Categories: dharma glimpse

    Dharma Glimpse by Philip

    My glimpse is inspired by the previous week’s dharma glimpse from a fellow book group member.

    They had written, as I understood and remembered it, about a difficult relationship with some relatively new and noisy neighbours. How their perceptions of, and feelings towards, them had shifted after one of the neighbours shared about being partially deaf and having a child, or children, on the autistic spectrum.

    I shared in my reflections to the group how this glimpse had strongly resonated and touched me. I took the (personal) importance of patience from it. Patience is something, alongside letting go/not clinging (e.g. to outcomes), I have been reflecting on a lot recently in my own life.

    The glimpse author briefly shared just before we finished how they wanted to be more patient with others in their personal life, partly as this was an important part of their job. There wasn’t time for any real discussion this week after our individual reflections so I didn’t have an opportunity to share in response to this. I had wanted to know if I had understood them correctly- that they wanted to be more patient with others’ behaviours, in this instance the neighbours making a lot of noise.

    I immediately wanted to say I’m not sure that’s what I meant and worried they might go away feeling they should be more patient with others, without necessarily be compassionate to themselves. I thought about emailing them to explain this. I wasn’t sure if that would be helpful or not, so I waited to see what would come up for me. I eventually decided to write this glimpse instead; hopefully a bit of patience in action!

    I reflected in the week I wondered if patience, for me, was more about waiting for reality to become clear. Like the muddy water of preconceptions, assumptions and emotions we all have in the jar of our mind. Swirling around so nothing can be seen through it. And rather than muddy the waters further with self-judgement and expectation, to be patient to wait for something closer to the truth of the situation to emerge before responding. To me, this doesn’t mean always be ‘nice’ to others. It might be realising their behaviour is unacceptable. But then acting out of equal compassion for the self and them by recognising our own ‘bombu’ nature as well as theirs. That is our capacity for stumbling and getting things wrong as imperfect beings in an imperfect world. Or that our own perceptions and assumptions were inaccurate, but again acknowledging both ours and others bombu nature. So we don’t cause ourselves and others unnecessary pain or suffering by beating ourselves up.

    I am trying to learn to be more patient on this basis in my own life. To allow the reality of events, interactions and relationships to more gently unfold. And then have the courage to act from both compassion to the self and others accordingly. Of course, I find this really, really hard! But it also means there is lots of potential for learning, growth and causing less suffering. Writing this glimpse has also reminded me of the fundamental importance of others, particularly a community or ‘sangha’. That we need others to inspire, challenge, support and comfort us in order to learn and grow. Without others we risk stagnating and contracting. So thank you to the previous dharma glimpse author. They may not be aware of the positive impact their glimpse has had for me.

    Dharma Glimpse

    Categories: dharma glimpse

    by Alexandra

    Having been practicing Buddhism since December 2023 and having just started my second book group. I am becoming more aware of gratitude, compassion and the importance of listening in my everyday life. 

    As a mental health professional, I feel that these values are something that I hold in mind and display when I’m with patients and my supervisees as it’s a huge part of my role. But sadly, by no means am I as skilled at these things when I leave my “caring role”. At work I seem to just be programmed that way but at home I can be quite the opposite! I can lack patience and be judgemental and irritated by people, despite my greatest efforts or even no effort at times if I’m completely honest.

    Since moving to Worcester, I’ve been pretty irritated by my loud, shouty neighbours, not for anything in particular, they just seem to grate on me and im sure although I try to be polite, I might seem stand offish at times.

    This week a tow truck came to my house to rescue ‘Gloria’, my camper-van. The guys from the truck parked in front of next doors driveway, as was only going to be 5 minutes. Before I knew it the men said “don’t you get on with your neighbours?” I asked why, they went on to say that they’d had a go at them and asked them to move the truck. This was fuel to my already irritated fire of my opinion of them. 

    I chatted with Nick, my partner,  about it and attempting to be kind, trying to see why they might do that, Buddhism is trying to enable me to be more tolerant. Anyway, I was struggling and decided that actually my neighbours were exactly what I’d assumed they were.

    A few days later, I was doing some gardening and the lady from next-door came to the dividing wall and asked to speak to me. We chatted for 30 minutes or more. She informed me that it must have looked like she was being difficult when the tow truck came, but actually she said she was quite up set. when she had looked out of the window she “heard” the tow truck men calling her a “nosy *****”  so she said to them that she was awaiting some builders coming and asked if they would move. I did wonder how she could have heard the comment as the truck was noisy but she then disclosed that she can lip read following loss of hearing last year. I suddenly felt so ashamed for judging her and her family. I often wonder why her husband is always shouting, so now I know! From the conversation that followed I learnt that two of her children have autism and severe mental health issues and she is deaf in one ear.

    The noisy irritating family will no longer irritate me (as much). So what I’ve learnt is, from being open to listening to someone I haven’t ever valued, is that, I’ve gained a little piece of wisdom… everything now has a new meaning! The relationship between us has evolved and changed

    Finding joy in change 

    Categories: Uncategorised

    Glimpse by Khema

    I may have mentioned this once or twice!!!! So in exactly 3 Months as of yesterday -on the 28th of June 2024? I’m going to retire and start drawing my pension. Eeak. And as I write this, it feels deeply strange, exciting, and really scary all rolled into one . I don’t feel old enough to be drawing my pension. In my mind I’m still about 27. I actually still can’t really believe it but yes it’s happening and on the 28th of June. I will be unemployed for the first time since I was 14 years old when I got my first weekend job in a cafe and then as a health care assistant in a local nursing home. I’m told I’m far too young to be retiring, I think I like people telling me that.

    I ask myself, what am I going to do with all this spare time? Can I take up some new hobbies? I wonder about doing a course or three. Can I spend more time in my beloved garden and of course travel in Gloria, my campervan. No more trying to squeeze in a long weekend between appointments and meetings, working out how many annual leave days I’ve got left, who’s going to cover and then all those dreadful emails to go through on my return!!! This has been my life as a nurse since March 1989. I’ve worked hard to get where I am now, who will I be when I’m not that anymore? Will I feel different? `Will I regret this decision? Am I loosing part of my identity? 

    In Buddhism we believe the only constant is change. Impermanence can lead to suffering as one fails to accept the continuously changing nature of the world or our world.
    The law of impermanence is a fact of reality that cannot be changed; everything that comes to be eventually passes away. The Buddha teaches that the path to peace and joy requires that we embrace change rather than pine for permanence.

    I originally wanted to return to my role part time and that would’ve been easy. Just cut down my hours and stay doing what I’m doing. But the big boss said no. They don’t want me and that has been something I wasn’t prepared for. On its most fundamental level, fear of change is fear of the unknown. There’s an immense amount of comfort to be found in routine, and when those routines are disrupted, many people feel anxious and destabilized. So how can I turn this around? How can I turn this uncertainty into joy? Should I see this is an opportunity to do something different? Embrace change. I may not have looked at it this way at all if I wasn’t backed into a corner, after all it’s easy to keep doing what you’re doing- staying within your comfort zone. Change can be scary but also a gift- perhaps one I didn’t know I needed. So watch this space…………retirement here I come.

    Dharma Glimpse by Alexandra

    Categories: Uncategorised

    I have been calling out to Amida a little more frequently recently, not really asking for help as such but just to be there for me and embrace me in what I need.

    I spend a lot of time looking at or being in my garden as nature is so important to me. It is a hive of activity and we have so many birds who visit. Robins are one of my favourite birds, to me they bring the energy of a loved one who has passed away. Territorial by nature, as they want to protect me!

    However, just recently I have noticed that the robins I often see haven’t been around, I’ve put it down to them finding places to nest and too busy to pop by and say hi as they are preparing for parental duties!

    This morning I have been watching the comings and goings in the garden whilst I engage in my therapy session. For this is the place I find most comfort.
    I have just started to have some typed therapy through work and as I sit here, I have just finished my second session.

    It was a difficult session as I had completed my timeline of my life of certain events and had to reflect upon how in more recent times the impact of work has been having on me. The events of the timeline and work are different, yet the theme remains the same.

    Sadly, upon entering today’s session I had to explain that my beloved Doreen who was 92 years young passed away yesterday, she was my mum’s cousin, but more like a nan to me. She was so similar to my grandad, who passed away over 20 years ago. I loved them both dearly and was always the apple of their eye, from such a young age. Having typed therapy enables me to sit quietly in my kitchen overlooking my beautiful garden.

    Talking this through with the therapist was tough and the tears were falling. She was asking me to visualise what my grandad and Doreen might say to me when I feel sadness or anger caused by certain events in my life and I knew exactly what they would be saying to me.
    As I was trying to process my thoughts, the therapists’ interventions, and guidance, out of nowhere, two robins flew down into my garden and sat on my fence just a little way from my window. They were back! They were here at my time of need, despite being busy building nests elsewhere they came to hold me up, surround me with love and remind me of exactly who I am and what I deserve. I am so very grateful and thankful for Amida for giving me this gift when I needed it so very badly today.

    Namo Amida Bu.

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    A Dharma Glimpse by Dave

    I’ve been living at the temple for three years now, during that time I have had to start wearing reading glasses, I have lost the second of my two top front teeth resulting in me now having false teeth and just last week I was fitted with a hearing aid. I am 57 years old. When we read the morning verse at the start of garden practice it begins “Time has passed with the swiftness of light, it is already morning. Impermanence rushes upon us every moment……..”.

    It certainly feels like it’s rushed upon me. Impermanence seems a lot more relevant and personal when you experience it undoubtedly happening to your own body.

    We get old, we get ill, and we die. These are the facts. The stupid thing is, if I’m honest I’m embarrassed about all these recent changes that have happened to me, I don’t particularly mind the thought of dying but I don’t really want to get old. What a ridiculous notion! To be embarrassed about getting older, it’s a fact of life and it happens to all of us. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m getting old before my time. My mum is 84, has all her own teeth and does not need to wear a hearing aid. The supposedly ideal Body image is drummed into our subconscious in films and through the adverts we see everywhere. Muscular, active men and young, slim “attractive” women (note the use of inverted commas with the word attractive). If we don’t reach the high standards set by the advertising and fashion industries we are made to feel inadequate or passed our best.

    I have heard it said, that if we looked at people the way we looked at trees the world would be a better place. The older a tree becomes, the more damaged it becomes and with that, the more interesting and diverse. Old trees are fascinatingly beautiful, whereas young trees can be quite uninteresting to look at in comparison. Every tree is different, and the more unusual or quirky a tree looks, the more we admire it. When we think of the human body; lumpy, bent, wobbly or broken bits are thought of as unwanted attributes. On a tree these can be seen as a bonus.

    Trees are great!                       

    A tree is not just an individual organism but an entire ecosystem. They are full of fungal hyphae and bacteria, they are often covered in mosses, lichen and other plants. The most biodiverse and ecologically valuable are the ancient and veteran trees, some of which are thousands of years old. The definition of a veteran tree is one which has certain features such as dead limbs, rot holes, flaking bark and hollow stems. These are the features which are homes to bats, birds and some of our rarest invertebrates. A project that I have been working on recently involves attempting to create new veteran trees by deliberately damaging semi mature trees to produce  some of these features. This process is known as veteranisation. As our ancient trees are naturally and gradually dying we have nothing to immediately replace them due to the way our landscape has been managed in recent decades, hence the need for this somewhat drastic action. To misquote Leonard Cohen “The cracks are where the bats get in”

    I feel life  (or the Buddha) is putting me through the process of veteranisation at the moment, hopefully with my new broken bits I can become a more interesting and useful person.Namo Amida Bu

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    We breath together

    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    A Glimpse by Paramita

    The Radio 4 Thought For The Day caught my attention the other morning. It was that sort of early morning, contemplative type material, that probably wouldn’t really have registered so well if I’d heard it in the midst of a normal busy day. The theme was Conspiracy Theory – I can’t remember the exact title.

    The narrator offered perspectives on society’s increasingly erratic response to the seemingly cloak and dagger antics of the geo-political corruption culprits. How a growing percentage of the population think that the global elite seem to be covertly closing down our freedoms and our ability to create happy and prosperous lives for ourselves. And some of the dangerous ideas and schemes that are and have been streaming out of the Conspiracy melting pot.

    The tone of the piece was definitely tilted negatively towards Conspiracy Theory, and highlighted all of the more erratic aspects without really giving credence or fair representation to any of the events or the facts that provide the basis for it. In short, it was biased! While I tend to agree that the work of the growing Conspiracy Theory Network seems to spiral wildly into and out from its own neurotic fear complex, it’s also difficult for me to turn away from it without acknowledging that there is more and more evidence to suggest that we are being gradually hypnotized into some nightmare world, where our potential and vulnerability is being weaponized against us – in the name of profit and control.

    But what to do?

    In a previous episode of my life I spent some years losing myself in a confusing melange of elaborate, radical and sometimes downright hysterical ideas about all sorts of plots to control, suppress and dumb down the Human masses. In the end there were just too many. No Global Cabal, I reasoned, could ever possibly keep track of that many evil schemes with any degree of coherence or effectiveness. And so I dropped it all, even more suddenly than I had gotten my troubled little head enmeshed into it in the first place. I realised that the only way for me to make any kind of change in this world was to start with myself, heal, grow, and then take care of my own little corner, tend to my own metaphorical garden, insignificant as it might seem against the bigger picture.

    As I think about it, I can remember this being one of the many threads that eventually led me out of a very harmful lifestyle and into a more engaged and sensible attitude and approach to the world, and life in general.

    I became more and more involved in various recovery and religious communities, that aspired to the harnessing of collective power. The way forward was in a co-ordinated climb towards self-understanding, shared values and progressive attitudes.

    ‘’The word conspire means to breathe together’’

    This was the line that really peaked my interest in this particular radio offering.

    Etymologically, the Latin con -’together with’ and spirare – ‘breathe’ – gives us con-spire, and now conjures up images of darkened figures huddled in windowless rooms, formulating emboldened schemes to snatch back control from some hidden hand that wields ultimate power.

    It also reminds me of our communal practice here in the Buddhist Temple where I live. Apart from the day to day functioning of the place, which requires concerted efforts continually, we also share meditation practice, in which we, quite literally, ‘breathe together’. We sit quietly, allowing peace and tranquillity to infiltrate our busy minds. We contemplate enlightenment and look towards a higher reality, inhabited by wiser and more loving beings, and we attempt to emulate and manifest that reality in our very Human lives.

    This is the kind of conspiracy that moves me today. A kind of collective counterbalancing effort, that sends out subtle and powerful ripples into the ever deepening darkness.

    Namo Amida Bu.

    The Buddha’s Hands

    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    Dharma Glimpse by Izzy

    Sometimes I feel the Buddha’s hands at work in my life.

    A while ago now, I was sat at my laptop, as I am right now, scrolling through my emails, when I saw one from the RNLI. “Enter Our Million Pound House Draw! All profits go to the RNLI”. I went to press ENTER to delete but hovered over the key, my eyes drawn to the photos and description of the shiny house. It was in Yorkshire, with the Dales on the doorstep. There was an outdoor swimming pool, countless bedrooms and one of those big, open kitchens with an island in the middle. I shut the screen closed and went to run a bath. As I did, my mind leaping off into elaborate fantasies of what life would be like if I had this house. All the different options it would open up to me. How I could go and live there for a while and invite people, family or close friends. I have very little control over who I share the temple with. This house would be mine. I could invite who I want, when I want. In time I could turn it into my own Buddhist and yoga retreat centre or a community space. Or rent it out and have the income to sustain my life here in Malvern. Imagine, the freedom it would offer me, all the travelling I could do. As I sank into the bath I sank deeper and deeper into my fantasies. That’s it, I thought, I’m going to enter it. The words of my colleagues at work ringing in my ear “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. Other parts around saying, yes, we work really hard, we deserve to win a million pound house! When I went back to my room, I opened the laptop and went to enter the draw. The cheapest option, £10, the most I’ve ever spent on a raffle. I do it and head to bed for the night. I don’t think much of it then until a month or so later when I spot an email. “Congratulations! You are one of our gift card winners!”. I open the email to see I have won a £10 gift card.

    In that moment, filled with the excitement of being “a winner” and the disappointment of winning the same value I paid to enter the draw, I see the Buddha in my mind’s eye. Their soft, round shoulders, the edges of their mouth gently curling up. They smile and say “you don’t need a house, you already have this temple to live in, but here is your £10 back.”

    Sometimes I feel the Buddha’s hands at work in my life. Showing me I already have everything I could ever need, right here.

    Namo Amida Bu

    Fear and my Sofa

    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    Dharma Glimpse by Kusuma

    Last summer we began the stressful project of extending our tiny two bedroom house to make it a family home. We put some of our belongings in to storage and I mentally prepared myself for 6 weeks of mess and stress, which dragged out for more than 12 weeks.

    As foundations were made, new walls built and existing walls were knocked down, our large three seater sofa sat in the centre of it all, covered in dust sheets.

    But as the plastering stage arrived the builders decided the sofa had to go, but go where exactly? There was no spare space in the house, and our storage unit was full. Our only alternative was the cabin in the garden.

    Two young builders half my age huffed and puffed and complained about how heavy the sofa was as they lifted it out of the house and in to our cabin. Their moaning rocketed my anxiety levels up from a 5 to a 10 in a matter of seconds. How heavy was this thing? If it is really that heavy, how would myself and my husband every lift it back in? “You will lift it back in to the house when the job is done” I asked. “Yes don’t worry about it” the one replied.

    But worry I did. I have always been a worrier and something relatively simple can rapidly snowball in to something that consumes my everyday thinking. Switching off our fears can be hard especially when those fears have manifested from another person’s actions or behaviour.

    I learnt very early on in my life that my parents were very good at projecting their own fears on to their only child. On school trips my mum would tell me to sit in the middle of the coach as it was the safest part. Can you imagine how much anxiety my neuro-divergent brain went through about a simple school trip. Friends would sit at the back of the coach and I would sit in the middle!

    Fear rapidly grows and with it so do the three poisons, greed, hate and delusion mixed with a dash of envy.

    The weeks rolled on and the end of our building work came about rather abruptly and the builders disappeared leaving the sofa in the cabin. I became angry and hateful, why would they leave someone of my age to lift the sofa back in to the house? I envied their youth and ability to seemingly lift things without a care.

    I stared out of my new kitchen window at the sofa gathering dust in our cabin and every day I felt sick at the idea of trying to lift it. The fear grew bigger and bigger as Christmas rapidly approached. That sofa was going to need to come back in the house or we would have nothing to sit on for the holiday season. My worry and delusion expanded with momentum. What if I can’t lift it back in? What if I lift the sofa and a disc in my back slips again. What if I fall?

    Sometimes in order to overcome your fears you have to take a step back, sit with the fear, breathe with awareness and just take a risk. My worst fears could manifest but they also might not. So the day before Christmas Eve we cleared a path from the cabin to the back door and lifted the large sofa with a couple of breaks to catch our breath. It turns out the sofa was heavy, but manageable and my fears had been blown out of proportion based on a judgment. I had assumed that if two young men thought that the sofa was heavy, then my 52 year old arthritic body was never going to manage it. I laughed at myself. If we had tried to even just lift the sofa to see how heavy it was after the builders had left, we would have known it wasn’t going to be a problem and I wouldn’t have worried so much for weeks on end.

    The moving of my sofa turned out to be a valuable lesson in overcoming my fears. The awareness and insight didn’t manifest on its own of course. In the weeks building up to the sofa lift I meditated to try and reduce my anxiety, and in turn it helped me to walk with my fear to get the job done.

    Sometimes we have to have a little bit more faith in our own judgement. It turns out that my over protective mother was right and a middle aisle seat is the safest seat on a coach but sometimes we choose a seat based the people we are with and the view from the window rather than allowing fear to stop us from enjoying the ride.

    Making our way back to this

    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    Dharma Glimpse by Mat Osmond

    This is a glimpse that arrived in two halves.

    The first half came a few weeks ago as I was giving my daughter Zoe a driving lesson. We had the Sat Nav on, but for some reason we kept turning aside from the route it offered back to where we’d started out from. If you’ve used a Sat Nav you’ll know what happens next. The App just reorients, and begins directing you again from whatever way you’re now facing.

    Sometimes a moment lingers in the memory like an odd little question mark waiting to be understood. I think this is what a ‘dharma glimpse’ means to me, but maybe koan would be nearer the mark. The Sat Nav’s patient recalibration, over and over as we failed to follow its advice, felt like one of these moments. No opinion offered – and no reproach. And where we’re making our way back to, regardless of how often we turn aside from it, hasn’t moved or changed, has it? It just happens to be in this direction now, instead of that.

    The second half happened when I was praying silent nembutsu a week or so later.

    At some point I must have slipped without noticing it from saying Namo Amida bu to saying Maranatha, an Aramaic version of the Prayer of the Heart which I learned from the Benedictine teacher Fr John Main, and have come back to many times over the years. 

    It must have been a good ten minutes before I even realised what had happened , and when I did, it seemed oddly funny. As if for once I’d been accidentally honest with Amida, and with myself. As if, the most honest way I could say nembutsu was in fact to forget the correct words, to muddle them up and get them wrong.

    This isn’t about advocating a mix-and-match approach to prayer though. Trying to find the right blend sounds quite … tiring. It smells of calculating mind to me – which is to say, mixing and matching different approaches until I finally hit on the right formula basically leaves this whole finding the way home business up to me. Like I said, tiring. 

    But whatever it means to open the defended heart to measureless, un-measuring Life, I suppose coming to Amida ‘just as I am’ has to include, then, this curious inability to settle on a given name.

    If I were to call myself a Pureland Buddhist it would be in exactly this sense, I think. After decades of putting on one form of prayer after another like so many borrowed shirts, it seems I’ve failed at even this simplest of bombu practices: calling the name.  And it’s right here in this obscure inability to settle that Amida finds me as I am, irrespective of how often I veer off one way or another. 

    I’ve no idea what comes next, to be honest – but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe that’s the point.

    To be continued. Namo Amida bu.


    Categories: buddhism dharma glimpse

    Dharma glimpse by Dave Smith

    As part of the book study group, I have been reading ‘The Shamanic Bones of Zen’ by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. There is a section in this book where she talks about communal chanting and the connections we make with other people who have repeated the same chants over the years. Not only people in the same temple or from your particular Sangha but other people carrying out the same practice across the world. This got me to thinking about the moon, and how, if you are missing someone you love who is temporarily parted from you, if you both look out of your windows at the same time, you can each see the same moon shining down on you from above, and feel connected again. I think I got this idea from a romantic film or book but I can’t remember exactly where.
    As I was writing about this, that’s when my Dharma glimpse hit me! This is the exact same moon that Shinran and Shakyamuni would have seen when they looked up at the night sky, and the same moon that Rumi and so many other poets and musicians have written about, and so many artists have painted. We all share the same moon, the same sun, the stars and this planet that we all live on. The reality that just a couple of thousand years ago Shakyamuni Buddha would have been looking up at the same moon that I can see now as I am typing this, is immensely comforting. It’s obvious really, it’s just something that hadn’t occurred to me before, I suppose that’s what a Dharma glimpse is, when something that’s always been there, suddenly becomes apparent. Whenever I see the moon now, I think of the Buddha, not just the concept but the person who became enlightened, Shakyamuni Buddha, and I feel connected
    Namo Amida Bu

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