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 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


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


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.
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. 

Study Night # 5 — Conditionality, Karma and Rebirth

>The central concept in Buddhism is pratitya samutpada which literally means ‘existing on account of arising together’, or more simply conditionality. This means that all things come about because of the conditions that surround them. Nothing exists independently we are all interconnected and interdependent on everything around us. For example we in the west have a tendancy to lean towards the scientific an are likely to dismiss anything that doesn’t have concrete proof. With this in mind and the people present our study night on karma and rebirth was incredibly heated.

Karma in Buddhism is different to the karma taught in Hinduism, Hindu’s believe karma implies whatever ill effects are happening now they are directly linked to past actions. This can lead to a lack of responsilibilty and compassion for social injustice. Karma means action, so the way we act, speak and think have a powerful influence on how we will deal with our future days. This is seen as the right view and is essential to believe in this if you are to be a Buddhist. We always need to take responsibility for any bad thing that may happen to us. We should always think that it may have something to do with our past actions although it does not have anything to do with our karma. This way we will be compassionate to others and try to resolve the conditions put in place for the bad thing to arise. It is this skillfulness that aids us to evolve in a more positive diretion and our lives will be more pleasant. To be content lead to contentment with the world, to be angry leads to anger with the world but it is important to remember that karma has nothing to do with rewards or punishments but simply how we experience things as a reflection of our state of being.

There are five types of conditionality:-
Physical or inorganic such as earthquakes, tsunami’s, other natural disasters. Not collective karma.
Biological such as illnesses, the flu’ is caused because of a virus and not past actions.
Psychological as in mental states that are due to past experiences we had no influence over. Not due to karmic choices.
Karmic – Karma Niyama, the effects of ethics which we do have choice over.
Dharmic – Dharma Niyama, some kind of sign that we are heading in the right direction.

Dharma Niyama is worth looking into a bit more closely as the concept makes sense up to a point but after that it can get hazy. I said above that it could be described as a sign that we are heading in the right direction. It might make more sense though if we look at it as an extention of our consciousness. There is so much of our consciousness that we do not understand, do not look to it because we are not aware of how far it can go. If you are practising to any degree then stuff will change and shift. Is this to do with just sitting on a cushion and concentrating? Or is it some ‘other power’ that enters our consciousness to tell us what direction to travel in? This topic was the dominant discussion point in our study night. Our scientific conditioning forces us to look at this in a rational way. In just being still and concentrating gives way to more thoughts to come to us, things that we wouldn’t think about normally. What happens on the surface can be quite different from what is going on underneath. Is it more about ‘hidden’ power and not ‘other’ power? We are all able to draw something out that we never realised existed. Is it just that we dont know our own minds enough? All of these points try to give us a more tangable explaination as to what happening when we meditate and we, as westerners, feel that is it important to be able to explain these processes and to be able to have control over it. To imagine purity is to assimilate purity but if this purity exists as some ‘other’ power that comes to you this could be seen as disenpowering as it hasn’t happened through your own efforts.

It is interesting to note that eastern cultures hold the imagination with much more majesty then we do. They ascibe much more weight to dreams and visions as being something that it worth more of our attention. Stories and myths are also held with more attention as a way to teach but are these just metaphors for rational explainations or are they something real, an ‘other world’ thing? Is it our scientific conditioning that says that we can’t understand what could be miraculous or is it the 5000 year old view that does not understand that miracles do not happen.

It terms of Buddhism and as I have mentioned many times before, finding the middle way could give you the answer. As the thrid fetter states, rites and rituals are a means to an end and not an end in itself. Eventually we all have to give ourselves up to something bigger.

Rebirth (which is closely linked to Karma) again differs to how it is understood in Hinduism. It is believed in Hinduism that an unchanging soul passes from vessel to vessel by way of punishment or reward for good or bad actions. The Buddhist take on this is that there is a constantly changing stream of engery that is shaped and transformed by the lives it lives and actions it takes. It is merely a continuation of a process. Ideas of rebirth are difficult for westerners to grasp hold of because, as i said before, there is no concrete proof  of it. This is a part of many westerners conditioning and maybe it is important to believe in those things that we cannot fully understand.

There are four different types of karma:-
Weighty karma – something that has a major impact on us and others which leads to a strong effect on our emotions such as meditation.
Death-proximate (near death) karma – these are actions that will have an effect on our rebirth as they are performed when close to death.
Habital karma – Something we do regularly without noticing but eventually will build up to something massive.
Residual karma – which is basically everything else.

Victims of habitual karma will not challenge or change these habits because due to the habital nature of it there is a lack of awareness of what is happening. In this culture there are many victims of this due to many vague and halfhearted sets of beliefs this leads to us having a fatalistic, ‘why me’, attitude and a sense no control. The media is a good example of this as constant bombardment of negative news stories and advertisments is bound to have an effect on our inner being. Legal systems and social etiquette are some others. These prevail in our society and questions of ‘what are my rights?’ can be heard all over. We can spend our lives fulfilling social positions and still not get what is needed. It is so easy to hide behind the media or law that we have gone from blaming God for our problems to blaming other people, “there must be a reason for this happening, I must find the agent behind why this is happening and once I find them I will inflict my pain onto them in some way”. By throwing yourself into Buddhsim and throwing out vague beliefs and the TV will help in understanding why these bad things happen. How we think creates our experience if we constantly believe that we are living in a harsh and hostile environment then this is what we will get back. It maybe that there is no choice over what thoughts may arise but what is important is how you deal with those thoughts. If you feel like you maybe losing control and you panic because of this then control will fall away more rapidily, but if you keep calm, you are more likely to come through it unscathed. Consciousness grows and changes and thoughts are just a part of the experience. What we do in this life does have consequences after we die and our ego’s would love for us to live on and on and on but ego will also say that it will be you as you are now that gets reborn and this is simply not the case in Buddhism. Frstly to gain Enlightenment you must let go of the self and ego, and secondly we are constantly changing beings. What we are when we are born is not what we are when we die. It is not necessary to believe in rebirh if you are a Buddhist. Whether you believe in panning lives or whether you live on a moment to moment basis, either is ok as long as each moment has your full attention.

Study Night # 4 – A Foundation Knowledge of the Dharma


Much of this study night relates to other study nights we had here at Trevince and many more of them will become interlinked as they go on. This weeks study was on the Dharma and this is inextricably linked to the ideas stated in ‘The Truth of Cause and Effect’ and ‘Enlightenment’ posts we published in November.
We read from extracts of Sangharakshita’s book ‘What is the Dharma’
In short the Dharma means Truth. In Sanskrit it can mean many things but truth is the most relevant and understandable explanation of the word. It is not useful though to pin this word down to a single meaning as it varies throughout the various Buddhist traditions and cultures.
So many a better explaination of the word Dharma is whatever helps humans to transcend their present limited state
The 4 noble truths – (see Study Night #1)
1) Human existence just involves suffering
2) Cause of suffering is that we want things to be other then as they are. 
3) There is an end to suffering
4) This is to follow the eight fold path (or the three fold way which consists of Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom)– provide us with a framework for understanding the Dharma and how to follow it, what is stated above and enhanced on in the Eight fold path are the ideas of having a ‘right view’ on life. They are helpful in keeping us on the right track and our practise heading off in the right direction. If we do not follow this then our lives will continue to follow the unconscious and unquestioned beliefs and values that make up our conditioning. This will go unchallenged and therefore never we will reach nirvana and we will stay in a state of dissatisfaction.
The first truth is possibly why Buddhism is said to have bad name because it basically states that all life is suffering, a better way to describe this is that there is always something missing or better still dukkha (which can be translated to uncomfortable, uneasy or ill-fitting). What is important to remember about Buddhism is that is honest, it puts it plain and simply about how life can be better. If satisfaction does exist in life as it is normally lived then there would be no craving, but there is craving and the constant notion that something is always missing. Happiness is good but it cannot be relied on.
Dukkha was spoken about in Ruth’s post about Enlightenment but knowing about it in terms of Dharma I can go into more depth:
  • The suffering that comes from living with an impermanent body and living within a hostile environment.
  • The suffering that comes from not getting the things we like and having to make do with those that we do not like.
  • The suffering of change, happiness does not last.
  • Suffering that arises from general dissatisfaction at whatever situation as long as we are not fulfilling our spiritual potential.

The second noble truth states that the origin of dukkha is craving. We are constantly craving our world to be a certain way but as the world is constantly changing then all this is doing is leading to unhappiness. There is a difference between a healthy desire for something such as a need to quench you thirst or for friendship but these are very different from the craving for a chocolate bar or the latest fashion accessory. Craving ultimately just distracts us from realising our full spiritual potential. On a more extreme level, craving is just a ‘result of our deluded obsession with ourselves. Things to remember are that life is full inescapable sufferings, as soon as you are born you start to die, there is sickness, old age and all other ailments that come with having an impermanent body. To transcend this suffering we must look inside ourselves and turn our negative states into positive ones.

The third noble truth takes a more positive look at life. Our suffering is based on our conditioning. All the events that have happened before leads us to where we are now. To over come, understand our conditioning / limitations and then to transcend it will be our end to suffering.

The fourth noble truth helps us to understand how we can overcome our suffering by following the noble Eightfold path. The Eightfold path is basically saying is that if we follow the precepts more deeply and be aware and mindful at all times, if we keep ourselves positive, meditate and follow the Dharma then we will crave less and therefore suffer less. Is being dissatisfied with current state of awareness a bad thing? Rejoice in your happiness when you are feeling it. Accept the sadness and be with it. Whether this is a cruel or beautiful world depends on your vision. Actions are determined by how you respond to how you feel.

“Circumstances such as illness or good fortune come and go, but what lingers with us are internal conditions. If we have peace of mind, we can weather through the rough patches, but guilt, hatred or depression will cloud the brightest day. A millionaire or a king can be beset with worry and mistrust, but a property-less monk can dwell in ease and fulfillment. Suffering and the cessation of suffering live in our minds and our hearts.” ~Theravadin monk Ajahn Sucitto


Next Time.. Karma and Rebirth.

The Sacred Landscape appeal


* Stop Press* 

The are three exciting events coming up in aid of Buddhafield’s Sacred Landscape appeal. We only have around £15,000 before Frog Mill is fully paid off so if you can, support these events and have a great time whilst doing it.

Sat 4th Dec 2010 Yorkshire: Film and curry night near Hebden Bridge Call Karen on 07765 022702

Fri 10th Dec 2010 Sussex: Band on a Boat! Party on a house boat near Brighton www.justgiving.com/padma-pani0

Sat 11th Dec 2010 London: A musical night with Vilasamani at the West London Buddhist Center www.justgiving.com/DharmachariVilasamani

 Broadhembury: Dandelion/forget-me-not double exposure  Hannah Phillips

Buddhafield owns two pieces of land, both of them in Devon. One is is West Devon and is near the village of Broadhembury, the other, Frog Mill is in Dartmoor National Park. They are very different environments each with their own distinct qualities.

Broadhembury is a wild and beautiful 25 acres of woodland and wetland on a sloped hillside. There are natural springs, bluebell woods, ancient woodland, an ash plantation, a Douglas Fir plantation and gorse. At Broadhembury we are now integrating the magic of our retreats with the challenge of practicing sustainable land use in a real and long term way.
The dawn chorus in May is the loudest and most amazing I’ve ever heard in the UK and the tawny owls in February looking for mates, hooting and calling, landing on tree branches just above tents is simply stunning to witness- and be woken by! 
Buddhafield won 3 acres of land at Broadhembury in a competition about ten years ago and when the surrounding land came up for sale, the collective bought it and set about creating drainage ditches and flat spots for camping. It is a well loved piece of land that is often described as ‘challenging’- particularly when it is wet. The shrine tent is usually up in the woods which is a good ten minute hike from the ‘hearth’ area on the terraces where the kitchen and tea tents are so, if it’s wet, retreatants are pretty much guaranteed to experience the full extent of the changing British weather. It is what makes Broadhembury such a special place. Buddhafield’s own wilderness.

Broadhembury apple blossom and ash double exposure Hannah Phillips

Around Broadhembury cow double exposure Hannah Phillips
Broadhembury hot tub: Shantikara with Lomo fisheye lens Hannah Phillips

Trees planted at Broadhembury, Devon
Broadhembury new trees Vidyadasi

Frog Mill is a gentler site of 17 acres in Dartmoor National park. It consists of several fields with thick established hedgerows and trees and a river, the Blackaton Brook, dividing the site and has views of some of the craggy Tors of Dartmoor. The river is home to kingfisher, dippers and spawns salmon and is the life blood of the land. The children LOVE it and it is their watery playground when they come on retreat. The site is large enough, and has enough flat space to hold our larger retreat events, such as the Family Friendly retreat.

Our aim for this tranquil site is to develop a magical and safe environment, providing the opportunity for adults and children to experience connection 
with a beautiful piece of land, hopefully for many years into the future. We are looking into various kinds of tree planting, including an organic orchard, and coppice for fuel and wildlife habitat. Taking on this project has been a leap of faith for us: In 2006 we borrowed £85,000 to buy the land and we wish to wholeheartedly thank all who have contributed £65,000 to our Land Appeal so far.

Frog Mill and the Blackaton Brook Padmapani

The stream running through Frog Mill, Dartmoor
Frog Mill Padmapani

As part of the Buddhafield vision we are drawn to nature as the primary context for our life and practice — to the beauty of the natural world, to the living experience of interconnectedness it gives us, to the ancient sacred sites and landscapes around us.

Therefore we wish to create sanctuaries and shrines, for our own and others’ benefit; to live simply and to live lightly on the land, using appropriate technology and exemplifying best practice in all that we do.  Owning this land means that our larger retreats have a site that can be developed for their needs.

Work on the design for Broadhembury got underway during the winter of 2004, and continues. Work on the land will be an integral part of at least one 
Buddhafield Retreat each season. Out of a desire for the well being not only of humankind but also animals, birds and the earth itself, Buddhafield is taking a leading role in developing an eco-Buddhist culture in this country. 
In 2004 we employed the
permaculturalist Phil Corbett to carry out a survey at Broadhembury. Following this consultation Dharmamrta developed a permaculture design for the land, which includes planting trees for firewood and for fruit; creating terraces to provide flat land for camping, and planting hedges for shelter and privacy.

If anyone wants to help us to fully own Frog Mill in the next few months then ‘Be 1 of the 150! Contact me, Hannah on hannahaha15@hotmail.com or call me on 0781 449 6070.

Posted by Hannah Phillips