of the drops that we have accumulated during those two weeks, would we be so quick to lose hope? 

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The Dalai Lama

In 1938 a two year old boy was recognised through a traditional process of discovery as being the reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas, the spiritual rulers of Tibet.

Have almost finished the Dalai Lamas autobiography ‘Freedom in Exile.’ It was a fantastic read, especially for someone who loves autobiographies, Buddhism and virtuous figures with whom to aspire. The above quote emphasises his message which runs like a thread throughout the book. With this in mind, I though it would be a nice idea to share a few stories from his life, and a few concepts which come from Buddhism. Here is an overview. 

In 1938 a two year old boy was recognised through a traditional process of discovery as being the reincarnation of all previous Dalai Lamas, the spiritual rulers of Tibet (more about this in a coming blog). Taken away from his parents, he was brought up in Lhasa according to a monastic regimen of rigorous austerity. Which, from the Dalai Lamas own words, he did not like one bit! Aged seven he was enthroned in the 1000 room Potala palace as the supreme leader of a nation the size of Western Europe, with a population of six million people. At the age of fifteen he became head of state. 

With Tibet under threat from the communist Chinese, there followed a traumatic time in trying to hold on onto the freedom of his people whilst having to maintain his Buddhist precepts of peace and non-violence, therefore avoiding any sort of war or conflict.  

Then, in 1959, he was forced into exile- followed by over 100,000 destitute refugees. Since that time, in exile in the Himalayan village of Dharamsala, he has devoted himself to the plight of his people and to promoting world peace through an unwavering policy of non-violence.

He continues to live his life pursuing the Bodhisattva ideal. According to Buddhist thought, a Bodhisattva is someone on the path to Buddhahood who dedicates themselves entirely to helping other sentient beings towards release from suffering. 

Release from Suffering. Isn’t that what we are all trying to achieve? Whether to you that means; finding your next meal, getting away from a poisonous relationship, or removing certain circumstance in life which promote stress and anxiety. I believe there are many ways at doing this, following the Dharma being one of them. The Dalai Lama inspires one to not only remove as much suffering you can from your current life situation, but also to do the same for your loved ones, and by extension all sentient beings. Because if we concentrate on our similarities instead of our differences, we will notice that we are all human beings, consisting of flesh and bone, and that we are all experiencing suffering to some degree. This should bring us closer together, rather than encouraging division. 

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