This page has the temple's most recent newsletters.
Please see the full list in the sidebar for older issues.
Re-opening the temple for in-person events
It has been lovely to be able to welcome visitors back to the temple over the last few weeks, which is a big step forward after having been closed for nearly eighteen months. Our initial events have just been for existing Lay Sangha members, and with a limit on the number of people who can come to each event, but the numbers coming in person have been gradually growing throughout the month.
Case numbers for coronavirus remain quite high, and we are heading into the cooler autumn weather, so for October we will continue to be cautious and have the same limit of four people per event. Existing Lay Sangha members can contact the temple by email, text or phone to book for events, and places will go to those who book first. All of the events will still be accessible via zoom as before.
We won't be starting to have introductory events just yet, although hopefully we will be able to start those again before too long. For now we haven't put the events on the temple website, but we will do once we are properly up and running, and once we are holding introductory events again.
We look forward to welcoming more Lay Sangha members to the temple again after such a long break.
New carpet for the new entry way
We had a delay in getting the carpet fitted in our newly-decorated entry way, as the carpet company hadn't been able to get it from their suppliers. Fortunately this was resolved in early September and the carpet was finally fitted towards the middle of the month. The picture below shows the view into the entryway from the front door.
At the far end is the door to the kitchen, and on the left-hand side there is a dog-leg which leads to a door to the rooms in the converted garage. The new entry way is many times larger than the original entrance hall, and will make a big difference when we have significant numbers of people here for events. We now have plenty of room for chairs, which there was no space for in the original entrance hall, so that people can now sit down as they put their shoes on.
The next picture shows the view looking back at the front door, with the doors to the two WCs on the right.
Opposite the WCs the new entry way connects with the original entrance hall, and the photo below shows the archway where the original front door was, with the original hallway beyond.
On the left is the door to the Meditation Hall, and to the right is the door to the Common Room. The door in the middle leads to the staircase.
Now that it is complete, the new hallway really helps to provide a welcoming space for visitors to the temple to arrive and depart, and is a big improvement on the original cramped entrance hall.
Forthcoming Events: The Festival of Great Master Bodhidharma
On Saturday the 9th of October 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.
In addition to welcoming a small number of visitors to the temple for the festival, we will also be holding the festival over zoom so that Lay Sangha members can join in from where they are. I hope you will be able to join us, and full details will be sent out by email prior to the festival.
An update on the temple's finances
Now that we are re-opening again it seems a good time to give an update on how the temple's finances have been over the recent period whilst we have been closed. It will be fairly brief, but there is much more information, and more graphs (which can be enlarged), on the Finances page of the temple website.
First of all, the graph below shows our "Core" Income month by month. This is made up of regular income from standing order donations (the blue bars), and donations placed in the temple alms bowl (guest donations, the red bars). The yellow bars are the sum of these two.
Whilst we have been closed we haven't received any Guest Donations in the alms bowl from visitors to events. However, a number of people have kindly dropped off donations at the temple, or made donations either online or by cheque, and as these are in lieu of putting donations in the alms bowl they have been included as Guest Donations. As a result, the income from Guest donations has been fairly steady over the lockdown period, although it has been gradually declining in recent months.
During lockdown a number of people kindly increased their Standing Orders, whilst some people have had to cancel or reduce theirs as their circumstances changed. Standing Orders are now at a similar level to the first half of 2019.
Our total Core Income is also at a similar level to the first half of 2019, which is really very good considering that we haven't had any in-person events during this time.
The next graph shows our "net core income", which is "cash incomings minus outgoings". When it is positive our income is covering our spending; when negative it isn't covering our spending.
The red and yellow "trend lines" show the running average over the previous 6 and 12 months, and help show the overall movement within the large month-to-month fluctuations.
Since we started repaying the mortgage in April 2018 we have generally not been covering our core monthly outgoings from our core income, and since Autumn 2020 the situation has steadily deteriorated, so that in recent months we have had a shortfall of well over £200 per month.
However, we also have some income from the chaplaincy work that Rev. Aiden does, and when this is included the graph looks like this:
This is the most important measure of how we are doing, and with this additional income the temple has generally covered its costs in recent years. However, the yellow 12-month trend line has been falling consistently since October 2020, indicating that the situation is deteriorating, and we didn't quite cover our costs in either April or June this year. July and August were significantly better than the previous few months, so that the red 6-month trend line has started to rise again, although it is still at a very low level.
The effect of the building work
The recent building work has been a major investment for the temple. As we paid for the work, between January and March 2021, our bank balance reduced significantly, whilst the value of the building increased as the work was completed. There is much more detailed information about this, together with additional graphs, on the Finances page of the temple website.
It's great to have had the building work done, but it has reduced our bank balance from around £40,000 to about £3,000, and we have also had to take on additional loans to fund the project. This is what we expected of course, but our bank balance is now about as low as we would want it to go so that we can be sure we can keep paying our monthly bills. Again, more details about this are on the Finances page of the website.
Where that leaves us
Despite being closed to visitors for the last 18 months, we have mostly managed to cover our expenses during that time, and we are really grateful to all those who have made extra donations to the temple to help us get through this challenging time.
Now that we are open again some of that extra help will be ending, but hopefully we will be receiving donations in our alms bowl as people return to the temple for events. So far, however, many people seem happy to keep joining by zoom, and not that many have come to in-person events. Although we hope that these numbers will gradually increase, it seems quite likely that people may not visit as often as before, now that the option of zoom is available.
It's great that people are able to join in from home, particularly if they are further away from the temple, but this is likely to have an impact on the financial support of the temple, as people aren't able to put donations in the alms bowl when they don't attend in person.
An alternative to placing donations in the alms bowl is to make donations online, and we would be very grateful for any donations made in that way. If you do online banking you can make a one-off donation direct to the temple's bank account; please get in touch if you would like to offer support in this way, and we can give you the bank details.
Alternatively, donations can be made by cheque, payable to Turning Wheel Buddhist Temple, and posted to the temple address.
Many Lay Sangha members have kindly set up regular monthly donations via standing order, which are really helpful in providing a steady basis to the temple's finances. If you don't already have a standing order, and felt able to support the temple in this way, we would be very grateful for your support. Please get in touch and we can send you a form to fill in, or give you our bank details so you can set it up yourself.
Even a small regular donation makes a real difference to whether we cover our costs each month.
We would also like to express our gratitude for all the support that we are already receiving; thank you to all those who are so generously supporting the temple through your standing orders, individual donations, food donations and other donations in kind, in addition to the support of your practice. Without your kind support we wouldn't be able to offer this place of Buddhist practice.
None of us know how the the coming months, or years, will unfold, but we trust that if the temple can be a place of true practice for all who seek the Buddha's way, then the support needed to keep it going will be forthcoming.
Wishing you all the best in your practice.
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
Welcoming visitors back to the temple
After being closed for nearly eighteen months, we will be welcoming visitors back to the temple from the start of September. However, we will be starting off cautiously, with events being initially just for existing Lay Sangha members, and with a limit on the number of people who can come to each event, as cases of coronavirus are still quite high.
Redecorating work continues
Now that our Meditation Hall and Common Room have been redecorated and are functioning again, attention has turned to the new entryway which leads to these rooms. The first parts to be decorated were the two WCs which are on the left as you come in the front door. These were painted in the first half of July, and the flooring was fitted on the 20th, so that these facilities are now ready for use when we start to have in-person events again.
Redecorating the Meditation Hall
We are very pleased that the redecoration of the Meditation Hall is now complete, and a picture showing the room before and after all of the building work and redecoration is shown below.
Redecorating the Common Room
We are very pleased that the redecoration of the Common Room is now complete, and a picture showing the room before and after all of the building work and redecoration is shown below.
The Festival of the Buddha’s Birth
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 again not be able to meet in person this year, but on Saturday the 8th 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.
We hope that you have a joyful Wesak, however and wherever you choose to celebrate it.
Completion of the Building Work
March the 26th was the date by which the builders had agreed to complete all the work on the property, and we are very happy to report that all of the building work was successfully done by then. There was still a bit of plumbing work to finish off after that, but that has now been done too, and we hope to get our completion certificate fairly soon.
Progress with the Building Work
The building work has continued to progress rapidly during February, and most of the work downstairs is now complete. Below is a photo showing the front of the property before and after the porch was constructed, and you can see that we now have the new front door, with a ramp in front of it to give easy access. The upstairs windows have also been replaced.
Progress with the Building Work
There has been a lot of progress on the building work in the last month, with the builders returning in early January and finishing off the roof of the porch. The new windows were installed on the 14th, and the photo below shows the porch in late January.
Events on New Year’s Eve
On New Year’s Eve we will be holding the traditional New Year’s Eve Festival, starting with meditation at 7.30pm. Unfortunately we won’t be able to meet in person for the ceremony this year, but we will be holding it via zoom.
Wishing you all a very merry festive season and best wishes for 2021.
Thank you all for your support during this past year, which is very much appreciated.
Festival of the Buddha's Enlightenment
The understanding that the Buddha came to during his enlightenment is the basis for the whole of Buddhist practice, and on Saturday the 5th of December we will be celebrating the Festival of the Buddha's Enlightenment to mark this important event in the life of the Buddha.
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.
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.