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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

Month

March 2017

Compassion whispers….

Sometimes the threads of a story you are being told by someone else, are so close to your own truth they seem to be woven into a universal tapestry made of deep love and fear of loss.

It’s a cloth of tenderness that many of us wrap ourselves in …..fringed with a wish to save someone we love from suffering.

This wish connects us and is known by all living beings.

In the beautiful Australian bush, Green Tara passed from one hand to another whispering ….compassion is the only response.

Green Tara donated by Malini. New Zealand

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Helping hands from Toowoomba

Sometimes people seeing my tiny Buddhas are drawn to ask to take one to give to a friend or family member. This happened recently on a retreat in Toowoomba.

I will let those that handed on some Buddhas tell their story .

P’s story :

Thank you  for allowing me to hand out of Buddha to my Father. I specifically had lunch with mum and dad on Tuesday, to explain the retreat, your story, and the story behind this particular Buddha, from the clay soils of the Jetta Grove in India, from your Order Member friend who is from the Retreat Centre near Kempsey, and now to my Dad. 

Dad is a typically non religious, although both mum and dad were very interested in the retreat, what I am learning, and of course your pilgrimage and the story of this Buddha.

I like how the materials of this Buddha, as with everything in the universe, comes directly from the earth, and in time, will return to the earthly / universal elements, a metaphor for the potential of things to become things, and the impermanence of things.

Mum and Dad have noticed a real change in my being, behaviour, actions and views since commencing my interest in the Dharma. This Buddha represents the infinite potential in all beings – something despite Dad’s age (70 this year) is meaningful and true, and possible.

This handing over of the Buddha to Dad, and the story behind its journey, drew parallels  with our own personal journeys, and was a special moment for us both to share.

Thankyou for the catalyst for this moment to be shared and experienced.

With loving kindness, peace, compassion, and momentary awareness of each moment.

Buddha from India donated by Satyagandhi, Naganaga NSW

 

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J’s story :

I was drawn to give this Buddha to my friend to help her with her latest round of treatment for a serious illness. I felt anticipation as I sent it off. She  contacted me she to say it had arrived. She said it was an amazing and beautiful gift and she sounded so happy. I asked her to send a photo of it in her hand. My friend said she felt this Buddha was female.

Buddha donated by Lewi UK

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Daughters connected by the Buddha

I was very touched to receive this message from Itir, a mitra, from Melbourne Buddhist Centre . I have three daughters and now two of my daughters have daughters. So this story was especiailly poignant thinking about how life can be for young girls all over the world……..

Almost a year ago, on the first day of her pilgrimage, Maitripala asked if I and a few others would like to accompany her to the Melbourne CBD to give away Buddhas. From the freshly donated bunch of Buddhas Maitripala laid out at the Melbourne Buddhist Centre, I chose one which she later told me was donated by one of her daughters.

I chose that Buddha because he looked strong, reliable and determined. I didn’t give him away that day and for six months he stayed in my room, patiently waiting for the right time to be handed over into the hands of a stranger.

In October 2016 I went on a Buddhist pilgrimage to India with a group of friends and took the Buddha with me hoping perhaps he would continue on his journey there. It wasn’t until the last day of the pilgrimage at the Shravasti train station that he came out of my bag.

It was getting late and we were all very tired, standing outside the train station, waiting. This didn’t seem like a spot many tourists ended up so we were quite a sight. There were at least 20 people surrounding us, just looking at us with great curiosity.

Among the group of people there was a family of four. A couple with two young children.

One was a girl, probably not older than 5 and her younger sibling who I think was a little boy, maybe around 1.

The little girl was holding her brother who was crying a little and wanted to be let down. In response to the little boy misbehaving, their father looked at them with a frown that said if they didn’t behave they were going to be in big trouble. His frown had the potential of great violence which was difficult to miss as the little children became quiet and suddenly looked very frightened. He then picked up a piece of metal that was resting on the dirty ground and put it in the little boys toothless mouth as a gesture of playfulness. The little boy laughed.

As I watched them I couldn’t help but think of the future that awaits these two precious children who will potentially grow up in a household where they might not have anyone to protect them if things went wrong.

It can be difficult at times being a child in India. I imagine it is even more difficult being a little girl in India. I felt there wasn’t much I could do to help them so I did the best I could and gave the little girl the strong Buddha wishing her to be protected by the Buddha’s blessings. She looked surprised but took the Buddha and showed it to her brother. Her father then picked up the Buddha, and for a second I thought he was going to throw it away but he gave it back to her. We didn’t exchange any words except I told them that it was the Buddha and they told me her name was Lakshmi. Shortly after I had to leave to find our train at the train station.

I sometimes wonder what Lakshmi is doing and whether she is safe and if there is anything I can do to help her. My heart opens and I feel sad at my inability to protect her and all the vulnerable children of this world, but I also know to feel the suffering is the first step to becoming something more than this limited self, perhaps a strong, determined Buddha that can finally be of benefit to all beings. Thank you dear Maitripala for creating the opportunity for this encounter. Much love….

Buddha donated by Tegan, Melbourne 

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Buddhas in Brisbane

My short stop on the Buddhas in my Pocket pilgrimage in Brisbane has come to an end. A day retreat we called Metta Makeover went well. I just love doing what I can to boost people’s metta practice.
Hrdayaja gave me a couple of days alone in her wonderful flat- what a treat. And we finished the visit having dinner out with Nagadeva, Hrdayaja and Chandramalin.

I hope to return for longer next year.

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Undercover work

The village green in Toowoomba was empty as it was too hot to sit directly in the sun.
So I moved over to a park bench under a shady tree.
A man was sitting on a bench directly opposite to me. Shorts, backpack, shade.
I smiled and commented on the weather and so began the communication dance of strangers.

He told me he did not live in Toowoomba but was there doing ‘ undercover work’. I don’t wish to give away in this post what he was actually doing but I can assure you it is a very helpful job he is engaged in.
I felt heartened, as the field he was working in is one where women are often taken advantage of financially. His undercover work lessens the chance of that happening.

This man travels all over Australia doing this useful job. For part of each day he gets to sit in city parks and town squares for a couple of hours and enjoys watching people going about their business. However he said he often felt sad when he saw people in the grip of addiction and struggling with the weight of a hard life.
So I told him about my Buddhas in the Pocket pilgrimage and how I also am traveling around the country and meeting many interesting people.
He did know a bit about Buddhism. He told me more about the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple near Wollongong (photos below)  which I had visited many years ago when it had been first built.

He also shared some of stories about visiting Buddhist temples and sites in Thailand with his wife. In one place he had seen large stone Buddha statues with their heavy stone heads chopped off, victims of some long forgotten conflict.

I moved to sit next to him on his bench seat and took my bag of Buddhas out.
I invited him to choose one. The one he picked was a small metal Buddha.
I gave him my blog address and said he could see what I might write about our meeting.
I said he could follow the journey if he wanted to.
He enthusiastically replied, ‘Yes I want to be part of this journey!’

Both of us had noted the small imperfection in the base of the Buddha.
‘Well, we are all like that.’ he said.

He seemed interested in the Buddha’s story so I told him a little about how the Buddha was prepared to sit for a very long time under a tree until he really deeply understood how things really were.
A cheeky grin formed as he listened to the story.
And then his eyes gazed up to the wide, shading tree we were sitting under.
I realised what he was thinking and I said ‘ All things are possible ‘

Saying goodbye we shook hands as I left him to go about his undercover business.

Buddha donated by Pam Melbourne

Thanks Viryaja

What a pleasure it was to spend time with my Order sister Viryaja.

Week after week she sits in circles sharing the Dharma. I see the community blossoming with the friendship she offers those who wander into the Toowoomba Buddhist Centre.

A big thank you to both Viryaja  and her husband Peter who fed me lovely food and made sure I had a bed every night. A trip to the Japanese gardens was a highlight.

 

 

Goodbye Toowoomba

Tomorrow I leave Toowoomba and catch a bus to Brisbane. Thank you to the Toowoomba sangha – I was warmly scooped up and looked after so well.

The courage and commitment of people in quite isolated situations practicing the Dharma and developing  a spiritual community is always impressive.                                Inspired by the Buddhist teachings they pitch in and help where needed.

A weekend retreat, at a lovely country rented venue complete with mist in gumtrees, on the topic of ‘The True Indivual ‘ left us open hearted and connected.

Sadhu to Viryaja, Roger , the management committee and friends, who together have already achieved the purchase of a building to hold classes in.

Final call for support

 

Dear friends,

As I move towards my dharma teaching pilgrimage finishing date of 1 st June  I am putting out a call to raise the final amount of $1,100 to cover my daily living and travel costs.

I have really enjoyed leading events and meeting the sangha in Adelaide and Toowoomba and will now move on to Brisbane and Sydney before my last stops at Kempsey and Naganaga.

I will continue to hand on Buddhas after the June date and write about it on the blog.

If you would like to donate please click on the link below

Donate here

love Maitripala

Stitched with kindness

As an addition to my previous post about wearing my kesa…..let me introduce you to a wonderful woman from India , Vajradharini , who hand stitches all our kesas.

Thank you Carunalaka for your Facebook post which reminded us of Vajradharini’s gift to the Order.

 

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage