Why do we pray for Enlightened Beings to remain in this world, surely they are always here?

It’s an interesting question which harks back to the life of the Buddha where Ananda doesn’t take the hint and omits to request the Buddha to remain in this world.  It is a question of tendrel (auspicious connections) Continue reading Why do we pray for Enlightened Beings to remain in this world, surely they are always here?

Welcoming Difficulties as the Path

We all face difficulties individually that we open to and treat as practice rather than thinking ‘I can’t practice because of difficulties’.  What we mean is I am practising but it’s still difficult. There is no need to say ‘I can’t practice’ – even when one feels so uninspired that even practice feels flat – that is our practice isn’t it? Continue reading Welcoming Difficulties as the Path

A conversation about God: Can a Buddhist use the word ‘God’?

Even after fifty five years I still find, like you that my word for that awe-inspiring, all-pervasive sense of benevolent presence is ‘God’, yet like you all my spiritual connections are Buddhist and the Buddha’s teachings are what I live by. The majority of western Buddhists are not from that camp I think – their experiences with God and God language are not positive and often never were. It is a very interesting area isn’t it? Continue reading A conversation about God: Can a Buddhist use the word ‘God’?

What if rituals feel contrived to me? Am I still welcome in the sangha?

Ritual is different from simple ceremonies. If properly conducted it makes things happen – it shapes the universe if you like. It isn’t just me doing something from my own side – or a whole lot of people doing something from their own side. The universe is changed by the ritual – it’s become a different reality in some sense… Continue reading What if rituals feel contrived to me? Am I still welcome in the sangha?

person holding red candle in a dark room

How do we transform our negative actions into positive actions that benefit others?

We are uniquely connected to all other beings in the same kind of way that every point in space is uniquely connected to all other points in space. If we damage our connection with others through our unskilful actions their mandala registers that Continue reading How do we transform our negative actions into positive actions that benefit others?

time lapse photography of people walking on pedestrian lane

Three Ordinary Ideas Called into Question by Karma in Buddhism

There are three ordinary ideas that we have that make karma seem particularly strange but which are ultimately called into question in Buddhism. The first is that people are very separate from the material world; the second is that the present and the future are very separate; the third is that different beings and different locations in space are very separate. Continue reading Three Ordinary Ideas Called into Question by Karma in Buddhism

Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

Saying their name, it’s as if we are invoking them and then recognising that they have a power to connect to you. If it’s an Enlightened Being, they have the power to connect you to your own Awakening, the Mandala of Awakening. You could call it the ‘Samadhi of Awakening’. The Pure Lands are a special kind if samadhis created by Awakened beings for other beings to enter. So they are actually a special kind of shamatha and vipassana. Continue reading Pure Lands Part 2: Mantra and Pure Lands

mandala principle, boundaries, Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Shenpen Hookham UK Buddhist Teacher

Mandala Principle & Boundaries: Boundaries feel threatening to me, what aren’t I getting?

Mandalas are a way of describing the world of our experience in which everything is appearing and yet is ungraspable. The only reason we experience anything is because we can distinguish it from anything else. If it were all uniform with no differentiation it would not be experience would it? It wouldn’t be anything. Continue reading Mandala Principle & Boundaries: Boundaries feel threatening to me, what aren’t I getting?

How can we balance caring for others while looking after ourselves?

People often ask how to balance caring for others while looking after ourselves. If we look in our hearts and realise that what we really want is the happiness of others, then we may feel inspired to try and make everyone happy. What often happens though is that we can’t do it: instead we get exhausted and decide that what we really need is to look after ourselves. But that doesn’t sound like Bodhisattva activity does it? Continue reading How can we balance caring for others while looking after ourselves?