the three jewels in the world
Buddhafield may be almost synonymous with the general joie de vivre of the main main summer Festival itself, but that doesn’t take away from the depth of the project as a distinctive contribution in its own right to contemporary reconceptions of the Buddha’s own way of living and teaching 2,500 years ago. As Kamalashila mentions in his essay introducing the history and spiritual basis of Buddhafield: “The Buddha’s simple outdoor life inspires this.”
Dharma teaching at Buddhafield is now very well established as a rich source of inspiration for many of us in our community of practice. The ever-popular Dharma Parlour (+ join to receive their updates) continues year on year to delight and provoke and challenge, and Buddhafield retreats have long offered alternative ways to experience something of what it is to really try and live out the full implications of what the Buddha says about being a human being out in the world, out amongst the very elements that make us up.
So today and all week long we’ll be posting some of great examples of Buddhafield Dharma teaching, with video and audio talks, other resources, and also some great eBook versions of Dharma presentations from a variety of speakers immersed in the culture and particular traditions of Buddhafield itself.
Time to steer through the deep mud under the deep sky…
(photo ©Mim Saxl - www.mimsaxl.com)
An interview with Vessantara, author of ‘The Breath’ and ‘The Heart’
Why is meditation on the breath and the heart so beneficial?
There are many benefits to doing both practices. Meditating on the breath tends to be very relaxing – it’s an antidote to stress, tension and anxiety. And it takes you out of your head, which is a relief for most of us because modern life encourages us to just keep thinking and thinking, and before we know it we’ve lost touch with the fact that we’ve also got a body. Of course, thinking is very useful under certain circumstances, but thinking is always about something, so it’s never quite direct experience. When you focus on the breath you come to a direct experience of life and that brings you to life – it increases your aliveness.
Likewise, I think that meditation on the heart can revolutionize your emotional life. Because our happiness finally depends on our responses to life, the more we respond to life in a positive way, the more fulfilling our life can become. Focusing on the heart also, over time, helps soften that sense of separation that causes us so much suffering – the sense that ‘I’m a completely separate person here and there’s the world out there’. If you go deep enough into meditation, you can recognize that finally you’re not separate from everything else at all.
But to say that meditation can revolutionize our lives is not to say that we suddenly become completely different people after meditating. Meditation helps you develop your potential. It can bring out qualities in you that you didn’t even know you had. However, it also makes you more at ease with who you are. This naturally results in developing a more positive and happy version of your personality.
Buddhafield - A New Going Forth by Kamalashila
Kamalashila has been the President of Buddhafield since the 1990s, taking part in the community in many ways and generally being a strong friend to the whole project. Here he updates his sense of Buddhafield’s distinct place in and contribution to the Triratna Buddhist Commmunity. A good place to start in learning about this remarkable development within the world of contemporary Buddhism.
Buddhafield Week On The Buddhist Centre Online - Part 1
Over the next seven days or so on The Buddhist Centre Online we’re celebrating one of the most significant developments in the Triratna Buddhist Community to happen in the last 20 years. Buddhafield is more than just an annual Festival (though a quite amazing one!) - it’s a distinctive, radically alternative way of living in and relating to the world. And, in the run-up to their new Green Earth Awakening Camp, we want to share the sights, sounds, philosophy and experience of Buddhafield with you.
Join the site or loginthen + Follow this spaceto keep up to date with the latest from Buddhafield Week, Part 1.
Book now for Green Earth Awakening!
We’ll be bringing you a flavour of Buddhafield’s spirit, the community they are building, the challenges they face, the events they run, and their importance to the wider Triratna sangha that holds Buddhafield dear as an essential part of their practice lives. And we’ll be back later in the summer with Part 2 leading in to the main summer Festival itself, an event not to be missed!
Listen to talks from and about Buddhafield
“In Mahayana scripture the word buddhaksetra, which literally translates as ‘Buddha-field’, indicates ‘the field of influence of a Buddha’. Buddhafield obviously refers to that as well, but actual fields - green ones, sometimes muddy ones! - are at the heart of it. (So far these have been mostly English fields, though the phenomenon is spreading with new developments springing up in Holland and New Zealand, and a few other first stirrings elsewhere.) Buddhafield is the Triratna Buddhist Community as lived in the great outdoors, amongst the elements. It consists of practitioners who, from freezing January through to the end of autumn, conduct Dharma activities on the land.
It’s a way of practising Buddhism that has a noble precedent: the Buddha himself lived and taught on the land. For most of his long life, he wandered here and there at the edge of society, meditating, reflecting, and communicating his Enlightenment. Even during the monsoon rains, the period for intense meditation retreat, his community didn’t shelter in conventional buildings but meditated in leaf huts or caves. Likewise those attending a Buddhafield retreat meditate in tents, yurts, benders, geodesic domes, under the open sky and under trees…”
Kamalashila, Buddhafield’s President
Photographs copyright and courtesy Mim Saxl: www.mimsaxl.com
Walking Meditation - Online!
This week we’re going to be doing something a bit different for our ‘Meditation Thursday’. One of our regular members, Elke, suggested we do an experimental walking meditation - online… :) It’s an intriguing idea and we’re excited to try it out! Walking meditation itself is a great way to keep your meditation and your general practice of mindfulness fresh, a different way of deepening your engagement with the mind and the body. But don’t worry, you won’t have to carry your computer with you!
The idea is to meet as usual at 8.30amPST / 11.30amEST / 4.30pm UK / 9pm Maharashtra. Connect on Skype with user thebuddhistcentre.com and IM (Instant Message) to be added to the call. We’ll be online 15 mins before the meditation.
First we’ll spend a while sitting, setting up the walking meditation itself. If you haven’t done this practice before, it’s easy and you can read a very good introduction here. We’ll all go off and spend half an hour just walking, experiencing ourselves moving through the world (or one small part of it!) in mindfulness, bearing each other in mind as an active part of the context. It would be a good idea to decide beforehand where you want to walk. Maybe outside in a park if you can, or at least a quiet space. Or indoors - around a room, or simply up and down in a space that’s big enough not to feel too cramped doing that!
Afterwards, we’ll ‘meet’ back online and have some space to share our experience and talk together about anything that arises…
Come and make some space in your day for meditation - and let’s take a walk into awareness and connection together!