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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

Month

November 2016

A kind Mum

He seemed very pleased when I commented positively on his hat. It looked like it was a print of a painting by one of the Masters.
We started chatting and I told him about the Buddhas I had been given and asked if he wanted one. He was really attracted to the beautiful glass Kuan Yin. I told him that Kuan Yin was associated with the qualities of compassion and kindness.
I asked him if there was anyone in his life who epitomised kindness.
His face lit up and he beamed, “My mum !”
It was so lovely hearing him talk about his mum. She had obviously helped him out during very tough times. I got the sense she was the most important person in his life, the person who provided a stable safety net in a tumultuous world.
He explained that his mum was currently looking after his own two young children and also his sister’s three children as she was too unwell to look after them.
He had been living on the streets himself in the past but was on his way to an appointment that very day to Human Services where they were trying to sort out a house and furniture for him.
He needed to have his own stable accommodation before he could get his children back living with him.
But meanwhile his mum looked after her 5 grandchildren to save them from going into foster care.
In my time working in Welfare in school settings I met numerous grandparents who had taken on the same selfless responsibility. Love and big open hearts gave them the energy to go beyond what they thought they were capable of.
As this young man readied himself to go off to his appointment he sincerely thanked me for the gift of the little Buddha and he spontaneously gave me a warm hug.
As I walked away, I could well imagine the beautiful hugs he must give his mum.

 

Buddha donated by Lynne

Port Fairy Australia img_0495

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Coast to Coast with Buddhas in our pockets…Manchester Buddhist Centre

Lynne- Marie shares a journey carrying Buddhas in pockets…

“Arthavadin, Satyamuni and I (Lynne-Marie) completed the Coast to Coast walk across the UK from St. Bees to Robin Hood Bay a total of 192 miles in September. We walked with Buddhas in our pockets offering the third stage of the loving kindness practice, connecting with fellow travellers and local communities. We intended to connect the Triratna movement handing out buddhas gifted from the Sangha to the people we met a long the way. The walk felt like a pilgrimage, each day started with meditation and chanting of the Tiratnavandena. We have raised over £4700 towards the Manchester Buddist Centre Ground Floor Up project. This is one of the many stories of where the Buddhas went and the connections they made…

This is the story of Vajramudita and the Buddha Amoghasidhi donated by Dharmakasara

A few days into planning the Coast to Coast walk, Arthavadin and became aware that we clearly did not have all the skills necessary for planning a trek on this scale, things like map references or even which way up the map needed to be were a challenge! We decided to call on the expertise of the Sangha and contacted Vajramudita and her husband Alan (the expert mountaineers) to assist in planning the 15 day trek along a trail that is for much of the way unmarked. They did an admirable job and helped us book accommodation and decided how long each days
walk would be taking into consideration the terrain. Vajramudita decided she would
join us for a few days of the walk.

The plan...Vajramudita was to join us for the first weekend of
the walk and organised her working week to be in the Lake District. This section of the walk
would take us to some of the remotest parts of the UK including a stay at Blacksail
YHA, the remotest YHA in the country. Vajramudita planned to walk into Blacksail, a two hour
walk over a mountain pass, to meet us at the Youth Hostel by 8pm Friday night and stay overnight at this charming hostel and then walk with us for the next two days.

The reality…Friday morning Arthavdin, Satyamuni and I set out walking from Ennerdale Bridge, a beautiful rural village with a pub, local store and cafe all run by the community. The weather turned increasingly blustery with torrential rain. We arrived at Blacksail around 4pm, the light was fading and the wind strength increasing. We were welcomed by a number of intrepid explorers, got out of our wet clobber, stood our boots to dry on the beams above the wood burning stove and hunkered down in the rather cosy cabin with fellow travellers. We exchanged stories and even took a video inviting everyone to say a few words.

As time progressed we became increasingly worried about Vajramudita, I meditated and sent her metta, I chanted and the whole hostel got out maps to try to work out which way she may be walking in. The limited normal communication systems were not working at the hostel, even the staff were out of communication. The night progressed and Vajramudita’s dinner lay unclaimed in the kitchen. She failed to turn up that evening. Worried and confident she would be OK we turned in for the night.

The next morning the weather was calm and sunny, we walked out of Blacksail and as we reached the top of the ridge I made the first of many attempts to contact Vajramudita, all to no avail. We continued walking checking each hostel on our way to see if she had stayed the night. We were worried and at the same time I felt very connected to her and had this sense that she was OK. It wasn’t until the end of the day, Saturday, when we arrived at the YHA Grassmere that we eventually met up.

When we met Vajramudita told of her night spent alone in the open. Vajramudita had set off to join us at Blacksail, she had realised the weather was bad but had not expected the strengthening wind to gale force, as she crossed the high pass into Blacksail she had been blown off her feet, she continued on. With the worsening visibility and poor light she kept close to the beck (stream or small river), as she tried to cross one beck she had been knocked over and washed down stream by the force of the water, her clothes were soaked and her mobile phone left inoperable. Fortunately the clothes she was carrying in her back pack were in dry bags, keeping her wet clothes on she layered up with all the dry clothes she had and then realising she couldn’t go back over the pass and that it was too dangerous to try to cross the two becks that lay ahead of her, she was benighted and spent the night sheltering under a rock.

Vajramudita has a connection with Vajrayogani and chanted and visualised her presence through the long cold hours she spent in the open. Part of the Vajrayogini practice includes methods for preventing ordinary death, and for transforming all mundane daily experiences into higher spiritual paths.

At first light Vajramudita retraced her steps out of Blacksail as the becks were by now huge torrents of water swollen with the rain overnight.

When we met her she appeared in shock and with a badly swollen hand. We exchanged stories, administered first aid, hugged and shed a few tears of relief. Vajramudita has a suspected fracture of the scaphoid bone in her hand. She is now recovering although using her right hand is painful. The Buddha she chose was Amoghasidhi, donated by Dharmakasara from the Manchester Buddhist Centre.  Amoghasiddhi’s emblem is the double vajra, his mudra is Abhaya or Fearlessness, how fitting!

Call forth as much as you can of love, of respect and of faith.

‘Call forth as much as you can of love, of respect and of faith!

Remove the obstructing defilements and clear away all your taints!

Listen to the Perfect Wisdom of the gentle Buddhas,

Taught for the weal of the world,

for heroic spirits intended!’

from Ratnagunasamchayagatha sutta

 

This morning I was reflecting on how one event could trigger such a range of emotional responses around the world. Some people would be waking up this morning feeling deep joy, excitement and a potential for freedom from their suffering and others are burdened with a gut wrenching sense of despair, worry and fear. And of course there exists the whole a range of emotions in between. Same event- different personal experience. All responses coming from the same human wish to be happy and avoid suffering.

That wish is what all human beings have in common and its where we can find connection.

When I open myself up to the perfect wisdom of the gentle Buddhas at times like this the Dhammapada provides the balm.

 ‘For hatred can never put an end to hatred; love alone can.

This is an unalterable law.’

 

And then the poet Auden reminds me …

All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie,

The romantic lie in the brain

Of the sensual man-in-the-street

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky:

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.

 

Defenceless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame.

–Wystan Hugh Auden, September 1, 1939 (excerpt)

 

There is the inner voice, the outer voice and the voice that goes on even after one’s death.

I know I need to pay attention to my inner voice, listen compassionately to what it is saying, what it needs, turn towards it with kindness, and then let it have its expression in the world.

And perhaps then its outwardly expression has more chance of being in line with the advice from the Dhammapada…let love conquer hatred.

And of course that is a way for the voice and wisdom of the gentle Buddhas be heard long after we ourselves are gone.

 

 

 

Connected through loss

Sometimes in the West we can be uncomfortable talking about and acknowledging babies who die just before birth or during birth. There is very little in our culture that creates a space for these tender relationships to continue to be acknowledged.

However, in Japan, Ksitigarbha, known as Jizō, or Ojizō-sama as he is respectfully known, is one of the most loved of all Japanese divinities. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards. Traditionally, he is seen as the guardian of children, and in particular, children who died before their parents.

The statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children’s clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō would specially protect them.

Thus each time you see a Jizo statue, adorned with these clothes or bibs, you witness the pain of a parent.

I was given one of these little buddhas for my pilgrimage recently.

I knew I had to pass it on to someone who would deeply understand the poignant sense of connection gained by knowing others understand and are willing to be visible with such tender loss.

As this lovely young woman held this little buddha in her hand she said,

“Seeing these pictures of all the Jizos at the Japanese temples reminds me how confronting it can be for many people even to go to the children’s sections of our cemeteries.

Now I visit one regularly to honour my daughter’s place in our family.  It was only when I started going  that I realised so many people have gone through the same deep sadness that my family and I have experienced.  And in a way its comforting …knowing that you’re are not alone.

Talking to other women who had experienced losing their child was also really helpful. I could see that even though they naturally still carried the grief, their futures had unfolded and they had survived.  It allowed me to glimpse that possibility for myself.”

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage