SAT CHIT ANAND
- NOVEMBER 2008 NEWSLETTER -
End of Year Review
Walking is such a simple activity, and yet so deeply nourishing when done mindfully, especially in nature. Weather permitting, I enjoy weekly walks with a dear friend, who lives next to the forest in Harkerville, just outside Plett. In winter, we mostly walk along high cliffs next to a rocky and remote coastline, and in summer, due to the heat, we head into the forest.
Last week, we walked through a young pine plantation, the ground covered with indigenous plants bearing bright yellow and purple flowers, to a small kloof hidden in the forest. There is a river that runs through this kloof and we sometimes go and sit in the deep shade next to the sound of running water and meditate. Worldly problems are left behind, as you sit silently and let the silence and cool serenity of the forest permeate your mind and refresh your being.
Tree ferns reflected in still ponds, green and touched with goldish yellow from the occasional sunrays that managed to penetrate the dense vegetation. Tiny little insects skirted the surface of the water making perfect ripple circles as they moved. The circles expanded outwards and then intersected each other, forming complex interconnected patterns on the water. Here was nature teaching interconnectedness in a very visible way. The ripples touched those of other insects and also changed the mirror-like reflection of the water itself.
We do not see the ripples of our actions of body, speech and mind, but they are moving out in all directions all the time, intersecting with and affecting others and the world around us. Sometimes we are not aware of the effect that we have on others and on our environment, but just to breathe and to be alive, is to be part of the whole and to impact on it. So let us try and generate positive ripples wherever we go and whatever we do.
This beautiful teaching silently given by nature made me reflect on our activities of the last year, and hope that we touched people’s lives in ways that brought increased clarity, wisdom, peace, goodness and beauty. Here follows an overview of the last year’s events.
December: Monlam Prayers for World Peace, India
The Monlam Prayers for World Peace are held every December / January for 10 days at the Mahabodhi Temple complex, which surrounds the magnificent Stupa and Bodhi tree. The purpose of the Monlams is to pray for world peace, and to make aspiration prayers for enlightenment and for a more enlightened world. The power of prayer is magnified when many people gather together in a unified energy field, especially if this is done in an energetically charged and holy place such as Bodhgaya, place of the Buddha’s enlightenment.
“The Monlam is an expression of our love for the world and all living beings … May these prayers of love and compassion blend with the innate goodness of every single being and coalesce into one powerful force. Like the light of the sun, moon, and stars, may love, compassion, and wisdom shine forth. May they strike every single living being and dispel the darkness of ignorance, attachment, and hatred that has lurked for ages in their being.” [Extract from Foreword in Monlam Prayer Book, by the 17th KARMAPA]
Sitting at the Temple for hours every day, with the sound of thousands of monks melodic chanting reverberating through your body and mind is a powerful experience. It felt like one was immersed in an ocean of sound and light that spread over and bathed the whole planet in love and light, bringing peace and wisdom into the world, and removing the darkness of ignorance from the world.
Extract from February 2008 Newsletter
January: Mahamudra Meditation Course, India
Then onto Tergar Monastery, a magnificent new Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, for Mahamudra Meditation teachings by Mingyur Rinpoche, a really cool, marvelous, awesome teacher. He gives you confidence in your true nature and this is very empowering. In the presence of highly-realized beings, and through their grace and your openness, it is much easier to connect with the power of truth and the power of who you really are, and this is empowerment in the highest sense.
If you understand that your true nature is Buddha nature, you won’t identify with your negative qualities. You will know that you are good, cool, marvelous, awesome! Buddha nature is already in you. It is your inherent goodness, your innate purity. You have wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion. You have knowledge and capabilities. Everybody has this, no matter who you are. You must recognize and allow these marvelous qualities to manifest.
“Once you commit yourself to developing an awareness of your Buddha nature, you’ll inevitably start to see changes in your day-to-day experience. Things that used to trouble you gradually lose their power to upset you. You’ll become intuitively wiser, more relaxed, and more openhearted. You’ll begin to recognize obstacles as opportunities for further growth. And as your illusory sense of limitation and vulnerability gradually fades away, you’ll discover deep within yourself the true grandeur of who and what you are.” [The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche]
Extract from March 2008 Newsletter
February: Angel in the Sky
Back to Plett, witnessing the bravery of another dear friend whose husband was dying of cancer, and trying to be a support for them. Seeing her calmness and strength of spirit as she gently consoled him. Being there as the consciousness left the body, and the facial muscles relaxed into a beautiful smile as the essence was released from the physical.
Attending my niece’s wedding, which was an outdoor service in a pretty setting. Looking at the sky and seeing a cloud formation floating above the bride and groom in the shape of an angel – my sister who died a few years ago manifested in the sky, present at her daughter’s wedding. Evidence that death is not the end, and that we retain close karmic connections with loved ones.
March: Vipassana Meditation Retreat at Pacha Mama, Costa Rica
The excitement and nervousness of conducting my first international retreat at the Spiritual Commune of my first guru, Pacha Mama: “A Buddha field that experiences life in its fullness, in the depth of meditation and to the peak of celebration. A place that reminds those who step in, of their own beauty, their inner joy and their Buddha nature.” [Tyohar]
Connecting with many friends from the early India days, when we shared an intense journey of transformation. For many of us, our worlds were turned upside down, as new dimensions of being were revealed to us. It was an unforgettable time, and our lives were forever changed. It was not possible to come back and be the same people. The challenge began to manifest a new way of being and living in the world. This challenge continues to this day, and I came back inspired to expand our activities so that we may benefit more people from more walks of life.
Extract from April 2008 Newsletter
Sat Chit Anand Healing Centre offers holistic treatments and therapies to restore and enhance health and healing of body and mind.
Sat Chit Anand Mindfulness Centre offers secular courses and retreats, training in mindfulness, meditation and self-awareness.
Sat Chit Anand Buddhist Centre offers teachings and weekend retreats on different aspects of Buddhist philosophy, psychology and practice.
May: Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Meditation and medicine share the same root meaning: “right inward measure”. Medicine has the aim and function of restoring well-being, wholeness and health. Meditation says that you are already whole and complete (your Buddha nature), and direct perception of this is meditation. Meditation puts you in touch with your deepest nature, your pure and divine essence. Most people have lost this connection and need to learn how to find it again.
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again,
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.
The forest knows where you are.
You must let it find you.
[Old Native American elder story
rendered into a poem by David Wagoner]
Problems and lack of ease in the mind will manifest as problems and dis-ease in the body. This is why meditation and being aware of what is happening within your mind is so important - because this is where it all starts.
Extract from May 2008 Newsletter
Each year unfolds in a different way. Last year we had several visiting teachers, this year none, as the focus was on expanding our activities and developing regular programmes, courses and retreats to be offered by the Centre. We have been offering weekend retreats for 4 years now. In total, 24 retreats, with 248 people attending. And another few hundred people who have come to weekly teachings over the years. So I hope that we have made a positive impact on many people’s lives.
July, August, September, October: SCA Retreats
The most successful event this year, was our 1-week Mindfulness Course. Being longer, it enabled people to come from further afield (Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town). Having more time allowed space for more practice and personal attention, as well as some special outings in nature, which everyone appreciated. We live in a beautiful part of the country, an ideal place to come for a week to de-stress, and learn how to live in a more mindful and peaceful way. The Healing Centre provided therapeutic massages and this body work complimented the meditation and mind work.
As a requirement for attending the Mahamudra Meditation Course Level 2 in January 2009, we were given certain purification practices to do: 10 000 prostrations (to purify negative actions of body), and 10 000 Vajrasattva mantra recitation (to purify negative actions of speech). These practices are powerful and bring up any “stuff” in your life that needs to be cleaned up. Simultaneously with purifying the past, they create good karma for the future.
At the end of the year, I leave for pilgrimage and retreat in Bodhgaya, India again. This is time for me to recharge my spiritual batteries, work on my own development, and receive more teachings and inspiration. The Centre will therefore not commence any scheduled activities until March 2009. Next year we plan on offering Mindfulness 1-week Courses every other month. Due to the success of this Course, it will be our main event.
See our 2009 Programme (which will be updated each quarter) for dates and details.
SAT CHIT ANAND namaste to you Buddha-to-be!
Please forward this email to friends who might be interested.
Please notify us if you wish to be added or removed from our mailing list.