Touching the Earth

Finally the festival season ended at the end of September and the cafe and me both breathed a huge sigh of relief. It’s been good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been tiring. Usually Out of the Ordinary in Sussex is the last cafe gig of the season but this year we were asked to cater the Young Persons Retreat. The 4th of such a thing and an annual event. It is a place in which young Buddhists within Triratna can gather. This year Buddhafield were asked to cater the event and so it was that I had to rouse myself out of my, slowly dispersing, but still very present lethargy to travel to Uttoxeter, to an old boarding school, to prep more veg but this time in a very different context.

Quite appropriately, I felt, the theme of the retreat was ‘Energy for Enlightenment’. Considering I have been struggling with my energy levels for most of the summer I was interested in what might transpire. So, here I was, inside a posh private school, feeling very out of place in such grandeur and feeling incredibly shy. It was a reluctant start.

I was curious at how the weekend would pan out. How would the school gym be transformed into a shrine room, what were other young Buddhists like and what would a puja be like with so many people!

The dedication ceremony on the first night was good. It was startling to hear so many voices in unison. It felt like a good preparation for the following night, puja night. It was amazing to chant a mantra for such a long time and to really immerse myself in it, letting go a tiny bit.

Finding myself out of context as a Buddhist was both refreshing but provoking. I am mostly to be found in a field or woodlands. Meditating in a dome with just a thin sheet of plastic, carpet and cushions between me and the earth below. I like it this way, it gets me closer to nature and the elements. This is what I found most challenging, to see myself within the wider movement and to take myself out of the Buddhafield bubble. I took me a long time to see myself as a living, breathing Buddhist and feeling apart of Buddhafield definitely helped me in this. The connections that I have made with Buddhafield have helped me so much in all aspects of my life. Triratna however still feels slightly alien to me although I do totally respect it, I felt like I had to embrace this retreat and make those tentative links with people and order members from outside Buddhafield.

The talks, all three of them, were so exhilarating. Vajratara, Singamati and Dharmashalin spoke so personally and their words are still resonating with me now. If you wish to hear the talks for yourself please follow the links below. I have been noticing more and more since these talks how energy gets blocked and misused and I how struggle with keeping my energy clear and bright. I am still thinking about the answers to all the questions that were posed over the weekend. What do I really care about? What do I need to do to focus my energy? What symbols do I connect with the most and why are they relevant, how do they help me. I might not know the answers to these questions just yet but to keep them in my mind feels important especially right now when I am searching for that thing that will allow me to fulfil my potential.

The puja was just incredible. I am not sure I could put into words just how much it moved me. No one seemed lacking in energy, the room felt ecstatic, such beauty echoed off the walls, into my ears, into my heart and back out with my voice.

I am glad that my curiosity was justified and I didn’t pander to my reluctance too much!

Click on the links below to listen to the talks.
Vajratara: Energy for Enlightenment (57 min).
Singhamati and Dharmashalin (36 min: two talks back-to-back).

President’s Grateful Words to the Buddhafield Team, Broadhembury October 2011 by Kamalashila

I arrived in Buddhafield at roughly the same age as many of my Buddhafield friends are now – in my mid to late forties. It was the second half of the 90s. I was an anagarika, a kind of Triratna monastic. In my youth I had set up the west London Buddhist centre, Vajraloka (a meditation centre), and a study centre, Vajrakuta, in Wales. I lived there for fifteen years, established myself as a teacher and wrote my book on meditation. I was definitely part of the mainstream of things and a few years earlier had been named by Sangharakshita as one of the thirteen people he trusted with the future of the movement. I’d lived at Madhyamaloka with some of these people for five years, well supported, running a car, able to do whatever I wanted. I often travelled abroad, leading retreats – India, Australia, USA, Scandinavia. I led a privileged existence but I knew something was missing and I wondered if I really deserved it.

Buddhafield had approached Madhyamaloka for a President, an ally and contact with the wider movement. No one wanted to do it. Devamitra, I recall, was the hot candidate, but he didn’t really seem to want to do it either, since he tried to persuade me to take it on. He thought it would suit me. I can’t remember the sequence of events, but eventually I led a retreat or two on the land, and was immediately hooked!

Buddhafield drew me because it supplied a lot of what I missed. Buddhafield changed my life and I’m tremendously grateful. Not to any one person, strangely – though so many people have helped me and I owe a lot to several people, Rupadarshin for example. No, my gratitude is for the opportunity to be in nature. Just to be in nature – to have something to do there, to have anything at all to do among leaves and trees and sky – that’s what’s transformational.

I learned so much about how to teach meditation just from being in the elements – from the special challenge that gives, the special conditions that are so uncompromising and real. I found a way to connect to my deepest feelings and desires, to my humnan heritage, to my ancestors – to the land itself. What Buddhafield gave me in the 90s inspired a completely new approach, led me to doing my long retreat in Tipi Valley; led me, when I lived at Trevince House with Andy, Yashobodhi, Rupadarshin, Satyajit and Abhayajit, to trying to get this land based community going that is still moving slowly to a conclusion after (six?) years. It led me to move to EcoDharma for 2-3 years, which turned out to be a mistake for me, but it was a learning experience I don’t regret. It led me to realise that I no longer needed to be an anagarika to engage deeply with the Dharma.

I am so grateful for all this and I have spent my time moving between Buddhafield and the more mainstream elements of the Triratna movement, always promoting what I see as its values. I remember some of us Order members going and having tea with Bhante some years ago. I remember Bhante himself giving his talk at the Buddhafield festival and me teasing him on stage, saying he’d grown his hair especially for the event. I’ve seen Buddhafield increasingly respected; seen Bhante more recently write about the importance of animism, living a life that appreciates the living presence of non human beings like trees, mountains, badgers and birds. I’ve seen Subhuti write about the importance of the natural world, of a more animistic perspective, as part of extending and deepening the human imagination. This has had little to do with me – Buddhafield’s continued existence has simply made it easier for them to introduce these topics in a realistic, lived manner in the movement. Because it shows the ordinary people in their flats in the cities how they can be in nature. Simply that. There’s a way they can do that… There is a strong need for that. You might also say that the whole development of Festivals has come from that need – from our tragic cultural alienation from nature. Anyway, Buddhafield certainly opens a bright doorway out of the alienation of western industrialised society. I’m grateful for Buddhafield’s existence because in Buddhafield, two things I love come together: Buddhism and Nature. It so happens that these two are crucially important for our present society.
Buddhism coming to the west is arguably crucial for its spiritual survival. People don’t like to appear to exclusivist, and obviously there are great, inspiring ideas and truths that come from other traditions. But to me Buddhism has something that is more alive, critical, practical and flexible. It fully fits our time. It has things to show us about our very nature as living beings that have a capacity to liberate us in ways I’ve not seen yet elsewhere.

As for Nature there’s a need universally to be more in harmony with the earth, with what is natural and not artificial, and to come down from our proud, self made towers of glass and steel. This is not easy for us, and it’s not easy to see how our culture can make this transition. I’m grateful that Buddhafield makes that experiment of bringing Buddhism and Nature together. That is enough for me. There are so many applications of that, I don’t too much mind which we explore. I can see that a community on the land is a logical next step, but what I mainly see is Buddhafield’s many strands of influence in the world. Buddhafield has something truly unique. A few other Buddhist groups have their ecological approach, but nothing as lived and as experienced as this. There are many other non Buddhist groups working in nature, but no other Buddhist based ones, that I know of.

In particular I see Buddhafield influencing the mainstream, as all experimental groups do. I see people in Triratna who would never camp and lie on the ground to sleep, who are slowly coming round and facing up to the needs of nature. 

This is an important change because contact with the land, contact with living nature, dissolves in a positive way the pride and arrogance, the hubris, that characterises our industrialised society and causes so much of the mental suffering that traditional Buddhism also addresses. Contact with the earth gives something very beautiful as it dissolves our arrogance: with its collapse comes a letting go into life that is lovely and which is liberating. To me, Buddhafield is all about that and I feel very proud, in a good way, to be associated with it.

This post has been taken off Kamalashila’s website and personal blog with his permission. http://www.dharmadoor.org/

A Review of the Buddhafield Yatra

The highlight of last month was, for me, the Buddhafield Yatra.  I thought it was totally great, it’s unlike everything else we do in Triratna and I would like to share an account of it with you – if anyone wanted to organize one themselves I’d be more than happy to advise.

In essence a Yatra is a walking retreat; over 7 days 30 of us walked 60 miles, from Reading train station (an easy place to get to for the start) to Avebury (a vast megalithic complex dominated by the great stone circle: a fine place to finish).  It’s a walk, but with a distinctive etiquette: we walk in silence, in single file, each hour of walking beginning and ending in a circle, with any words from the leader (or others, who might, for instance, have a poem to share) followed by everyone bowing to one another.  The leader then leads off in a spiral, walking around the outside of the circle with everyone following.  Behind the leader is a map-reader; at the rear is a backstop who ensures no-one gets left behind.  Two vehicles, a van and a run-around car, stay with the day’s team of about 4 people; they tat-down the previous night’s camp, do the shopping, go ahead with the luggage and set up the next night stop, cook dinner, and welcome the weary walkers as they arrive.  The car is available to pick up anyone who can’t walk the full distance.  The roles all swap around, everyone plays their part.  Morning and evening there’s time for meditation, Dharma talks, reporting-in and Puja or other rituals; the silent walking is of course mindful and an excellent way to practice Bhante’s ‘Four Levels of Awareness’.

All that alone would be great, but Yatras are much more too.  Five aspects especially struck me this time – the landscape, the elements, the rituals, the community, and the journey back in time.   The walk took us along the River Thames and up onto the Ridgeway, a 5000-year-old trackway across the high dry ground of the Wiltshire downs.  Water gave way to Earth, Fire warmed us at night, Air buffeted us as Consciousness walked though Space.  For me this was a delight, a week away from computers simply immersed in the present moment and our surroundings: big skies and big landscapes led effortlessly to ‘big mind’.  It wasn’t all easy: we were fully exposed to the elements, even by Buddhafield’s minimal standards.  At night, the only shelters were our tents and an awning hung off the side of the van.  While walking, the only refuge was to be mindful of (and hang loose to) our experience rather than resist it.  And we had weather in abundance – hot sun, strong wind, driving rain, blue skies, cold nights.  Happily none lasted too long – we could see for ourselves that all things passed, the Three Laksanas held true…

Almost every night we camped at one or another ancient monument or hillfort, giving a wonderful backdrop to a series of improvised rituals.  The first evening we started with the Dedication Ceremony, but thereafter took off into realms of creativity. Morning by the river, with rain threatening, saw a ‘baptism’ by Air and Water, based on a Biodanza exercise; that evening another by Fire and Earth – specifically, building and jumping a fire in the woods.  The next morning, finding ourselves next to Scutchamer Knob, an ancient collapsed burial mound, we surrounded it and one by one approached the shrine in the centre of the amphitheatre-like space holding a Vajra, shouting our names to the wind, declaring our intentions for the day’s walk – to “walk with confidence, sensitivity, etc”.  And off we went…  At Uffingdon, on Dragon’s Hill at sunset, in the howling wind, we recited the Ratana Sutta and met, tamed, and befriended our Demons, this time calling their names into the wind.  At Waylands Smithy, an ancient tomb in a beautiful beech-tree grove, we began what came to be several ceremonies connecting us with our Ancestors – those unknown people who first walked the Ridgeway and built (with stupendous labour) the many special places we were passing. 

We used verses and pujas by Dhiramati, to whom I’m profoundly grateful; he has such a gift with words and poetry.  We began with his verses ‘To the Ancestors’; that night, by a fire in a field under the starry sky, his beautiful puja to Tara and the Elements.  In the wide open space of Barbury Castle Akasaka led us in the Amoghasiddhi mantra and offering our intentions (symbolized by flower petals) to the wind.  By this time Reading train station seemed a million miles and several thousand years away!

Approaching Avebury, our destination, for two nights our only campsite and kitchen was the public car park and grass verge by the track: happily we were undisturbed.  We’d tried and failed to find a more orthodox campsite for this part of the walk; it was clear how we as Yatrikas had in a sense gone forth from the regular world and (rather like the Buddha and his followers) been forced to take our chances night by night. 

Soon after our arrival we embarked upon an all-night vigil inside West Kennett Long Barrow; some 25 of us crowding in with almost 20 staying till dawn. Akasaka and I had drafted a seven-round ritual, recapping and building on the many ceremonies already performed.  Each round had several stages, for instance the first, ‘Connecting with the Ancestors’ consisting of a welcome talk by Sean (a Druid as well as a Buddhist); entering the Barrow; creating a shrine and finding our places; Dhiramati’s ‘Verses to the Ancestors’ and ‘Spirit Song’; the Ratana Sutta and an offering of one sunflower seed each inside the chamber; and finally the Aksobhya mantra and earth-touching mudra. The other rounds were ‘Setting our intentions for the night’; ‘Evoking our potential’ (verses and mantras to Amoghasiddhi and Tara, ending with extinguishing all lights and holding hands in the total darkness); ‘Confession and Acknowledgement of Regrets and Limitations’; ‘Aspirations and Next Steps’; ‘Rebirth and Re-emergence’ (in the first light of dawn); a ‘Retreat Metta and Transference of Merits’ and finally the recitation of Kalidasa’s wonderful ‘Exhortation to the Dawn’ at sunrise at 5.06am.  Followed by the long walk back to our camp and sleep!  The next day saw us end the Yatra by walking the mile-long Avenue into Avebury and reporting-out among the stones – and meeting Terry Dobney, Arch-Druid of Avebury and Keeper of the Stones, for a formal welcome into and most fascinating tour of the site.

Probably not surprisingly, we were a pretty strong community by this time, even though we’d all spent many hours in silence, simply walking together.  Certainly we’d all lived though an adventure together, ably facilitated by the excellent Buddhafield team.  For me, it was a great combination of a simple and elemental life, a whacky adventure, and a serious contribution to our great shared enterprise of bringing Buddhism to the West, even, to re-imagining the Buddha.  I’m over my word count so can’t say more; but there’s photos of Yatra 2011 — Reading to Avebury on Flickr.

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Lokabandhu

A Moment of Peace Amongst the Joyful Chaos

The wondrous, glorious, amazing, life affirming Buddhafield festival is almost upon us!!

The preparations are stepping up a gear espeically for the cafe crew who only have one week left to get any last mintue things done before we head off to Glastonbury Festival (they are all at Sunrise Festival this week making our third cafe gig of the season a spectacular success!).

I have just come back off retreat and my inspiration is flowing out of me. I learnt some valuable lessons whilst there. These lessons are about giving myself the time to do those things that bring me joy. I have learnt to cultivate more love for myself and more strength in my abilities; knowing that I am capable.

This has left me feeling so abundant in my skills and in seeing the abundance in nature that is all around me. Now whilst I am pottering around in an empty house, a moment (or couple of days) of peace amongst festival chaos, I have a contiuation of this space to expand my feelings of abundance, what that means to me and how to bring this feeling with me into the festival.

The theme doesn’t refer to material wealth or material possessions. It is not about that craving we all get for something shiny that costs an arm and a leg. It refers to celebrating the bountiful world around us, thanking the earth for her treasures, thanking each other for the love and support that we all receive in one form or another. It refers to the warm fuzzy feeling we get when we make someone laugh. Its about our inner goldness and not about desire for a lump of yellow rock!

We conducted a survey at the beginning of the year to get your opinions of the festival and one of the points that came up was that Buddhism had got lost inamongst everything else so this year we are putting more focus back onto our rituals. We are turning sound systems off in the Owl field during the main rituals which are: Opening Ceremony: Wednesday 6 – 6.45 pm, Saturday Ritual: 9.30 – 10.30 pm and the Closing Ceremony: Sunday 2 – 3.15 pm. Dayajoti is leading the Rituals team this year and is keen for us all to come together as one big community, to explore the festival theme as an expression of our shared values. To express our inner goldness the main symbol this year is gold, so the team are encouraging everyone, and you, to bring gold clothes to wear at any time during the festival but particularly during the rituals. If you have gold clothes then gold body paint will do!

So for this years festival, give up those material cravings, give up listening to the stories that go round and round about someone being better then you and come to Buddhafield festival, to explore and express yourself in a supportive community of wonderful people and where every person, tree, bee, blade of grass, bird and string of bunting is amazing!

I come with my raggedly loves dragging
into the sphere of your clear regard.
I praise friendship embarked on suddenly as a bus that arrives.
I praise friendship maturing like a tall beech tree.
I praise the differences that define us.
I love what I cannot be
as well as what I am.
From ‘The Homely War’ by Marge Piercy

>Coming Back to our Sangha.

>We have returned to our Sangha here in Devon.

Its good to be back.

On our 3 months away I was working in woodland in Norfolk, a place I love and have been to on a number of occasions. Ruth joined me there for a month and then moved onto Bristol and has become apart of a community project there.

So as Ruth is half in Bristol and half here in Devon and with our first cafe event in just a week and the festival in just over 3 months our blog posts will be less frequent then before Christmas but we will endeavor to post once a week to keep you up to date with the cafe and festival preparations!

Both Ruth and I arrived back at Trevince, for the first time in three months for a work retreat. A fortnight of coming together to prepare for the season with overriding theme being Metta.

And what a bubble of activity it was! We now have beautiful new bean bags for the cafe made from old cafe canvas, our ‘show’ yurt, for a new venture is being put together ready for the festival where it will house our inividual crafts for sale, our vans have been serviced and painted ready to hit the road for our first cafe event, Wildheart in Sussex. Trevince house has taken over the rent of Easterbrook veg garden which is a source of much delight and veg seeds were and still are being planted (our babies!), new cafe tables have been made and wonderfully painted by Nealey, Padmapani, Mumukshu and Helen Hatt from Magical Youth, Our canvases have been water-proofed, sauna and hot water system has had a once over, bikes have been fixed and domes have been checked. It was a productive fortnight and we are almost ready for the season to commence!

It was good to come back here to such a structured day. My meditation practise was non existent whilst living and working in the woods and it felt good to meditate daily again and with metta practise at the forefront of my mind instead of floating around in the background. Vidyadasi bought us some lovely evening activities in the first week and in the second week Siddhimala joined us for women’s study. Again with the theme of metta we spoke of our experiences and practise of this.

Metta is love and more than love. It is the recognition of ourselves in others and others in ourselves. It is to have patience, friendliness, kindness, empathy, generosity and understanding for all beings no matter how difficult they may be. It is to have all of these same qualities for yourself as well. It is a way of being not just an emotion to be felt occasionally but to actively care for others. It is to cultivate a positive interest in everything. Which in some cases is very easy and others is very challenging. I find it difficult to cultivate feelings of metta for myself and this fortnight made me face up to this which was quite a slap in the face in some cases!

It is a very beneficial practice though and I can see this benefit and I can feel the benefits a month on. We had a lovely closing ritual to the fortnight where we all rejoiced in each others merit via lovely little messages that were read out in front of the group. I really felt lucky to have returned to this sangha that holds each other so completely and although each day presents a new challenge I feel that we, cafe, retreats and the festival, will spread this metta to all that cross our paths!

Join us this year! go to www.buddhafield.com
 

Apologies

Apologies for the long unexplained abscense. Both Lou and I have been living and working in an ancient woodland near Norwich. Lou is still there and I am in Bristol, exploring the community, so posts will be returning shortly when we are reunited. Meanwhile, here are some pictures of what we have been doing!


Lou holding some epic ivy.


Looking downstream.


Lou in her natural habitat!


My tree tent!


Taking a well deserved rest after building the hurdles you can see round the coppiced hazel stumps.


The pole barn that Tom and Lou built, where, for the last week of my stay, we cooked, ate and lived.

Forest Garden/Woodland walkway Lottery Grant

I’m very happy to announce that Buddhafield has been awarded £10,000 by the Big Lottery Fund Awards For All and I’m not ashamed to admit to shedding a tear (or two!) when I opened the offer letter. The grant is specifically to create and develop a woodland walkway and a forest garden project at Broadhembury, one of the two pieces of land that Buddhafield owns in Devon. A Forest Garden is a way of planting that mimics young natural woodland. It is developing as an alternative means for producing food and as a method to restore bio diversity. The plants in a forest garden are all of use, directly for food, medicine, basketry, dye and indirectly for bees and nitrogen fixing. A forest garden requires very little upkeep, with the plants and shrubs working together to create the need for minimal human intervention. The woodland walkway will provide access through mature woodland that is best left unmanaged for nature conservation. It would create a nature trail through otherwise impenetrable, marshy land. Rupadarshin, Buddhafield’s craftsman extraordinaire will design and build a simple, low impact pathway, using alder and oak, relying on a method used on the Somerset levels 3,000 years ago.

The grant is based on us holding an event on the land next winter, for a week, with anyone who would like to come and help us very welcome. We are approaching the event from the angle of the ‘Green gym’ movement where good mental health has been proven to be supported and encouraged by exercising and working outside. It will be free for volunteers and we’re currently researching warm and snuggly places to stay nearby for those who don’t fancy sleeping in tents. The funding covers things such as buying two hundred trees, erecting a deer fence, hiring a tractor driver for a few days and buying materials and tools. There is also funding for a few weeks work before the event starts to prepare the land so that volunteers get to do as many of the ‘nice’ activities such as tree planting , as possible!

Buddhafield functions on a shoe string, with our retreats run on a dana system to ensure that as many people who want to are able to participate. It means that we don’t have any reserves for positive projects outside of our retreats/festival/cafe programme. This grant gives us the opportunity to put creative energy into a really meaningful project and to encourage all those who want to join in to come and be a part of it. Particularly during this time of economic hardship, it feels great to get funding for such a forward thinking and sustainable project. I hope the forest garden project will encourage lots of people to get involved and will be an inspiration for many years to come.


Hannah Phillips (Buddhafield retreats/fundraising)

Buddhafield Dharma by Lokabandu

Buddhafield Dharma — Series I Now Available

Lokabandhu writes from Glastonbury to say “I’m delighted to let you know we’ve just published Buddhafield Dharma — Series I”. This is a collection of essays by Buddhafield teachers in which they begin to articulate Buddhafield’s special approach to the Dharma; you’ll find it at www.issuu.com/buddhafield and hopefully on the “shelf” below:

There’s nine contributions in all, a rich feast of Dharma writing. First off is an introduction by Akasati, entitled ‘Ecology, Buddhism and Buddhafield’. That’s followed (in alphabetical order) by:

  • Akuppa, Strive On: Five ways to stay Sane and True and survive Global Meltdown
  • Dhiramati, Myth, Poetry and the Goddess
  • Kamalashila, The Living Elements’ and also Community, Nature, and Reality
  • Khemasuri, Building an Ethical Underworld’ (sub-titled “Lessons from the Mafia”!)
  • Lokabandhu, Shouting Out Beauty: Listening to the Wisdom of Nature
  • Maitrisara, Gracing the Earth: Buddhist Reflections on a Damaged Planet and finally
  • Paramananda, ‘On Retreat with Buddhafield

Most (not all) of them started life as talks for the Dharma Parlour on the 2009 or 2010 Buddhafield Festivals, but they’ve been extensively edited and reworked since then, mostly under Akasati’s watchful eye.

They’re published in a beautifully-designed on-line book format that both saves loads of paper and makes them easy to share with friends. It’s the first time we’ve tried this approach but it makes for a remarkably pleasant reading experience! The essays were originally envisaged as a book to be published by Triratna’s Windhorse Publications, but they pulled out due to other commitments and we decided to go down the on-line publishing route instead.

I hope you enjoy reading them and look out for more in the future!

My Creative Practise — Poetry

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I have always found it difficult to talk about my feelings, if there is something bothering me I will keep it as buried as possible. This is not a good habit of mine something that being with Buddhafield has foreced me to really try and change.

I always write, if you want any kind of insight into who I am and who I have been in my life read my poems. The are full of states of mind, feelings, actions, and words that I cannot speak out loud. I feel like a can understand my states of mind better when I watch my pen writing it down and turning it into imagery. There have been times, and I have written of it often, that my pen or pencil becomes separate from my being. As I watch the ink flow out onto paper my mind calms down. 
What I write is not about having some amazing epic poem at the end of it but of its process. I started writing as a teenager in college, and in my first year at Brighton University I went though a really creative stage. I wrote everything down and found mysef being inspired often. I love reading what I wrote then as I can see how much I have moved on. I have not written for such a long time, the odd pearl of wisdom came to me occasionally, but for a long while my state of mind was not at its best and I found writing to be frustrating more then anything. Nothing inspired me and if something did I couldn’t find the words to express it properly. There was much of the same feelings going on, trying to break out of the cyclicar patterns I found myself in was really hard. This was not changed until I changed my environment last year. That was what I needed to leap out of the vortex that had me trapped.

Here are three of my poems.

Inspirational Stirrings
Interesting lines in need of attention
And many more to add to my collection.
A single tree in a far off hedgerow
Soft rain on my toes.
I will heat my body up to sweat
And cool it down on damp grass.
I will watch the shadows write these words
That come from depths or outer regions.
Tensions high and thoughts entangled
My work stunted. Stop.

Push the right buttons, write the right phrases.
To tease out the boundaries, over and out.
Nonsenical ramblings and half finished poems.
Wonderful compliments to expand on.
Inspiration stirrings don’t come to fruition but get knocked out by numbness.
How to start after months or years of nothingness.
How to stop a battle raging and start again.
People who listen but do they hear,
A fear rising every time its my turn,
It’s a choice between truth or tears or
Closing it off and smiling OK
Astrological charts, intuitive thining, intentions and guides.
So much to think apon, act apon.

Stunted again at first chance of expression, fall back inward
So rest it will take a while.
ljmh July 2010

I believe, I believe

No, there are no fairies in this woodland,
I believe, I believe.
But to see an old ash stump, covered in tiny tumbling mushrooms
Growing out of the soft green moss,
Like the ones that where there one day
On the great old black poplar tree.
Thoughts of fairy cities are conjured
And I take off in search of stories.
And though no fairies live in this garden
I believe in the majesty of nature.
I believe, I believe
That nature fills us with marvellous visions
And the glory of that is enough.
But still, the idea of fairies has its own faculty in my imagination.
A search for stories of magical beings
Float around its own little mushroom world.
Now my childlike joy of otherworld beings
Runs alongside my joy of nature.
The fascinating sights and sounds
That would usually pass most by
Have captured mine fully and I can tell you,
I believe. I believe
That I heard a hillside of bluebells
Closing up for the night to get some glorious rest.
(And that sound of gentle raindrops pattering on ancient oak leaves was actually bluebells snapping shut).
A rapturous round of applause at the end of a startling day.
And as my imagination is fed more by amazing reality,
My mind has more space.
In my stillness, one moment of clarity,
Sunshine through a green leaf is a pure light.
Amazing reality offers me more and more each day.
The subtle movements of a tree,
I believe, I believe,
Like a pair of lungs exhaling
And inhaling.
Grounds impermanent me.
ljmh nov 2010.
Talking Stick
Within a circle a purba was placed,
An impliment for killing off demons was explained
And off we went in fear or non committment,
To a hasty meditation to bring some clarity.
Eyes stayed shut to ignore the silence
Until sounds of a voice far off in the distance
Started to speak.
Awkwardly subjects raised, feelings said.
The purba clumsily passed and quickly discarded,
On what has already been a difficult day.
This day for me, a return to a state of younger years,
So familiar a feeling I took it happily and
Wallowed more and more, further removed from anything real.
I stopped for a bit to think it all through.
To write it all down and looking back
Over the things gone past, I see this cyclicar pattern
Revealed before my eyes off the pages of a blank writing book.
Familiar scenes unfold before me as I picture myself
alone and attempting to analyse a school of emotions,
And finding the only strong imagery written down
Was the nature of the sun or
The light touch of a raindrop.
A revealation strong but still no progress.
Talking stick continues,
I get handed the purba and asked a passive question:
Examples of cold life and warm life?
And fear bubbles to the surface.
My voice so seldom heard in matters of the heart
Attempts an answer, a trembling first word appears,
Then two tears,
Then a torrent.
Breath meets sob, a collision unmistakable.
A voice almost takes shape.
Hastily the purba leaves my shivering hands.
A blessed relief.
A few things stir in solidarity for
Words spoken about similar feelings and fears,
and allies.
My allay, just discovered, an elegant elastic figure,
With grace much unlike my own,
A green woman, imp like vision.
She gives me strength to feed my demons
delicious nectar.
I remember her simple words, all day forgotten,
Her reassurance and instruction.
And breathing deep and drawing her energy
All about my veins,
I hold my hope in my hands, something now textured,
And relief streams out in an exhale.
ljmh july 2010
Being involved in Buddhsim has had a really positive effect on how I write and why I write. I am at my most creative with the written word. I chose these three poems as I believe that signify a change in my thinking. To start with Inspirational Stirrings is about my realisation of the patterns that I fall into. I was feeling very unworthy back in August and very out of place so I went to the solitude of my van to think and I ended up reading everything I had written since I had left university in 2006. Aside from seeing on the page in front of me loads of very similar themes I could also see that I was not the same person, the poems I had written were full of sadness, anger and very little stength. I had changed and it was worthy of being written about.
There is something about writing when I am on my own that sends me to another world, a world of stories where I run alongside the words scrubing some out and squishing some in. The second poem here speaks of this, a lot of my earlier teenage poetry was about creating a story, creating characters and the oddest things I could dream up to happen to them. I still love dreaming up fairy tales but I dont find that very real anymore and the second poem here describes the shift in my thinking.
The last poem is an account of my first experience of a Buddhafield talking stick. I had been apart of a talking stick before but this was written a day or so after Inspirational Stirrings and my state of mind, as I said before was not the best. Buddhafield festival this year was my first Buddhafield festival and it had such a profound effect on me that I think that off the tail of this was why I was feeling a bit down. I was trying to work out what had happened and how I was to hold on to it. The most powerful thing I experienced at the festival was the Feeding your Demons meditation of which I was invloved in a more initimate group, being that I was apart of the decor and rituals team. I had forgotten about my allay and as I spoke in the talking stick I remembered her and felt such strength coming into me as the tears flowed out. I don’t know if I portrayed that feeling as well I had hoped to but it was an enpowering thing! 
So that is my main creative practise, I have others but this is the most prolific and the one I feel most comfortable with. Next time you write, watch the ink or the graphite form the curling letters, watch the pen or pencil meet its shadow in a point on the page and listen to the scratch as the words get etched into the paper and see what comes of it.

Life at Trevince

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Snow covered back garden
Tat down at one of our last festivals.
Snow ball target practise.
Chilling in the living room.
Trevince House
Living in a community is something I have always wanted in my life. Knowing that there are people around to support and comfort you just feels like it should be reality for many people and it makes me sad to know that people struggle because there are on their own and do not feel protected in the place they live.
There is support, enthusiasm and comfort at Trevince house along with creativity, music, study and hard work. The energy in the house can sometimes be low and sometimes high but that is what you get in a community, a chance to vent your anger, a chance to jump for joy and a chance to be listened to, no matter what.
It is mostly cafe crew that live at Trevince but being the Buddhafield open community house, anyone is welcome. Every morning we have a meeting, a check in where we all have a space to say how we are feeling and what we are planning to do for the day. The work is plenty, help is always required, our communal dinners always need cooking in our tiny tiny kitchen.
We do everything at Trevince to help our pockets, the vans are all serviced before MOTing them and any failures will also be corrected at Trevince, we are growing a part of our own vegetable needs, bread has recently be baked regularly but as our star bread baker has moved out, who know if this will still happen. When the temperatures are above freezing we heat our hot water via our sauna system that comes to the festivals with us and we heat the house with wood burners.We believe in sustainability, living low impact lives and creating a supportive and creative place to be and learn.

Trevince house is siuated not that far from Dartmoor on top of a hill, it’s surrounded by open fields and woodlands and steep slopes perfect in the snow we just had for sledging. The stars shine out brightly in the massive expansive sky and the openess in the surrounding area impacts on our own openess as a community.
-Lou
Living at Trevince, I am the happiest I have ever been. Each morning I get up, with a thrill of excitement that I am spending another day in the place I want to be most in the world. As I make my morning cup of tea I am greeted with sleepy smiles, and warm morning hugs, and gradually (for we are a group with a large range of sleeping patterns!) we all congregate in the living room, to check in and decide the plan of action for the day. After a few minutes of silence as no one ever wants to start check-in first, Satyajit usually relents and gets the ball rolling. I think check-ins are my favourite part of the day, everyone is in one room, we hold the space for each other, and we open to each other in a way I have never experienced before. Anything and everything is said in that space, every emotion, from joy to despair, is expressed and sat with. I always finnish check-ins with a sense of awe, it is so hard to try and understand yourself, to understand what it is that you are really feeling and express it, with as much awareness as possible, but we are trying, and it is so beautiful. I look round the room, in those few moments before we start to talk, and some days I feel as if I could burst, showering everyone with stars, I am so happy and proud to be living with these people, to be part of Buddhafield.
Post check-in the day’s work, the cooking and when we will meditate is discussed, and eventually, the larger group dissapates, each of us wandering off, after another cup of tea of course, to get on with our alloted tasks. A few of us will go to Easterbrook to tend the garden and pick salad, Ruperdarshin will be in his dome, chipping away, others will be working on vans or moving things around, canvas’s need to be sorted and repaired, and there is always cleaning or cooking to be done. Each day is different, even doing the same tasks, there is always something that changes, yet one thing is always the same – my joy at being here, my astonishment at how lucky I am to be living this way. 
About 6pm, or later, it depends on who is cooking, dinner is ready and we all gradually arrive in the living room from the different parts of the house and garden that we have been in. This is also one of my favourite times, we all sit together eating and catching up with each other, we swap stories of our adventures that day and talk about different ways of solving problems we are facing. The food is always amazing, we take it vaguely in turns to cook, everyone has their own way of doing things, so it is always interesting eating! Our evenings are spent, again, with each other, people wander in and out of the living room where some read or carve, draw or write. People move from van to yurt to TV room to the office, in search of the perfect warm spot, the kettle whistles sporadically, and over it all there is a low hum of laughter. 
-Ruth