This page has the temple's most recent newsletters.
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Update on the Temple's Building Project
Those of you who are in regular contact with the temple, or who have been following its progress in the newsletter, will know that we have been planning for some time to carry out some building work on the temple building. At a meeting of the temple charity's trustees in early October, we decided on a firm of builders to carry out the work, and they hope to be able to start before the end of November.
Our property has worked out really well as a temple, but from the outset we knew that there were some modifications that it would be good to make. The main issue is that much of the property is accessed via the main room, which is our Meditation Hall. We intend to change the layout so that this room is no longer a thoroughfare, which will make it far more conducive to the practice of meditation.
In order to acheive this, the main items of the work include building a porch at the front, to give access between the downstairs rooms and provide space for two WCs, and moving the stairs so that they rise from the entry hall. We will also be converting the garage to provide downstairs accessible bedrooms and a shower room, and improving guest facilities upstairs by dividing the existing bathroom into two shower rooms. Taken together, these modifications will substantially improve the temple and allow it to function much better as a place of retreat.
The following photos show some of the main improvements that we are planning to make:
This is our Meditation Hall, showing the door to the kitchen on the left. This is the only way to get to the kitchen, which means that we have to walk through the Meditation Hall each time we need to carry things between the Common Room and Kitchen, which is far from ideal.
We close the curtain over the door for meditation, which is an improvement, but it would be much more respectful and appropriate to only go into the Hall for meditation, rather than using it as a corridor.
To give access to the kitchen we are planning to build a porch outside the front door, with the wall with the small window in it taken out to make one large entrance hall. The kitchen will then be directly accessed from this entrance hall.
The porch would extend up to the meter cabinets on one side, and to about one third of the way across the existing garage door on the other. The remainder of the opening would be bricked up, with windows in it for the rooms in the garage conversion.
At the back of the Meditation Hall is the access to the staircase (photographed before we moved in). Having this open means that in the winter we lose heat from the Meditation Hall to the upstairs, and it also means that any noise upstairs can be heard during meditation.
Again, putting a curtain across the opening during meditation periods helps somewhat, but it would be far more appropriate if the access to the staircase was from the entrance hall, as is more usual.
The opening at the back of the hall could then be closed in, giving much more of a sense of a protected safe space to practise meditation in. It would also have practical benefits in terms of heating the hall and moving around the property.
The total cost of the project will be about £69,500, and we are planning to have all of the work done in one go, so that we minimise the inevitable disruption that building work causes. If we can have the work done whilst we are forced to be closed anyway, due to the coronavirus restrictions, that would also be very helpful.
We are very grateful for recent donations and offers of interest-free loans, which mean that we now have about £40,500 to put towards the cost of the work. That leaves us needing to raise another £29,000 or so, and we have applied to a grant-giving charity who kindly supported us with a grant when we bought the property; we are hoping that they might help us with this project as well. We have also been offered a further long-term interest-free loan which will go some way to closing the gap, but we would still be grateful for any further donations, which would reduce the amount of money the temple would need to borrow.
We realise that these are difficult times in which to be trying to raise money for a project, but if you felt able to help the temple with a donation or interest-free loan of any amount, that would be very much appreciated.
If by any chance we raise more than needed, any extra will be used for the general purposes of the temple (and there will also be carpets and furniture etc. to buy).
Any help you feel able to give would be greatly appreciated.
Forthcoming Events: Festival of Founders Day
On Saturday the 7th of November we will be celebrating the Festival of Founders Day. This festival is an opportunity to offer our gratitude for the life and practice of all those who have practised Buddhism, from the far distant past to the present day. In particular we celebrate those in our own lineage who have passed on the teaching from generation to generation for over 2500 years, and are the founders of this temple. These include Rev. Master Jiyu (the founder of our order), her master Koho Zenji, Great Master Dōgen(1200-1253) and Great Master Keizan (1268-1325).
We will be holding the festival over zoom so that Lay Sangha members can join in from where they are. Details will be sent out by email prior to the festival.
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
Forthcoming Events: Festival of Kshtigarbha Bodhisattva
On Saturday the 3rd of October we will be celebrating the Festival of Kshtigarbha Bodhisattva. Kshtigarbha is usually depicted as a monk, carrying a staff and a “wish-fulfilling jewel”, and symbolises gentleness and the importance of offering.
It is traditional to make offerings of stones to Kshtigarbha; when we truly give ourselves to practice we find that this “ordinary pebble” we have offered, is in fact a precious stone. Anyone joining the ceremony is invited to have a small stone with them to offer during the ceremony.
Forthcoming Events: Festival of Great Master Bodhidharma
On Saturday the 5th of September we will be celebrating the Festival of Great Master Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma is an important figure within Zen, as he is credited with bringing the meditation school of Buddhism from India to China. His emphasis on “pure meditation”, and the need to spend time “just sitting” facing a wall, are still central to our tradition. This festival is an opportunity to celebrate the life of Bodhidharma and to focus on some of his important teachings.
Sad news of the death of Rev. Master Myfanwy
In early July we received the sad news that one of the senior monks of our order, Rev. Master Myfanwy, had died. Rev. Master Myfanwy was ordained at Throssel Hole by Rev. Master Daishin in 1983, and in 2002 moved down to the South West of England to start a temple there, which she named Dragon Bell Temple.
Following the government’s recent announcement about the relaxation of the lockdown rules, it will be possible for people to visit the temple individually again from the 4th of July.
Places of worship can reopen for services from then, but the temple is not legally considered to be a Place of Worship, so the guidelines that apply to us will be those for a residential household. The guidelines are that from the 4th of July, people from any two households can meet indoors at one time, and up to six people from different households can meet outdoors.
The Festival of the Buddha’s Birth
It was lovely to have so many people join our online celebration of Wesak, the Festival of the Buddha’s Birth, on Saturday the 9th of May. There were 20 of us altogether and we started the morning with two meditation periods, with walking meditation in between. For the festival itself, Rev. Aiden performed the role of celebrant in the temple’s meditation hall in the usual way, and we had a “backing track” which was played so that everyone could join in from where they were.
Wishing you all a very happy Wesak
At this time of year we would normally be welcoming people to the temple to celebrate Wesak, the Festival of the Buddha’s Birth. Unfortunately, we will not be able to meet in person this year, due to the coronavirus restrictions, but on Saturday the 9th of May we will be holding the festival over zoom so that Lay Sangha members can join in from where they are. Details will be sent out by email during the coming week.
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.Continue reading →
Festival of the Buddha’s Renunciation
On Saturday the 14th of March we will be celebrating the Festival of the Buddha’s Renunciation. Renunciation, or letting go, lies at the heart of all Buddhist practice, and the story of the Buddha’s Renunciation is a way of conveying the importance of this aspect of training. This festival day will focus on renunciation and letting go, and how we express this within our daily life.
Festival of Avalokiteshwara Bodhisattva
On Saturday the 1st of February we will be celebrating the Festival of Avalokiteshwara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The name Avalokiteshwara is Sanskrit (Japanese: Kanzeon, Chinese: Kwan Yin, Tibetan: Chenrezig), and means “The one who hears the cries of the world”.
Events on New Year's Eve
On New Year's Eve we will be holding the traditional New Year’s Eve Ceremony, starting with meditation at 7.30pm.
During the ceremony we recite the Scripture of Great Wisdom, and a ceremonial copy of the scripture arranged in a fanfold design is "revolved", symbolically showing it and offering it in all directions. After this we all drink a glass of celebratory New Year juice together, making a wish for the peace and prosperity of the temple and the Sangha during the coming year.Continue reading →
Wishing you all a very merry festive season and best wishes for 2020.
Thank you all for your support during this past year, which is very much appreciated.
Festival of the Buddha’s Enlightenment
and Fifth Anniversary Celebration
The understanding that the Buddha came to during his enlightenment is the basis for the whole of Buddhist practice, and on Saturday the 7th of December we will be celebrating the Festival of the Buddha’s Enlightenment to mark this important event in the life of the Buddha.
Festival of Founders Day
On Saturday the 2nd of November we will be celebrating the Festival of Founders Day. This festival is an opportunity to offer our gratitude for the life and practice of all those who have practised Buddhism, from the far distant past to the present day. In particular we celebrate those in our own lineage who have passed on the teaching from generation to generation for over 2500 years, and are the founders of this temple. These include Rev. Master Jiyu (the founder of our order), her master Koho Zenji, Great Master Dōgen(1200-1253) and Great Master Keizan (1268-1325).
Monastic Gathering at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey
As many of you know, Turning Wheel Buddhist Temple is part of a larger organisation, the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC), which is an umbrella organisation for monks and temples in the lineage of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett. The order has temples in the US, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as here in the UK. With such a wide geographic spread it is important that we meet together regularly, and we currently have monastic gatherings every other year, with the venue alternating between the UK and the US.
Recent Trustees’ Meeting
On the 24th of August we had a meeting of the charity’s trustees, with Rev. Alicia from Sitting Buddha Hermitage joining local lay Sangha trustees and Rev. Aiden for the day.
Festival of Great Master Dōgen
On Saturday the 10th of August we will be celebrating the Festival of Great Master Dōgen. Dōgen was a thirteenth century Japanese monk, and he has a very important place in our tradition, as he brought the Sōtō Zen school of Buddhism from China to Japan. This festival is an opportunity to celebrate his life and teaching.
Festival of Achalanatha Bodhisattva
On Saturday the 13th of July we will be celebrating the Festival of Achalanatha Bodhisattva. Achalanatha, the "Immovable One", represents commitment and determination in Buddhist practice. Achalanatha is portrayed sitting in meditation amidst the flames of the passions, and is not driven away from the place of meditation by them, however much they seem to burn. Achalanatha holds the Sword of Wisdom to cut through delusion, and offers us the rope of the Buddhist Precepts. To begin with this may seem like it constricts us, but when we look more closely we see that it liberates us.
The Festival of Kshtigarbha Bodhisattva
On Saturday the 8th of June we will be celebrating the Festival of Kshtigarbha Bodhisattva. Kshtigarbha is usually depicted as a monk, carrying a staff and a “wish-fulfilling jewel”, and symbolises gentleness and the importance of offering.