Happy New Year!


May all your virtuous dreams come true 

+ = : )

Make Friends with Loneliness (via Pema Chödrön)

How can you make friends with loneliness? 

~ and why would you?!
My friend who suggested these articles described loneliness as “an open wound. It hurts, and feels like it won’t ever heal.” Mother Theresa says “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. Not isolated cases – Thich Nhat Hanh describes how “Loneliness is one of the afflictions of modern life… it is universal in our society.

Doesn’t sound like something you’d want to hang around with. As Pema Chödrön says, “Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in.”
But, she says, “scrambling for security has never brought us anything but momentary joy.” It just provides us with changing suffering – the brief release we get from uncomfortable feelings, when we change the situation to a more comfortable one ~ before the discomfort still slides back in. (nb.’changing suffering’ is Geshe Kelsang’s phrase, not Pema’s)

¸   . •   ☽   *   ¨ 

Rest with the uncomfortable feelings

Pema suggests just resting with the uncomfortable feelings instead of trying to avoid them; beginning a “non-threatening relationship with loneliness”. We do this by sitting with the painful feelings, and changing our habitual responses to them. This transforms the pain into a much more manageable ‘cool loneliness’, which doesn’t hurt nearly so much.

After all, as Kadampa Buddhism reminds us, we’re born alone, die alone, and spend most of our life that way. So it makes sense to befriend loneliness. And this is what Vajrayana is brilliant at, transforming negative energies into something much better.

If we’re brave enough to sit alone with our own mind, we can achieve real peace. This doesn’t have to take years in solitary retreat, either. Just being aware which thoughts make you feel lonely, watching the feelings as they arise – not being swamped by them – but recognising them for what they are, and working with them, can bring immediate relief. 

This process really does take the sting out of any lonely feelings we might have, and is a necessary, heartbreaking, often joyful part of the spiritual path.

nb. The “not being swamped by negative minds” is an important point. If we feel more miserable than when we started, that’s defeating the point of meditation, which is to pacify our mind.
We have to be alert for negative minds, and take swift action to defeat them. This can be anything from a simple breathing meditation, which calms the  mind; or any other object of meditation we find helpful.

Sometimes though, it’s best just to get up and make a cup of tea. (Alcohol isn’t best BTW, it’s a depressant. Sure it dulls the sharp edges at the time, but it makes us feel worse afterwards. And it makes our situation harder to cope with.)
Go out for a walk instead.
Really, be kind to yourself.
You’re important.
Return to your meditation with a lighter mind, it’ll go better.

¸   . •   ☽   *   ¨ If you’re one of those folk who got here because you googled “lonely”, take heart, you are not alone. Please comment below if you want, and we can share some thoughts.

Ref: Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart (Shambhala Buddhist lineage)

tiny smilie fowie
See also:
to ‘lonely’ from Israel (and everywhere else) letter to my lonely visitors
Alone isn’t so Lonely
 – pt 1 of this lonely vs. alone series ~ why alone-time is cool.

I do like what Tich Nhat Hanh says as well. “To live alone is to live in mindfulness, free from worries about the past and future. We enjoy life as we live it right now. His is a more Zen approach. His book, ‘A Better Way to Live Alone’ looks at this.


Turn demons into cupcakes (animation)

Dharma Dreameater

This is proper lojong!
How to transform adverse conditions into the Spiritual Path, or demons into cupcakes. 

Dharma Dreameater ~ a night in the life of a Witchy Baku 😀

Alone isn’t so Lonely

Being by yourself isn’t a bad thing

– even at Christmas.
Despite popular belief,
alone-ness isn’t akin to loneliness.
Rather than the sadness and desolation of unwished for isolation; being alone allows us the freedom and space to really be ourselves.

There’s just something about this time of year that brings the ‘alone’ thing into sharp focus. It seems unnatural, somehow, to be quiet at a time of festivity. The well-meant concern of others, and their sympathy for our perceived loss, makes it feel like we should really be out there, having fun.

As one of my mate’s mum said this morning, “Christmas is such a weird time. People think that everybody’s partying, and they’re not! It’s certainly nothing to get unhappy about if you’re not. It’s such a palava about nothing! Our Tricia’s gone to Gibralta just to escape it all!”
Can’t say i fancy that, but away from the fuss n’bother, there’s another, quite different side of life, that finds happiness from another source.

to live alone is to live in mindfulness

As Tich Nhat Hanh says, “to live alone is to live in mindfulness, free from worries about the past and future. We enjoy life as we live it right now.

Whether we’re alone at Christmas (or just generally) by choice or chance; it’s our choice whether that’s a good or bad thing. Gotta admit, I’m comfortable with it.
If we can feel content in our own company, our body and mind can find their own balance. We find our thinking becomes clearer, and things start to make more sense. In this spacious environment, our minds become peaceful and free.

Yes, being faced with our own mind can get a little unnerving at times. That’s why so many people hate silence, and being alone. We’re all haunted by negative minds; but the trick is to apply loving kindness, both to ourself and others. The demons often dissolve into a peaceful, loving mind. If they persist (and bad minds do tend to be persistent little buggers) don’t give into them! That’s the joy of silence – a chance to sort our own mind out. * more on that later * Just be patient, and relax into it best you can.

And spending time alone doesn’t mean we’re anti-social, or are rejecting folk.
It just gives us space to unwind, relax, and settle back into the love for others we can find in our hearts. The space we have created allows us to cultivate that love. “When they listen to the song of their heart they find more love and compassion enter their dealings with others. This allows listening and real communication.” (top7business.com) This means that when we’re with others again, we are truly happy to be in their company; and we have just so much love to give 🙂 This good energy comes right back at us, as well.
: )

Shantideva’s forest retreat

See also:

Make Friends with Loneliness pt 2 of this lonely vs. alone series
How to be Alone ace video on you tube
Tich Nhat Hanh the space of alone
(I’m never that sure about the monks letting a suicidal farmer walk away – but the story makes a good point. Tich says that many of people’s toxic excesses – things like food, intoxicants and sex – are abused just to escape from the loneliness they feel. But it so doesn’t have to be like that.
As Jill Bolte (neuro-scientist) says “in this moment, we are perfect, we are whole, and we are beautiful.
Buddhist meditation:
nb. if you know someone who’s on their own this Christmas, even if they’re not online, please share this with them. No-one should feel bad being on their own at Christmas.

new FB page for Amitabha Bristol

Buddha Amitabha

Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Bristol has got a brand new and properly official Facebook page  now ( <- link underlined)
Why not pop over and check it out 🙂

Something you believe in? Just keep on keeping on, isn’t it.

I wasn’t expecting much response when I started this.
I just created the site becoz I had to do something after the Facebook page got killed off.

For my own mental health ~ better to channel that outrage and hurt into something productive, than get self-destructive or hurt someone else.

And because I couldn’t just dump the people who regularly checked in for Buddhist articles and our local centre updates, like they didn’t matter.
Because they do. People do matter!

I know they d0.
let things get to me. I hurt.
I hate being rejected, dumped, and generally disregarded.
And in that respect I am no different to anybody else, human or animal.
We all share a need to feel alright about ourselves and not suffer too much.
Don’t we?

I had a burning desire to share Buddha’s teachings, and a very strong feeling that people could use them. I reckoned it would pick up after awhile.
You know, the way things sometimes do.

Something you believe in? Just keep on keeping on, isn’t it.

Two months in and it does seem to be working ~ folk can get something out of it, and my sanity remains relatively intact 🙂
I’m one happy camper. 
I really am honoured to be able to help folks by sharing Buddhas timeless wisdom.

If you’ve tried to look at things from another perspective and it doesn’t seem to have made much difference, don’t worry. Like Geshe Kelsang says “just try, don’t worry.”
These things can take time.

Sometimes though, things aren’t meant to work out, and you just have to accept it. That helps clear the air karmically, and for all concerned.
Shrug, let go and move on.

Shit happens, you know? It’s just the way of things. And please comment here. Some very wise beings follow these posts, so we’ll see if we can help.

Thanks y’all for your support ~ totally invaluable.

Dharma Dog ~ MKMC photo

Mu at the Avalokiteshvara empowerment, MKMC


Sengai-Mu has accompanied me to numerous empowerments and an ordination.

Not for him, tho Chönden did say “that’s more than most humans get to do.” 
He tends to crash out in my wheelchair when it all gets too much 😉

(* Mu, not Gen Chönden ;~)

Sat 31st Dec – Death of the Old Year, Birth of the New


New Years Eve Celebrations!

A time to ring the changes, isn’t it. This article’s a post about Amitabha’s new years timetable, and a few things to think on.
Gotta say, I prefer new years to Christmas. This probably isn’t a good thing to admit on a new blog, but I’m just not such a fan of Christmas. Drearily pessimistic about the whole thing really. It just seems totally mashed up with consumerism and false expectations that everybody’s gotta have fun (generally in excess), coz it’s Christmas! If we let this selfish attitude take over, it really makes us miserable. Luna Kadampa‘s new article examines this further.

Gen Chonden made a good point in class the other day ~ Christmas is really a time for cherishing others. That’s what really makes us happy, not all this glitz and excess. Like that old song says “the christmas you get you deserve.” Just giving others as much unconditional love as we can, in whatever way is most appropriate; this is what makes Christmas truly a joyful festival worth celebrating.
And .•*¨New Years?*•.¸¸.•*¨Full of sparkly potential 😀

Let go of what no longer serves you

New Years at Amitabha Centre

The new year is a chance to say goodbye to the old stuff you don’t need anymore. Stuff that’s become heavy baggage. As the Kadampa Life article Clearing out the clutter from our mind states “we have to decide whether we want to lug all our mental stuff around with us forever,” or let it go.
Same goes for our material possessions. We have to keep on asking ourselves. ‘Do we really need this stuff?!’ We tend to be attached to the old, familiar ways of thinking and being. They aren’t always that helpful, and lead us down the same unhelpful paths.

Negative, outdated thoughts and behaviours do us more harm than good. But our grasping mind tells us different. The new year’s resolutions we make ~ even the ones we really mean ~ often get broken as we get on with life. “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” (Mark Twain) Sad but true. Attachment often means that even stuff we recognise as junk is hard to get rid of. This is because deep down, we just don’t want to. This deluded attitude does us no favours, and wastes our precious human life.

But there’s hope!

We always have choice

I like it when Geshe la says that.”We always have choice.”
For many of us, the new year is an opportunity to bring on the changes we really want to make. Our human life can be just so very precious if we want it to be!

As Vide Kadampa says, “recognise the special opportunity we all have, and make the most of it while it lasts! What we can do with this window of opportunity is amazing. We can free our minds from the usual nonsense and the superficial trivialities we normally immerse ourselves in. We can lift ourselves up and rise up above the clouds of mental clutter to the clear blue sky above.

Minds and environments become clear, pure and free. An unobstructed ability to completely be there for others.
We can have this for anything from a few moments, to years in meditation. In fact we’re there for as long as we remember the amazing potential that our precious human existence has.

Dharma links:
Vide Kadampa
, on recognising the precious nature of our human life and using it wisely, in the context of death and impermanence.
Geshe la’s free ebook Modern Buddhism is a good read too (link down on the right)

ABC Avalokiteshvara empowerment times ’11

Saturday 15th December
7.00am Wishfulfilling Jewel

Avalokiteshvara is the Buddha of Compassion

10.30 am Avalokiteshvara empowerment
2.00 pm teaching

7.30pm Offering to the Spiritual Guide

Guru Avalokiteshvara’s Blessings

If you can’t make it on the day, just sit quietly where you are, tune in and imagine you’re here.
You will get Guru Avalokiteshvara’s blessings, because he is not separate from your mind.

Conversations with Kadampas in Amitabha Buddhist Centre

Conversations  with Kadampas – ordained and lay – on how they integrate Dharma into their lives, and how they work with the challenges faced 



Amitabha Buddhist Centre

Being with others ~

Nat (N) and Maitri (M)
Dec 11
(cooking lunch at the centre for residents and café staff)

(M) How I integrate Dharma? I make sure i’ve got a structure to my formal practice. If I allocate practise times, nothing gets missed. Then it’s part of my daily life; and when i get in a difficult situation, i’m familiar enough with Lamrim etc, to use it.
I find chatting to the Buddhas about challenges makes it personal. I imagine their response – it can be unpredictable! But it’s always something worth thinking about.
If things are moving too fast i don’t like it. Then if I’m getting too stressed, I try to identify the negated object – the BIG ME! Then I can dissolve me and the stress away into emptiness 😀

(M) Things like ‘exchanging self with others’ are good. I try to remember that others feel pain like I do. That’s especially difficult when others seem OK or I dislike them, then it’s hard to think that they suffer. There’s no difference between my and others’ suffering – it’s just how people show it that’s different.
(N) Yeah, coz we’re really all the same deep down, aren’t we. I try to find something about others that i can connect with. It sounds terrible, but it’s gotta be something that appeals to my attachment!
Then I can enjoy talking to them about it.
(J) Nah, that’s cool – better than your eyes glazing over, or you just walking away, I’m terrible at that – I get tired too easily, and normally have other stuff to do -_-
(N) But it’s important that people know they’re not alone; you both have common ground, and you share the same problems. There’s normally something you can find. Even if it’s a related problem…
(J) …or you know someone else who has it.
(N) Right! So the person knows they’re not ‘the only one’.
(J) Feeling isolated is a horrid thing; but it’s important to be genuine about it, isn’t it. Like, don’t say “oh i’ve got that!” if you haven’t, coz that doesn’t help.

(N) No it doesn’t, that’s why you try and find the common ground. You’re not pretending –  it’s a genuine connection you’re making.

Sengai – the Importance of Heart Jewel ~

Dec 11
(driving us to the mall to buy empowerment offerings)

In answer to how he overcomes daily challenges, Sengai says he mostly relies on our Dharma Protector Dorje Shugdän

* baby therang

…because Geshe la says it’s an essential practise. And that doesn’t mean optional.  If you don’t do Heart Jewel daily, you’re not giving Dorje the chance to help you. Heart Jewel keeps you straight.
(J) You’re so right. Duldzin moves you along the Spiritual Path ‘according to our needs and wishes’. He makes things happen don’t he – helping us overcome difficult situations with Dharma, so that we learn how to use it effectively; and removing obstacles that we really can’t deal with. You know, like it says in Kangso, Duldzin appears ‘as if in a drama‘ as whoever we need. Whether we experience them as ghastly or great – they’re just what we need!

(S) Even therangs.
(J) Ooh! they go with Dorje Shugdän’s planetary maras don’t they?
(S) Vast oath-bound retinue. I got a picture of one here 😉 —>

How do you feel about the points raised – do you have a similar view, or another way of looking at the issues raised?
leave a reply below…

nb. * pictures of baby therangs are rare, but our team of experts think these qualify

baby therang?

Maitri  is a coordinator in BANES Children’s Services. Somerset, England
Sengai is a pale, mythical warden of the treasure at Argos. Bristol, England
Therang pictures taken in the UK  

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