Friday, January 18, 2013

New Times for Chester Circle

 Dear Friends,

Thanks for coming along and being part of the beginning of this new group in Chester.  I've very much appreciated all of your company, listening and learning from you.  My own role is to steward the group into existence and bring ideas and practices which keep it going... after a year or two, the circle will take on a life of it's own, bigger than my own ideas for it!

I have to change the time of the main circle for a while, because I'm probably going to be working on weekday evenings, and also because I want to change it a little so that instead of drinking tea together in the middle, we share a small "sacred meal" together at the end each time.  This gives us a chance to talk and get to know each other more, and enjoy each other's company.

The new time for the Circle will be WEEKLY, from 3pm till 4.30ish every Thursday, in Sally's Secret Garden.  Sally has a busy day in a fortnight - so we'll have a week's break and start the new weekly meetings on Thursday 7th February.  I'll email you all the weekend before to remind you.

I thought I'd also quickly say something about the purpose of getting together like this.  My own reason for creating this circle is to share my own meditation practice with people, and especially to explore with other people the idea that love and relationship really matter - relationship with all the different kinds of people in our life, and also with the world of nature, our own inner worlds, the physical world, even the cups we drink out of and the bed we sleep in!  The practices I'm offering in the circle are drawn from Buddhist meditation and also a little bit from Sufism, the Islamic mystical tradition.  They're all practices which can help us discover more meaningful relationships in our daily life, and to experience those relationships as a place to give and receive love.  Try to always think of what we're doing with this intention- and then we're on the right track... :-)

Please feel completely free to use anything we do together at home, change it so it fits in with your own understanding, and share it with anyone else if you'd like to.  Whatever we train in together becomes completely yours to help you.  I hope in some small way, coming to this circle will help you appreciate your unique life, and everything in it!

Take care and love to you all,


ps for those who can't make the earlier time on Thursdays- I'd be very happy to meet up with people one-to-one and do some meditation together - I have a meditation room in my home in Blacon, less than 15 mins by bus from the city centre.  I'll also try to arrange some weekend group events throughout the year.  Feel free anytime to ask me questions about anything, or suggest things you'd like to see included too.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Leicester Great Heart Circle - January 2013

An excuse to show a picture of Richard Parker, the tiger from the film "Life Of Pi" which has impressed many of the Circle members !  The theme for the January meeting was "Collectedness" , this was inspired by a recent internet talk by the Sufi and Rumi translator Kabir Helminski, in a section from the Masnavi Book VI, Rumi talks of the great warrior Jafar overunning the Castle single-handedly and then the collectedness of the Cat unbothered by the mice running around her.  We talked around the idea of "collectedness" and how it could help us in our Shikantaza meditation. Hence Richard Parker -alert, present, ready to act - but of course we need to develop the moral compass of a great heart as well.

The stars are many; though the sun is one,
When it appears, their foundation is demolished.
If a thousand mice put forth their heads,
the cat feels no fear or apprehension of danger.
How should a throng of mice advance
if they have no collectedness in their souls?
The collectedness in outward forms is a vain thing:
listen, beg from the Creator collectedness of spirit.
Collectedness is not the result of material quantity:
know that body, like reputation, is built on air.
If there were any collectedness in the heart of the mouse,
a number of mice would arise in indignation,
And, rushing up like assassins,
would without hesitation throw themselves upon the cat!
One would tear out her eyes,
while another would rip her ears with its teeth,
And another tear at her side:
there would be no escape from their unified alliance.
But the soul of the mouse has no collectedness:
at the cry of a cat its wits fly out of its soul.
The mice are paralyzed by the wily cat,
even if the mice are a hundred thousand.
Does the butcher care how big the flock is?
Can your daytime thoughts hold off slumber forever?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chester Circle First Two Months...

The Chester Circle has been up and running for a couple of months now, meeting once a fortnight.  It's spread by word of mouth and is really well attended by a mixture of people of all ages, genders and backgrounds!  It's developing into a kind of informal zen tea ceremony, with meditation and conversation about a theme of practice in daily life...  So far we've talked about mindfulness, openness, love and happiness.  Thanks to everyone who's been involved in this beginning!

The Circle will be meeting again in a couple of weeks and onwards, from 6.15pm-7.45pm in Sally's Secret Garden, 22 Bridge Street Row.