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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

Month

July 2016

Birmingham Buddhas

Thank you to my dear friend Veronica for initiating a  ‘Buddhas in my Pocket’ display at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre and extending Indra’s Net. I was very touched to see little Buddhas appearing there, ready to accompany me back to Australia.

 

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Recognising purity

The little Buddhas sat waiting on the table looking much fresher after a 24 hour flight than I felt. It only took a minute for the man with the infectious smile to choose the only white Buddha within the group.
In the small amount of time we spent together he told me about his father and mother who had died many years ago, about the brother in Barbados who he had only seen once and about his girlfriend.
Again I enjoyed the simplicity of letting time and presence do the work of connection. He was a man who went about life in a simple way, so at first glance I imagine his knowledge and interests could often be greatly underestimated.
In those few minutes he was able to easily explain why white appealed to him, the vibrancy, the purity. He liked that white contained an equal balance of all colours of the spectrum. And he commented on Renaissance artists and their use of white.

When his girlfriend arrived he asked if she could choose a Buddha too. So a green Buddha also found a new home.
The familiarity of this simple task of handing on some Buddhas, as I had been doing in Melbourne, somehow helped me arrive more fully in Birmingham.

Buddhas donated by Pasadadipa and Inge from UK

 

Hope

You could think I was lying or exaggerating as I tell you about Hope’s perfectness.   Her rosebud lips and her golden hair. But I am not.
She was a perfectly beautiful newborn grandaughter held in my arms with the heavy truth that she would never take her first breath.
That first essential breath required to allow the unfolding of her life into ours in the usual, expected way of generations rolling on.
Hope’s heart stopped beating one night just before she was due to be born.
If you have held death this closely (or when you do) you can imagine the deep, tender heart space that opened up to envelop my daughter and her husband at the birth of their first child. The story of the Buddha, Kisa Gotami and the mustard seed I had heard many times before it became, as it would, my family’s story.
Recently 6 years after that day I held Hope in my arms, I opened my bag of Buddhas on the anniversary of her death and knew immediately which Buddha I would choose to bury under the soil at the memorial garden.
A beautiful small Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion.
Surrounded in pink, given to me by the friend who introduced me to Buddhism.
We are a fortunate family as Hope’s presence and memory continues to weave threads of connection and love amongst us.
We all soften and reach out to each other when she is in our consciousness.
She reminds us to not take life or each other for granted.
Sometime death and grief can disconnect and damage but with Hope it’s been the opposite.

In my daughter’s hand Kuan Yin donated by Akashamani.

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Beautiful Port Fairy

I love driving alone during the 4 hour trip from Melbourne to Port Fairy.

Having experienced a happy childhood in a small country town in another part of Victoria, something in me relaxes and breathes deeply as I pass by the open fields, grand vistas and little pockets of shops.

Port Fairy has the added beauty of being situated alongside a river mouth flowing into a vast, energetic ocean. Whales from Antarctica pass by at certain times of the year and the wide streets and old style houses trigger happy memories and make me smile.

Akashamani and  Sanghamati steer a small sangha there with dedication and commitment. Both of these dear friends have to travel long distances to enjoy the company of the wider Order  and largely have to feed their own inspiration and progress. I have great admiration for pioneers who week after week set up the conditions for others to explore the Dharma. I know they both feel inspired by the enthusiasm and openness of the local community of practitioners.

I was very warmly welcomed and truly loved being on the women’s retreat held at a farmhouse on the edge of river. It was a harmonious and reflective retreat exploring the 5 Buddha mandala.

I drank up the birdsong, sunsets and company. Feeling so fortunate.

The next stop on my journey will be Adhistana UK.

In the hands of Akashamani

Akashamani – an Order Member from Port Fairy Australia

“This is a Victorian mourning brooch brought for me by my husband shortly after my adult son had died. I had touched a deep well of grief. 

I remember going up to the Triratna retreat centre in Sydney ( Vijayaloka) and talking to a wise friend about how this tragic event might be explored as a basis of practice and growth. After his death I had a strong vision of my son on the Wheel of Life. I saw him through all the stages- newborn, toddler, teenager, young father.
And in that instant I knew this cycle of life was nothing special…it was so ordinary. I also saw that I was not alone and shared this story with so many other people. It was both an extremely painful and simultaneously rich journey at times.
The desire to never forget what I learnt during that time was very strong.
I wonder if I would have joined the Order had I not had to make sense of that deep suffering. I wish that it had not happened that way..but it did.
I think it now enables me to connect with empathy and understanding with others in similar situations. The brooch has the baby hair of my three children in it.”

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When a Buddha moves on

A message to share from a recipient….

“I was so deeply touched when this little white Amitabha Buddha found it’s way into my pocket whilst on retreat a while back. 
It seemed to me that I needed to take on the qualities of gentleness, and openness and receptivity.
Then perhaps I could be more fully part of the world whilst not feeling frozen with the pain of horrified anxiety whilst watching those whom I love suffer. 
It seemed to show how I could keep my head above the pain of Samsara.

So when I arrived for a visit with my son after finishing the retreat the little white Buddha was with me.  
The next morning it was my son’s birthday and it seemed as if everything was going wrong for him in his life.  I felt helpless.  As I was unpacking and asking myself what I could do to help, the little package fell out of  my bag and I realised in a moment that the little white Buddha needed to be gifted on to my son. So that’s what I did.”

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Everything that’s needed is there

She said she had chosen this particular Buddha as the border on it had attracted her.

It had been a year of being assailed with the worldy winds of pain and loss within her family.
“I think the border represents inclusivity. Everything that is really needed is there. ” she told me.
She felt that her connection with the Buddhist teachings had been a protective factor in managing this very tough year.
Through it all, she said, she somehow knew it would be okay and this little Buddha is now a reminder of that Truth.
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Buddha donated by Vajratara. UK

Metta walks

Metta walk:

It’s great if you have a bit of distance to walk or to spend time on public transport for this practice.  Its helpful if your destination is a place where people tend to gather like a city square, shops or market.

However, any place works and it doesn’t have to be pretty. I have given out Buddhas in hospitals and shopping malls.

As you start the walk firstly tune in to how you are.

The aim is to connect with grounded presence.

Is there anything in your experience that needs turning toward with kindness?  Just be present with that.

Then slowly start to take in each person that you pass on your walk or that see around you on public transport etc

Really be curious and open. People walking past or traveling alongside you, waiting in waiting rooms,  carrying hopes, joys, dreams, unsatisfactoriness and disappointments.

We don’t know them, but we can be sure they strive to be happy. Our shared human longing-this wish to be happy.

Notice the subtle and sometimes not so subtle views and judgments that arise as we take others into our awareness. With time you can really sense into the emptiness and invalidity of those views and at least momentarily let them drop away.

Enjoy the expansiveness of this flow of metta connection as these lives become woven even momentarily into your tapestry of experience.

You with your imperfectness and vast potential and them with theirs.

Handing on a Buddha.  

I am happy to send some of my 100 buddhas to you to give this a try or you may find a few of your own.

When you arrive at your destination ( anywhere where people tend to gather) with your Buddhas in your pocket or bag just sit.

Don’t think. Just be. Sense into that particular collection of humanity, acknowledging our shared human condition, acknowledging the wisdom of sameness and diversity.

Allow the possibility that you won’t hand out a Buddha. That’s perfectly okay. This helps to relax into just sitting and being.

And with the gift of time just see what happens. You have already done your practice in just arriving here.

After a while notice if your focus settles on a particular person.

Allow your field of kindness to extend out to them. At anytime, if you notice uncomfortableness within yourself, send yourself kindness and understanding. It can be uncomfortable dropping away our protective barriers of ‘self’ but the rewards are immense.

What force propels us move towards another human being?

The outcome is unknown, you have to have the courage to be misunderstood or possibly rejected but I find that never happens.

Sometimes I just start a conversation by moving closer to someone and telling them friends have given me gifts to give away and asking would they like to choose one.

Other times a conversation starts with something mundane like a comment about the weather. Sometimes I tell them my Buddhist background sometimes I don’t. It all relies on sensing into and being present with the person as fully as possible. After talking for a while I might open the bag of Buddhas but not always.  I have found everyone I have given a Buddha to has been happy to have a photo taken of it in their hand ( no names are put on the blog or identifying features shown).

If appropriate I give them the web address  www.buddhasinmypocket.com so they can see what I write.

If you decide to give it a try please do share your stories with me at

maitripala@gmail.com

100 Buddhas…an invitation to be involved

100 Buddhas have been now kindly donated and I have handed on 27 over the last 4 months.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to have a go at doing a metta walk and/or handing on a Buddha. You could find a couple Buddhas yourself and let me know how it goes. Or I am very happy to send you a few from my Buddha bag to hand on.

All I ask is that you send me any photos of the Buddhas in hands and tell me the story of what happened on a metta walk so I can include it on my blog and Facebook page.

Soon I will post some tips on doing metta walks and for handing on Buddhas.

If you would like to help please email and let me know at

 maitripala@gmail.com

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage