Monday 14 December 2015

That's a wrap - Beaches Sangha finished for 2015

Well we had a lovely picnic on the lawn last Thursday night in beautiful summer evening weather. Thanks to everyone who came and made it a lovely end to a terrific year for Beaches Sangha. 

I'm not quite sure who started packing up but it seems we weren't quite ready to go, with several of us staying back and chatting on the verandah after the doors were closed. It was so nice to have conversations with each other that were longer than our usual 10-15 minute tea break.

I didn't get the chance at the picnic to express my thanks to people. I'm sure I speak for us all when I say a big thank you to.....

  • Betsy for putting together the program of speakers and sessions for us. Bets has done this every year of Beaches' existence so far and I think you'd agree she does an amazing job of sourcing people to run sessions, coordinating and communicating with them, and keeping the web site up to date. Thanks so much Betsy.
  • Sylvie for ensuring our constant supply of tea and bikkes, and for being a frequent hall opener and closer again this year, as well as being just a generally helpful person, washing tea towels and always generously offering to help with whatever she can.
  • Neil for being in charge of managing the cash for us - Neil keeps track of our sangha finances, collects the money each week and banks it, and reimburses me monthly for the hall rental and Sylvie periodically for groceries. He also often ensures that new people know about dana, and is a back-up hall opener/closer.
  • all of you who came throughout the year and contributed to our sangha being a vibrant and grounded and meaningful group.
I hope Beaches Sangha has been a positive and meaningful feature of your life this year, as it has mine. We've acquired some new regular members which has been terrific, and also seen the return of some old ones which is great too. And of course as always we've had some new faces who maybe haven't quite achieved 'regular' status yet but whom it's always nice to see when they can make it. 

We've had a wide variety of speakers, discussions, and even a Christian minister who BYO'd his own flock to come and experience our sangha. I'll never forget walking in that night and seeing at least 30 people in the room, half of whom I didn't know. I thought I'd come on the wrong night! 

I've deepened friendships with some people and made new ones that I hope will continue. I just love the vibe of our whole Sangha thing. :)

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. I'll miss my Thursday night re-set button for the next month. Beaches Sangha will re-open for contemplation and nourishment on Thursday 21st January 2016. We hope to see you then.

Warm wishes 

Monday 7 December 2015

Last meeting for 2015 - our sangha party

Hi all. Well, Beaches Sangha has survived and can I say, thrived, for another year - it's 7th!

I always feel a little sad and a little anticipation with my last post for the year...sadness that for a month or so, I won't have my Thursday night 're-set button' with all of my lovely fellow travellers, and anticipation that we get to celebrate together and enjoy a bit more social time than usual this week.

The weather forecast is currently looking perfect - 27 degrees and mostly sunny - so we should be able to meditate outside and picnic on the grass (last year we set up around a table inside while it stormed outside). So bring along whichever style share-dish you volunteered for (sweet or savoury), something to drink, and whatever picnic-ey things you might have at hand (blanket, protected candles, cutlery, plates, cups, glasses etc - we usually have more than we need, so don't go out and buy any of these things). 

I'm looking forward to seeing you all before we head off in our own separate ways for the silly season. For those of you who can't make it, thanks so much for being with us this year, whether that was regularly, semi-regularly or as a guest appearance :) We hope you'll join us again in 2017. 

Seeya Thursday

P.S. This picture represents my upcoming silly season - chilling on our staycation at home in this beautiful part of the world.

Monday 30 November 2015

This week @ sangha....we need you!

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches Sangha we have our yearly session where we talk about...sangha. It's very important to us SOGgies (Sangha Organising Group) to have you at this meeting so we can discuss how you're finding it, what you've found helpful or less so, ideas for next year etc..

Even if it's the case that you like things just the way they are, it's important for us to hear that, so please come along and let us know. It's looking like Thursday will be a warm one, so hopefully we'll be able to meditate on the deck again.

See you there!

Monday 23 November 2015

This week @ Beaches - debut of a guest speaker

Hi all.

This week
This week we have our last guest speaker for the year with Christopher Ash (nee McLean) coming to Beaches Sangha for the first time. He's going to give a talk called 'Experiencing First Hand' which might actually dovetail nicely with Jason Siff's talk last week, where he spoke about trying to be mindful of our experience as it is, while interfering with it as little as possible through our descriptions of it.

Christopher is a very experienced dharma teacher and psychotherapist, with experience in both Zen and Insight meditation. He has been teaching around the Sydney sanghas for many years and now lives in the Blue Mountains. I hope you'll join us.

Sangha party
Also, our last meeting for 2015 will be on Thursday 10th December when we'll be having our end of year party. All sangha members are welcome, past and present, regular and irregular. The tradition is a short meditation followed by a picnic on the lawn outside if its warm, or we'll bring the tables inside if it's not. Everyone brings something to share. Could you please let us know either this week or by posting a comment here on the web site (below this post), whether you'll be coming and if so, whether you'd like to bring a sweet or savoury dish to share.



Hi Lenore. Jampa and I will come and bring a savoury dish. Betsy

Tuesday 17 November 2015

This week @ Beaches - someone somewhat famous

This is Jason Siff. Seriously, it's the least daggy photo of him I can find. He even looks a bit handsome. He teaches a bloody awesome approach to meditation called recollective awareness. But I warn you, he's a complete dag - has been known to wear socks and sandals! 

On a more serious note, many of us at Beaches Sangha practice this approach at least in part and the Spring Retreat is run according to the recollective awareness format. The quote that sums it up for me is:

"Whatever happens in your meditation, is your meditation.'

Jason is an American dharma teacher and ex-monk (so Jampa's going to have to fight for the limelight this week ha ha!) and author of several books. The one within eyesight at the moment is called "Unlearning Meditation: What To Do When Instructions Get In The Way", but there are others that I can't see as well.

I hope you can join us, and this dharma-somebody, on Thursday night.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Don't miss the next 2 weeks @ Beaches Sangha!!

What is forgiveness? Is forgiving a sign of weakness or courage? Does it mean that we have to let those who harm others get away with it? Can we really forgive others if we are unable to forgive ourselves first?

This week at Sangha we have Sylvie running a session on forgiveness. She will present a short video clip of Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America, and author of several books on compassion and mindfulness, teaching how we can lift the burdens of the past from our hearts. 

After Jack’s video clip, Sylvie will facilitate a group discussion on your thoughts and experiences on the subject.

Next week at Sangha we have a very special guest visiting - someone you've heard us mention many times - Jason Siff. Jason is the person who created the 'recollective awareness' approach to meditation which has influenced many of us. He's the author of many books including 'Unlearning Meditation: What To Do When The Instructions Get In The Way". He visits Australia once a year (from the US) and runs retreats and workshops here.

Monday 2 November 2015

This week @ Beaches + a workshop this weekend

Hi all.

This week at Beaches Sangha I'm going to run a session that was inspired by a question Mick asked a few months ago: 'what is practice?'. I'm going to suggest some fenceposts that might outline the boundaries of dharma practice and then we can explore together what that means in reality. What is dharma practice specifically, and what might constitute practice of some other kind?

Also, this weekend, Winton is running a workshop called 'Secular Insight Practice and Everyday Awakening' in North Sydney. Details are here on the SIM web site - you'll need to register soon if you'd like to go. 

Monday 26 October 2015

This week @ Beaches - a talk by request

Hi all. 

This week at Beaches Sangha, we have Winton Higgins as a special guest, coming to give us a talk we requested a while ago. The talk is on the philosopher, Heideger whom he's mentioned many times in many of his talks. We asked if he'd come and give us the low-down on the guy, what he's about and how he fits with the dharma. So come and.......

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi all.

This week at Sangha we have Gawaine Powell-Davies again, giving a talk called 'Working with Generosity'. With the weather warming up, we might even be able to meditate on the deck. 

Hope to see you there.

Monday 12 October 2015

This week @ Beaches - will I get paranoid?

Hi all.

Okay, I don't know why this dog has alfoil on his head, and I also don't know if it's me, or the topics I'm covering but in the last 3 weeks of sangha, where I have been scheduled to give the talk each night, we have had 2 of the all-time smallest attendances. What is going on?

We have had to move things around again and so believe it or not, I'm scheduled to run the session again this week. Because there were only 3 of us last week, I've postponed that session and will do it this week: it's Gotama's thoughts on livelihood...the things we choose to do for work and how we do them.

Hope to see you there....otherwise I'm going to start getting paranoid! :)

Tuesday 6 October 2015

This week @ sangha....correction

Hi again.

Just a quick note to let you know that the program has changed for this week. Sylvie is away, so I'll cover the next fold in the eightfold path....that of 'livelihood'.

Hope to see you there.

Monday 5 October 2015

This week @ sangha.....Sylvie

Hi all.

Last week was our first meditation on the deck since winter visited us. It's so lovely to be able to sit outside again.

This week Sylvie is running our session. I haven't actually been told what the topic is yet, but I hope to see you there. Don't forget that by Thursday it will feel like Wednesday because of the public holiday today :)


Friday 2 October 2015

Mindfulness walks in wildflower garden

Hi all. Hope you're enjoying this gorgeous weather.

Here's a local activity we thought you might be interested in. These mindful walks are going to be held on Monday nights starting next week at a wildflower garden in St. Ives. This coming Monday is free, then it's $11 a session from the following week.

Monday 28 September 2015

This week @ Sangha....take two!

So this week was supposed to be a talk from me on Fold#5 of the Eightfold Path, following on from last week's talk on Fold#4. Only last week's talk didn't happen, because by 7.20pm, Neil and I were the only ones who appeared to have braved the rain and cold to get there. So we packed up the tea and bikkies and went home.

For what's on this can read last week's post :)

Hope to see you there.

Monday 21 September 2015

This week @ Beaches....+ an online mindfulness summit

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches Sangha 
I'll be doing the 4th instalment of my talks on the Eightfold Path. The first 3 were (preface each one with 'appropriate'):


Last week Gawaine re-capped and explored further the idea of 'speech' that's appropriate to the path. The next cab off the rank is 'action'. There is even going to be a little present to take home with you this week. I hope to see you there.

Online mindfulness summit
Over the course of October, there's going to be a free online collection of talks, podcasts and Q&As with various mindfulness and meditation teachers, including many of the people we regularly talk about at Sangha (e.g. Rick Hanson, Tara Brach). I've registered to see what it's like. Here's the link if you're interested.

Coupla resources
Also, those of you who are newer to Sangha might not know about the Secular Buddhism Australia Facebook Page that I run, as well as my blog which contains short essays on particular topics relating the dharma to every day life. Feel free to follow either or both.

Hope to see you Thursday.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - gossip!

Hi all.

This week at Beaches Sangha we have Gawaine Powell-Davies joining us to give a talk titled 'Right Speech - But What About Gossip?'. It sounds like an interesting talk, as they usually are with Gawaine. I predict 'Right Intention' will be relevant in there somewhere, what do you think? I hope you can join us.

See you Thursday.

Monday 7 September 2015

This week @ sangha

Hi all.

We've just had a last minute adjustment to our program for this week, as I've decided to join Betsy and Winton on the retreat they're leading this weekend. So Neil and I are swapping weeks. He'll run his open discussion this Thursday night, and I'll continue with the eight-fold path on the 24th.

I hope you can make it - they are always interesting and enjoyable discussions.

See you next week.

Monday 31 August 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - last sutta study with Winton Higgins

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches we'll be having our last sutta study session with Winton Higgins, finishing off the book 'Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization'. This will also be Winton's last regular scheduled appearance at Beaches Sangha. He'll be coming back from time to time with specific talks we've requested, but it's the end of his monthly gig with us. Hope to see you there.


Monday 24 August 2015

This Week @ Sangha

This week Jampa will give an overview of Tibetan Buddhism. I'm sure it will be of interest, and there will be time to ask questions about this other valuable buddhist tradition.

Also, I am asking for expressions of interest from families wanting to bring their children on retreat. I would be happy to teach a 3 day retreat at Gorrick's Run, the Sydney Zen Centre's beautiful retreat centre near St. Alban's, sometime next year.
Several years ago I did retreats with the Sydney Zen Centre where children were an added bonus, and I feel that is something missing in our insight tradition.
It would be a camping retreat, but there are wonderful facilities there - a large meditation hall, a kitchen and dining room, one upstairs bedroom, outside toilets and showers, with water heated in a chip heater.
Parents would have primary responsibility for their own children, but we would arrange a roster for them to have time out and for others to do different activities with the children, like bushwalking and art.
If this idea appeals to you, then contact me at:, or 9913-2979, 0403 871 605.
I would want a core group of parents to help organise and run this. I envision that it will be a small group, and lots of fun!

Tuesday 18 August 2015

This Week @ Sangha - The Wheel of Life

This week Jampa says he will finish up the Wheel of Life. Next week he will give an overview of Tibetan Buddhism.
Hope to see you!

Tuesday 11 August 2015

This Week @ Sangha - Changed Topic: A Look at the Early Dharma Scene in the US and Australia

Jampa is sick, so I will give my talk this week instead. I'm going to talk a bit about my early encounter with the dharma in the US, India and Australia, and also talk in general about the buddhist 'dharma scene' in the 50's, 60's and 70's in those countries, and how those early influences are still being felt today.
Hope to see you Thursday night.

Monday 10 August 2015

This Week @ sangha - Wheel of Life

This week at sangha Jampa Jaffe will be doing the final instalment of the Wheel of Life. And in 2 weeks time ( Aug 27) he will give an overview of Tibetan Buddhism. Now is your chance to ask questions about this approach to Buddhism.
See you Thursday.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Spring Retreat September 10-13

Sydney Insight Meditators
Spring Recollective Awareness Retreat at Gorricks Run
Recollective Awareness Meditation with Winton Higgins and Betsy Faen
Camp in the field, under the stars. Embrace simplicity at this beautiful Zen retreat and meditation centre.
Whether you are joining us again, or experiencing Gorricks for the first time, this is a very special place to welcome the Spring. Led by Winton and Betsy, the weekend provides a space to explore recollective awareness meditation. The retreat will observe silence on site except during dharma talks, and group and individual interviews.
Registration and payment
WHEN: Thursday 10 September to Sunday 13 September 2015.
The retreat begins @ 7pm after evening meal.
WHERE: SZC Kodoji at Gorricks Run, Upper Macdonald NSW
COST: $230 + Dana (see below)
$150 - students/unwaged + Dana

For those unable to meet either price
please check the Retreat scholarships on the SIM website

The retreat fee includes accommodation and all meals from light dinner Thursday to lunch on Sunday. We provide a range of vegetarian food, with dairy, gluten and nut free options
available. All other food issues/food supplements are the responsibility of retreatants.
Go to the SIM website to book and pay recollective-awareness-retreat.html
Email if you have further enquiries
In keeping with the 2,500 year old tradition the teachers are not paid for teaching the dharma. Dana is the practice of generosity through which we offer donations to our teachers as a sign of our respect for the teaching and it's value in our lives. You will have the opportunity to practise dana during this retreat.
About Gorricks Run...
Kodoji, Ancient Ground Zendo at Gorricks Run, nestles in a deep valley beneath the high sandstone cliffs of Yengo National Park. It is approximately two hours north- north west of Sydney near Upper Macdonald, NSW.
The simple facilities include a cottage equipped with a kitchen, camping, bush showers and a large and magnificent dojo (meditation hall).
ACCOMMODATION is mainly camping, so please bring your own tent etc. There is some room for people to sleep on the veranda of the dojo. If you intend to
drive a small campervan to sleep in, please be aware you will be driving on dirt road to get to Gorrick's. There is one room in the cottage with 4 beds, priority is given to those who ask first and/or to those with special needs. 

Monday 3 August 2015

This week @ sangha - Gawaine Powell-Davies

This week Gawaine's topic is:  'Mindfulness: A Travelogue'. Sounds intriguing. Come join us. His talks are always thought provoking.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - mindfulness practices

Hi all. This week at Beaches Sangha, in addition to meditation, we'll be having a practical session with Sylvie leading some simple mindfulness exercises. I hope you can make it.

I think Betsy will be doing the weekly updates for the next few weeks as I'll be in France running, jumping and throwing things :).

See you in a few weeks.

Monday 20 July 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi all.

This week at Beaches we have the winter instalment of our series of open discussions, facilitated by Neil. The idea with these is to allow space for questions, sharing of experiences, reflections, collective exploration of topics or ideas related to the dharma and its practical implications. 

These sessions are always interesting and engaging. I hope to see you there.


Monday 13 July 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - me 'n' action

Hi all.

Well, last week we had a jam packed hall with Michael Barnes and his BYO crowd, and I mistook several new sangha attendees for Christians. Doesn't happen often :)

I'll be running the session this week which will be the next talk on the Eightfold Path. We've already covered fold #1 (view) and fold #2 (intention). This week is fold #3 of 8, being 'action'. It's called 'right action' in religious Buddhist circles but we avoid such labels as they tend to invoke commandment style thinking which is not what the dharma is about. Think of the folds as important elements of living to attend to if you want to walk the path of Gotama's teachings.

I hope to see you there.

Monday 6 July 2015

This week @ Beaches - Michael Barnes

Hi all.

This week at Beaches Sangha we have Michael Barnes returning to give a talk. Michael is a Christian minister who doesn't believe in God. Well, more or less, but I tell you that as an indication of what an interesting fellow he is. 

He's going to give a talk on the interface between Christian and Buddhist teachings. Michael has given a talk at Beaches once before and we had a very interesting discussion.

Don't let the @^!!$% cold weather turn you off (why did I come back from Cairns again?). Remember we have:
Hope to see you there.

Monday 29 June 2015

This week @ Beaches - Victor with us again

Hi all.

This week at Beaches Sangha we have Victor von der Heyde with us again. He'll be giving a talk called 'Honouring Our Empty Selves'. 'Emptiness' is a term that often gets used in Buddhist circles, especially in Zen, and it can be great to have some help getting your head around it. Again, I'm sorry to be missing this one, so I'll be asking you all about it when I get back next week.

I hope you can make it as this will be the last time we'll see Victor at least for a few months.


Tuesday 23 June 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha....& please ignore any posts from the last couple of days

Hi all, from sunny Cairns.

This week at Beaches Sangha we have our very last sutta study with Winton Higgins. We are doing the final chapter of Satipatthana Sutta. I'm very sorry to be missing it :( This will be Winton's last regular showing at Beaches, so please thank him abundantly for his time with us. He's promised to visit in future on request.

Also I've had a couple of reports of old Sangha posts being emailed out to people over the last couple of days. I'm not sure what's going on there. If you've received any updates, just check the dates on them to see if they are old. I haven't sent anything since last week. So if you did get a dodgy update, please just ignore it.


Monday 15 June 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - Victor von der Heyde part ii

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches we have Victor with us again. This time he's stimulating our minds with a talk called: 

Ethics as a Part of Practice: Engaged or Marginalised?

It was a great discussion last week (and the room was nice and warm). I hope you'll come along and join in.


Monday 8 June 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - Awakening & Transcendence

Hi all.

This week I'm pleased to announce the return of our semi-regular teacher, well, more like spasmodic teacher really :), Victor von der Heyde. Victor lives between Brisbane and Sydney, so we get patches of him each year.

Victor will be giving a talk called 'Awakening & Transcendence: Views and the Impact of Views'. His talks are always thought provoking and engaging and enjoyable. 

I hope to see you there on Thursday night.


Tuesday 2 June 2015

This week @ Sangha - the importance of intentions

Hi all. 

Earlier in the year I mentioned I'd be giving a series of talks throughout 2015 on the eightfold path. This path is Gotama's (the Buddha's) list of important elements in life we need to attend to in order to live the path.It's also the fourth of the Four Great Tasks. The eight folds are:

Mental Integration

I've already given a talk on View and in fact the chapter we covered with Winton last week on the Four Noble Truths (or Four Great Tasks) pretty much covers that one. The 'view' appropriate to the path is to truly see and understand that much of our angst and unpleasantness is caused by our unwillingness to embrace dukkha and let go of craving for things to be different. The view also covers concepts like the truth of impermanence, the fact that we are not a fixed, stable, independent identity, and the fact that life does in fact entail some unpleasantness - see it, accept it, expect it!

Part of this view is also the realisation that when craving does in fact cease, peace and joy and friendliness and energy among other rather bonza phenomena, are what's left.

So this week's talk is on the second fold of the path: intention. This one's a cracker as it runs through all of our behaviour in life. Every bit of it! I hope you'll come along and join in the discussion.


Monday 25 May 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - sutta study

Hi all. 

This week we have our monthly sutta study with Winton Higgins. We are up to Chapter XIII (13) of the book 'Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization'. This chapter covers contemplation of 'The Four Noble Truths' which we prefer to call the Four Great Tasks, but we'll let Analayo have his way at least until Winton is given the floor :) If you don't have the book, you can access it on line for free.

As always, it's most beneficial if you can read it prior to the session but if you can't make that happen, you'll still find the session valuable as Winton always talks us through the key points. It's a short chapter, so give it a shot :)

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi all.

This week we have our second 'whatever comes up' session. We decided at the start of the year to have a few of these sprinkled throughout the year to allow us all to bring whatever is relevant for us, to discuss with our sangha. It might be things you're unsure of with the dharma, it might be a life situation you're facing and would like to process through a dharmic lens, or something that's just been on your mind about this human experience thing.

Last time we did this it was a rich, interesting and valuable discussion. Neil will be facilitating. I'll hope you'll join us.


Monday 11 May 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - Subhana Barzhagi

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches Sangha Subhana Barzhagi is returning to give a talk on....I'm not sure what....but I'm sure it'll be interesting. For those of you who haven't met her, Subhana is both an Insight Meditation teacher and a Zen teacher.

Don't forget we have lovely new heaters in the Peace Park, so the cooler weather is no excuse for missing out on warming the cockles of your heart at sangha.

Hope to see you there.

Monday 4 May 2015

No sangha meeting this week

Hi all.

There'll be no sangha meeting this week as almost all of the regular attendees will be either on the Beaches Sangha retreat or away on Thursday night. Meetings will resume again next week Thursday 14 May.

See you then.

Monday 27 April 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi all. 

Well, last week was a first for Beaches Sangha - meditation by candlelight! We had no power at the Peace Park, so it was candles and my gas burner to heat the billy for tea. It was kind of lovely actually :)

This week is our sutta study session with Winton Higgins. We're up to Chapter 12 of the book: Satipatthana Sutta: The Direct Path to Realisation.

Hope to see you there.

Monday 20 April 2015

This week @ Beaches

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches Sangha, Neil is going to recall his key learnings from a recent weekend workshop with Gregory Kramer. Greg is known for his 'Insight Dialogue' process which treats personal dialogue as a meditation - it's great stuff! I've been to several of his retreats over the years so I'll throw in my 2c worth if it's helpful.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

This week @ Beaches

Hi guys. 

Just a quick note to let you know we have Gawaine Powell-Davies coming for a talk/discussion at Sangha this week. I haven't been informed of the topic, so it'll just be a lucky dip! I'm sure it'll be thought-provoking as always.

Also if anyone has or knows a teen who could do with some mindfulness, Openground is running an 8 week Mindfulness course for teenagers over at Waverley.

Hope to see you Thursday.

Monday 6 April 2015

This week @ Beaches + Love, Intimacy & the Buddha

Hi all.

This week we have the wheel that just keeps on turning - Jampa Jaffe with the Wheel of Life, Part something-or-other. Seriously, it pretty much covers the whole dharma, so it doesn't really matter what part we're up to. Hope to see you there.

Also, Betsy's mentioned a few times that Subhana is co-leading a 7 week course on Love, Intimacy and the Dharma. Click here for more info.

Finally, we'll be starting to organise the Beaches Sangha retreat in the next couple of weeks, so if you plan on coming and haven't already let us know, please do. It's May 7-10.

Tuesday 31 March 2015

This week @ Beaches

Hi all.

This week at Beaches Sangha we have the return of Jonathan Page. He's going to be giving a talk called 'Freedom: Can We Really be Free?'. Sounds like it'll stir up some good conversation.

Hope to see you there.

Monday 23 March 2015

Sutta study this week

Hi guys.

It's sutta study this week. Chapter 11 of Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realisation. Be there or be square.



Monday 16 March 2015

This week @ Beaches

Hi all. 

This week at Beaches Sangha we have Alan Bassal returning. Alan first came to 
Beaches last year and gave a talk on whether the Buddha would buy an i-phone....a pun on the notion of 'I' 'self'. Alan and Subhana (last week's speaker) are running a retreat soon called 'Deepening into Stillness' and this is the topic of Alan's talk for us this week. I hope you can make it. 
Also, the Secular Buddhism Australia Facebook Page is going gangbusters. It currently has over 4500 followers since starting in November last year. If you haven't already 'Liked' it, feel free to do so.

Please also let us know if you can come to the Beaches Sangha retreat in early May (see the special post from last week on this). And also let me know if you haven't already, if you can make it to my fundraiser for the Bali Animal Welfare Assocation on Sun 29th May.

I won't be there this week as I have my last chance to race before the National Champs for athletics. I hope you'll all make Alan feel welcome and I hope to see you next week.


Monday 9 March 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - our first visit from Insight Meditation/Zen teacher Subhana Barzaghi

This week @ Beaches
This week at Sangha we have a very well known and experienced Zen/Insight Meditation teacher, Subhana Barzaghi, coming to give a talk on impermanence. It's the first time Subhana has come to Beaches Sangha so we hope you'll join us on Thursday night to welcome her and contribute to the discussion.

Fundraiser concert
Last week I let you all know about a private concert I'm hosting to raise funds for a fabulous charity in Bali, the Bali Animal Welfare Assocation. I will need to know numbers this week, so if you can make it, please let me know either by posting a comment below this post here on the Beaches web site, or let me know on Thursday night.

I hope to see you Thursday.

Beaches Sangha retreat

Hi everyone.

Last year, for the first time, we had a Beaches Sangha camping retreat out at Gorrick's Run - a beautiful property owned by the Sydney Zen Centre. It was a self-led retreat (i.e. no teachers were leading it) although we did have some facilitated sessions such as mindful pasta making led by Sylvie. We all pitched in with the catering and logistics to make it happen. Because it was self-led, we decided to only extend the invitation to people who'd done at least a 3 day teacher-led retreat before.

The retreat was fabulous and we unanimously decided to do it again. This year, after much consideration, our SOG (Sangha Organising Group) has decided to open the invitation to all Sangha members, regardless of whether you've done a retreat before or not. So I'd like to invite all of you who've been regular Sangha members at any point in Beaches Sangha's 6 year history, to  join us.

When: Thu 7 May - Sun 10 May
Where: Gorrick's Run (near St. Albans - maps to be provided - allow 2hrs drive)
What: Self-led retreat - with one session a day after dinner where we ask people to come together for a group session. There is a suggested schedule but participants are welcome to join in with that or not as they please. It will be a mostly silent retreat.
Accommodation: BYO tent or swag. Other than camping there is the covered verandah around the meditation hall where a swag can be rolled out. There is a limited amount of space indoors if the great outdoors is not for you. There are drop-toilets, camp showers (with fire heated hot water) and a good indoor camp kitchen as well as a beautiful meditation hall.
Catering: once we have final numbers we'll organise the catering between participants.

If you have any questions, please speak to one of the SOGgies (me, Betsy, Sylvie, Neil, Susanne). If you could let us know by the end of March whether you are coming, that'd be great!

Also, could you please let me know if you plan on coming to my fundraiser concert on Sun 29th (either post a comment here on our web site, or let me know on Thursday night).


Monday 2 March 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha + an invitation

Hi all.

This week @ Beaches
This week we have one of our regular speakers Gawaine Powell-Davies giving a talk called 'Whatever Arises Passes Away' - a principle that is very central to Gotama's teachings. I'm sure Gawaine's talk and discussion will be thought provoking as always.

A fundraiser concert - 29/3
Also, inspired by Suzanne's recent efforts, I'm hosting a fundraiser concert in support of Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). I have a friend who is an absolutely beautiful musician who is going to come and perform for us (check her out here). If you'd like to come and spend a couple of hours on a Sunday listening to her gorgeous voice over a glass of wine and practising generosity to this fabulous cause, please put the 3-5pm on Sunday 29th March aside (and let me know you're coming). 

I hope to see you on Thursday .

Tuesday 24 February 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi all.

This week at Beaches we kick off our regular sutta study for the year with Winton Higgins. We are up to Chapter 10 of our book Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization. This chapter is on the Five Aggregrates - an important one of Gotama's many lists. (I believe you can actually see the book for free on line - just Google it.) As always it's helpful if you can read it beforehand. And if you can't, you'll still benefit from the session.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday 19 February 2015

Crowdfunding help needed for a very cool Buddhist film

Hey guys. There's an award winning Irish film maker who wants to make a documentary about the first ever Western Buddhist who was an Irish alcoholic atheist hobo who came to Asia and Australia. The film maker needs some help with crowdfunding and has only 10 days to go (and he's a fair way off his goal). It's a film worth making I reckon! If you think so too, you may want to pledge some support (the crowdfuning site is a dana based enterprise!!).

Monday 16 February 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi all.

This week Sylvie Vanasse is going to facilitate an exercise on "What helps you through rough times?" It is aligned with self-compassion but also with recognizing our strengths and "taking in the good". It will be a practical activity followed by a debrief about the experience.

Hope to see you there.

Friday 13 February 2015

Last minute spots on Insight Dialogue 9 day retreat

Hi all.

Just a quick note to let you know that Gregory Kramer has had two last minute drop-outs from his 9 day Insight Dialogue retreat that starts tonight in the Blue Mountains. I know it's a long shot that anyone would be able to do a last minute dash to a 9 day retreat but I thought I'd put it out there as Gregory doesn't come to Australia often. His Insight Dialogue practice is profound and he's a wonderful dharma teacher.

If you happen to be able to go, see details here.


Monday 9 February 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - the eightfold path

Hi all.

Over the course of this year I'm going to give a series of talks/discussions on the 'eightfold path'. To refresh your memory, in traditional Buddhist doctrines this path forms the fourth of the Four Noble Truths (which we refer to as the Four Great Tasks).

This week's talk is on the first fold of the path which is 'view'. This fold happens to encompass the first three Great Tasks too. So it's a good overview of the dharma.

I hope to see you there.

Monday 2 February 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha

Hi guys.

We've decided that Jampa's Wheel of Life talks are probably going to be a feature of Beaches Sangha for the rest of its life :). This week we have instalment #5.

I hope you can make it.

Monday 26 January 2015

This week @ Beaches Sangha - Taking in the Good

Hi all.

As I opened up our website to send this week's post, I realised that last week I saved, but didn't publish, the weekly post. Sorry about that.

This week I'm probably going to run a session on 'taking in the good'. I say 'probably' because we've had a death in the family. My cousin, whom I was very close to, died last Thursday in a car accident. I found out about this when I got home from sangha last week.

I've asked Betsy to have a Plan B in case I don't feel up to doing the session, but so far I think I'll be good to go. Interestingly, I spent 6 days last week in a training course on 'taking in the good' with Rick Hanson, so it was an interesting time to receive the sad family news.

'Taking in the Good' (technically called 'positive neuroplasticity training') is a powerful practice that can be harnessed in 10-15 second bursts on a daily basis. Done fully, it literally changes the neural structures in your brain. I've had first hand experience with it that had lasting positive effects, so I can attest to it being more than just a theory. I'm going to give a short talk on it and then guide you through the practice itself.

I hope to see you there.

Monday 12 January 2015

This week @ Beaches - facilitated discussion

Hi all.

This week at Beaches Sangha we are going to have a facilitated discussion on whatever arises. Neil will be our facilitator and the topic will be whatever arrives and asks for our attention. It's an opportunity to bring anything from life into a dharma space.

I hope to see you there.

Monday 5 January 2015

Beaches Sangha resumes this week!

Hi all, and Happy New Year! I hope you've had a restful and rejuvenating break.

After a month off (which has gone very quickly), Beaches Sangha kicks off its seventh year with a meeting this Thursday night. I'm going to run a session of reflection on the sangha-free month to segue back into the rhythm of things.

I hope to see you there.