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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

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Street hands

Inspiring metta project

Its heart warming to see what others are doing to help those in need.

 

Meg’s first metta walk

It’s always delightful to receive news of someone having a go at a metta walk and being part of the Indra’s Net of handing on of Buddhas.

Meg’s story:
‘I’ve been out on a Metta Walk with two Buddhas donated for the  ‘Buddhas in my Pocket’ pilgrimage.
She who was Sarah and whose new Buddhist name is Akasalila passed them to me.
I’ve been meaning to take a Metta Walk for a while and finally made time today to do this in the city of Hereford.
I walked up from the River Wye, noticing how many people looked tired, stressed, and worried, eyes downcast. Only one young man accepted eye contact.
The town centre has a wide pedestrianised area called High Town, surrounded by shops, and with a beautiful medieval black and white Old House to one side, and an equally beautiful life size bronze statue of a Hereford bull on a big circular stone plinth next to it. I settled on one of the two benches between the Old House and the Bull.
I appreciated the reminder that a Buddha might not be even be handed over so I just waited and watched people of all ages crossing and sometimes re-crossing the space, carrying on wishing well to all beings (including the dogs and pigeons).
After a short while an old man approached on a mobility scooter and drew up to my left, at the corner of the Old House.

I looked at him and we made eye contact and I smiled at him.
He drove over in a friendly way and our conversation began about the price of things. He’d been to buy batteries and found them pricey.  His unkempt appearance did not hinder us connecting and I enjoyed talking to him.

He asked what bus I was waiting for and I replied that I wasn’t waiting for a bus. He was curious then and wanted to know what I was doing.

I said that a friend had given me small presents to give away, and would he like one? “Is this religious?”  he asked and I answered ” Yes, Buddhist. “

“What’s that?”  he asked. I brought the two Buddhas out and he took both.

He was happy to have a photo taken of them in his palm after I explained that it would help those who donated them see where they ended up.

He dropped the Buddhas into his pocket and we carried on talking. We exchanged names and he asked where I was from. I was born in Maidstone and we had an animated discussion about this. He has lived in Hereford all his life. His phone rang and he had to go to meet someone so we said goodbye and off he went.
I was amazed how simple and lovely it was to be able to give him the Buddhas in my pocket! I feel very grateful for the opportunity to do this.’

Buddhas donated by Michelle, Melbourne and Vajrajyoti and Akasasri NZ

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Courage and fearlessness

Sometimes courage might be thought of as things like jumping into water when the weather is cold, or forgoing something we usually love to have in our lives, or exceling at a sport etc etc. But I believe a family member recently showed what I think of as real courage and bravery by speaking out at injustice and abuse especially in relation to children.

When I offered her a Buddha to choose I was not surprised when she chose Amoghasiddhi, the Buddha with the ‘fearlessness’ hand gesture. It’s a hand guesture that encourages us to stand with courage and fearlessness in the face of whatever suffering we meet or when things feels to scary and overwhelming.

I hope this Buddha reminds her that even when the sense of fearlessness at times feels small, the truth is, it is always possible for any person to eventually access vast, unbounded, fearlessness.

 

Buddha donated by Megha Australia

 

 

 

The happy buddha

I sat down near a young, university student at Federation Square right in a place where the warm winter sun enveloped us. There is something delicious about taking time to fully appreciate the sun’s warmth and welcome it as it pushes back the envelope of brisk coldness, a familiar companion at this time of year.

I had been drawn to sit there so I could continue to gaze at the weather magic that had created an unusual beam of light pouring from a glass cased building in the city centre.

We used the sun’s presence to initiate conversation. She was enjoying being outside after spending 3 days cooped up in a hospital. Not ill, but undergoing new medication trials as a way of earning money as a student.

I took out my little parcel of buddhas and asked if she would like one.

The colour of one attracted her and she felt it was a happy buddha.

After telling her the name of the Order member who donated it, we talked of Nagas and Devis. She nodded knowingly as we spoke of the importance of touching the depths.

As I prepared to go, I appreciated  leaving with the gentle warmth of connection with another human being.

 

Buddha donated by Nagadevi, UK

 

 

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

Gentle voiced one

I saw him sitting on the steps of the church. Backpack and brown papered bottle, his only company. So I walked up and sat down. Pointing to the front door he offered the information, ‘They are shut. They don’t do meals today’
He told me the three days the of the week that this church provided sustenance. I wondered if my backpack had him thinking I was a traveler in need of food too.
We started a companionable dance of learning about each other with tentative questions.
I heard about his Islander/ Indigenous heritage with his birth family hailing from the Gold Coast.
He and his 3 siblings were removed from their mother. He was only 3 years old and they were all placed in separate foster homes. His was with a family in Redfern, Sydney.
His face was etched with lines that bore witness to the hard life that had unfolded over the decades.
He had such a gentle energy I found myself relaxing into his company.
He told me that once he had spent time in a prison farm and his job had been looking after the chickens. I can just imagine his smooth voice shooing them back into their pen for the night.
A family member from his clan found him decades after he had been removed from his birth home. He appreciated his half brothers efforts to look for ‘the babies that were taken.’
He seemed devoid of anger or judgment about being removed. His mum had been struggling with alcohol problems and he wasn’t sure if his life would have been better or worse had he stayed.
There was a gentle acceptance that soothed my own rising contempt for the ignorance of our early government policies. He didn’t need me to be angry on his behalf.
He came to town a few times each week from his little flat a suburb away, to sit and drink with his mates. He was having some quiet time on the steps of the church before joining them down the road.
Just before I moved on I opened up my bag of Buddhas and offered him one. He immediately chose the heaviest and largest one in the bag. He liked the feel of it he said as he slid it into his back pack.

Buddha donated by Tina Brisbane AustraliaIMG_0943.JPG

Loveable rogues

Coming out of the supermarket with my purchases for dinner I noticed a man sitting on the bus stop bench.
After many months of doing metta walks and talking to strangers I have developed a refined sense of when a person is waiting for something specific like a bus or ‘ just waiting ‘.
Waiting for human connection.
So I walked up and sat down next to him and started a conversation.
He had very interesting jewellery around his neck and a cheeky smile.
When he found out I was from Melbourne he told me about the time he lived there and had gone up to the Dandenong Ranges to rescue his girlfriend from the Ash Wednesday bushfires.
I lived through those fires as well and we discovered he would have driven through my home town of Emerald to get to the next town to rescue his girlfriend. He made it through because he was on a motorbike and was able to evade the roadblocks police had in place as it was too dangerous to let people back onto the burning mountain.
27 people died in the fires in two towns very close to Emerald. I was in a house with my two young children and their father. We had decided to stay and defend our home.
It was a decision I would never make again whenever fires threatened the beautiful forest I lived in.
Wildfires are terrifyingly unpredictable and fast.
So as this man and I sat remembering our fear that day I got out my bag of little Buddhas and offered him one.
I told him I had been given these as gifts to giveaway to strangers and that flow of giving can remind us of the potential for kindness in every human being,
As is often the case, he immediately knew which one was for him.
He was attracted to the colour – black. His emotions were on the surface, perhaps remembering that black, dark day we both had experienced so he suddenly asked for a hug.
It felt a natural cementing of this connection.

Buddha donated by Sok Kheim Melbourne.

 

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Coming back to the present, I found out he was a tattooist and he started looking through his phone to show me some of his work.
Suddenly a mate of my new friend appeared at the bus stop seat. They hugged warmly and he showed the black faced Buddha to his mate.
I still had the other Buddhas spread out on my bag and I saw this new man’s eyes light up.
‘Would you like to choose one, too? I offered.
As his hand went straight to a green Kuan Yin necklace he replied,
‘Oh thanks love. That’s nice of you.’
He had it around his neck in a flash and we talked a bit about my ‘kindness pilgrimage.’

Suddenly it started raining heavily and we spontaneously moved a few steps to stand undercover outside the busy shopping thoroughfare.
Very occasionally when I am talking to people on the street I become briefly aware that some of those walking by stare seemingly a bit perturbed about the incongruity of a grey haired older woman having such an animated conversation with some men they may have seen around their local streets probably on a regular basis.
Many of these guys aren’t homeless but living in small unappealing council flats. They come out into their street community daily to sometimes drink and chat to friends.
In talking to these two guys I discover they are friends with gentle voiced man I talked to just an hour earlier who sat on the church steps just around the corner.
I smile as I realise that three Buddhas have found new homes in the same community of friends.
My tattooist friend at this point asks the guy with Kuan Yin around his neck if he has boxer shorts on.
When the answer is affirmative the tattooist friend asks him to drop his tracksuit pants to show me the tattoo he did on his friend’s leg. He obviously wants me to see some of his best work.
So now I am pretty sure some of the people walking past are totally confused as to why I am squatting down admiring the art work on the leg of this man with his pants at his ankles. These guys are so unashamedly themselves in the present moment I find connection with them usually demands letting go of social pretence which is quite freeing ….as long as no harm is being done.
Then my tattooist friend says, ‘ Can I have another hug? ‘ and as if to prepare the ground for a ‘yes’ his eyes sparkle and he says looking directly at me.
‘ We are rogues but we are loveable rogues!’
My agreement with this sentiment was in the form of big bear of a hug.
And in that moment I am hugging my brother and all people like him. My brother Michael lived this life for years before he died at 49. There was so much suffering to do with addiction and mental illness in his community but learning to be comfortably present, in every unpredictable moment without judgement, I experienced staying long enough to see the beauty in the often unpolished gems right there in front of me.

Buddha donated Chris Melbourne

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Postscript: Just as I am about to leave the scene another mate of my two new friends turns up and the man with Kuan Yin around his neck excitedly tells this him about what I am doing as I hear the words ….’She’s just traveling around spreading kindness, go on, choose one of her Buddhas.’
I can see this new guy’s total resistance to doing any such thing and he says,
‘ Nah I need to go and get a drink.’
And they all disappear off into the rain leaving me smiling at the joy of spontaneity and serendipity…which I hadn’t even thought to put on my shopping list.

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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