orchard sangha newsletter september 2009
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DESCRIPTIONOrchard Sangha Newsletter September 2009
Newsletter 6 1 September 2009
The Orchard Sangha Newsletter
Rumi wrote Somewhere out beyond right and wrong there is a field; I will meet you there.
Spending time with relatives over the bank holiday I realised how limited the understanding of right and wrong can be, an understanding springing from our own view; which in turn springs from our experiences. How elusive is that field between right and wrong. What I do know and feel deeply is that practice is the path to that field, and part of the practice is deep listening. I hope you enjoy the beautiful words of Krishnamurti on page 6, who also said Listening is an art not easily come by, but in it there is beauty and great understanding. Words no doubt to ponder on as the festive season approaches and more time is spent in the company of friends and relatives.
In this issue we have some wonderful inspiration and poetry from Sonia, John and Marion plus a report on the Summer Celebration. You will also find Sarahs reflections on Ads summer retreat and Sonias advice on Healing Requests.
In metta Sandra
Editorial and Poems by Sonia 1 Sangha News 2 & 3 Advice on Requests for Healing 4 Inspirations 5 & 6 Autumn Programme and Ads 7 & 8 Summer Retreat Interconnectedness by Marion 9 Contact Details 10
Cracking, shaking, breaking This form, my body.
Can you see the Diamond Point?
Stars , wrapping my being Stretching to meet this ocean
Of limitless origins. Becoming,
Pulsating, Arriving, Passing,
Vanishing, Oh done.
Poems by Sonia
Newsletter 6 2 September 2009
As the dawn gently blossomed into day a small but perfectly formed group began to gather at The Orchard. Students came from as close as minutes away and as far as Devon, Scotland and even Hong Kong! There was renewing of old acquaintances and forging of new. Conversation flowed easily and even the sun shone, enabling lunch to be taken outside (too hot for me I eventually retreated to the coolness of the conservatory). Lunch well what can I say? Everyone did us very proud. The food was excellent with the table almost groaning under the weight of the offerings.
Although no formal programme had been arranged events slotted into place beautifully. The afternoon found us eagerly anticipating a performance by Amy and her father Brian on guitar. Amy had a spot at a local festival and we were to be the dress rehearsal. As Amy began to sing mouths opened and eyes widened. I have often heard voices described as pure and I know now exactly what is meant. Classically trained, Amy surely has a great future ahead of her. We didnt want her to stop and when her final song came, sung in Welsh and French, it had a purity and depth of feeling that was felt by all. Absolutely magical.
Then Barbara noticed that Brian was strumming Big Yellow Taxi. There followed a glorious few minutes whilst we all joined in (or tried to) with Joni Mitchells hit, together with Scarborough Fair and one or two others. It served to prove that what we lacked in memory we made up for with intention.
Later in the afternoon Jo gave a demonstration of a straight sword form of Tai Chi (see Jos explanation on page 3).
To round off a wonderful day, there was a solstice bonfire nurtured by Steven - an excellent Fire Keeper - and some chanting led by Elizabeth from Devon.
Newsletter 6 3 September 2009
Anna Jones and Anne Mackintosh, on behalf of the recently disbanded Healing Shiatsu Practitioners Group, recently presented Ad and Sonia with a generous donation for the Orchard Sangha. Grateful thanks are sent to Anna, Anne and all the HSPG members for their support.
Now that Sonia and Ad's Autumn programme is out can we remind everyone that there is still plenty of bursary money left for those who have not yet taken advantage of this. The bursary can be used for both Sonia's and Ad's workshops. Enquiries please to Gini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My contribution to this year's Summer Gathering at The Orchard, apart from cake of course, was to perform the straight sword form of Tai Chi which I have been learning for some time. Several difficulties presented themselves in this endeavour - I had never performed in front of an audience (albeit a sympathetic and supportive one), on my own, or on uneven ground.
This form is called Chen Family Taiji Straight Sword and has been handed down through generations of the Chen family in China. I was drawn to it for its grace and balance, a meditation in movement where the body and sword become one. I have not learned it through any theory but by repetition of the movements in the same way as I learned the Chen style long form in Tai Chi. To help the memory each set of movements is given a name: homage to the sun, separate the grass to seek the snake, wild horse leaps over stream, black dragon sways its tail. Not only are these names beautiful in themselves with their reminders of ancient teachings, but as I repeat them in my mind as a mantra to focus my attention, they have an inner symbolic resonance whilst connecting me to natural and mythical worlds: pluck the stars and change the constellations, falling flowers, eagle and bear battle with their wits, blue dragon comes out of the water. Straight sword has now become an extension of my Tai Chi practice.
Newsletter 6 4 September 2009
REQUESTS FOR HEALING
In the medicine Buddha meditation the first aspect to contemplate and to adjust is our motivation. The text says Reflect on our illness and pain and on the illness and pain experienced by others and generate a strong desire to be free of pain and suffering and to help others to be free of pain and suffering.
This is asking us to meet and to know the inevitable truth that there is suffering, to be moved yet not overwhelmed by this truth. This in turn cultivates compassion, which is the ability to experience the suffering of others plus the ability to do something about it. This reflection on the pain and suffering experienced by ourselves and others is not meant to be depressing, on the contrary it can foster an unshakeable desire to be of service in whatever form is possible.
The second sentence recognizes that this is quite a task and that we need some help to be able to support others in time of shock, despair and pain: As an effective means to do this, we will commit ourselves to invoking the healing forces within us, embodied in the Medicine Buddha, to the means of actualising these forces and to those who are able and willing to support us in this process. This takes into account that we alone have limitation and if we do not want to feel overwhelmed or inadequate when faced with the suffering of self and others, we need to train ourselves, to find a suitable practice, teacher and friends who will support us in this journey.
Here, what is offered is the practice of the Medicine Buddha but there are many other practices which will do just as well. I would like to share what I do when I receive a request for healing or when I hear of yet another tragedy.
First I make sure that I am in a wholesome state that is not tired physically or mentally, that I am openhearted and in a good frame of mind.
Depending on my circumstances I can choose from the various ways of sending support to those in need. Throughout the day I hold the person in
my mind-heart and from time to time I stop briefly and mentally and say may this being be well and happy and free from suffering, if I know their name then I say their name instead of this being.
At the end of formal practice I dedicate the benefit of my practice to their well being, again I repeat mentally the sentence above together with their name.
Any moment of joy or positivity I might experience during the day I offer it to their well-being.
Or I do a full practice of M.B dedicating and include those in need by name, repeating one to three mantras per name.
My understanding is that the power of the joining of mind-intention will support those who meet challenging times in their life so just one thought coming from an open heart can be transformative. It does not have to be elaborate. It is a natural response one has towards a loved one; here the practice is to extend the same loving attention to someone who you may not know. I remember Namgyal Rinpoche asking us to give him news of how the person was doing. Are they better, worse? Do they need to be taken off the list? Again a few words of feedback would be enough. So I would like to invite anyone who feels that they can and would benefit from this practice of responding to a request for healing to join the Blue Healer Minds. Simply give your contact to Sarah Hill (email@example.com), you can join or ask to be removed from the Blue Healer Minds at any time according to your circumstances. If anyone has a personal question regarding this practice I would be happy to help. In this case send your question, anytime, directly to me: Sonia (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Newsletter 6 5 September 2009
Reflections on the Holy Island Tai Chi Retreat May 2009
Located off the west coast of Scotland near the Isle of Arran, Holy Island has an ancient spiritual heritage stretching back to the 6th century when the Celtic Christian Saint Molaise made a small cave his hermitage. Since then the Island has served many different owners and functions. In the 1970s it became a wildlife sanctuary and the east sid