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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

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Mitra hands

Friendship in the palm of their hands

Update from Itir

A little over a year ago I left Melbourne to go to Adhisthana in the UK and join the Women’s Dharma Life Course. Before I left, Maitripala gave me 10 little buddhas to find new homes for during my trip

A few buddhas had already been passed on by the time I got to Adhisthana but I still had enough for each of the women who finished the course.

I even had one for dear Akasajoti, who coordinated the course and looked after us, as we each fell apart and re-emerged a little freer, over and over, in those 5 months.

So during my final project in our last week together I was able to hand these buddhas to my friends.

I don’t think have I cried so intensely in front of other people in my whole life, as I did when presenting my project. Acknowledging how friendship has changed me was just very overwhelming. As I gave each person a little buddha I came up with a name that contained their wonderful qualities. It’s been almost 8 months since the course ended and I am still so very impressed and moved by the women I had the great privilege to live in community with. It was a very special time that will continue to support me in opening my heart. I believe the effects of the course will carry on throughout my life and beyond and I hope I can really honor what we collectively created. Thank you for the buddhas dear Maitripala, it was lovely to be able to give them all a little parting gift,……although I don’t feel we are really apart.”

 

Buddhas donated by 

Alex Carr-Malcolm, UK

Tegan, Australia

Akasalila, UK

Shantipala, UK

Linda, Australia

Prasadajata, Australia

 

 

 

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The hard to find gift

It was so uplifting hearing someone describe the journey they had been on with their daughter’s mental illness as a gift. 

From personal experience in my own family this comment did not surprise me.

To an outsider watching on, as families deal with mental illness, the obvious suffering is what they see so clearly and are drawn to focus on. 

But something else can happen in that painful arena that brings growth, richness and compassion for self and others to the fore. 

So I invited this woman to choose from my bag of little Buddhas. 

Her hand alighted on a tiny little Buddha encased in a bodhi leaf, hands gently clasped in meditation mudra. 

Even in the midst of the extremes of mental states,  wisdom and compassion are to be found. 

In this person’s eyes I could see that she knew that too. 

Buddha donated by Akashamani      Port Fairy Australia BAE8ABE7-4609-4216-8F88-3A6C4AB3E3BD

Buddhas undercover

A friend going overseas for an adventure in the UK and  to visit family in her birth country in Eurasia, took some of the little Buddhas to give away.

This is what happened :

My mom is an artist and was recently getting interested in jewellery making. She had made me a beautiful lotus necklace and asked if there were any other symbols that I liked.

I was telling her about about the vajra and we decided to make a vajra necklace.

We were workshopping the idea and I went upstairs to get a book where I had drawn a vajra and the bag of Buddha’s caught my eye so I brought it to the table.

I decided that I wouldn’t offer her a Buddha but just bring the bag with me to show her. In my country of birth there isn’t much information on Buddhism and what is available is quite bleak and a little negative. Me, becoming a Buddhist, is quite unconventional and a little scary so I try to be mindful and not push my views or preference on to my family.

But as soon as the bag was out she asked me about it and I told her about the  ‘Buddhas  in my pocket’ project and started taking them out of the bag. I had the beautiful Buddhas  all lined up, her face lit up and she asked if she could have one!

So I said yes of course 🙂  She picked a clay Buddha because it reminded her of our country’s archeological artefacts and her connection with clay and ceramic making. She placed it in between photos of her mother and father and said it found its perfect spot. It was such a lovely playful and light moment devoid of any fear, worries or anxiety. It really brought lightness to the whole thing.

I will cherish it as a metta-full memory! 🙂

Buddha donated by Danakosha retreat centre, Scotland

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“The other Buddha I gave to a GFR mitra in my country of birth. We had been hanging out together and she had been so generous all day, giving me gifts and covering meals. During the day we talked about the ordination process and discovered many similarities in our practice and training even though we live on opposite sides of the world. Then we talked about synchronicity and delightful coincidences.

I had brought the bag of Buddhas with me and wanted to offer her a Buddha. I was taking out all the Buddhas for her to chose from but before I got to the third one she was clear she woudl over the white Buddha. She had been thinking about acquiring a discreet little Buddha to keep in her car.

That white Buddha was donated by Kirsten my good friend from Sydney Australia, another GFR mitra. I felt this was another lovely coincidence that links us all together. “

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A force of positivity

As I watched this person work I was really struck by her purposeful gait and boundless energy. Here was someone, nearly in her 7 th decade of this life, living so fully engaged in whatever she was doing.
She was endlessly positive.
Sometimes people are cheery on a surface level but underneath things can be turbulent.
However, with this inspiring woman, automatically seeing the best in people went down many layers deep.
Spending time around someone like that really brings confidence and trust easily into communication and connection.
When I offered her a Buddha she chose one mainly because of the colour.
It reminded her a little of pale New Zealand greenstone.
She also liked the shape.
She told me as we chatted, that as soon as she picked it up she realised she would hand it on to a friend- it really needed to go to her friend.
Sometimes the Buddhas in my Pocket are like that.
They still have a little more of a journey to go before they arrive fully into a new home .

Buddha donated by Ineke, New South Wales, Australia IMG_0378

Infinite potential

IMG_0015Someone who offered to hand on one of the Buddhas in my Pocket recently sent me her story …….

” I gave the small Buddha to my partner, who is suffering from depression and anxiety and is in a very constricted mental state.

He accepted the Buddha with sincererity knowing how important such a gift was to me. But when I told him it represented infinite potential he scoffed and said ‘well that is not me’.

Such a sad thing, as I have always seen his radiant potential and really believe in him.

I hope one day he will believe in himself again too.”

Buddha donated by Dhammannyu Hove UK

Strength and support

A new friend from Toowoomba offered to hand on one of the tiny Buddhas I carry with me.

In her words………

“I chose this Buddha for my friend for its particular visual beauty and the fact that it had a rectangular back. The back gave the feeling of strength and support.

 My friend and I have been mutually supportive of each other through some challenging times. 

I knew she would understand why I had given it to her. 

The Dharma is a central part of this person’s life and the very fact that I had decided to choose a Buddha for her meant so much to her. 

I wanted to remind her of her own potential for Buddhahood.”

Buddha donated by Danakosa Retreat Centre Scotland.  Its a replica of a statue that is in Sarnath Museum metres from the place where the Buddha turned the wheel of the Dharma.

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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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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.

Bags of Buddhas

I have arrived back  in Australia after an inspiring visit to the UK.

40 Buddhas out of the 165 donated have found new homes.

Here are the remaining 125 which I will attempt to hand on before the pilgrimage ends in April year!

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I have successfully managed to keep track of 163 donor names.

But these two little Buddhas below were handed to me and I missed recording the names of the donors.

One was given on the Triratna Order Convention in Uk and the other might have been on a retreat in Australia.

If you recognise either of them could you email me at ..

maitripala@gmail.com

 

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage