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

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

This week @ Beaches Sangha - sutta study

Hi all

This week at Beaches Sangha, the long promised sutta study begins. The suttas in the Pali canon are the most original version of the Buddha's teachings. If we want to adapt the teachings to our own place and time, we need to know what they were from the most original, least tampered-with source.

Over the next 18 months or so we'll be working or way through The Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis which contains 16 suttas that he believes are core to the dharma. This week we'll start with the Introduction which frames these suttas in some important ways.

If you'd like to join in, please make sure you've read the introductory chapter ready for discussion on Thursday night.

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

This week @ Sangha - haiku meditation

Hi all.

This week
This week @ Beaches Sangha, Selena will be leading a session on haiku poetry. This year we wanted to explore some creative and fun ways of attending to the world around and inside of us (meditating), and this is one of them. Bring along a notebook and pen and you can even have a go at it yourself if you'd like.

Next week - sutta study begins
Also, a final reminder that sutta study starts next week. If you'd like to participate, please get yourself a copy of the book The Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis, and read the Introduction in preparation for next week.

I hope to see you Thursday.

Monday, 15 January 2018

This week @ Sangha + preparation for sutta study

Hi all.

Listening meditation last week was a terrific start to the year. We even had some impromptu Indian chime-playing from Carol to add to the multitude of sounds that came our way during meditation. 

This week
This week we have our monthly Open Discussion where we focus on applying the dharma to our daily lives, discussing experiences or challenges that we face and how the dharma might help. We hope you can join us.

Sutta study
If you'd like to join in the sutta study program this year, a reminder that you need to get yourself a copy of The Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis. We'll set off on that adventure in two weeks' time. Please read the introduction to the book by then, so that the session will be most fruitful. It's a reasonable length introduction, so don't leave it til 5 minutes before sangha, but I think you'll find it very interesting.

This year's program
The program for the year is shaping up well, and we've updated it further this week. You can find it here.

Thought provoker
If you haven't already seen it, Winton Higgins wrote a short article in the SIM newsletter called Sanghas R Us. It's a timely thought prod as we start a new sangha year - indeed it's Beaches Sangha's 10th year. You can read it here.

Hope to see you at the hut on Thursday night.

(Photo by Yuriy Rzhemovskiy on Unsplash)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Welcome to Sangha for 2018

Hello, and welcome to 2018 everyone! I hope you've all had a lovely holiday season. Beaches Sangha resumes its meetings this Thursday 11th January.

Over the past couple of months, your SOG (Sangha Organising Group) has been working on a schedule of topics for this year that we think will be engaging and educative. We've chosen 4 types of sessions that we'll rotate through each month. They are:

1) Sutta study: we'll be studying a book which contains 16 important suttas from the Pali canon (the earliest recorded teachings of the Buddha). If you'd like to join in, you'll need to get yourself a copy of The Basic Teachings of the Buddha by Glenn Wallis. We'll start this in February.

2) Speakers: we've already got a number of speakers booked for the year and are waiting to confirm several more. A couple of them are open to suggestion in terms of topics, so if there's a topic you'd like to learn about, let us know.

3) Open discussion: we had lots of this last year and people found it really valuable. It's where we discuss how the dharma can help in our real life, day to day situations.

4) Wild card: prepare to be surprised - it'll be different each month. We have everything from sound meditation in the garden this week, to  poetry nights, our favourite podcasts, star gazing, and lots more. These nights are where we'll use creative ways to open to the dharma.

Click here to see what we've got lined up for you so far. We're starting this week with sound meditation led by Sylvie. Weather permitting, we'll do this outside in the garden.

Your SOG for this year is me, Selena, Sylvie, Renata and Kate. If you have any ideas for topics or for sangha generally, please do speak to any one of us. I'd also like to say a big thank you to Betsy who has looked after the program every year since Beaches Sangha started 9 years ago. Thank you so much Betsy. I've been there for all 9 years of it and I appreciate it very much. A thank you also to Florence who, although we didn't see much of her, was our Treasurer last year. 

I hope to see you this week for the start of a new year of sangha wonderfulness.

Warm regards