Author Archives: birminghambuddhistcentre1

Important Information about Attending an In-person Event during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are delighted to be welcoming people back to the Buddhist Centre. At our in-person events we will be doing things differently to keep everyone as safe as possible with social distancing, increased hygiene and other new things in place.  

Here is what you need to know if you want to attend at in person event:

  • You need to book online for every event you want to come to – this is because places are limited so we can socially distance.  When you book you will be asked for contact details – these will be kept for a few weeks so that we can contact you if someone at your class develops COVID-19.
  • Please do not attend an event (even if you have booked) if you have COVID-19 symptoms or you’ve been in contact with someone who has.
  • Please keep a 2 meter distance from others at all times, refrain from hugging others and use the hand sanitiser provided to increase hand hygiene.
  • We ask that you wear a face covering (unless you are exempt from doing so) on entry, exit and when moving around the building to reduce risk of transmission in spaces where it is harder to maintain distance. It can be removed when you are seated in the Shrine Room. We will have face masks available for those who don’t have one but if you can bring your own that will save resources.
  • All events will be in our larger rooms which will be set up with a mat, chair and cushion in each place at 2 meters from others.  Please bring a blanket with you if use want one. 
  • The Café area is closed – please bring a bottle of soft drink if you want to.
  • Toilets will be open for use.  If you live locally please use the toilet at home to reduce use where possible.
  • Please arrive between 15 and 5 minutes before the class – you will go straight into the Main Shrine Room on arrival.
  • Donations.  Our classes continue to run on a donation basis.  To reduce contact with cash we would be grateful if you would consider making a donation online

In August we’re happy to welcome you to join us for Sangha Night on a Thursday. The timings are 7.30-9.00. In line with government guidance you need to reserve a space in our socially-distanced shrine room. Reservations can be made here.

Love with your Head and your Heart

Love with your Head and your Heart was the theme of Sangha Night on 14th May led by Sangharuchi. 35 of us attended. Sangharuchi asked us to prepare by watching this talk by Alain de Botton provocatively entitled “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”. It is framed around romantic love but the principles are universal to our relation to our friends, enemies, Triratna, to ourselves, to every creature we meet. It offer a starting point for the metta bhavana for those of more rational inclination.

Sangharuchi also invited us to share our responses to this poem by Kate Tempest, a more emotive angle on craving and how it relates to loving oneself and others. Two different recitations. Both worth a listen. One is here on Facebook. The other on Youtube here

The practice of gratitude 7th May

30 of us spent an evening reflecting on gratitude.

Gratitude is a revolutionary act, we can always turn our mind to it no matter what is happening. The preparation for this evening was to hear from Shradhagita from the London Buddhist Centre who introduces the theme of gratitude here (listen from 0 mins to 19 mins). Suddhimani led a delightful gratitude practice based on the metta bhavana. We then shared in small groups and a bit with the whole group our gratitude stories.

Maitrisara also mentioned the International Buddha Day on 9th May which you can read about here and access from this page on the day. And if you have attended some of the day and want to have an informal chat about it on Sunday with other members of the Birmingham Sangha, you can join Shantiprabha at 4pm Sunday 10th May here:

The significance of Dhardo Rimpoche

39 of us joined the Zoom Sangha Night on 30th April welcoming Mahamati who spoke about Dhardo Rimpoche’s life and work. You can read Mahamati’s introduction here.

Before the call we watched a video of Dhardo Rimpoche speaking about the school he founded in 1954. Click here to watch 15 minute section 17 – 33 mins. We also listened to part of a talk by Padmavajra which you can hear by clicking here. Listen from 17min – 50min (33 mins) – longer if you want to obviously. You can find more about the school as it is today here.

Mahamati suggested that it would be good to listen to Sangharakshita speaking about Dhardo Rimpoche which you can do here.

You probably know from the news that the situation is very difficult in India with the Covid19 situation. If you want to help with a donation,  you can find out more and do so through the Karuna Trust here.

Embracing our Responses to Uncertain Times

38 of us tuned in to Zoom Sangha Night to hear Balajit talk about how, at times of stress, we can easily fall into restricted states of fight, flight and freeze. 

To prepare, we watched Balajit’s presentation beforehand (his youtube debut!) here and he invited us to notice what we find helpful when our threat system gets stimulated. After leading a meditation themed to this topic, Balajit gave us some pointers to help us get back to a place where our minds can be receptive and workable in meditation.

We recorded the meditation and presentation part of the evening so you can listen to that here.

Do Buddhists pray? 16th April Sangha Night

There were 42 of us tonight! To warm us up to this topic, people watched a “thought for the day” by Lalitavira (an Order member based in Dublin) talking about how poems can be a kind of prayer here and we read Sangharakshita’s reflections on prayer in Buddhism here. People brought some poems which speak to us at the moment and read them out in groups. We also talked in small groups about whether we pray or whether we include prayer in our practice. Nagadevi started off the evening with a reflection on a poem called Dark Pines Under Water by Gwendolyn MacEwen. We ended the evening reading some poems aloud to the whole group.

Transformation through Sangha 10th April

The Sangha Night was a celebration of the founding 52 years ago of Triratna. Roz and Matty offered us delightful talks on their experiences and reflections on Sangha. Roz read a poem inspired by her first visit to the Centre in 2016. We then discussed two questions in groups – either talking about our own experience of Sangha or about when opportunity arises out of difficulty.

Sangha Night 3rd April

The wonderful thing about a virtual Sangha is the way we can make the most of the breadth of the Triratna world. On 3rd April, Maitrisara and Nagadevi led an evening called Working with Anxiety and Fear attended by 38 people on Zoom. 

People started at home watching a 20 minute talk given by the Chair of the London Buddhist Centre, Suryagupta. Click the link here to watch it.  (Note it was recorded just before the lockdown) Suryagupta mentions three ways to work with anxiety, physically, mentally and spiritually. By spiritually she meant that breadth of perspective where we can see what is happening in a bigger container, a bigger context. She recommends we look for ways each day to take our physical, mental and spiritual sustenance into account. 

On the Zoom call, we meditated and broke into small groups to discuss these approaches. 

Suryagupta also mentions walking meditation which some of you won’t be familiar with. If you are finding sitting meditation a struggle at the moment (and even if you aren’t), walking meditation is a wonderful thing to try. There are some notes here you could check out on how to do it.

First Sangha Night online

We held our first Sangha Night online on 26th March, 30 people joined the Zoom call. We have shortened the time we are online together as we have found that 90 mins is a maximum amount of time to spend in this medium before it all becomes a bit exhausting. So the idea was to watch a video of an interview with Jnanavaca from the London Buddhist Centre first (on the Dharmic Perspective on Facing a Crisis) and then meet at 8.30 for meditation and discussion. You can watch the video here.

Nagadevi led a beautiful meditation based on the Brahma Viharas, which are variations or moods of the metta practice. And then we split into small groups (a wonderful feature of the Zoom app) to discuss how our practice and understanding of Buddhism and meditation is helping us at this time.

If you have completed an Introductory course with us, you are now able to join in with Sangha Night. See here for upcoming plans.