This movie is a tribute to Ajahn Brahm, prepared for his 70th birthday on 7 August 2021. It has clips from interviews with eminent monks and nuns, such as Ven Somdet Thepsirin, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ven Analayo, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, Ven Mettavihari and Ven Kusuma. There are scenes from Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australia and also from Dhammasara Nuns Monastery and also Thailand.
Venerable Canda features in this fourth episode of the ongoing series, “Love Letters to Myanmar.” by Insight Myanmar Podcast
Listen to the podcast here.
“Reflecting now on everything she received in her spiritual life from Burmese teachers and the wider monastic and lay community, Venerable Canda feels that now is very much the time to give back. Towards this end, she reminds practitioners: “I do believe we have to learn how to bring our practice on the cushion into every aspect of our life.”
To this end, if you wish to support their work in Burma/Myanmar, you can find details for donating by following the link here or by using the QR code below.
Foreword by Ajahn Brahmali
Mindfulness, shmindfulness. It’s everywhere. In many countries, large parts of the population have been exposed to this fashionable trend, sometimes to the point of weariness. More to the point, while the benefits of mindfulness have been publicised with much fanfare, are we really getting it right? Or could it be that we are missing out on the full potential of this ancient Buddhist practice?
The mindfulness movement has its roots in Buddhism. Early advocates used the ancient Buddhist idea to establish their own brand of mindfulness. In effect, they extracted one aspect of the Buddhist teachings, repackaged it using modern terminology, mixed it with contemporary psychology, and sold it as a tool to enhance emotional well-being and cognitive abilities. To make it more palatable to general society, they deliberately downplayed the connection to Buddhism.
There are serious downsides to this approach. Perhaps the most important of these is the loss of the context in which mindfulness appears in Buddhism. In Buddhism, mindfulness is just one factor among many that lead to enhanced well-being. In fact, mindfulness is not independent of the other aspects of mind but is founded on other more basic qualities. It is these qualities that give mindfulness its stability and power. Without them, mindfulness has a very limited effect.
Enter Ajahn Brahm. Sometimes it takes someone special to point out the obvious. Drawing on the Buddhist suttas—the word of the Buddha—he has pointed out that true mindfulness is always based on morality. Moreover, Buddhist morality is not just a negative morality of avoiding what is bad, but a specific positive morality of doing good. Only a good-hearted person will enjoy truly strong and potentially life-changing mindfulness. And by developing the good qualities of the heart, mindfulness will continuously improve.
Yet the true genius of a powerful spiritual teacher is to come up with new ways of expressing ancient wisdom. The word kindfulness combines a deep appreciation of the working of the Dharma with a playful imagination, both of which are hallmarks of Ajahn Brahm’s approach to Buddhism. Through profound understanding and light-hearted delivery, he imparts these life-changing teachings in an attractive manner to the world at large. Fun and wisdom, wisdom and fun. They always go together. And they are beautifully encapsulated in that innovative word: Kindfulness.
Happy birthday, Ajahn! For reasons not entirely selfless, we wish you many more years as a creative, inspirational, and wise Dharma teacher.
With the greatest respect and appreciation,
Ajahn Brahmali 1 July 2021
Download the full book here:
Latest Steps Toward Britain’s First Bhikkhuni Monastery!
By Venerable Canda Bhikkhuni, June 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has widened our eyes to the fragility and uncertainty of existence. Being subject to birth, old age, sickness, and death also means being vulnerable to the disappointment and even despair of having all our plans shattered, re-made, and then shattered again. This obvious lack of control can be scary and confronting, yet if we learn to surrender to each moment with an open heart, we may find new opportunities in disguise! “Ajahn Corona” (as Ajahn Brahm dubbed it), presented tough challenges, yet also brought unexpected blessings for Anukampa’s monastery project.
My initial concern was that prolonged lockdown, and the consequent absence of guests would bring progress to a standstill. I had to get creative in finding new ways to serve and build community. Over a year later I am delighted to say that we have not lost momentum but have made considerable steps to further both our charitable aims!
Aim 1: to promote the teachings and practices of Early Buddhism, leading to full Awakening.
Moving our teachings online brought wider international exposure to Anukampa yet more intimacy to our community. It humbles me that during tremendous physical and emotional turmoil, people had the courage to turn inward toward suffering. I received letters describing the teachings and community, as a lifeline ~ offering hope, comfort, wisdom and even joy ~ throughout times of overwhelm, loneliness and grief. I have been inspired to see people renew their commitment to and deepen their meditation practice, and as result my own confidence in Dhamma has increased. Sometimes, when our backs are against the metaphorical wall, we discover where our true refuge lies.
Aim 2: to establish the first “Forest Monastery” in England where women can train towards full bhikkhuni ordination.
Now, there are three main areas we need to focus on, to grow deeper roots:
1. Project management/ admin help
2. Monastery caretakers and local support
1. Project management/ admin help: Another wonderful result of our online teachings has been the emergence of new volunteers and project management help. Yvonne generously offered her mentoring as a gift, and we hired part-time professional admin help to lessen my load and free me up to eventually take on monastic aspirants. We welcome any donations towards our monthly admin costs. We would also love to hear from you if you would like to join our growing volunteer team: email@example.com
2. Monastery caretakers and local support: Building a monastic Sangha depends on having committed lay residents with an established Dhamma practice interested to live in community and support the Sangha’s daily needs. Such people are rare gems; however, there may be local support in Stroud. Stroud is a small town in the Cotswolds and one of our short-listed areas for a future “Forest Monastery,” so this is extremely exciting news! We recently formed a property search committee tasked with finding accommodation in the vicinity, with a view to move in November after the annual monastic “rains’ retreat” (vasssa). We will initially be looking at rental properties, so we can further assess the suitability of the area, but do not rule out purchasing if the right place appears.
3. Finances: The combined generosity of international supporters throughout the pandemic enabled us to meet the rental costs of our temporary Vihara (Bhikkhuni Residence) in Oxford and even build on our savings. This suggests that the outgoings of a permanent monastery may be within reach! Our trustees estimate that we are two-thirds of the way to affording a suitable place. As an independent charity with no financial backing from any other Buddhist organisation this is all thanks to people, perhaps like you, who come to our events and contribute in any way you can. We feel extremely encouraged by your support as it shows you benefit from our offerings and believe in our aims.
How Can I Be Involved?
Anukampa now need to build on their savings and would love to hear from you if you have ideas for any fund-raising initiatives (write to firstname.lastname@example.org). The charity continues to welcome regular standing orders and donations of any amount and every contribution is deeply appreciated. Ven Canda is currently on retreat, but please visit www.anukampaproject.org/events for Anukampa’s summer schedule with guest bhikkhunis Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Cittananda, as well as peer led Dhamma events. In December, Ajahn Brahm and Ven Canda are teaching a 7-day online retreat to help further Anukampa’s aims that you are welcome to join if your time-zone allows!