December 2012 events

This December we have several events coming up – 3 talks with meditation teacher Jeff Oliver, fresh off a month long tour of Malaysian dhamma centres where he’s been offering teachings and leading meditation.

On Thursday 6th, Ajahn Pasanno, head monk of the Western monastic lineage, will give a talk for us at DMG.

And on the 16th we host Kittisaro and Thanissara – they were instrumental in setting up the western temples in the Luang Phor Chah lineage. Currently they have a thriving centre in South Africa.

BUT anyway – if you are receiving this via automated email, please head over to the new website at http://www.littlebang.org – to get future updates you will have to enter your email there (see the righthand sidebar of the website). The reason for the change is we changed from the ordinary WORDPRESS blog to a self-hosted website so that we can add audio/video files, and yes, also play around geekishly with some interesting design layouts !!

This old blog http://www.littlebang.wordpress.com won’t be getting any more updates.

Posted in All Posts

3 Day Special Program

3 Night Special Program
Dhamma Talk and Meditation
with international meditation teacher Jeff Oliver

   Tuesday 4th December 2012
   Forgiveness Explained in Three parts – Detailed advice on the systematic technique of forgiveness for oneself and others. This practice is indispensible for spiritual awakening and progress. Q & A Taking notes is recommended.
   Wednesday 5th December
   Living and Healing With Forgiveness – Releasing guilt and negativity from past actions, speech and thoughts (karma). Skillfully communicating and living with forgiveness as a focus of awareness in daily life. Q & A 
   Thursday 6th December
   Forgiveness and Selflessness – How the practice of forgiveness increases our awareness and wisdom to the extent of surpassing worldly concepts and the so-called self, emerging in the light and peace of the ever present purity of consciousness here and now. Q & A

Jeff is a well known vipassana teacher who formerly practised as a Buddhist Monk in Burma with several well known teachers. Currently he teaches often in Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand … leading meditation retreats and sharing dhamma. He’s well known with us in Bangkok.

Each evening: 6:30-8:15pm at Ariyasom Villa
Events are free of charge (donations welcome)

 

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Renewed activities

This month we are renewing our Dhamma Activities in Bangkok. But you are receiving this via the old website, which will be discontinued this year.

Please head over to the permanent website at WWW.littlebang.org

Sign up for updates there – the email notices from this littlebang.wordpress.com site will be discontinued soon.

Sunday 22nd July we have a Dhamma Talk with a senior monk from Wat Pah Nanachat – see http://www.littlebang.org for details.

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An Audience With Ajahn Viradhammo

Monday 30th January

6:30-8:30 pm

hosted by DMG, Bodhgaya Hall

An Audience with Ajahn Viradhammo

Abbot of Tisarana Monastery, Ottawa, Canada

Ajahn Viradhammo

We are very glad to welcome Ajahn Viradhammo, one of the most senior Western Abbots in the world, from the lineage of Luang Phor Chah. He is currently abbot of Tisarana Monastery in Ottowa, after serving as abbot (and builder of) Harnham Monastery, Bodhinyanarama NZ, and Amaravati monastery UK.

He ordained with Ajahn Chah 38 years ago in the then remote jungles of NE Thailand, where the modern world had yet to make inroads. He lived in the International Forest Temple there for some years before moving to the UK, and then New Zealand. Born in 1947 in Germany to Latvian parents, he was raised in Canada from the age of 5. A former student of Engineering, he set off on travels in 1969, to wind up in Thailand a few years later.

Known as the most warm and engaging of the Western Monks, it is with gratitude that Ajahn V. (as he is fondly known) will give us the benefit of his decades of experience.

Click here for a previous Dhamma Talk By Ajahn Viradhammo

Schedule

  • 6:00-6:30 pm Gather at DMG (there is a coffee/snack shop there)
  • 6:45-7:30 pm  Dhamma Talk with Ajahn Viradhammo
  • 7:30-8:30 pm Q&A, closing remarks.

Event is free of charge – donations will go to Tisarana Monastery, Ottawa
No need to book – there is plenty of space. But arrive early to get a good seat!

Directions:

Bodhgaya Hall is in the offices of DMG Books, and is used regularly by a large Thai group of meditators. It is an excellent facility, and very convenient on the skytrain line, Chit Lom Station. The Thai group meets there every Tuesday and Wednesday.

The address is
Amarin Plaza,
Level 22,
496-502 Ploenchit Road,
Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330

Go to Chit Lom Skytrain Station, and take the short walk to Amarin Tower. From the ground floor, take the lift up to DMG on the 22nd floor. There is a nice coffee shop there, so  arrive early for events and meet some of the regulars.

You cannot get up to the 22nd floor via the lift in the Amarin plaza itself. You must go to the lifts on the ground floor, to access the office block above the Amarin Plaza.

Click images below for larger versions

Or you can click the images below to enlarge  for an aerial view, or a skytrain map

Wide area Skytrain map

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 92,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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An Audience with Ajahn Pasanno

Friday 6th January 2012

An Audience with Ajahn Pasanno

At DMG (Amarin Tower) Chit Lom

This January we are again honoured with the presence of Ajahn Pasanno, abbot of Wat Abhayagiri in California.

image

Ajahn Pasanno is the most senior Western disciple of Ajahn Chah, other than the now-retired Ajahn Sumedho. He was formerly the abbot of the International Forest Monastery in the North-East of Thailand for many years before moving to California to head the new temple there. Hailing from Canada, he has a warm and engaging presence, and a wealth of wisdom from his nearly 40 years as a Buddhist Monk.

6:00-6:45pm gather at DMG on level 22 (there is a coffee/snack shop there)

6:45 Dhamma Talk and Questions with Ajahn Pasanno

8:30 (ish) finish

Event is free of charge. Donations will go to Wat Abhayagiri. No need for advance booking.

Amarin Tower is close to Chit Lom BTS Station.

For a clear and precise map, click here

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Special Guest – Michelle McDonald – Weds 4th January 2012

Our Little Bangkok Sangha is back in business this January!

Wednesday 4th January

image

Michelle McDonald will share her extensive wisdom gained from teaching meditation retreats for several decades. She is a founder of Vipassana Hawaii, along with one of our regular teachers Steven Smith, and has been a long term meditation teacher in the Mahasi school (Burma) where she is one of the foremost teaching followers of Sayadaw U Pandita.

This event will be at  the beautiful Ariyasom Villa, Sukhumvit soi 1

6:00 – 6:30pm Gather in the Library for refreshments and chat

6:45 – go up to the Dhamma Hall for the evening talk, Q&A, and meditation

8:15 (ish) finish

There is no fixed charge for this event – donations will go to Michelle’s travelling expenses. We are very grateful that she has taken the time to join with us in Bangkok on her way to Burma where she will lead a month long retreat.

Location

Ariyasom Villa is in Sukhumvit Soi 1, close to Ploen Chit BTS Station

Do down the soi to the end, and the hotel is on the left hand side. You can also take a motorcycle from the mouth of the soi.

for a clear and precise map click here

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Mountain Retreat – book now

Time is fast coming to a close to book for our Mountain Retreat.

Steven Smith, founder/teacher of Vipassana Hawaii, will be leading things with Mae Chee Brigitte teaching the meditation. A great team!

The venue is perfect – up in the cool crisp mountain air, with lots of space, and some free time with a relaxed schedule to soak up the atmosphere.

So, are you in????

http://littlebang.org/2011/10/03/mountain-retreat-30th-nov-9th-december/

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Tom Upson passes away

Long time dhamma supporter and practitioner Tom Upson passed away recently, in undisclosed circumstances. It seemed he died in his hotel room some weeks ago.
Tom was a beautifully polite man, even by Canadian standards. He gave me a lot of encouragement in the early days of littlebang, and was always supportive and reassuring. Friends with the ‘old crowd’ who used to frequent the WFB monthly talks, and Tony’s Int. Med. Club, his job at the AUA and then abroad meant he had little contact with us in recent years. More lately some ill health (his legs and hips) kept him away.
A very unceremonius end to a very well-wishing gentleman.
We should all remember not to be complacent, and to make good use of our time, so that we are as prepared as possible when our time comes.
Wishing you well Thomas!

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Mountain Retreat: 30th Nov – 9th December

After discovering the most perfect, idyllic site imaginable for a meditation retreat, we finally can announce our first Mountain Meditation Retreat.

This page will keep updating as we get more of the details confirmed. However, the dates, the venue, and the 2 teachers are set.

The retreat is open to experienced and beginners alike. There will be special sessions for any beginners to interact with the teachers as needed.

Overview

The place is in the mountains behind Chiang Mai, near to Mae Daeng. It is high up, and pretty chilly in the evening. There is plenty of room, with lots of rooms, dorms, corners, balconies and alcoves to pitch your sleeping bag. It is not exactly private rooms, but there is a lot of space (venue can probably sleep over 100 quite easily) for you to get into your zone. Note, there will not be too many of us, and the place is large. It will be free-for-all in finding a nice quiet spot – there are lots of rooms, half rooms nooks etc… There are beds and mats, and also some blankets, but you will need a sleeping bag. It can get chilly at night.

Some of the photos are here (but don’t do the place justice!) NEW PHOTOS ADDED OF THE ROOMS INTERIORS, WHERE WE WILL BE STAYING, NOV 18TH

Teaching will be Steven Smith and Mae Chee Brigitte – two marvelous meditation teachers. Both are confirmed to be teaching. The style will be Vipassana (insight) meditation based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness – cultivating mindful recollection in all activity. Mae Chee Brigitte will be leading the meditation sessions, and Steven will be giving most of the talks. Both of them will be available for one-on-one interviews and individual advice as desired. Ven. Pandit will be assisting at times as appropriate.

Those vistas! in the pristine air 🙂

Cost of the retreat is 7000 baht, and your place is booked only after payment. Refunds can be made until 7 days before we leave – after that we will have booked the vans and bought the food already.

Last date to book or cancel is Sunday 27th November. On Monday 28th we will be buying the food for you, so please be obliged from that point to pay the retreat fee.

….

Booking

To book in please call  Pandit Bhikkhu on  usual Bkk no. 086 069 4285 – PANDITS AIS Number that works in Chiang Mai or use the booking form below.

Dates:

Nov 30th :- Meet Chiang Mai for lunch at a venue to be announced We will meet at Wat Suan Dork, at the vegetarian Restaurant.  You can find an expandable Google map here

Take minivans to the retreat. Arrive about 3pm

  • Evening of 30th November – start the retreat after settling in.
  • Retreat will be fairly relaxed (not a boot camp) with early morning group sitting/walking meditation. Some Tai Chi/Chi kong for mindful movement, and some free time in the afternoon to absorb the Mountain air.
  • Every evening will be a general meeting, meditation and Dhamma talk.
  • December 9th we will break noble silence, and have a BBQ Banquet. Return to Chiang Mai for about 4pm.

~We will serve vegetarian food throughout, with an emphasis on fresh fruit and veg.

~Participants must attend the full retreat – mainly because there is no transport up/down the remote mountain other than by the minivans we organise.

~Interviews with the teachers will be available on request.

~The meditation style will be Vipassana based on breathing and mindfulness, with a strong emphasis on Metta (loving kindness) meditation. You are also free to follow your own meditation method if you wish. All yogis will be asked to observe noble silence (not talking) for the majority of the retreat, and meeting/meditating together at the set times is stipulated. There will therefore be group meditation time, and also time to meditate alone.

Costing

This Mountain Retreat is too perfect not to use. We are not paying for the venue, however we will be paying quite a few members of staff up there, and a kitchen manager. Also is the cost of the teachers …. Honestly there is no way to guess how much the whole thing will cost in the end. So please understand!

We are not out to make a profit, and if there are funds left over (unlikely!) we’ll be glad to reimburse, or use them as offerings to the teachers or other good cause. It could also be that we are short of funds by the end! We will have to see how it goes. Note that a single trip up/down the mountain in the 4w drive costs 500 baht in fuel alone, so we can’t really cater to special dietary needs, nor accept people who are not attending the retreat in full.

Steven Smith

Steven co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 and in 1995 founded the MettaDana Project for educational and medical projects in Burma. Also in 1995 Steven helped establish the Kyaswa Valley Retreat Center in Burma, headed by Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. This partnership helped usher in the beginnings of Vipassana Hawai’i’s Fusion Dhamma approach combining traditional and contemporary teaching styles in the same retreat. Anchored in the Theravadan Buddhist Burmese lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw since 1974, he was trained and sanctioned as a teacher by revered monk and meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita. Steven divides his time teaching Vipassana and the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) meditation retreats around the world, and assisting Burmese refugee communities along the Thai-Burma border. His long term vision for preserving the Dhamma is culminating in the beginnings of the Hawai’i Insight Meditation Center (HIMC) on the Big Island of Hawai’i’s remote North Kohala coast.

He has done a number of talks for us and our Green Papaya siblings in Chiang Mai, and we have loved his personal and compassionate approach to Dhamma.

Mae Chee Brigitte

Click to link to MC Brigitte's website

Many of us know and appreciate Mae Chee – she is a wonderful meditation teacher, with a dedicated following.

Click here to link to her website, which includes the touching story of how she came to ordain.

Mae Chee is a well known meditation teacher, based mostly in Thailand. She is Austrian, and speaks fluent German, English and Thai. Her easy instructions and encouragement to meditate have inspired many people to commit to a meditation practise.  She is now based at a temple out past the Suvanabhumi Airport where visitors are welcome to stay (click the image to link to her website). However, due to popular demand she is very often away from the temple teaching meditation at different places, especially around Thailand and Europe.

Pandit Bhikkhu

Organiser behind the Little Bangkok Sangha, will be pitching in to help as needed. British-born Bhikkhu of 15 years, and the speaker behind the annual Rainy Season Dhamma Talks, and student of Buddhism, psychology, and Faerie tales. During the retreat we will be spicing things up with a detailed rendition and breakdown of a Faerie Tale – one that includes lots of beautifully expressed Dhamma.

He also lost weight since the picture to the left was taken!

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If you would like to book a place via Bangkok, please give the details requested below. Note, until November replies might be slow …. but we will get back to you for sure. We will take payment after November 6th. Details will be mailed out to those who have applied by the following form.

After entering the details you will be returned to this page – don’t worry, the message has gone through!

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Detailed schedule will go up in November.

Any other points missed out? Leave a comment below, and we will fill in any blanks.

This will be a GREAT retreat. Perfect place/time/weather, with space, countryside and some great teachers. It does not get any better than this!

Posted in All Posts, meditation, Upcoming events

Special Event: Dhamma Talk with Ajahn Jayasaro, November 10th

it was inevitable really …. but we had to cancel this talk. We will reschedule and be back next year. 

If you want to be put on the email list for big events (3 or 4o times a year) including A. Jayasaro, head over to the CONTACT page and let us know.

Thursday November 10th

An Audience with Ajahn Jayasaro

“Finding Out for Yourself”

Ajahn Jayasaro

We are happy to announce an audience with Ajahn Jayasaro on Thursday November 10th, at the Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives, near Mor Chit.

  • Dhamma Talk is in English only
  • Free of charge (donations welcome)
  • No need for advance registration – there is enough room for everyone

Last time we hosted Ajahn Jayasaro it was our largest event yet! Be sure to get there early for a good seat!

Ajahn Jayasaro was formerly the co-abbot and then sole abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat International Forest monastery in the North-East of Thailand for many years. Wat Pah Nanachat is in the lineage of Luang Phor Chah – a huge name in Thai Buddhism. Ajahn Jayasaro now resides alone in Kao Yai, and rarely makes public appearances in English outside of his hermitage.

Ajahn Jayasaro is well known for his interesting and moving Dhamma Talks, in both his native English and also in Thai. For many years he led  the International monastery and gained a fine reputation for accessibility and sharp dhamma. Hugely popular with the Thai community we are very glad he will talk this time in English only in support of the international community here in Bangkok.

Time: 6:00 – 8:30pm at the BIA

Topic: “Finding Out for Yourself”

Buddhism famously does not encourage blind faith. But you must research, test, and use all your intelligence and wisdom. But that is not to say that you can just follow your own beliefs – there are layers and layers of discovery on the path to enlightenment for those who are willing to put aside their own belief systems, and turn the mind inward and look directly, in order to find out for yourself.

Help

You can help enormously with the PR for this event by

1. Mailing interested friends close to the time and check they are going
2. download and print this PDF poster and put on your work/condo notice board
3. notify any magazines, wesites, web forums, or other media contacts

Thanks.

Location

This event is at the brand new Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives in Suan Rot Fai, near Mor Chit BTS station.

BIA 2This is the branch of Suan Mokh where the famous Buddhadasa Bhikkhu lived and taught for many years, and which is still a majour item on the spiritual tourism of Thailand agenda.

The place is beautiful, and vast. Overlooking the parklands near Mor Chit BTS, the complex includes a library, book shop, huge verandah overhanging the lake, and lots of art and sculpture. In following years this place will definitely become the most vital centre of Buddhism in Bangkok. Expect a lot of great events to happen here.

Directions:

Go to Mor Chit BTS Station and walk through the park for about 20 minutes. Motorcycles are an option – but come on, you could do with the exercise, and it is a lovely park! You can also take a taxi from the BTS for about 45 baht. MRT users can go to Chatuchak Station or Pahonyothin station exit 3 (which is a slightly closer, but less pleasant walk)

click the map to enlarge

Here’s the google earth/maps location:

13°48’58.22″ N 100°33’24.92″ E

A google earth snapshot – click it to enlarge.

Posted in All Posts

WFB: Sunday Nov. 6th

Sunday November 6th

There will be no Dhamma Talk at the WFB for the first Sunday of the month during November. It has been cancelled in favour of the celebrations for the H.M. King’s birthday.

Posted in All Posts, Upcoming events | 2 Comments

Report: Meditation and Creativity

We just had another one of our Tai Pan events – where we lunch and then rent a room for viewing video and discussion. We have done this before on different topics – previous one was Osho, but also Eckhart Tolle, Life of Brian, Consciousness  and others.

This format provides a nice change from the usual speaker/audience style of Dhamma talks.

This time round the topic was creativity.

  • Does meditation oppose creativity?
  • Does it stimulate creativity?
  • Once you are being creative, does this take you away from creativity?
  • What is the goal of both?

There were about 25 of us for lunch, and 35 upstairs for the discussion.

Here is a nice report on the event by Marcel, who joined us for lunch and the afternoons session, posted on his blog:
http://museflight.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/stillness-and-creativity/

Here below are some of the videos we looked at (some are copyrighted and so can’t be posted up).

First up, a great talk by Elizabeth Gilbert: She raises many great points, but one we focussed on was the link between anguish and creativity – it seems the truly creative geniuses are tormented souls. There certainly is some kind of link, though we thought (and later showed) examples of happy people being creative also.

Second up, another TED talk by Amy Tan: We picked up on the ‘something out of nothing’ statement she makes; does it relate to Pandit’s view that emptiness/stillness is the source of creativity, and trying to get back to that moment of harmony, for a few moments, by arranging a medium in the world, is Art. If right, then Art is doomed to fail every time until Enlightenment. It’s just a half-formed idea! Not everyone agreed.

She mentions that ‘place of balance’ (harmony) but that there is ‘uncertainty in everything’ – which is similar to the idea that Art is an imperfect attempt at getting back to that stillness. (if this is correct, there is a catch, that any expression is by it’s nature, not still).

She also mentioned that Art could be ‘working stuff out’ (is thinking an evolved form of dream?), somewhere between serendipity and nightmare.

Now on to a pure example. Quite stunning showing of a world torn apart by World War II, in sand. The remarkable thing here, is the expression is the goal – the piece is not ‘frozen’ on the canvas (ok, so there is a video….).

Here’s a tip when watching YouTubes. Click on the YouTube icon to stop downloading the video you are watching, and open it in Youtube instead. This is great for finding related videos – for instance, try it on the above video and you link to many more similar scenes by the same girl. Click the image to enlarge it.

Here’s another tip. Copy the URL (web page address) of any YouTube and paste it into http://www.keepvid.com . A box will popup asking if you want to run the javascript program – just click OK. Then it will give you options to download the particular video in different resolutions. If you are on a Mac or other operating system, there are plenty of other similar sites if you you google ‘download youtube video’.

So far the discussion had focussed on each of our individual forms and ideas of creativity. But now we looked at another aspect – the enjoyment of other’s creativity. Here is one example of creativity (that required some anguish in the form of hard knocks):

We also looked at a great video of a very tormented guy who just wanted to SING, but the little bald man in the house kept on preventing him. How does he overcome adversity, and fulfill his urge to sing? You had to be there. (copyrighted). We were a bit nervous shoeing this one – but everyone loved it!

Back to the cyclist – some more videos we did not get time for explore the relationship between anguish, stress and ‘The Flow’, in a very interesting way.

Dr Robert Sapolsky is another we did not get round to – but he has some interesting things to say on the effect of stress on the human body, and by extension, mind. He also raises the research showing that the ‘high’ that can be experienced by performers and athletes might actually just be a drug hit – stress the body in the right way for the right period, and you will get a sudden hit of beta-endorphins creating “a wonderful, gauzy sense of well being”. It is a drug high.

Also not enough time for Susan Greenfield in one of her excellent video’s on the human brain, where she seems to claim that creativity (and also ‘mystical’ experiences) might actually be brain-damage.

By far the most popular video we did have time for was John Cleese, in serious mode:

His talk seemed congruous with our little group; but then Cleese is known to have strong Buddhist leanings.

Finally we looked at ‘Where good ideas come from’, which go us onto the topic of what is created – nothing is truly new, but just a representation of the old. It is old ideas coming together in a new way – does the internet help this? For the first time since mass media took control of our world (in the days of story telling media was much more interactive) the internet is allowing for a truly global sharing of ideas and experience. Now that anyone can edit a movie, a song, or be a graphic designer, Creativity should be on the rise.

There’s much more to do on this topic – round two anyone? Or should we shelve it for a while and pick a new topic? A couple of suggestions – Buddhism and Relationships: why do Buddhists (reportedly) have a high divorce rate in the West? What has a tradition of renunciate monks have to offer those in relationships?

Or Buddhism and Family life – should you teach your kids meditation? How much time should a meditator spend away from their family on retreats, or off in a room somewhere meditating?

We have also done some full length movies, that have an interesting theme. Suggestions welcome (except for The Matrix). Can be documentary or fiction.

Posted in All Posts, reports

Report: Dhamma Talk Series 2011

Report on the Dhamma Talk Series 2011, comprising 8 talks at the Dance Centre

General

Every year during the Rainy season monks and nuns are not supposed to travel. They stay in their temples and usually undergo extra activities as a group – usually scholarly. Many Thai people will join the temple for this period, or undergo a special vow such as staying off alcohol, or other behaviours.

The general announcement of the Talks Series 2011

So each year we have a Dhamma Talk Series at this time. Those who make the effort and join every week say it is a special period (but often don’t show up the next year!). Actually, it is nice – to make the effort, to go along, to bring the topic to mind. Too many people like the idea of meditation, or Buddhism, but don’t do anything about it. Or it turns into an intellectual pursuit – especially once you have learned the key concepts and think you know it now.

Photo album

You really have to join up with others to make it important to yourself. That is why the monk’s have a whole book devoted to rules and regulations governing their 2 weekly ‘Patimokkha’ meetings – known in Thailand as ‘Wan Phra’. The monks were obliged to meet with each other every 14 or 15 days in a mandatory group gathering.

Talks topics were based around the idea of Emptiness. Any suggestions for next year’s theme?

Our Little Sangha

The first year we did this was at Baan Aree, then at Wat Yannawa, California WOW, Pharmaceutical Association, and finally at the Dance Centre. Each year gets a little more organised, though there is only so far it can be taken as a one-man-show without the support of a temple and wider Sangha or organisation.

2011 was nice. Everything went quite well, due mostly to the very generous provision of the spacious and convenient Dance Centre. Sadhu! to the Dance Centre owners for their unstinting support and use of the facilities. It is a real privilege to have a large space like that on Sukhumvit.

The talks were recorded with our brand new Canon cam-corder. This thing has a 3.5 hour battery, so will be great for recording talks in the future, once the video editing software has been mastered. Videos will be posted up next year.

The announcement/details webpage for the talks was looked at 1601 times, not including hits from 109 subscribers (which is those who are on email notices of new posts) – this is up from 1400 hits from last year’s page. Median number of attendees was 75, which is also up slightly from last year.

Donations

Thanks to K. Wirat for managing the door for us every week. Such capable help, while not a huge job, is very much appreciated, as it takes pressure off the speaker who is also trying to attend to so many details.

August 8           –  7 250 baht
August 15         –  3 510
August 22         –  5 020
August 29         –  2 820
September 5    –  5 070
September 12  –  2 450
September 19   – 3 190
September 26   – 6 860

Total attendees 620. That averages out to 58 baht/person/attendance.

Donations increase if the topic is mentioned – which accounts for the variance. But of course, the goal is not to make gain! During these talks there are lots of people, but on smaller events when we invite outside speakers, please remember to be generous. Usually the speaker is staying in a hotel for a few days to give talks for us, so we must do our part in supporting them.

This year the cost of putting on the talks was 18 400 baht, plus 300 baht/week paying for the monk’s taxi. Of the 18 400 baht most of it went on the video camera, which cost 9 400 baht; but which hopefully will be a useful resource for us from now on. There was a 2 000 baht special donation given to us to put towards the camera cost also.
2,400 baht was spent on the pickup truck which collected and returned all the chairs (which we had borrowed rent free), mats and sound system. Some more was spent on transport and costs of the PR, such as laminating, and distributing leaflets. Printing was sponsored by our friends at Soontorn film (normal cost would have been 9000 baht for printing).

Also during this period we put 1,150 towards one of our speakers Steven, and  2000 baht in donations to Bhikkhuni Ani Zamba who had significantly increased costs on her air ticket in order to spend some time with us in Bangkok. Fortunately, there was a special 8,000 baht donation to her on the last day, so it did not end up costing her to come and share Dhamma in Bangkok for us.

Total funds remaining then, after this year’s Series is 15,679 baht. This we will use through the year in extra donations to visiting speakers when there are not enough in donations to cover their expenses in being here.

Feedback

Hopefully the topics were clear. Of course some people like a personal approach, others want technical stuff. Some have a good background in Buddhism, some have none – so it is never easy trying to cater to everyone. But at the same time if there are suggestions for improving anything from the sound system, topics, format … or anything else feel free to leave a comment below or to contact privately via the contact page.

Sadhu!

There were a couple of people mentioned putting the notes into one file – but since there are videos included, here are the links to each week:

Notes on talk one ‘Hero’s Journey’ 
Notes on talk two ‘Spirituality of Imperfection’
Notes on talk three ‘All You Can Know’
Notes on talk four ‘The Stainless Deconstruction’
Notes on talk five ‘The Path of Purification’
Notes on talk six ‘The Grateful Beasts’
Notes on talk seven ‘The Prodigal Sons’
Notes on talk eight ‘Shut Up and Dance’

Posted in All Posts

Soen (Zen) club meets

Here’s the latest info from the Korean Zen club (slightly confusing to figure out what days to meet …) You can mail “Eunyoung Lee” < jayooda@gmail.com>”Young”: 087 593 8139 to confirm details …

Hi, everybody-

Hope this email finds all of you in peace and in wellness.

I would like to share the Hanmaum Seon Centre English session schedules: Currently we are running two different sessions alternatively with 2-3 weeks’ intervals: Here are the schedules of the session until the end of this year (Tentative):

1. Sutra Reading Sessions:

1) 8 October 2011 (Sat) 6- 8 pm (Heart Sutra)

2) 19 Nov 2011 (Sat) 6-8 pm (Heart Sutra or other Sutra upon the participants’ agreement)

We have been studying Heart Sutra for the last four sessions and we would like to have one more two more sessions before moving on another Sutra. (Selection of the Sutra to read next time would be decided among participants. You are welcome to join the Session and suggest any Mahayana Sutra text you would like to study together.)

2. Regular Sessions:

1) 29 Oct 2011 (Sat) 6-8 pm

2) 10 Dec 2011 (Sat) 6-8 pm

This Session we read a book, a collection of the Dharma teaching by the Master Daehaeng, a head of the Hanmaun Branch of the Korean Zen Buddhism (Chogye Order). -Copies are available at the centre. (Or you may be able to purchase it at Kinokuniya in Bangkok). (http://www.amazon.com/No-River-Cross-Trusting-Enlightenment/dp/0861715349)

Everybody is welcome to join the reading and discussions!

General information is as follows:

Bangkok Seon Club

The Bangkok Seon Club is an English-language Zen group that meets monthly at the Bangkok Hanmaum Seonwon (One-mind Zen Centre) near Ekamai BTS (map and directions below) to share experiences and study Korean Zen in general, and the teachings of Zen Master Daehaeng Kunsunim in particular.

Meetings are open to all comers interested in Korean Zen, whatever your background in Buddhism or meditation.

Background:

Daehaeng Sunim The Bangkok Hanmaum Seon Center is an overseas branch of Hanmaum Seonwon, established by Seon Master Daehaeng Kunsunim (a female Seon master widely respected throughout Korea) in 1972, and part of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism – the largest Buddhist Order in Korea with a history stretching back over 1,200 years.

‘Seon’ by the way, is the Korean word for ‘Zen’, and Master Daehaeng’s teaching is to realize and awaken to our inherent nature, also called Buddha-nature, inherent mind, or Juingong.

Daehaeng Kun Sunim teaches people to

Believe in your foundation, Juingong, and entrust it with everything that confronts you. Then go forward while observing and experimenting with what you experience.

The Bangkok branch of Hanmaum Seonwon was established ten years ago and serves the spiritual needs of Korean residents and visitors in the city. It is very much a centre of the Korean Buddhist community, and many families attend regularly with children of all ages.

The founder does not reside at this branch temple, but it is run by two resident female sunims (monks) who arrange regular ceremonies and teachings.

Meditation

This Korean lineage differs somewhat from the more well known Japanese Zen schools in meditation style. One surrenders to ones own Buddha-nature (Juingong), a giving up of the self to the natural flow of Dhamma and wisdom. Instructions are given for the formal sitting period at the start of each meeting, so please arrive before time so as not to disturb the sitting.

A few points to note:

  • Please try to arrive in plenty of time as the meetings start with a short meditation, and we try to finish at 9pm sharp too.
  • There are no bare feet in Korean temples, it would be much appreciated if those wishing to come will remember to bring socks!
  • It is a good idea to buy a copy of the book we are studying, ‘No River to Cross’, if you intend to attend regularly. Copies are available at the centre.
  • This is a good chance here in Bangkok to study in a Zen Buddhist temple with fully ordained Zen monks in a close and supportive practice group. See you on Saturday!

Location:

The Bangkok Hanmaum Seon Centre
86-1 Soi 4 Sukhumvit 63
BTS Ekamai Station – Exit 1

Take Exit 1 from Ekamai Station, and go down Ekamai Road (aka Sukhumvit 63). Turn right along Soi 4 and go to the end. Turning left you will see the Centre on your right a few meters along.

A motorcycle from Ekamai can also take you there cheaply. Ask for the ‘Wat Gao-lii’ (Korean temple).

Click map for a lager version:

Korean-Temple

Posted in All Posts | 6 Comments

WBU forum with Dr Saman

received information (with the typos) is as follows:

World Buddhist Forum this month :

Programme : WBU BUDDHIST SUNDAY FORUM

Topic : “Mindfulness and Wisdom : Dhamma for Enlightenment”

Date & Time : October 9th, 2554 (2011) 12:00 – 13.30 : P.M.

Speaker : Dr. Sman Ngamsnit

About the Speaker :

Associate Professor Dr. Sman Ngamsnit

Experience :

Former TV program host, Report from the U.S., a television

Series produced in theU.S.A.and sent to air on Channel 9 inThailandfor 10 years

Former Member of Parliament (MP),UbonratchataniProvince.

Former Dean,School ofCommunication Arts,

Sukhothaitammatirat Open University (STOU)

Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence,School of Film,Ohio University,

Athens, Ohio,U.S.A.(1992)

Former Producer and Host of Radio Program, Dhamma from the songs and Dhamma Discourse, 107 F.M. Radio for 5 years.

At Present, Lecturer and thesis Advisor G raduateSchool,

Master and Doctoral Level in the fields of Public Administration and Dhamma Communication,MahachulalongkornRajavidhyaklayaUniversity.

Education :

Pali 4th grade, Wat Mahatat,Bangkok.

B.A. (Government),ChapmanUniversity,Orange,California,U.S.A.

M.A. (Communication Arts),LoyolaUniversity,Los Angeles,California,U.S.A.

Ph.D. (Public Administration), NationalInstituteofDevelopmentAdministration

(NIDA),Bangkok

About the Topic :

Topic to be presented :

Mindfulness and Wisdom : Dhamma for Enlightenment

The topic will include the meaning, importance and benefits of Mindfulness, basic

Method for mindfulness development, mindfulness in Satipattan, in Tisikkha and in Noble Eightfold path, the path to enlightenment.

For more information, please call 02-258-0369-73 Fax : 02-258-0372.

http://www.worldbuddhistuniversity.com E-mail : wbucentre@gmail.com or Sriubol85@hotmail.com

Note : After Buddhist Forum, Time 14.00 – 16.30 Dynamic Meditation will be started by Bhikkhu Charles Nirodho.

After Buddhist forum , Time 14.00 – 16.30 Dynamic Meditation will be started by Achan Anchalee Thaiyanond

 

Location :

rd floor, WFB Headquarters Bldg., in Benjasiri Park, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok. All are welcome to join the programme free of charge. For more information, please [try] call 02-258-0369 to -0373, fax 02-258-0372, or see http://www.worldbuddhistuniversity.com

click map for larger view

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WFB with MC Brigitte

received information as follows – this is not organised by Little Bangkok Sangha, so it pays to double check the information with the organisation. However, it is pretty certain that the WFB will hold a session every first Sunday of the month.

Sunday 2nd October

Click to link to MC Brigitte's website

After a very well received one-day workshop in Jan 2010 and open meditation session in Feb 2011, Mae Chee Brigitte will be back in Bangkok to lead the monthly afternoon workshop at the WFB headquarters, near to the Emporium.

Click here to link to her website, which includes the touching story of how she came to ordain.

Mae Chee is a well known meditation teacher, based mostly in Thailand. She is Austrian, and speaks fluent German, English and Thai. Her easy instructions and encouragement to meditate have inspired many people to commit to a meditation practise.  She is now based at a temple out past the Suvanabhumi Airport where visitors are welcome to stay (click the image to link to her website). However, due to popular demand she is very often away from the temple teaching meditation at different places, especially around Thailand and Europe.

The WFB Event schedule:

2:00 – 5:00 pm

Including coffee break, talk, meditation and Q&A

Location :

Meeting Room, the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) Headquarters Bldg., in Benjasiri Park, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok, Time :  All are welcome to join the programme free of charge.

click maps for larger view

WFB/WBU Building   Wide area Skytrain map

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Report: Notes on Dance of Emptiness talk 8

Notes on ‘Shut Up and Dance‘ – eighth and final dhamma talk in the 2011 Dhamma Talk Series: The Dance of Emptiness.

Talks kindly hosted by the Dance Centre, School of Performing Arts, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok.

Below are notes, quotes, links – in case anyone who listened to the talk would like to follow up on any of the topics. It is not a transcript of the whole talk. The video will become available one day, when we get the hang of video editing software….

Click here for background information on this Talks Series

Topic of this talk:

Shut Up and Dance (or that first fine careless rapture)

Finishing off this year’s dhamma talk series with stillness as a methodology. The entry point is Cessation – the overlooked but pivotal 3rd Noble Truth of Buddhism. Developed, you move into the silence between thoughts, the space between the breaths. As everything is emptied out, you experience the wholeness of Complete Emptiness, of meditational rapture.

Notes:

This is the last talk in this year’s dhamma talk series – all that effort, months of planning, printing, taxiing around town, attention to details: The talks are the easy part!

So the last topic is to sum up. And to give some indication on why we should ’empty out’ at all! Of what value is Emptiness anyway?

So we return to the continual theme that we began with each week – the conceptual world. Coincidentally a few days before the talk there was a quite stunning new experiment completed by psychologists in mapping the imagary of the brain.

By using MRI imaging techniques to monitor people’s brain activity as they watched the footage, researchers were able to create pictures from information processed by the brain.
Although blurred the reconstructed images bear a remarkable resemblence to the footage that the person is watching.
Scientists are not able to read our minds yet, but the technology could eventually move towards translating our memories onto screen.
Professor Jack Gallant, one of the authors of the study, said: “This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.

There is a more detailed description of the experiment here.

The really interesting thing for our perspective is that the occipital lobe in fact ‘lights up’ in exactly the same way when the subject is imagining something as when they are seeing directly. The brain can hardly tell the difference between a real sensory input, and one that is imagined.

This is probably a necessary thing. When we imagine something, we also include all the 5 khandhas that were the topic of several previous talks. For example, you see a camera, and you have the form (the sight), perception (what it is, what it is used for), liking/disliking, background mind states/moods, and consciousness on that object (you are not listening to sounds at that moment). But you have exactly the same if you simply imagine the camera. This is the 5 khandhas in Buddhism (aka Skhandhas). Below we will call this process Sampling. (thanks Cathy for this great word!)

The mind literally re-sentiments its thoughts – it adds in the way that it feels and perceives even if it is only a thought. This is the origin of the word ‘resentment’ by the way.

The classic example is if someone insults you. They only do it once, but yo repeat that insult to yourself a hundred times. Each time you are ‘re-sentimenting’ the feelings.

The brain finds it very hard to tell what is thought up (conceptual) and what is direct experience.

Constructing the World

When you are young you don’t know that things exist, but when you are experiencing them. After a while, you gain the sense that just because something is not directly in front of your eyes or ears, it is still there. You build up a concept, such as ‘mother’, ‘toybox’, ‘hot radiator’ etc.. AS you go on, more and more concepts are added, until you don’t really see what is real anymore, you see what you ‘expect’ (=constructs).

Language is a good example. Babies can recognize hundreds of different sounds, but by 2 years, they break sounds up into the sounds and syllables that they have learned. Then it is hard to hear all the Chinese aspirated ‘z’ sounds etc.. You see your memory, you organise data into what you have learned before.

Origins

Here is a theory – not Buddhism, but related to this topic. A few weeks previously we looked at a dreaming dog. You can see it acting out its dreams.

We know that dreaming helps to ‘work things out’ from daily life. It seems animals do this also, judging from the above dog. Could it be that humans have evolved this ability by bringing it into the waking world? When we ‘think’ could this be a highly evolved form of dreaming? We know that evolution never invents new things, but just adapts the old to new uses. 

Compare to a monkey – they have a high degree of ‘insight learning’. They can watch or do something and learn quickly. But only a human can look at a problem and re-enact various solutions in our heads, and then make the course of action.

The problem is, these thousands of concepts of the constructed world can never be harmonised. While the mind counts its constructs as real, it cannot be at peace.

Fixing

This is what we are continually trying to do. Bring this vast conceptual world into somekind of harmony, some kind of peace. But there are too many parts, one of which is your ‘self’ which you defend. If your constructs are reasonably operational, then you get by ok. If they are delusional or neurotic, you have more problems.

Trying to bring about this harmonisation is, and you might disagree, ART.

Trying to just capture that moment, that thought, that feeling – when in fact it is too fleeting! The mind jumps about so fast, that any kind of solidity is only a notion. ART is trying to pin something down. Put it in its place and rest.

Stories

In part of our attempts at harmonising the world, we get caught up in stories – going over old ground, old conversations, future conversations (that will be nothing like we planned anyway). You can see this – take a look in an airport, bus station or busy street :- you can literally see people’s faces caught up in their stories. Why all this obsessive thinking? Why can’t we just sit and munch or lie in the sun like animals do? Anyone who has practised mindfulness will know just how much time is wasted thinking thinking thinking our endless stories.

Sampling

The sampling process, where the attention sticks with one thing at a time, has a number of properties.

First, when you give up the conceptual world for mindfulness, you see this sampling process as it is. First you think of one thing, then it is gone. Then you hear something and you forget about what you were thinking of. Then you feel a physical feeling etc…. the mind jumps from one thing to the next. Even ‘seeing’ – you see one thing in the room, you are not noticing the colour of the ceiling. The mind holds one thing at a time in attention.

This means that the process is one of continual renewal. And that is great news. Because if you had to give up all your greed to get enlightened, you could not do it. If you had to eradicate desire/aversion/delusion – you could not do it. Try to empty all the attachments out of your life – impossible. But even trying that, is just more fettling with the conceptual world.

If you watch the sampling process stop, for just an instant, the whole edifice of the conceptual world comes down. This is what Buddhism called – cutting off at the root.

Of course, things quickly return to normal. But bit by bit, you get a sense that there is a different way of being. That consciousness does not end when it is empty, but to the contrary, it is quite beautiful.

Cessation

Watch the gaps in the Sampling process. When one topic leaves the consciousness, there is often a pause before the next thing grabs your attention. If there is nothing particular coming into attention, you often look around for something to think about, something to engage with. Don’t. Let the sampling cease for a moment. Pay attention to the cessation, to the ending. This will give you a lot of power – you know that nothing but nothing is going to stay in your attention. The more you watch cessation, the more the real insight into impermanence will grow.

Cracks appear in all kinds of activities – cracks in the conceptual world, which is still real so far as it goes, but there are spaces opening up everywhere. As your identity goes towards the space, and less to the content, your relationship to the world changes. The ‘self’, which we might (wrongly) call the ego, is not so important anymore.

It will still go about its habits in the way that you have trained it. Even if you become enlightened on the spot, your character will still keep functioning the way it is accustomed to. If you were cantankerous before, the ‘self’ still will be. If you were patient before, you will be still. The character is like a karmic wind-up toy, that will keep rolling according to its mechanism. Meanwhile, you are spending more time with the silence. Your home is when the conceptual world has ceased.

Developing

You still have to work at it though. And to rest in the silence, you have to stop thinking.

It is something of a controversial issue – because most Vipassana teachers tell you that you leave thinking to carry on, just don’t engage. This is kind of right – but to get to the silence, the cessation, then thinking will have to stop. The point is that you can’t make it stop, because the making is another form of thinking. You have to let it stop. But anywhich way you cut it, it will have to stop. You can’t let thinking run along forever. The stronger your mindfulness, the more the mind will come together naturally.

Two Kinds of Thought

One sutta, called the Dvedavitakka Sutta, talks on this topic of stopping thought. In short, the Buddha describes how he looked at thinking. He split it into 2 groups – wholesome (skillful) and unwholesome (unskillful).

“As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others… to the affliction of both… it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with harmfulness had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence.

On the unwholesome side he put thoughts of greed, ill-will and violence (harmfulness). On the opposite side he put renunciation, non-ill-will, and non-violence (the famous ahimsa that Gandhi taught).

The unwholesome side, he reasoned, afflicts oneself and others, leads to ignorance, and not to nibbana. On realising this, he ceased from all unwholesome thought.

The wholesome thought, one can think on all day long without blame. It does not afflict onself or others, leads to wisdom and is part of the path to nibbana. BUT, if you were to think on this for long, the body becomes tired, and the brain becomes scattered, and there is no concentration. When he realised this, the wholesome thought stopped also.

When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.’ So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed.

It is pretty clear then, that thinking has to stop. Just not be brute force and ignorance, but by wisdom.

Silence

Now that the mind is silent and empty. What is the use?

Here are three aspects of the silent mind (personal reflection)

1. Your intelligence is still there.
One aspect that critics level against meditation is that you are giving up your rational thought. This makes you stupid, and prone to being misled. Many people really worship their thinking, learning, studying… (yet you can still do these things and be a meditator).

Now, there are two kinds of memory – the declaritive, which is recalling what day it is, when your doctors appointment is for and such. Items you fish out of your mind for consideration. Some degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s deplete this system. It becomes hard to make new memories, or to fish out old memories. The most famous case was a man called HM (not HP as wrongly stated in the talk), who had his hippocampus removed as an extreme measure in treating epilepsy. He could not make new memories, but he could still act in the world – he could still speak for instance.

The second kind of memory is the procedural. This is things you have learned to do with your body, that no longer require conscious effort. Changing gear in your car, speaking a language fluently…

In our case, when the mind is empty, you still have all your procedural intelligence with you. In fact, emptiness fosters increased wisdom as you are not being driven by attachment.

2. Emptiness is healing. Everything starts to unwind itself. Rather like Lao Tse said – who can make muddied water clear? But leave the clear water will present itself if you stop stirring up mud.

As noted earlier, the character might take some time to change externally, but inwardly you can tell right away, that harmonisation.

3. Confidence.  Whatever Enlightenment is, it cannot be another concept, it cannot be more mind fabricated states of being. When the heart empties of concepts, and you are with Emptiness, then you know for sure what direction the goal is. The harmonisation points to it, the insights into the regular ‘world’ point to it, cessation points to it.

There are many weird practises in Buddhism. mantra recitations, complex visualisations, secret ‘higher’ teachings … In fact in Theravada Buddhism – the Way of the Elders which is the closest to original Buddhism we know, there are no secrets. The teachings were all laid out for anyone to follow. They go all the way to Enlightenment. Nothing else is necessary.

And as you sit with emptiness, you know for yourself, even if you were the last meditator in the world, what you have to do. There is no more need for books, gurus, vizualisations, breath counting, noting … all these are ok practises to hold on to as you empty out. But eventually they have to be let go of. There is no practise as perfect as the pristine mind.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in All Posts, reports | 2 Comments

Blog: ebook resources

No one likes to read things on the computer. The look and feel of a book, the interaction with the pages … who would take a screen over that?

BUT, when you get a tablet computer or a Kindle reader things change – they are so nice to read on. You can set the font size and line spacing, set the brightness, use the instant dictionary (which is very handy if you are not a native English speaker). And you can carry 1000’s of books around with you to pick from, including comics (gotto love Asterix!), magazines and books. The tablet is easier to hold, requires no effort keeping the pages open, and sits nicely on your lap.

This is why ebooks are now outselling their paper counterparts.

There is a huge number of free books available, and more being added every month. But for right now, these books are somewhat scattered around different websites. Below is a rough guide, from September 2011

Even paper aficionado Ajahn Jayasaro says he’s converted to ebooks!

discussing tablet computers

Ebooks come as PDF files – this is the old system that is being outdated now. Especially academic topics like architecture, psychology, biology, medicine – vast resources are available for free.

Newer formats mostly center around .epub and .mobi – though there are lots of other formats; sometimes called the Tower of E-babel. 

Unless you have specialist reasons, you don’t need to look at any other formats of ebook. Though apparently .txt files are welcome in Bangkwang!

*For Buddhism, the first place to start is Buddhanet.net :

http://www.buddhistelibrary.org/  and   http://buddhanet.net/ebooks.htm

This enormous resource – the biggest web presence for Buddhism in the world, is run almost single-handedly by Ajahn Pannyavaro. Please consider a donation when he comes to Thailand as there are many costs involved in maintaining this kind of website.

*A handy place to start for other books is Neotakehttp://www.neotake.com/
Note that you can select from the left hand side if you want to search only for free books, or include paid sites also. It can link you to many specialist sites such as the British Medical Institute.

*Probably the best resource for both searching and browsing is Many Books http://www.manybooks.net/ 

Most of the titles are rather old, so you won’t find the latest Tina Fey book here. But you can browse by topic and find some incredible titles. Fabulous. Be sure to click on Ebook Format on the right hand side to pick what format you want to use.

*For spiritual stuff – the Sacred Text Archive is unbeatable:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htmmindboggling – you could spend a lifetime with just this site!

*Mobile Read Forums has a lot of free books slightly more from the modern era. You can search for particular books here, but best is to browse through and see what they have.
 http://www.mobileread.com/forums/ebooks.php?order=desc&sort=dateline

*Technical manuals and text books :- EBOOKEE is very good: http://ebookee.org/

*Filecrop is a strange one. It simply searches several filehosting sites, so all sorts of things can be found here, including newer titles. It takes a while to figure out how to use it, without signing up for the paid premium accounts. It is all for free if you are patient…
 http://www.filecrop.com/ Use this one for searching, not browsing.

*Free Book Spot is simply awesome. Browse by the genres on the right hand side of the window: http://www.freebookspot.es/Default.aspx  although again it can take a while to get the hang of how to download.

*Free Ebooks also has a fabulous browsable database: http://www.free-ebooks.net/

*Open Culture has a lot of great stuff, including audio books and many free online courses in different topics: http://www.openculture.com/

*Smashwords is a good search engine and browser – you can filter for free ebooks if you choose : http://www.smashwords.com/

*Guttenberg is one of the oldest resources, and with 36 000 titles, quite impressive:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ including a lot of audio books

________________________

In short, if you are after modern new titles, Amazon and such places are always going to be quick and easy, with safe payment methods. However, there is a huge amount of free and specialist resources – you could spend a month just browsing the above sites! But be warned, you can find yourself spending more time looking for good books to read, than actually reading them!

Also note that a lot of sites actually sell books that are legally available for free download from other places.

Any other good ebook sources? Do leave a comment if you know any.

Posted in All Posts, miscellaneous | 5 Comments

Tonglen: with Tsewong Rinpoche

Tonglen: The Practice of Taking and Sending

with

Tsewong Sitar Rinpoche

From 6pm – 8pm, Sunday October 2nd, at the Bangkok Shambhala Center
Meditation, talk, and tonglen practice with Tsewong Rinpoche, followed by a long-life blessing ceremony.
Free and Open to All!

At the the very heart of Mahayana Buddhism is the method of Tong-Len, the practice of Taking and Sending. What we take in, is the negativity, karma and suffering of other sentient beings, and we give out peace, freedom from suffering and positive qualities of all kinds. Surprisingly, instead of this being “toxic” or dangerous for the meditator, it is deeply healing. It clears vast oceans of our own negative karma and helps develop a deep sense of compassion, while freeing us from anxiety and pessimism. It is the ultimate portable practice, useful everywhere in daily life. Tsewong Rinpoche will lead us in a concise explanation and meditation practice of Tong-Len. Long Life Blessing Additionally, Tsewong Rinpoche will transmit the long-life blessing of Red Vajrasattva.

Tsewong Sitar Rinpoche is a master of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, trained in the Ngakpa traditions since early childhood.  He has had 11 teachers, and has spent over 20 years in solitary retreat.  Rinpoche had the great fortune to meet the renowned Treasure revealer and meditation master, Pegyal Lingpa. From this enlightened yogi of the non-monastic lineage, he received the entire cycle of empowerments, transmissions and teachings of the five volumes of his treasure, the Kusum Gongdu (the Three Kayas of the Guru’s Mind).  PeGyal Lingpa became Rinpoche’s teacher, confirming in writing his reincarnation from Nubchen Rinpoche.  On PeGyal Rinpoche’s passing, Rinpoche became his successor and lineage holder, as confirmed by Kyentse Rinpoche and DoDrup Chen.

Registration, directions and map are on the website at www.bangkok.shambhala.info

Posted in Upcoming events

Meditation and Creativity

It’s been a long time coming; this Saturday 1st October we’ll be taking an open look at the topic of Meditation and Creativity.

Silent Mind vs Creative Mind

at the Tai Pan Hotel

Suk. 23

Saturday October 1st

Overview:

A ‘Meet and Eat’ afternoon – meet for lunch and chat. After lunch we move up to the meeting room for discussion on Creativity and Meditation – as inspired by a number of video clips. The idea is a more open discussion than one-way dhamma talks. It’s a nice way to meet some of the other faces and regulars – you know there are lots of interesting peoplewho have been into all kinds of things…..

You are welcome to come just for lunch, for just the video’s and discussion, or both. Everyone is welcome – don’t worry that you don’t know anyone personally..

Lunch

The Tai Pan has its famous 250 baht Buffet which has lots of choice – soup, bread, big salad bar, order-your-own-pizza, and the usual rice/curries. Arrive anytime between 11-12 am. Be sure to pay with the group as we’ll get a 10% discount, which will go to the meeting room hire.

Topic

Straight after lunch we go up to the meeting room on level 5 for a series of short video’s to get the topic started. Lined up are a couple of the brilliant TED talks, of about 20 minutes each, on creativity, and a few other interesting shorts to get the argumentative juices flowing.

Meditation is ‘just watching’, or is making the mind still on an object. At first glance this should stifle creativity. You are disengaging from the mental processes! Or does disengaging from conscious mental processes open up the unconscious creativity?

Where does creativity come from? Could it be the still point in the heart of consciousness? In which case should you stop the mind, or engage the creative process?

Music, Art, Dance – none of these were allowed to Buddhist monks – are they a hindrance to the practise?

These questions and more…..

Schedule

11-12 come for lunch

1pm go up to the meeting room level 5

1-4pm videos, discussion

4pm ish, finish.

You are welcome to come just for the lunch, just for the films, or both as you like (better to join both of course 🙂 )

Lunch is 250 baht – but if you pay through the group we should get a 10% discount which we can put to the room hire cost.

Hire charge for the meeting room is 2500 baht total, including projector. Please help chip in to cover this cost!

Directions:

Goto Asoke BTS or Underground line. Walk East and go down Sukhumvit 23 for 336 meters (thanks Google Earth). Turn left into the Tai Pan Hotel. Restaurant is on the ground floor as you enter the building. Make sure you come to say hello and join the group!

Map to Tai Pan Hotel - Sukhumvit 23

Posted in Upcoming events | 5 Comments

Jeff Oliver Book

You should know our regular guest meditation teacher Jeff Oliver by now.

Some years ago he wrote a book … even though his teaching style has moved on since then, he is still happy for people to download if they find it useful.

Right click the links below and ‘Save as’

These two files outline Vipassana meditation as taught by Jeff in retreats and workshops, based on his time with Revered Burmese master U Janaka. Jeff has an easy going style and presentation, using accessible language and including lots of good tips for the keen meditator. Enjoy. Any comments or feedback can be added to this blog or sent via the Contact page to be forwarded to Jeff.

Jeff Oliver on Vipassana Part1

Jeff Oliver on Vipassana Part2

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Chakra Balancing meditation

Vicky and Charlotte Weber of Lotus Star are holding Chakra Balancing meditation sessions on Tuesday 4th Oct and Monday 10th Oct. This kind of meditation relies heavily on visualisation – which many people find easier than Vipassana. Events are free of charge, but please consider a donation which will go to the orphanage. Received information is as follows.

Tuesday 4th at Lotus Star, Apt 48 Crystal Garden, Sukhumvit Soi 4 – 7:30pm

Monday 10th  at 19:30hrs at JW Marriott  Health Club & Spa, 6th Floor Marriott Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 2

Admission is free

Donation to support Pattaya Orphanage is much appreciated.

Tuesday 4 Oct 2011 at 19:00 hrs

Chakra Balancing Meditation combined with  Deeksha energy transfer connects you to the Divine and Oneness

Meditating on our 7 main chakras is a very powerful way for us to heal ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally.

It is very easy to learn as you are guided every step of the way.

Chakras are the energy centres of your body, we all have them.

Keeping them balanced is an important part of being healthy and happy.

During a Chakra balancing meditation you will balance one chakra at a time, visualizing each one energized , open, glowing and radiating it’s colour.

Chakra balancing guided meditation is a great way to heal your mind, body and soul. Further more you feel lighter and happier after the meditation.

Oneness  Deeksha energy transfer stimulates the 2 frontal lobes of the brain and thereby it balances the brain but it also opens up to cosmic energies, the divine and integrates you in the oneness.

“The central understanding of Oneness is that inner transformation and awakening into higher states of consciousness is not an outcome of a mere intellectual understanding but through a shift in consciousness whereby one’s experience of life is redefined at its core.

Oneness Deeksha (aka) Deeksha is an energy transfer that brings about growth in consciousness.  The level of consciousness of a person determines his/her quality of life experience.  For instance, one’s experience of the ongoing recession, the ability to handle misunderstanding in relationship or a daughter’s rebellious nature, what emotions surge through when diagnosed with a health problem, the level of connection with people around and the joy experienced, the intensity of passion at work etc., depend on one’s level of consciousness.  As consciousness rises, there is greater awareness, joy, love, togetherness, and focus in everything that you do and experience.”

We will also be having a Chakra Balancing Meditation at the JW Marriott on 10 Oct 2011
http://lotus-star.com

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Report: Notes on Dance of Emptiness Talk 7

Notes on ‘Why the Prodigal Son had to Wait‘ – seventh dhamma talk in the 2011 Dhamma Talk Series: The Dance of Emptiness.

Talks kindly hosted by the Dance Centre, School of Performing Arts, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok.

Below are notes, quotes, links – in case anyone who listened to the talk would like to follow up on any of the topics. It is not a transcript of the whole talk. The video will become available one day, when we get the hang of video editing software….

Click here for background information on this Talks Series

Topic of this talk:

Kamma vs Forgiveness (or Why the Prodigal Son had to Wait)

Karma is the law of just returns, where forgiveness suggests there is a shortcut way out of our past sins. Are these two contradictory ideas? In fact there is some common ground. We look at what to do with your past transgressions, in the light of an emptiness that will accept neither right nor wrong

Notes:

There are many ways to approach the topic of Kamma, this time the emphasis is on the question – does the universe offer forgiveness, or retribution. This is a question that comes up when comparing Buddhism with Christianity – you see in Thailand signs that Buddhism will have you pay for past bad action (Baab in Thai), where Jesus will forgive.

The words Kamma (Pali), and Karma (Sanskrit) mean the same thing. The word kaama however, of the famous Kaama Sutra, means sense desire – usually as lust.

Is Everything Kamma?

One sutta teaches that there are 3 wrong views:

  • Everything happens due to Kamma
  • Everything happens due to God
  • Everything happens due to chance

So although Kamma means ’cause and effect’ – it does not mean every kind of cause and effect. If you touch paper to a candle flame, it will burn. Cause and effect, but nothing to do with kamma. If you use a candle to burn someone’s property however, this has a moral aspect, and an intent, so will have a kammic consequence.

If your car gets stolen, this is because you left the keys in, or parked it in the wrong place, not a consequence of your previous actions. It is not kamma.

One teaching talks about the way you act in this life, affecting your next life – if you are respectful here, you are influential in the next life; if you are generous here, you are wealthy in the next life etc.. Putting aside the question of rebirth for now (that’s a whole other topic), one of the parts of this causality is if you are harmful to others, in the next life you will be sickly. 

So the idea came up that all physical feeling (especially illness) is due to kamma. When the Buddha was confronted with this he said “Stop, you are taking the teaching too far. You are taking it beyond what is commonly understood.” There are bodily feelings caused by the bile system, by the bodily humours, change of seasons, from taking uneven care of the body, from ‘attacks’ and from kamma.

For the keen who want to get back to the original suttas (teachings) then there is a comprehensive guide here.

 

Finding out ‘Why?’

So we have to be careful when we are trying answer ‘why?’. Good and bad things happen to yourself and others, but to try and answer why? is not the right approach. Unless you have vast powers, you cannot figure out why different things happen to you. In fact, trying to give a reason for everything is a way to avoid the truth – you don’t know. It’s comforting to have a nice handy explanation for everything – this happened because it is God’s will, that happened because of kamma etc.. But this is jsut a way to avoid the uncomfortable fact that we cannot figure out all the ‘why’s.

One piece of research that demonstrates our tendency to find the wrong explanations for what happens, is the Fundamental Attribution Error.

In short, people tend to ascribe internal reasons for their own success (I passed an exam because I am clever) and external causes for their own failure (I failed the exam because my teacher was no good). Similarly we ascribe external reasons for other’s success (he has money because he was very lucky) and internal reasons for other’s failure (she is ill because she is an unpleasant person).

When it comes to New Age ideas – they tend to over ascribe the world being driven by your own actions – thus my car got stolen because I attracted such with my negativity, or I fell ill due to my poor spiritual conditions. Similarly we often hear the idea that ‘whatever happens is God’s will’, or in the New Age style, everything happens to teach me a lesson.

From these examples we can see that really, you can’t go figuring everything out like this, and if you try you are taking the teaching past what is common sense.

How to Understand

The principle of Kamma was pretty clear. Be careful with your actions, because they shape your future. 

There is no need or profit in trying to figure out the Why Why Why of everything that happens to you.

The Prodigal Son

Now we come to the story of the Prodigal Son, which demonstrates in parable the idea of the universe (or God) as having the nature of forgiveness. Note that both Buddhism, Christianity and Faerie Tale seek to demonstrate ideas and wisdom by the means of story. This story, along with the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Penny, are ways of showing the fogiving nature of the universe.

This is a very old story, belonging to many traditions.

‘Prodigal’ means ‘wasteful’. Below, the key points are in bold, for those who prefer to just skip through the text (though it is better to read the whole story properly).

Christian Version:

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.” So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. “Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.” The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” “My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:11-32)

Note the main ideas – that you are given an inheritance of life, health and wealth, but the opportunity is squandered. Being in service of the pigs, means you are captured by your own greed. But the simple act of returning is enough to end your misery. Note that in this story also, you are not forgiven, nor escape your unpleasant circumstance, until you voluntarily return to the father.

This theme of God’s love being for all is quite common, but again needs to be understood:

I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Note that this teaching was to prompt people to practise forgiveness and loving kindness to all, including one’s enemies.

It also prompted Charles Bowen to write:

“The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”

(Note, in the Dhamma talk this verse was attributed to Ogden Nash. Actually it seems to be attributed to several people)

Essene Version

This is another version of the same tale from the Essene Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ by the disciple John. Again, noteworthy parts in bold, for the skippers:

‘And Jesus spoke to them in parables: “You are like the prodigal son, who for many years did eat and drink, and passed his days in riotousness and lechery with his friends. And every week without his father’s knowledge he incurred new debts, and squandered all in a few days. And the moneylenders always lent to him, because his Father possessed great riches and always paid patiently the debts of his son. And in vain did he with fair words admonish his son, for he never listened to the admonitions of his father, who besought him in vain that he would give up his debaucheries which had no end, and that he would go to his fields to watch over the labour of his servants. And the son always promised him everything if he would pay his old debts, but the next day he began again. And for more than seven years the son continued in his riotous living. But, at last, his father lost patience and no more paid to the moneylenders the debts of his son. “If I continue always to pay,” he said, “there will be no end to the sins of my son.”

Then the moneylenders, who were deceived, in their wrath took the son into slavery that he might by his daily toil pay back to them the money which he had borrowed. And then ceased the eating and drinking and the daily excesses. From morning until night by the sweat of his face he watered the fields, and all of his limbs ached with the unaccustomed labour. And he lived upon dry bread, and had naught but his tears with which he could water it. And three days after he suffered so much from the heat and from weariness that he said to his master: “I can work no more, for all my limbs do ache. How long would you torment me?” “Till the day when by the labour of your hands you pay me all your debts, and when seven years are passed, you will be free.” And the desperate son answered weeping: “But I cannot bear so much as seven days. Have pity on me, for all my limbs do burn and ache.” And the wicked creditor cried out: “Press on with the work; if you could for seven years spend your days and your nights in riotousness, now must you work for seven years. I will not forgive you till you pay back all your debts to the uttermost drachma.” And the son, with his limbs racked with pain, went back despairing to the fields to continue his work.

Already he could hardly stand upon his feet because of his weariness and of his pains, when the seventh day was come, the Sabbath day, in which no man works in the field. Then the son gathered the remnant of his strength and staggered to the house of his father. And he cast himself down at his father’s feet and said: “Father, believe me for the last time and forgive me all my offences against you. I swear to you that I will never again live riotously and that I will be your obedient son in all things. Free me from the hands of my oppressor. Father, look upon me and upon my sick limbs, and harden not your heart.” Then tears came into his father’s eyes, and he took his son in his arms, and said: “Let us rejoice, for today a great joy is given me, because I have found again my beloved son, who was lost.” And he clothed him with his choicest raiment and all the day long they made merry. And on the morning of the morrow he gave his son a bag of silver that he might pay to his creditors all that he owed them. And when his son came back, he said to him: “My son, do you see that it is easy, through riotous living, to incur debts for seven years, but their payment is difficult by the heavy labour of seven years.” “Father, it is indeed hard to pay them, even for seven days.” And his father admonished him, saying: “For this once alone has it been permitted you to pay your debts in seven days instead of seven years, the rest is forgiven you. But take heed that in the time to come you do not incur more debts. For I tell you truly, that none else but your father forgives you your debts, because you are his son. For with all else you would have had to labour hard for seven years, as it is commanded in our laws.”

“My father, I will henceforth be your loving and obedient son, and I will not any more incur debts, for I know that their payment is hard.”

And he went to his father’s field and watched every day over the work of his father’s labourers. And he never made his labourers work hard, for he remembered his own heavy labour. And the years passed, and his father’s possession increased ever more-and more beneath his hand, for the blessing of his father was upon his labour. And slowly he gave back tenfold to his father all that he had squandered in the seven years. And when his father saw that his son used well his servants and all his possessions, he said to him: “My son, I see that my possessions are in good hands. I give you all my cattle, my house, my lands and my treasures. Let all this be your heritage, continue increasing it that I may have delight in you.” And when the son had received his inheritance from his father, he forgave their debts to all his debtors who could not pay him, for he did not forget that his debt also had been forgiven when he could not pay it. And God blessed him with long life, with many children and with much riches, because he was kind to all his servants and to all his cattle.

Here we have a slightly different idea – that you pay for your misdeeds, but only in part. If you ‘repent’ or change your attitude and intentions, then seven years of debt will incur only seven days of torment.

This is very similar to other traditions, such as Buddhism which has the story of the stolen goat: if your goat is stolen and you catch the thief, if he is a poor man you give him a beating. If he is rich, you ask for your goat back. Or a poor man who steals a penny is thrown into prison, where a rich man who steals a penny is not. You are the one with the goat – and when your kamma catches up with you, if you are rich (in virtue/morality) then it won’t have much affect on you. But if you are poor in virtue, then the kamma will give you a beating.

It is the same idea: If you are an upright person, and are willing to be righteous, then you will pay little in kammic debt for past bad deeds. The Sanskrit Yogasutrabhasya III 22 has the description of kamma as like a wet cloth – if it is rolled up it won’t dry fast, but if it is laid out in the sun, it can dry faster – so too does kamma quickly expire in a good person.

Buddhist Version

Now the Buddhist version of the Prodigal Son:

A young man left his father and ran away. For long he dwelt in other countries, for ten, or twenty, or fifty years. The older he grew, the more needy he became. Wandering in all directions to seek clothing and food, he unexpectedly approached his native country. The father had searched for his son all those years in vain and meanwhile had settled in a certain city. His home became very rich; his goods and treasures were fabulous.
At this time, the poor son, wandering through village after village and passing through countries and cities, at last reached the city where his father had settled. The father had always been thinking of his son, yet, although he had been parted from him over fifty years, he had never spoken of the matter to anyone. He only pondered over it within himself and cherished regret in his heart, saying, “Old and worn out I am. Although I own much wealth – gold, silver, and jewels, granaries and treasuries overflowing – I have no son. Some day my end will come and my wealth will be scattered and lost, for I have no heir. If I could only get back my son and commit my wealth to him, how contented and happy would I be, with no further anxiety!”
Meanwhile the poor son, hired for wages here and there, unexpectedly arrived at his father’s house. Standing by the gate, he saw from a distance his father seated on a lion-couch, his feet on a jeweled footstool, and with expensive strings of pearls adorning his body, revered and surrounded by priests, warriors, and citizens, attendants and young slaves waiting upon him right and left. The poor son, seeing his father having such great power, was seized with fear, regretting that he had come to this place. He reflected, “This must be a king, or someone of royal rank, it is impossible for me to be hired here. I had better go to some poor village in search of a job, where food and clothing are easier to get. If I stay here long, I may suffer oppression.” Reflecting thus, he rushed away.
Meanwhile the rich elder on his lion-seat had recognized his son at first glance, and with great joy in his heart reflected, “Now I have someone to whom I may pass on my wealth. I have always been thinking of my son, with no means of seeing him, but suddenly he himself has come and my longing is satisfied. Though worn with years, I yearn for him.”
Instantly he sent off his attendants to pursue the son quickly and fetch him back. Immediately the messengers hasten forth to seize him. The poor son, surprised and scared, loudly cried his complaint, “I have committed no offense against you, why should I be arrested?” The messengers all the more hastened to lay hold of him and brought him back. Following that, the poor son, thought that although he was innocent he would be imprisoned, and that now he would surely die. He became all the more terrified, fainted away and fell on the ground. The father, seeing this from a distance, sent word to the messengers, “I have no need for this man. Do not bring him by force. Sprinkle cold water on his face to restore him to consciousness and do not speak to him any further.” Why? The father, knowing that his son’s disposition was inferior, knowing that his own lordly position had caused distress to his son, yet convinced that he was his son, tactfully did not say to others, “This is my son.”
A messenger said to the son, “I set you free, go wherever you will.” The poor son was delighted, thus obtaining the unexpected release. He arose from the ground and went to a poor village in search of food and clothing. Then the elder, desiring to attract his son, set up a device. Secretly he sent two men, sorrowful and poor in appearance, saying, “Go and visit that place and gently say to the poor man, ‘There is a place for you to work here. We will hire you for scavenging, and we both also will work along with you.’” Then the two messengers went in search of the poor son and, having found him, presented him the above proposal. The poor son, having received his wages in advance, joined them in removing a refuse heap.
His father, beholding the son, was struck with compassion for him. One day he saw at a distance, through the window, his son’s figure, haggard and drawn, lean and sorrowful, filthy with dirt and dust. He took off his strings of jewels, his soft attire, and put on a coarse, torn and dirty garment, smeared his body with dust, took a basket in his right hand, and with an appearance fear-inspiring said to the laborers, “Get on with your work, don’t be lazy.” By such means he got near to his son, to whom he afterwards said, “Ay, my man, you stay and work here, do not leave again. I will increase your wages, give whatever you need, bowls, rice, wheat-flour, salt, vinegar, and so on. Have no hesitation; besides there is an old servant whom you can get if you need him. Be at ease in your mind; I am, as it were, your father; do not be worried again. Why? I am old and advanced in years, but you are young and vigorous; all the time you have been working, you have never been deceitful, lazy, angry or grumbling. I have never seen you, like the other laborers, with such vices as these. From this time forth you will be as my own begotten son.”
The elder gave him a new name and called him a son. But the poor son, although he rejoiced at this happening, still thought of himself as a humble hireling. For this reason, for twenty years he continued to be employed in scavenging. After this period, there grew mutual confidence between the father and the son. He went in and out and at his ease, though his abode was still in a small hut.
Then the father became ill and, knowing that he would die soon, said to the poor son, “Now I possess an abundance of gold, silver, and precious things, and my granaries and treasuries are full to overflowing. I want you to understand in detail the quantities of these things, and the amounts that should be received and given. This is my wish, and you must agree to it. Why? Because now we are of the same mind. Be increasingly careful so that there be no waste.” The poor son accepted his instruction and commands, and became acquainted with all the goods. However, he still had no idea of expecting to inherit anything, his abode was still the original place and he was still unable to abandon his sense of inferiority.
After a short time had again passed, the father noticed that his son’s ideas had gradually been enlarged, his aspirations developed, and that he despised his previous state of mind. Seeing that his own end was approaching, he commanded his son to come, and gathered all his relatives, the kings, priests, warriors, and citizens. When they were all assembled, he addressed them saying, “Now, gentlemen, this is my son, begotten by me. It is over fifty years since, from a certain city, he left me and ran away to endure loneliness and misery. His former name was so-and-so and my name was so-and-so. At that time in that city I sought him sorrowfully. Suddenly I met him in this place and regained him. This is really my son and I am really his father. Now all the wealth which I possess belongs entirely to my son, and all my previous disbursements and receipts are known by this son.” When the poor son heard these words of his father, great was his joy at such unexpected news, and thus he thought, “Without any mind for, or effort on my part, these treasures now come to me.”
World-honored One! The very rich elder is the Tathagata, and we are all as the Buddha’s sons. The Buddha has always declared that we are his sons. But because of the three sufferings, in the midst of births-and-deaths we have borne all kinds of torments, being deluded and ignorant and enjoying our attachment to things of no value. Today the World-honored One has caused us to ponder over and remove the dirt of all diverting discussions of inferior things. In these we have hitherto been diligent to make progress and have got, as it were, a day’s pay for our effort to reach nirvana. Obtaining this, we greatly rejoiced and were contented, saying to ourselves, “For our diligence and progress in the Buddha-law what we have received is ample”. The Buddha, knowing that our minds delighted in inferior things, by his tactfulness taught according to our capacity, but still we did not perceive that we are really Buddha’s sons. Therefore we say that though we had no mind to hope or expect it, yet now the Great Treasure of the King of the Law has of itself come to us, and such things that Buddha-sons should obtain, we have all obtained. (Saddharmapundarika Sutra 4)

Here too there is a period of ‘redemption’, but it is due to the Son’s own guilt making him feel unworthy of the father’s riches. This means that Enlightenment is our birth right, but we are restrained by our own limited view of ourselves. Mahayana Buddhism emphasises this point – that you are already Enlightened and do not have to go through thousands of lifetimes of purification to realise it. As the son starts to grow and act more like the rich man he should be, so he feels more worthy – Mahayana teaches that if you act as if you are enlightened, it makes it easier for Enlightenment to arise.

Summing Up

It should be pretty clear here, the general point.

Kamma is not a form of retribution, and a debt that we must pay in full, act by act. The affect of kamma changes depending on what kind of a person you are. Bad deeds are quickly expunged if you are a ‘large’ person, but long tormenting if you are a ‘small’ or constricted person.

You can’t go trying to figure out exactly why things happen the way they do – the teaching on Kamma is purely to make you be careful of your actions, as they have effects on you in the present or future.

 

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Report: Notes on Dance of Emptiness talk 6

Notes on ‘All the beasts’ – sixth dhamma talk in the 2011 Dhamma Talk Series: The Dance of Emptiness.

Talks kindly hosted by the Dance Centre, School of Performing Arts, Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok.

Below are notes, quotes, links – in case anyone who listened to the talk would like to follow up on any of the topics. It is not a transcript of the whole talk. The video will become available one day, when we get the hang of video editing software….

Click here for background information on this Talks Series

Topic of this talk:

All the Beasts (or the Ballast of the Ocean)

The journey is for the Hero – in all tales the hero needs a weapon, a focus for effort and energy. The weapon is the ‘Ballast of the Ocean’ which means by guile or might it will get the job done. So meditation is not just about peace and quiet – properly wielded it is a tool that marshals energies and determination you would not think you possess. Every year we do one faerie story, and examine how it is to be understood as a teaching. ‘The Grateful Beasts’ is a story, on the face of it rather gruesome, with a startling message of empowerment.

Notes:

The Faerie tale this year is all about Empowerment! It is a story recorded by the great mythologist Andrew Lang, in The Yellow Fairy Book. Lang was a real expert on story telling, and wrote a number of books about the topic. Many people ask if the meanings in Faerie Tales are really as deep and explicit as claimed – and the answer is yes. These compilers and writers knew exactly what they were doing.

Styles of story vary through the world. The Hebrew tradition (basically the Old Testament stories) was highly evolved and rather complex. Different things had certain meanings, such as the right hand (action) and the left hand (receiving), or hair, which represented purity and innocence (which is why Samson became weak when his hiar was cut off). Another highly stylised form of story is the Anansi, which originated in West Africa, but became most well known in Jamaica.

One can trace story telling lineages in a similar way to tracing languages.

One highly specialized form of story was spread around the world by the Ariyan people. They were a nomadic race that hailed from the steppes of Russia. They had a ‘campfire’ form of story telling that they spread around the world, manifesting in the Greek and Roman myths (which merged with the former Eleusinian Mysteries), Indian story in the Vedic tradition, and most interestingly in the Faerie Tale tradition of northern Europe.

Many story telling traditions were designed to explain nature – such as Apollo (the Sun) having his sheep (clouds) stolen by Mercury (the wind). Other’s were designed to record nuggets of wisdom/morality, such as the Jataka tales. While still other traditions provided role models of guile or cunning.

The Faerie Tale however was something different. Every aspect you find in a true Faerie Tale is an aspect of yourself. The interplay of characters and objects represents what happens in your own psyche. Thus where a hero battles an Ogre – you can bet that the Ogre represents some aspect of yourself, like greed or hoarding (Dragons).

But there is one other aspect of faerie tales that makes them interesting to Buddhism. They had the idea of Enlightenment. The idea of a higher good, that is a) ever providing b) without cost c) inherent in everyone. While the story tellers were not enlightened this motif stayed very prominent in the tales. In fact, this is where the Buddha himself got the idea. When he went to sit under the Bodhi Tree, he already knew that there was something called the Undying or Immortal (Amata), and it was this that he was seeking. This idea had come from the Ariyans.

One point to bear in mind. Story was never meant to be a factual record. It was supposed to convey an idea. Only in the last few hundred years (pretty much since Shakespeare) has story become a narrative that is supposed to be read as an interplay of actual characters, historical or fiction.

How to Listen

A true Faerie Tale is a cacophony of vivid images. They work on an unconscious level, and that is how they should be heard. They do not make much sense otherwise.

The idea is that children understand and relate to the images in the same way as people dream – a dream is a series of vivid images that don’t make a lot of sense. Yet dreaming helps people sort through their relationship to the world. There is a huge body of research into the psychological effects of dreaming, and it seems to be a necessary part of human psyche.

Usually tales have an array of striking metaphors, and they will mean different things to different people. Children will often relate to one image for some years, and then get a new favourite. It depends what is important to them. When we look at the meaning of Faerie Tales, we can pinpoint certain images and the interpretation, but the meaning belongs to the listener.

The topic of Faerie Tales is the transformation of consciousness. The ‘old you’ must die for the new consciousness to arise. This occurs through a series of tasks that needs to be completed, often with a special tool or weapon that ordinary people would overlook.

Motifs

There are certain stock metaphors in Faerie Tale called motifs. Their use follows patterns … and while many people hearing an explanation of one story, say ‘you are reading too much into it’, in fact, if you read many tales the patterns become quite clear. Or try the 345 versions of Cinderella for size 🙂

What you should do (and we know you love to short cut too much to follow the advice) is read the Tale raw first, and then repeat with the notes below. The story is here.

The Grateful Beasts

Here below is the whole story, with a few notes added in red to aid in its understanding:

The Grateful Beasts

There was once upon a time a man and woman who had three fine-looking sons, but they were so poor that they had hardly enough food for themselves, let alone their children. So the sons determined to set out into the world and to try their luck. Before starting their mother gave them each a loaf of bread and her blessing, and having taken a tender farewell of her and their father the three set forth on their travels.

There is always some kind of poverty, sickness or bad deed at the start of a tale. It gives a sense of things ‘not quite right’, that will get worse as the wrong solution is tried. It is often when ‘world’ images (a mother, a cow or a barren land) start the story that the tale is about enlightenment.

The youngest of the three brothers, whose name was Ferko, was a beautiful youth, with a splendid figure, blue eyes, fair hair, and a complexion like milk and roses. His two brothers were as jealous of him as they could be, for they thought that with his good looks he would be sure to be more fortunate than they would ever be.

Problem: seeking their fortune. The Brothers: the wrong answer to the problem viz, greed and selfishness. Remember all 3 brothers are parts of yourself. 

Interesting that the other brothers were also good looking. Not like the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella. Also note the description of Ferko – this shows the Ariyan roots.

One day all the three were sitting resting under a tree, for the sun was hot and they were tired of walking. Ferko fell fast asleep, but the other two remained awake, and the eldest said to the second brother, ‘What do you say to doing our brother Ferko some harm? He is so beautiful that everyone takes a fancy to him, which is more than they do to us. If we could only get him out of the way we might succeed better.’

‘I quite agree with you,’ answered the second brother, ‘and my advice is to eat up his loaf of bread, and then to refuse to give him a bit of ours until he has promised to let us put out his eyes or break his legs.’

His eldest brother was delighted with this proposal, and the two wicked wretches seized Ferko’s loaf and ate it all up, while the poor boy was still asleep.

Sleep is ignorance, not seeing. Ignorance and Innocence are closely related in Faerie Tales, as both come from a place of not understanding. Both have to be shed for the transformation to arise.

When he did awake he felt very hungry and turned to eat his bread, but his brothers cried out, ‘You ate your loaf in your sleep, you glutton, and you may starve as long as you like, but you won’t get a scrap of ours.’

Ferko was at a loss to understand how he could have eaten in his sleep, but he said nothing, and fasted all that day and the next night. But on the following morning he was so hungry that he burst into tears, and implored his brothers to give him a little bit of their bread. Then the cruel creatures laughed, and repeated what they had said the day before; but when Ferko continued to beg and beseech them, the eldest said at last, ‘If you will let us put out one of your eyes and break one of your legs, then we will give you a bit of our bread.’

Going into the desert, or the scary forest is a ubiquitous theme. It is the venturing outside of your safety zone. Regarding enlightenment, the yogi must venture into the uncharted unconscious, the ‘inner world’ in order to learn. This means doing without the pleasures of the senses – thus there is a period of renunciation. Jesus had to go into the Desert for 40 days. Buddha spent 6 years in ascetic practises, Jack (of the beanstalk) was sent to bed without any food …. There will be the ‘desert’ period, the ‘wrong solutions’, the tasks, and the temptations in most tales.

At these words poor Ferko wept more bitterly than before, and bore the torments of hunger till the sun was high in the heavens; then he could stand it no longer, and he consented to allow his left eye to be put out and his left leg to be broken. When this was done he stretched out his hand eagerly for the piece of bread, but his brothers gave him such a tiny scrap that the starving youth finished it in a moment and besought them for a second bit.

Legs represent ability (see Forest Gump), and shoes represent action, often sexual action. Arms represent work.

There is also the idea of ‘spiritual consolations’ which we find described by St Teresa D’Avila and St John of the Cross – where the meditator asks for some consolation from God for the trials that they are undergoing. The consolation is very meager until you have undergone many trials.

But the more Ferko wept and told his brothers that he was dying of hunger, the more they laughed and scolded him for his greed. So he endured the pangs of starvation all that day, but when night came his endurance gave way, and he let his right eye be put out and his right leg broken for a second piece of bread.

After his brothers had thus successfully maimed and disfigured him for life, they left him groaning on the ground and continued their journey without him.

Remember that all sides are YOU. You try the selfish approach and also the honest approach all the time. Story, like life lessons, is not in linear time. So Ferko here has gone into the desert, but gave into temptations. Later he will again be tempted 3 times, but will not give in.

Poor Ferko ate up the scrap of bread they had left him and wept bitterly, but no one heard him or came to his help. Night came on, and the poor blind youth had no eyes to close, and could only crawl along the ground, not knowing in the least where he was going. But when the sun was once more high in the heavens, Ferko felt the blazing heat scorch him, and sought for some cool shady place to rest his aching limbs. He climbed to the top of a hill and lay down in the grass, and as he thought under the shadow of a big tree. But it was no tree he leant against, but a gallows on which two ravens were seated. The one was saying to the other as the weary youth lay down, ‘Is there anything the least wonderful or remarkable about this neighbourhood?’

You are in the desert. You are in emptiness – no lovely foods, no music, no sense pleasures. The worldly view is this is a waste of time. however, we are shown in vivid imagery that the emptiness will give you clear vision, and heal sickness that is beyond possibility.

Ferko has undergone the first stage of transformation and is in a peaceful place – not like the forest that Snow White had to venture into. The mind is empty, and peaceful, but still needs to return to the world to make good the transformation. 

‘I should just think there was,’ replied the other; ‘many things that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. There is a lake down there below us, and anyone who bathes in it, though he were at death’s door, becomes sound and well on the spot, and those who wash their eyes with the dew on this hill become as sharp-sighted as the eagle, even if they have been blind from their youth.’

Water is the unconscious. As a sea, it has monsters, as a still pond it is pure and clear. You have to tame the beast in the sea, to purify the water. The Buddha also used these analogies. He talked of the ‘Ocean of Sense Desire’ that needs crossing, and Enlightenment as a still pool in which you can see everything.

‘Well,’ answered the first raven, ‘my eyes are in no want of this healing bath, for, Heaven be praised, they are as good as ever they were; but my wing has been very feeble and weak ever since it was shot by an arrow many years ago, so let us fly at once to the lake that I may be restored to health and strength again.’ And so they flew away.

Why had the raven been shot? Any guesses? 

Note the death imagery. The old self has to die, for the new self to arise.

Their words rejoiced Ferko’s heart, and he waited impatiently till evening should come and he could rub the precious dew on his sightless eyes.

At last it began to grow dusk, and the sun sank behind the mountains; gradually it became cooler on the hill, and the grass grew wet with dew. Then Ferko buried his face in the ground till his eyes were damp with dewdrops, and in a moment he saw clearer than he had ever done in his life before. The moon was shining brightly, and lighted him to the lake where he could bathe his poor broken legs.

Then Ferko crawled to the edge of the lake and dipped his limbs in the water. No sooner had he done so than his legs felt as sound and strong as they had been before, and Ferko thanked the kind fate that had led him to the hill where he had overheard the ravens’ conversation. He filled a bottle with the healing water, and then continued his journey in the best of spirits.

He had not gone far before he met a wolf, who was limping disconsolately along on three legs, and who on perceiving Ferko began to howl dismally.

Animals are your desires. Can be all kinds of animals, depending on the story. Remember why the Israelites were cast from the desert where they were fed the heavenly bread manna? They desired the flesh of animals.

‘My good friend,’ said the youth, ‘be of good cheer, for I can soon heal your leg,’ and with these words he poured some of the precious water over the wolf’s paw, and in a minute the animal was springing about sound and well on all fours. The grateful creature thanked his benefactor warmly, and promised Ferko to do him a good turn if he should ever need it.

Ferko continued his way till he came to a ploughed field. Here he noticed a little mouse creeping wearily along on its hind paws, for its front paws had both been broken in a trap.

Mice, ants, bees, dwarves – represent doing work. Ferko is not afraid of the wolf – he has undergone much of his transformation already.

Ferko felt so sorry for the little beast that he spoke to it in the most friendly manner, and washed its small paws with the healing water. In a moment the mouse was sound and whole, and after thanking the kind physician it scampered away over the ploughed furrows.

Ferko again proceeded on his journey, but he hadn’t gone far before a queen bee flew against him, trailing one wing behind her, which had been cruelly torn in two by a big bird. Ferko was no less willing to help her than he had been to help the wolf and the mouse, so he poured some healing drops over the wounded wing. On the spot the queen bee was cured, and turning to Ferko she said, ‘I am most grateful for your kindness, and shall reward you some day.’ And with these words she flew away humming, gaily.

Birds are spirituality, as they alone ascend to the heavens. Here the big bird is spirituality gone wrong = religion. Bees are very special in story. They give honey or a sting – which is spirituality being beautiful, but also a sting if you act badly (conscience). Roses are similar with the scent/thorn. Lemons give sweet, but also sour bitter.

Then Ferko wandered on for many a long day, and at length reached a strange kingdom. Here, he thought to himself, he might as well go straight to the palace and offer his services to the King of the country, for he had heard that the King’s daughter was as beautiful as the day.

So he went to the royal palace, and as he entered the door the first people he saw were his two brothers who had so shamefully ill-treated him. They had managed to obtain places in the King’s service, and when they recognised Ferko with his eyes and legs sound and well they were frightened to death, for they feared he would tell the King of their conduct, and that they would be hung.

No sooner had Ferko entered the palace than all eyes were turned on the handsome youth, and the King’s daughter herself was lost in admiration, for she had never seen anyone so handsome in her life before. His brothers noticed this, and envy and jealousy were added to their fear, so much so that they determined once more to destroy him. They went to the King and told him that Ferko was a wicked magician, who had come to the palace with the intention of carrying off the Princess.

Then the King had Ferko brought before him, and said, ‘You are accused of being a magician who wishes to rob me of my daughter, and I condemn you to death; but if you can fulfil three tasks which I shall set you to do your life shall be spared, on condition you leave the country; but if you cannot perform what I demand you shall be hung on the nearest tree.’

And turning to the two wicked brothers he said, ‘Suggest something for him to do; no matter how difficult, he must succeed in it or die.’

Tasks are usually 3 in Faerie Tales, and 12 in Greek myths. Completion of the tasks brings great reward, and power over ones oppressor.

They did not think long, but replied, ‘Let him build your Majesty in one day a more beautiful palace than this, and if he fails in the attempt let him be hung.’

A palace, a cottage .. usually represent ones own self, while the king or the witch who inhabit the dwelling are the ego. In this tale, this particular motif is not strongly developed.

The King was pleased with this proposal, and commanded Ferko to set to work on the following day. The two brothers were delighted, for they thought they had now got rid of Ferko for ever. The poor youth himself was heart-broken, and cursed the hour he had crossed the boundary of the King’s domain. As he was wandering disconsolately about the meadows round the palace, wondering how he could escape being put to death, a little bee flew past, and settling on his shoulder whispered in his ear, ‘What is troubling you, my kind benefactor? Can I be of any help to you? I am the bee whose wing you healed, and would like to show my gratitude in some way.’

The bold phrase is significant for meditators. After the bliss of emptiness you must return to the ‘world’, which now seems sickly.

Ferko recognised the queen bee, and said, ‘Alas! how could you help me? for I have been set to do a task which no one in the whole world could do, let him be ever such a genius! To-morrow I must build a palace more beautiful than the King’s, and it must be finished before evening.’

‘Is that all?’ answered the bee, ‘then you may comfort yourself; for before the sun goes down to-morrow night a palace shall be built unlike any that King has dwelt in before. Just stay here till I come again and tell you that it is finished.’ Having said this she flew merrily away, and Ferko, reassured by her words, lay down on the grass and slept peacefully till the next morning.

Note how he sleeps peacefully, even thought things are going wrong.

Early on the following day the whole town was on its feet, and everyone wondered how and where the stranger would build the wonderful palace. The Princess alone was silent and sorrowful, and had cried all night till her pillow was wet, so much did she take the fate of the beautiful youth to heart.

Note the princess image. The split of male/female is a sense of incompleteness, that is only healed when one is whole again. Ferko and the Princess are not two separate people, but one person who is to be made whole again. Note also the tear motif – it was dew drops that restored Ferko’s vision earlier.

Ferko spent the whole day in the meadows waiting the return of the bee. And when evening was come the queen bee flew by, and perching on his shoulder she said, ‘The wonderful palace is ready. Be of good cheer, and lead the King to the hill just outside the city walls.’ And humming gaily she flew away again.

The bee as mentioned, is spirituality, which enters through the ears. So she sits on his shoulder and appears as a whisper. The Buddha’s followers were called ‘Savaka’ – Hearers. An Apostle is one who sends the word. 

Ferko went at once to the King and told him the palace was finished. The whole court went out to see the wonder, and their astonishment was great at the sight which met their eyes. A splendid palace reared itself on the hill just outside the walls of the city, made of the most exquisite flowers that ever grew in mortal garden. The roof was all of crimson roses, the windows of lilies, the walls of white carnations, the floors of glowing auriculas and violets, the doors of gorgeous tulips and narcissi with sunflowers for knockers, and all round hyacinths and other sweet-smelling flowers bloomed in masses, so that the air was perfumed far and near and enchanted all who were present.

This splendid palace had been built by the grateful queen bee, who had summoned all the other bees in the kingdom to help her.

The King’s amazement knew no bounds, and the Princess’s eyes beamed with delight as she turned them from the wonderful building on the delighted Ferko. But the two brothers had grown quite green with envy, and only declared the more that Ferko was nothing but a wicked magician.

The King, although he had been surprised and astonished at the way his commands had been carried out, was very vexed that the stranger should escape with his life, and turning to the two brothers he said, ‘He has certainly accomplished the first task, with the aid no doubt of his diabolical magic; but what shall we give him to do now? Let us make it as difficult as possible, and if he fails he shall die.’

Then the eldest brother replied, ‘The corn has all been cut, but it has not yet been put into barns; let the knave collect all the grain in the kingdom into one big heap before to-morrow night, and if as much as a stalk of corn is left let him be put to death.

The palace is the new self, that has to be built when returning to the world from the emptiness and blindness of the inner journey. Now the self has to be provide for.

The Princess grew white with terror when she heard these words; but Ferko felt much more cheerful than he had done the first time, and wandered out into the meadows again, wondering how he was to get out of the difficulty. But he could think of no way of escape. The sun sank to rest and night came on, when a little mouse started out of the grass at Ferko’s feet, and said to him, ‘I’m delighted to see you, my kind benefactor; but why are you looking so sad? Can I be of any help to you, and thus repay your great kindness to me?’

Love his new faith.

Then Ferko recognised the mouse whose front paws he had healed, and replied, ‘Alas I how can you help me in a matter that is beyond any human power! Before to-morrow night all the grain in the kingdom has to be gathered into one big heap, and if as much as a stalk of corn is wanting I must pay for it with my life.’

‘Is that all?’ answered the mouse; ‘that needn’t distress you much. Just trust in me, and before the sun sets again you shall hear that your task is done.’ And with these words the little creature scampered away into the fields.

Ferko, who never doubted that the mouse would be as good as its word, lay down comforted on the soft grass and slept soundly till next morning. The day passed slowly, and with the evening came the little mouse and said, ‘Now there is not a single stalk of corn left in any field; they are all collected in one big heap on the hill out there.’

Then Ferko went joyfully to the King and told him that all he demanded had been done. And the whole Court went out to see the wonder, and were no less astonished than they had been the first time. For in a heap higher than the King’s palace lay all the grain of the country, and not a single stalk of corn had been left behind in any of the fields. And how had all this been done? The little mouse had summoned every other mouse in the land to its help, and together they had collected all the grain in the kingdom.

The King could not hide his amazement, but at the same time his wrath increased, and he was more ready than ever to believe the two brothers, who kept on repeating that Ferko was nothing more nor less than a wicked magician. Only the beautiful Princess rejoiced over Ferko’s success, and looked on him with friendly glances, which the youth returned.

She’s giving him the eye 😉

The more the cruel King gazed on the wonder before him, the more angry he became, for he could not, in the face of his promise, put the stranger to death. He turned once more to the two brothers and said, ‘His diabolical magic has helped him again, but now what third task shall we set him to do? No matter how impossible it is, he must do it or die.’

Yes, Ferko is not exactly convincing the King that he is not a magician!

The eldest answered quickly, ‘Let him drive all the wolves of the kingdom on to this hill before to-morrow night. If he does this he may go free; if not he shall be hung as you have said.’

At these words the Princess burst into tears, and when the King saw this he ordered her to be shut up in a high tower and carefully guarded till the dangerous magician should either have left the kingdom or been hung on the nearest tree.

She is the prize in the heart of things. Note Ferko could easily have wondered off while the bees were building the palace! But the Princess is the heart of purity, that one must attain, even if risking death.

Ferko wandered out into the fields again, and sat down on the stump of a tree wondering what he should do next. Suddenly a big wolf ran up to him, and standing still said, ‘I’m very glad to see you again, my kind benefactor. What are you thinking about all alone by yourself? If I can help you in any way only say the word, for I would like to give you a proof of my gratitude.’

Ferko at once recognised the wolf whose broken leg he had healed, and told him what he had to do the following day if he wished to escape with his life. ‘But how in the world,’ he added, ‘am I to collect all the wolves of the kingdom on to that hill over there?’

‘If that’s all you want done,’ answered the wolf, ‘you needn’t worry yourself. I’ll undertake the task, and you’ll hear from me again before sunset to-morrow. Keep your spirits up.’ And with these words he trotted quickly away.

Then the youth rejoiced greatly, for now he felt that his life was safe; but he grew very sad when he thought of the beautiful Princess, and that he would never see her again if he left the country. He lay down once more on the grass and soon fell fast asleep.

All the next day he spent wandering about the fields, and toward evening the wolf came running to him in a great hurry and said, ‘I have collected together all the wolves in the kingdom, and they are waiting for you in the wood. Go quickly to the King, and tell him to go to the hill that he may see the wonder you have done with his own eyes. Then return at once to me and get on my back, and I will help you to drive all the wolves together.’

Remember that all the motifs are parts of yourself. Ferko riding the back of the wolf is all the parts coming together in the proper way. Horses usually represent thought, and in the Journey to the West (classis Chinese tale) the monk often falls from the horse – which is not having your various aspects in harmony. 

Then Ferko went straight to the palace and told the King that he was ready to perform the third task if he would come to the hill and see it done. Ferko himself returned to the fields, and mounting on the wolf’s back he rode to the wood close by.

Quick as lightning the wolf flew round the wood, and in a minute many hundred wolves rose up before him, increasing in number every moment, till they could be counted by thousands. He drove them all before him on to the hill, where the King and his whole Court and Ferko’s two brothers were standing. Only the lovely Princess was not present, for she was shut up in her tower weeping bitterly.

Dogs always represent quickness.

The wicked brothers stamped and foamed with rage when they saw the failure of their wicked designs. But the King was overcome by a sudden terror when he saw the enormous pack of wolves approaching nearer and nearer, and calling out to Ferko he said, ‘Enough, enough, we don’t want any more.’ 

Ferko was told by the brothers ‘enough’ – you get no bread

But the wolf on whose back Ferko sat, said to its rider, ‘Go on! go on!’ and at the same moment many more wolves ran up the hill, howling horribly and showing their white teeth.

The King in his terror called out, ‘Stop a moment; I will give you half my kingdom if you will drive all the wolves away.’ But Ferko pretended not to hear, and drove some more thousands before him, so that everyone quaked with horror and fear.

Ferko is not tempted this time, as he had by the bread previously.

Then the King raised his voice again and called out, ‘Stop! you shall have my whole kingdom, if you will only drive these wolves back to the places they came from.’

The third temptation rejected.

But the wolf kept on encouraging Ferko, and said, ‘Go on! go on!’ So he led the wolves on, till at last they fell on the King and on the wicked brothers, and ate them and the whole Court up in a moment.

Then Ferko went straight to the palace and set the Princess free, and on the same day he married her and was crowned King of the country. And the wolves all went peacefully back to their own homes, and Ferko and his bride lived for many years in peace and happiness together, and were much beloved by great and small in the land.

(from The Yellow Fairy Book, edited by Andrew Lang)

Ok, so Faerie Tales work when you have  hundreds of them, building certain motifs in your mind – images that you can cling to and relate to, that act as a guide. You might do meditation and wonder sometimes why/what you are doing – the simple image of Ferko being blind might be a useful image to guide you. Or whatever your problems are, you can find an image in Faerie Tale.

The main message of this tale is desire transformation. Few tales have such a vivid image of empowerment. Usually the hero wins by guile and cunning. Thus earlier we saw Ferko helped by the bee first – usually it is the animal who helps first, being a lesser part of the being, and the more refined motif (Bee) helps later.

So the image is striking – enduring a period in the ‘desert’ of the senses, you will be able to marshal all your power.

There is a similar idea in Buddhism – of a poisonous plant being a fearsome thing to a beginner, avoided by a middling meditator, and turned into a medicine by an advanced practitioner. Thus Desire is not always the bad guy. It can be marshaled, controlled, tamed and put to proper use.

If any of the images jump out at you, do leave a comment below.

For comparison, see this story from Norway, that follows a very similar pattern.


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