Saturday, August 29, 2015

New - Dalai Lama Book Group, Chester!

Here in Chester I've taken a year off arranging group events, while I got through the first year as a mature student studying applied sciences here! The year over, I'm going to offer a weekly discussion group aimed at exploring compassion in daily life, using the writings of the Dalai Lama as a foundation. It will be based on Buddhism but not really 'Buddhist', we'll be looking at his writings more on humanity and social ethics rather than the nitty-gritty of Tibetan beliefs. The aim will be to explore and develop our own ideas and experience, which might be different from what he thinks sometimes - his words will be present like having an experienced mentor with us.

I'm going to start offering it in my flat on Brook Lane, near the city centre, from 7.30 till 8.45pm each Thursday. We'll have a relaxed discussion each week over tea, then end with a short meditation on love. When the Dalai Lama met the Jewish teacher Reb Zalman in Dharamsala, he asked him how the Jews had kept their tradition alive after they were driven out of Jerusalem by the Romans. Reb Zalman said to him "we turned our homes into the Temple"... In Leicester I used to offer a monthly Metta meditation circle in my home, and it was a lovely thing to share with people. I hope this can be the same!

If you'd like to come, give me a ring on 07906 040159 or email me at

Chris Zang Starbuck,
written in the tea garden of Sally's Secret Garden on Bridge Street, where we held lots of meditations and discussion two years ago!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Leicester Great Heart Circle - November 2013

The collection opens with The Ruby  :

work on your stony qualities
and become resplendent like the ruby.
practice self-denial and accept difficulty.
always see infinite life in letting the self die.
your stoniness will decrease; your ruby nature will grow.
the signs of self-existence will leave your body,
and ecstasy will take you over.

Reading and reflecting upon the poem was a nice lead into a sitting meditation.

We were going to look at Bernie Glassman's works on Zen but that didn't happen exactly as planned, but we did follow the instructions to the cook, the Zen Cook will make a meal of the ingredients that are available to hand.  The ingredients available to us for the evening were the room, cups of tea, the sweetmeats, the book of poetry, two chairs, two hearts and time.  Cooked together we were able to make a very pleasant good-tasting evening, no one went home hungry.

The Leicester Great Heart Zendo will now go into hibernation for the winter months. But at the Dergah the Dervishes will still be dancing.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rumi Reflection Group back for the Autumn in Chester!

Andy (left) from our Zen Peacemaker Circle has offered to start hosting a regular "Rumi Reflection Group" like we offered earlier in the year. He began yesterday evening, meeting in Starbucks in Chester, and I think it'll be nearly every week. Like before, he'll bring along a poem by the Persian Sufi poet Rumi, and we'll read it together and use it as a starting point for reflecting on our own lives and their value, challenges and inspirations...

He began with a poem "Love is the Master":
Love is the One who masters all things;
I am mastered totally by Love.
By my passion of love for Love
I have ground sweet as sugar.
O furious Wind, I am only a straw before you;
How could I know where I will be blown next?
Whoever claims to have made a pact with Destiny
Reveals himself a liar and a fool;
What is any of us but a straw in a storm?
How could anyone make a pact with a hurricane?
God is working everywhere his massive Resurrection;
How can we pretend to act on our own?
In the hand of Love I am like a cat in a sack;
Sometimes Love hoists me into the air,
Sometimes Love flings me into the air,
Love swings me round and round His head;
I have no peace, in this world or any other.
The lovers of God have fallen in a furious river;
They have surrendered themselves to Love's commands.
Like mill wheels they turn, day and night, day and night,
Constantly turning and turning, and crying out.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Circle Dharmaholder Ceremony, Sat 26th Oct

On Saturday, Barbara and Roland Wegmuellerfrom Switzerland performed a Circle Dharmaholder ceremony in Chester for Steve Hart and Chris Zang Starbuck.  Circle Dharmaholder is a role of visionholder/junior teacher in the Zen Peacemakers tradition.  The ceremony was held outdoors in the ruins of the Norman Cathedral, during a weekend of Zen practice and conversations.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Swiss Zen Teachers visiting 26th-27th October

Hi Folks,

Just a last reminder that Barbara and Roland Wegmüller will be visiting Chester in the UK from Switzerland next weekend. There'll be a relaxed day of practice together on Sat from 9am-4pm, including indoors in Bishop Lloyd's Palace medieval rooms in the city centre, and some time out on the streets too. And on Sunday we'll have shorter meet up in Sally's Secret Garden at 11am for an hour or so. Barbara and Roland are Zen teachers in the tradition of Bernie Glassman, the Zen Peacemakers and the White Plum Asanga. They work particularly with the Zen of collaborative circles, and with finding tools for practicing Zen fully in householder rather than semi-monastic life. I've held back from advertising this visit as a 'public event', so that it can be a bit more relaxed as a space for conversation together, so anyone is welcome, and there'll be no charge.

Also visiting the same weekend will be Ari Pliskin from the US, who's developing "Food for All" community cafes from the ideas of Bernie Glassman and the actor Jeff Bridges. He'll talk to us about his projects on the Saturday morning, and we're hopefully arranging for him to give a talk too in the Buddhist House in Narborough, Leicestershire on the evening of Tuesday 29th, home of Caroline Brazier and the Tariki Trust.

If anyone would like any more details, message me and I'll help in any way I can.
Chris Zang Starbuck

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Leicester Great Heart Circle - October 2013

The Dalai Lama having fun with Russell Brand, an image from a video clip of The Dalai Lama talking in Manchester in 2013.  It was lovely to see him laughing and joking.

The theme for the evening was The Dalai Lama's recent book "Beyond Religion - Ethics For A Whole World", the two quotes below set the scene :

In Indian usage, "secular", far from implying antagonism toward religion or toward people of faith, actually implies a profound respect for and tolerance toward all religions. 

“Millions of people have been lifted from poverty and have gained access to modern education and health care. We have a universal declaration of human rights, and awareness of the importance of such rights has grown tremendously. As a result, the ideals of freedom and democracy have spread around the world, and there is increasing recognition of the oneness of humanity.” 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Leicester Great Heart Circle - September 2013

The September Leicester Great Heart Circle took as its topic the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. We watched a video on Youtube from a lecture which captured well Eckhart's style and approach and we had a discussion around it.

From Eckhart Tolle's book "The Power Of Now"  :

'Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakeable peace that comes with it, are (like) beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfilment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.'  p.9

An extra for you from Rumi :
Didn’t I say, "Don’t sit with sad companions?"
Don’t sit with anyone but those whose hearts are glad.
Since you are in the garden, don’t go to thorns.
Sit amidst the roses, jonquils, and jasmine....

[Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi: Quatrain 1518]