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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage

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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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A Buddha for Bhante

There’s been a pause in handing on the remaining 80 little donated Buddhas.  My energy needed to be directed to supporting family more intensively for a while, so the trips to the town square were put on hold. I have really missed those random, uplifting encounters.

So today I was delighted to receive this communication from a friend who chose some of the little Buddhas to take with her to the UK recently.

I never imagined one of these precious donations would make it all the way to Adhisthana into the hands of my main teacher Sangharakshita-the  man who in many ways gave me the gift of the dharma.

Here is my friend’s letter …..

“Hello dear Maitripala,
Today I went to see Bhante to say goodbye and I wanted to give him a gift. I didn’t have many things with me that I could have given  Bhante. Then I remembered the Buddhas  you gave me. First I felt a bit shy about it but my community members encouraged me to do it, so I put it in my pocket.

It was so wonderful seeing Bhante again. He was in a great mood. We talked about the birds at Vijayaloka and the trams of Melbourne. Then we talked about how to make decisions, the significance of commitment and of faith.

Bhante said ‘Faith is your connection to what is higher.’  He said “Faith is the seed of the spiritual life”.

I told him that sometimes when I think about rebirth I feel so overwhelmed about having to come back again and again to samsara and he leaned back and laughed. He said the Bodhisattva doesn’t tire of samsara. He said I should never give up and take advantage of every opportunity.

I felt the arising of faith so overwhelming that it brought me to tears. I had a sense that this wasn’t the first time we were having this conversation.

I gave him the little Buddha as a parting gift and told him about your project which he seemed to know about.

Here is a photo of the Buddha (donated by dear Dhiracharita) in the hands of Bhante.

How very wonderful. This was a moment I will reflect on again and again. “

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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from UK to Vietnam….

You might remember the guy I met in the UK who taught myself and a friend interesting things about dragonflies. I gave him a buddha. He took it back to the forest in Vietnam and has recently sent me this lovely email, photo and short video link called ” The Dragonfly Whisperer”

“……….It’s James from Wicken Fen. I’m finally back and settled in Vietnam. My camera and laptop have no battery but my phone’s good enough to give you a taste of what’s to come. This guy is Orthetrum chrysis, the red faced meadow hawk.james-dragonfly-one

You may also enjoy this short documentary that a friend made about me: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpME0H22wR0

How goes the pilgrimage? I’m really enjoying your blog and have gotten a few friends interested too.

Best,
James

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!

image

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

 

image

UK Buddhas

imageTriratna Combined Order Convention shrine

 

I was delighted and surprised to bring back over 50 little buddhas from my journey to the UK. I enjoyed handing a few on over there but I also look forward to passing the rest on during the Australian pilgrimage.

Special thanks to Veronica for organising the display and little buddha collection at Birmingham Buddhist Centre and to Lynne -Marie for organising dana collection and more donated buddhas from Manchester Buddhhist Centre sangha.

Buddhas and dana also found their way to me at Cambridge, the International Council at Adhistana and the Triratna Combined Order Convention near Norfolk.

May the dharma in Australia benefit from all this spontaneous action, generosity and friendship.

At least 180 little Buddhas will have passed through my hands when I finally finish handing them on sometime next year.

So for now I will no longer need to keep collecting little buddhas but I do have another way in which I need your help……….I will share more in my next post.

 

Veronica and the buddhas donated by friends at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragonflies and buddhas

imageI was curious about the tall, young man who was walking the Wicken Fens nature reserve trail at the same time as my friend and I.
There was something about how present in the landscape he seemed to be.
And he was alone.
Alone and very mindfully present to his environment.
Sometimes we passed him standing very still by the water or peering silently across the massive sea of reed beds.
As we emerged from a bird hide he was there again, camera out and looking up into a tree.
We began to talk and it was in this way that I met an odontologist for the first time- a scientist studying dragonflies.
His eyes were shiny and alert and he just seemed very happy.
As we chatted, my friend and I learned that this young man had as a young boy discovered his passion for being in and observing nature.
He went on to engineer his education path to lead to a current dream job living in Vietnam observing and recording dragonflies in the lush forests. He had found two new species and was in the official process of naming them. Now he was briefly back in the UK for a wedding and on his spare day was delighting in the dragonflies of the Fens.
A wonderful benefit of meeting someone ‘living’ their passion is that they usually happily share some of that passion with you.
We learnt so much about dragonflies. We continued our walk,occasionally still crossing paths with him. In one twenty minute gap we had not seen a dragonfly at all whilst he had had spotted 6 different species!
And at one point, like in some kids’ adventure storybook, he pulled out a telescopic poled net out of his back pack and gently caught one to show us its stunning teal patterned body up close.
When he next passed us as we sat having lunch, I took a plunge and invited him to choose a buddha from the small pack of 3 buddhas I was carrying with me.
He had been in Buddhist temples often in Vietnam and he chose a Ratnasambhava buddha because he was attracted to the posture.
With this buddha, one hand is stretched out upturned in the gesture of generosity.       It also represents abundance.
This young man had really been so generous with sharing his time and passion with us so I wasn’t surprised he connected with the qualities of this buddha. He seemed really pleased with it and said that it ‘ made my day’.

But he made our day, made our day different to what it would have been, without the spontaneous, interesting connection that can happen when moving towards strangers with curiosity.

 

buddha donated by Leicestershire Tiratna study group

Cambridge Buddha

The man reading a book on a seat in a beautiful park in Cambridge rose in response to seeing us.
I was walking with my Preceptor ( the person who Ordained me 17 years ago and gave me my Buddhist name) having just arrived by train.
In that moment of just beginning to take in my surroundings, my first thought as he moved towards us, was that his extended hand was requesting a buddha from my back pack.
During my brief visit to the UK the small amount of buddhas I brought from home had already doubled as people generously donated them after hearing about the Australian pilgrimage. Although my visit is not specifically to hand out buddhas it seems the pilgrimage response is never far from the surface of my being.
Instead, unaware of the buddhas in my back pack, this man was wanting to introduce himself as he had spotted my kesa.
I often forget I have the kesa around my neck as I walk around in public, until I notice people who stare at it, trying to work out what it represents. We don’t usually wear our kesas everywhere but I had decided to do so for the length of the pilgrimage.
So here I was walking with the person who had first placed that kesa around my neck in a moving private Ordination ceremony in Tuscany all those years ago.
And that had triggered this spontaneous connection with one of the 2,500 members of our worldwide Order- a New Zealander living in Cambridge.
As we sat and talked, a buddha moved into his care and the pilgrimage was alive in the lovely town of Cambridge.

Buddha donated by Claire Manchester UK

Buddhas worldwide

My bag of little Buddhas has found its way to the English countryside to a place called Adhisthana ( blessing/ grace).
And I do feel blessed to be with people from all over the world representing their Triratna Buddhist communities. We spend time together, meditating, reflecting, communicating, planning projects and building friendships.
On one of the days we looked at inclusion, diversity and environmental issues exploring how we respond to these concerns as Buddhists.
A little grey Buddha from my bag has found a place on the shrine joining many that were donated years ago by a variety of countries.
Buddha donated by Eileen from Ireland .

 

 

 

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Buddhas in my pocket

An Australian Buddhist Pilgrimage