Sunday, 18 March 2018

This week....talking meditation....what the??

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches Sangha we have our Wild Card session. The topic for March is 'Insight Dialogue'. 

This is a process that treats conversation as meditation. If you think about it, we spend a heck of a lot of time speaking with others, and Gotama (the Buddha) put great emphasis on the importance of speech. So in line with the idea that 'practice' is the way we live our lives, if we can bring meditative qualities to the way that we interact, that's going to be really helpful.

I hope to see you there.

(Photo by Ben White on

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

This week @ Beaches

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches, we have our monthly Open Discussion. I'd like to start it by sharing any reflections on the last two sessions (Sutta Study and Everyday Addiction), and what, if anything, people have been noticing or doing differently to put insights into practice. 

Of course it's also our opportunity to bring to the table anything from daily life for discussion on how the dharma applies and can be helpful to us.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Wrapping up last week....and this week @ Beaches...

Hi guys.

Wrapping up last week....
Thanks everyone for an excellent night of sutta study last week. The questions and discussion were terrific and I was really looking forward to posting the podcast for those who couldn't make it. Unfortunately my darling husband unwittingly put a corrupted memory card into my fancy new digital recorder, and I discovered that only the first two minutes were recorded. 

I was a bit devo'd as it was a cracker of a session! I think our virtual sangha would have found it very helpful. Disappointment arose.

Since the session ended, I've had a few more thoughts that move me to clarify a few things we discussed. Click here to read them.  

Also, we ran out of time to think about the last 2 questions on Wallis’ list. What does the insight from the text demand of me? And to what extent am I willing to do that? My sense is that it demands us to catch ourselves in the act of impulsively reaching for more, more, more when we experience pleasure, and instead be mindfully present to the current pleasant experience, letting it go when it naturally passes. Let's discuss that before we begin next month's session.

This week....
This week we have Sylvie running a session called 'Everyday Addiction', which will probably follow on quite nicely from our discussion last week I suspect. It will be interesting for sure. I hope to see you there.


Monday, 26 February 2018

Sutta study + a change to sangha fee

Hi all. 

This week sangha we have our monthly sutta study. Please make sure you've read Sutta #1 'The Hawk' and the commentary on this sutta in the second half of the book. Oh, and be ready for some good discussion!

Change to sangha fees
For over 9 years now, it's cost only $5 to come to sangha. This fee is our individual contribution to cover rent of the venue and supplies cupboard, insurance (which we need to book it), and tea & bikkies. A couple of years ago, Council put up the rent, and since then we've needed $50-$60 per week in donations to cover our costs. So most weeks we haven't actually covered our costs. 

This has been okay for a while because we'd saved a bit before the rent went up, and we've been able to draw on this to keep things going. However there's not much left, so we are going to have to put up the sangha fee. As of this week, we're going to suggest $10 as the fee to cover our sangha's expenses. 

As always, we don't want a lack of money to prevent anyone from coming to sangha, so if you truly can't afford $10, then please just give whatever you can, and perhaps speak to one of us about other ways you might be able to contribute. As the Buddha said, 'if you knew what I know about generosity, you'd never let a day go by without practising it'. Our sangha only exists while we are all engaged in that practice.

As you know, when someone has spent time preparing and facilitating a session, we also like to offer them donations ('dana' means generosity). The way we've structured our program this year, we don't need dana every week, as we don't always have prepared sessions. To help clarify things, if the 'dana' basket it out on the bench, it means we're offering dana to the person running the session. If only the 'sangha fee' basket is out, that's all we need to give.

Selena is making up some new signs to attach to the baskets so it's clear which one is which.

Hope to see you for sutta study!

Friday, 23 February 2018


Ok, first of all, sorry you didn't receive an update last week. I did actually do a post (see below), but last night I discovered no-one had received it. I've just figured out what I did wrong - I accidentally published it on the Secular Buddhism Australia web site, instead of our sangha web site. The two look exactly the same from the back end, and I didn't realise I was in the wrong one. Sorry about that.

Anyhoo...we had a lovely night of Noble Silence. For some people it was their first taste of it, and for some of us it was just the first time in this setting. We debriefed at the end, and while we did miss our little tea-time chats, we all agreed there was something very spacious about not needing to talk, and something very warm and supportive about being there together in silence. Having two meditations was also really nice and for many of us, the second meditation started much more calmly than the first. 

If you would have liked to join in but missed out because you didn't know it was on, there are three things I can offer:

1) If, in any week you don't receive the weekly blog post from me (I do miss one occasionally), you can see what's on by looking at the 'Whats On' page on the Beaches Sangha web site. The schedule for the whole year is there, so maybe add it to your 'favorites' on your browser.
2) Let us know you'd like to do it, and we can schedule another night of Noble Silence. We thought we might like to do it again some time anyway, so if we know people would like it, we'll schedule it in.
3) Come to sangha regardless of what's on. Just stick it in your diary as a weekly event and come. This is in fact the best way to ensure that sangha stays vibrant and alive, that you learn, and that your practice progresses.

Also a warm welcome back to Mick who joined us last night for the first time in a couple of years!

I promise I'll go back to posting on the right web site next week :).

Warm regards

Hi all.

Okay, this week at sangha we've got our Wild Card night. And this month our Wild Card is a taste of what it's like to observe 'noble silence'. Almost all Buddhist retreats have this as one of the ground rules. It basically talking. 

We know there are quite a few people who come to sangha who've never been on a retreat, so we thought we'd have a Thursday night session where you can see what it's like. For those of you who've done know the drill.... and it'll be interesting to see how it feels using this practice at our Thursday sessions which are usually quite sociable.

The format of the night will be a little different. We'll have two meditations rather than one, they'll be a bit shorter than usual, and we'll finish off by ending noble silence and discussing how you found the experience. Hope to see you there.

Also, next week is Sutta Study, so don't forget to read Sutta #1 - The Hawk, and the commentary on it that follows.


Monday, 12 February 2018

This week @ Beaches Sangha + some resources for you

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches
This week @ Beaches we have our monthly Open Discussion. These sessions are really valuable for applying the dharma (Buddha's teachings) to our daily life. As discussed last week, the dharma is a set of four 'great tasks' rather than philosophical musings. So it's important to look at the situations we face in life, and how the dharma can help us respond to them.

Sutta Study podcasts
Also, for those who can't get to the Sutta Study sessions, I'm going to be posting podcasts of our sessions on the Secular Buddhism Australia web site as a resource (note: this is not on the 'sutta central' page yet, it has it's own page for the moment). It was fabulous to have so many people attend our first Sutta Study session and the podcasts are definitely not intended as a substitute for coming along. Like everything, our sangha is a dependent arising - that is, it only exists when people come and participate. Think about it...if the convenience of staying at home and listening to a podcast leads to people not attending, we won't have any sessions to record and share! The questions and conversation of the group are important. It's our whole group that's creating this resource for those who aren't as lucky as we are, to have their own sangha.

I realised many of you aren't aware of this, but I also run a web site called Secular Buddhism Australia. I haven't added much to it over the last couple of years, but there are some good resources there. For example there's a podcast by Winton Higgins called 'From Plato to Nato' which gives an overview of the development of Buddhism. I've also just uploaded a podcast I recorded ages ago, giving an overview of meditation and the different approaches (both are on the 'podcasts' page). There are some self study worksheets on a few suttas from Stephen Batchelor's selection, a glossary of terms, and more. Go check it out! I hope to give this site some more love this year than it's had in recent times.

Monday, 5 February 2018

This week @ Beaches Sangha - One Page Dharma

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches Sangha I'll be giving my annual rendition of 'One Page Dharma' where we'll take a sprint through the Buddha's teachings to give you the big picture. 

This is a good talk for those who are new to the dharma, as we'll cover the key concepts in the 'Four Great Tasks' (traditionally called the Four Noble Truths). You'll even get a one page summary to take home. 

And because repetition is an important part of learning, it's also a good refresher for those who might have been around the dharmic traps for a while.

Hope to see you there.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash