These are difficult and challenging times for all of us, and we hope that this newsletter finds you well.
As many of you already know, the temple has been closed since mid-March, due to the coronavirus restrictions, and we will be staying closed to all visitors until further notice. Scheduled events have been cancelled, and we are also closed to people coming individually to the temple.
We will still be checking emails, and phone and text messages, whilst we are closed.
Rev. Aiden will be continuing with the daily practice of the temple, with meditation periods and our daily ceremonies.
We hope that measures to try to control and limit the virus are successful. And we offer the merit of our practice to all who are affected by it.
We hope that you all stay well and healthy, and we look forward to welcoming you to the temple again whenever we are able to re-open.
Keeping up our Practice
At times like these, our Buddhist Practice can be a great source of strength and support, as we come to terms with our current circumstances. All of us are affected in some way, whether we are self-shielding because we are particularly vulnerable to the virus, whether we are self-isolating because we or family members have symptoms, or whether we are following the guidelines on social-distancing by staying at home.
And any of us may find ourselves in the position that we, or someone who we are very close to, will become very ill with the virus, and perhaps may die.
This is the reality of our present situation, and it perhaps brings home to us just how uncertain the future is. Through our practice we come to see that this is actually how it is all the time: human life is very fragile, and none of us ever knows whether we will still be alive in ten minute’s time, let alone a month or a year’s time. And in the present circumstances, this is a more obviously real and present possibility.
In Rules of Meditation, which we recite so regularly, Dogen reminds us that, “This body is as transient as dew on the grass, life passes as swiftly as a flash of lightning, quickly the body passes away, in a moment life is gone.”
And in the Shushogi he says:
Time flies quicker than an arrow and life passes with greater transience than dew. However skillful you may be, how can you ever recall a single day of the past?
Should you live for a hundred years just wasting your time, every day and month will be filled with sorrow; should you drift as the slave of your senses for a hundred years and yet live truly for only so much as a single day, you will, in that one day, not only live a hundred years of life but also save a hundred years of your future life.
The life of this one day, to-day, is absolutely vital life; your body is deeply significant. Both your life and your body deserve love and respect for it is by their agency that Truth is practised and the Buddha’s power exhibited:
The seed of all Buddhist activity, and of all Buddhahood, is the true practice of Preceptual Truth.
This is a real reminder to us that, right now, we have the opportunity to live fully, and to wholeheartedly give ourselves to, and express, the Life of Buddha. At what time could we live and practise, other than now? In what place can we ever practise other than right here? In this human body, with all its frailties. This is how it always is, but the present circumstances urge us to pay attention to it, in a way that we often don’t. They urge us to really engage with this reality, right now, rather than just ‘drifting as the slave of our senses’, and taking this life for granted. As Sekito Kisen reminds us at the end of the Sandokai:
This I offer to the seeker of great Truth,
Do not waste time.
To help us keep up our practice, and to help and support each other and stay connected, we have started having online meetings via Zoom. We have been doing morning meditation and morning service five days a week, as well as our Wednesday and Thursday evening meetings.
We have had a few teething issues, and are still finding out how to best make use of the technology, but a good number of local Sangha members have already joined us for the meetings that we have had so far.The details of these meetings have been circulated by email, but if you are an established member of the OBC Sangha and would like to join them, please get in contact via the website, and we can let you know the details.
The shed at the bottom of the garden looks quite good from the front, but on the inside you can clearly see that there are problems with the other three sides. Below is a photo of the plywood cladding on the back corner by the park fence. The different layers of the plywood are separating, rotting, and falling off. It’s no wonder that that back corner is so damp on the inside. The other end of the shed doesn’t get quite so much of the weather, but is still in quite a bad state and needs recladding too.
A few weeks before the coronavirus restrictions began, Rev. Aiden hired a van and picked up some cladding boards and other materials in order to renovate the shed. Below is a photo of the cladding boards drying after being stained to match the existing shed colour.
Work has now begun on taking off the old siding and replacing it with the cladding boards. A concrete footing has also been layed around the bottom of the shed walls, to stop animals from burrowing underneath it.
There is still quite a way to go, but hopefully the warm weather will make progress a little easier. We hope to bring you more photos in the next newsletter.
Signs of Spring
Our garden is gradually coming back to life after the winter, and the front border is looking particularly colourful at the moment, as some of the spring bulbs that we planted last autumn are now coming into flower. It’s a shame that we are not open for guests to see them at the moment, but hopefully the neighbours will appreciate them!
The back garden is looking very colourful too, and on a still day the scent of the hyacinths fills the air.
The temple is dependent on donations for its continued existence, and any financial support you are able to offer is greatly appreciated. Details of how to offer support can be found on the Donations page of the website.
All donations are received with gratitude