Sutta Study: Speak up!

The wanderer Potaliya approached the Buddha and after they had exchanged greetings and ‘cordial talk’ (I’d love to know what this was! Maybe they talked about the weather or local politics…) the Buddha offered Potaliya a teaching. He told Potaliya that there were four kinds of people: “What four? (1) Here, some person speaks dispraise of someone who deserves dispraise, and the dispraise is accurate, truthful and timely; but he does not speak praise of someone who deserves praise, though… Read more

Falling in love over and over

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~ Rumi I fell in love with my husband eight years ago, and since then I have fallen seriously in love with at least a dozen other men and women. Here’s a list of them. Terrance Keenan. Jean Vanier. Patrick Lane. Linda Gregg. Byron Katie. Richard Rohr. Rumi. John Paraskevopoulos. Marshall Rosenberg. I could go… Read more

Selling bitter medicine

Every Sunday evening we hold something called a Listening Circle at the temple. In this practice we sit facing each other in a circle and take turns holding a stone. Whoever is holding the stone can speak or sit in silence, and everyone else is quiet. This simple practice always results in a deeply sacred space, no matter who is present, and I find it one of the most helpful practices we do. The Listening Circle is our most unpopular… Read more

Sutta Study: Don’t help them, help yourself!

I try to make a regular practice of dipping into the reams of suttas from the Pali Canon. I feel it gives me a more direct experience of ‘hanging out with the Buddha’ than when I read the myriads wonderful commentaries produced throughout Buddhist history and in contemporary times. Despite the density of the text and the sutta’s repetitious nature, the Buddha always has something interesting and relevant to say. Today I read the Cremation Brand or Firebrand from the… Read more

A Buddha in every hell realm

Sometimes life feels hopeless. Maybe we are struggling with an addiction, or our hearts are breaking. We might have got trapped in a stressful job, squashed by the pressures of supporting our family, or we might have retreated into a prison of depression or bitterness. Maybe someone did terrible things to us and we can’t find a way out of their shadow. Maybe we have done terrible things and cannot forgive ourselves. Maybe there hasn’t been any light for a… Read more

Choosing chocolates and missing out

This is not your week to run the Universe. Next week is not looking so good either. ~ Susan J. Elliott I am somewhat of a chocolate connoisseur, and so when I find companies that make high quality vegan chocolates I get very excited. Bianca Marton are one of those companies. They also make delicious caramel chocolates which are even rarer in the vegan world. The last time I ordered myself a small box of their exquisite handmade chocolates, I… Read more

On being a Buddhist Priest who doesn’t like to meditate

I am not a good meditator. I rarely look forward to sitting meditation. I don’t settle very easily. I often spend the time thinking about what I’m going to do later. I don’t do very much of it. I started meditating formally in my twenties, when I became interested in Suzuki Roshi’s writings. I visited a local Zen centre and I was inspired by the teacher who ran it – she glowed. I liked the idea of being a Zen… Read more

Making space for grace

This time last month I set my alarm at 5.45am so I could join the monks for their morning prayers. I was on a 12 step retreat at Douai Abbey, a Benedictine community in Berkshire in the UK, which began four centuries ago in France. After singing praise to God in the peaceful space of the Abbey, I decided to go on a walk before I went back to my room. It was still early and no-one was about. I… Read more

How to help according to Dogen

Last week I was standing in a long queue at the airport, waiting to board my plane. I was travelling with a budget airline and so only people in the front half of the queue would get to keep their free hand luggage on the plane. We stood there patiently or impatiently for forty minutes. I was reading a book about yoga on my kindle. At one point I looked down and found that my left arm had somehow snaked… Read more

Should Buddhists be vegan?

I love food. What we eat is deeply personal, like our religion. It nourishes us not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. It brings us together with our friends and families and helps us to celebrate. Most of us use food, at least occasionally, to soothe ourselves when we are sad or to suppress unwanted feelings. Food is close to our hearts. And so I want to begin this blog by saying that it’s not my intention to force anyone to change… Read more

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