Photo by David Brazier
SUMMER SCHOOL IN FRANCE
8-12th August 2022
At Eleusis, Central France - In person only
As last summer, a time for relaxed living in good company, sharing poems and other writings over brunch, Dharma discussions, going for walks, good conversation, community, communing with nature in the adjoining 35 acres of meadow and woodland where we hope, eventually, to establish the Oasis 2 Project. A chance to unwind in good company and tranquil surroundings well off the beaten track.
Full board: 30€ per day, lower rate if you stay longer.
13-14th August 2022
OBON: CELEBRATION OF FAMILY & ANCESTORS
At Eleusis, Central France - In person & Online
Chiamo gli antenati
Apro le danze!
- Obon haiku by Angela Romani
This year Global Sangha will celebrate Obon on the second weekend of August, which is also full moon, so this will incorporate the August Upavastha. Some of the event will be online. A more full and comprehensive event will take place at Eleusis, including a visit to the nearby community at Oasis. Nembutsu; chanting; readings; meditation; offerings to the ancestors and spirits; odori dancing and other celebratory activities. In person participants may stay longer if they wish to have some time for relaxation and to enjoy the area.
Full board: 30€ per day
Online: 25€ for the event
15-20th August 2022
BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY SUMMER SCHOOL
At Eleusis, Central France - In person only
Of particular interest to those already on or hoping in the future to join the Buddhist Psychology Diploma Programme, but open to all who are interested, the Summer School will include seminars, workshops, experiential groups, demonstrations and discussions. There is no better way to deepen one's understanding and learn and refine skills. The event will be at David Brazier's house in France. Accommodation is limited so this will be a first come, first served, booking. This course is almost full.
Full board: 30€ per day
Book now: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/globalsangha/677962/
Info: Jisshas <[email protected]
Please note that Eleusis France has limited accommodation space: Eight people maximum including host. There is, however, plenty of outdoor space if you prefer to camp. Life here is simple and rustic.Informal visits may also be possible at some other times than for the scheduled programmes.
BP COURSE NEWS
"ENCOUNTER & PATH"
This past weekend we had a rather wonderful meeting of staff, students and others with talks, discussions, an experiential group, a therapy demonstration, and an excellent good-spirited coming together of people interested in Buddhist psychology as a path of professional development, an aid to everyday life and/or as a valuable skilful means of putting the Dharma into practice.
REFLECTIONS ON PSYCHOTHERAPY & BUDDHISM
Yaya de Andrade
On 21st May, Yaya de Andrade gave a talk organised by Heartland Sangha reflecting upon her rich experience. Originally from Brazil, Yaya has worked extensively with populations recovering from major disasters and traumatic events around the world. In this talk she discusses how her Buddhist training and practice have supported her work as a therapist during her long career, and now as a volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross.
ELEUSIS & OASIS NEWS
THE GARDEN AT VERNAIS
Il existe, à quelque 15 km de l’Oasis de Longue Vie, à Vernais, un jardin magique appelé « Jardin d’Elisée ». Sur un terrain jadis en friche, les propriétaires ont créé, au fil des ans, un parc magnifiquement aménagé avec une pléthore de fleurs et de plantes, y compris un chêne vieux de 400 ans ! Comme nos visites dans le jardin d’Elisée sont fréquentes, les propriétaires offrent généreusement aux Oasiens(nes) la possibilité d’y faire de temps à autre, une séance de Qi Gong ou une séance de méditation. Nul doute que ce lieu de toute beauté saura nous inspirer et nous inciter au recueillement !
About 15km from Oasis and a little less from Eleusis there is a charming garden or "parc floral" called Jardin d'Elisée. On what was once fallow land the proprietors have created, over the years, a wonderful park with many beds of flowers and ornamental plants. There is also a 400 year old oak tree. We often visit and buy plants, wander in the grounds, relax and enjoy the beauty. The owners have extended invitation to the Oasis community to hold sessions there for Qi Gong or meditation. A great spot for calm and contemplation.
STORMS IN CANADA
A correspondent in Canada reports what happened last week: "Several tornadoes. 190- 200km winds at the centre. Took down several main hydro towers that were supposed to withstand high winds. Snapped telephone poles. No longer saying when the power will be back. Huge infrastructure damage… I have two trees down at the entrance. One has fallen on the power line. It was evidently a tornado. 5-600,000 people without power in the region Schools closed in the region. Emergency shelters & charging stations to get water being set up in community centres. More damage than either the ice storm or the huge power outage that happened almost 20 years ago now. I drove into [the local town], there were lineups at the gas stations for petrol for people’s generators. The two grocery shops in town were out of ice and water. I managed to buy ice at a sample convenience shop. My neighbour has offered me water. He will turn on his big generator for a couple of hours each day to get water for the horses, and for his family."
La sposa di Siddharta
by M. Paola Gragnani
Angela Romani: This book is actually a love story. The love between Yashodara and Prince Siddharta. It's a novel where Buddha's wife is recognised by her beauty and grace, as well as her virtues like humility and compassion.
The events narrated are mostly taken from historical sources, but there are also some imaginary scenes. Through the story of Yashodara, the Buddha is delineated.
When queen Maya was giving birth to Siddharta, another queen, Pamita, in the realm of Koliya, gave birth to Yashodara. She was the cousin of Siddhartha, as Pamita was Suddodhana’s sister.
The book starts with the episode of the rose apple tree. Siddharta had been very troubled by seeing how the ploughing, an important ceremony held every year, was very cruel, because many little animals that lived under the ground were destroyed, but at the same time birds found their food, and, sitting in meditation under the rose apple tree, he probably had the first jhana, touching the reality of life.
During his youth Siddharta used to meet Yashodara, his cousin, in a big field, open space. Both of them used to ride their horses, and they got on very well. In that place Yashodara took care of untouchable people, feeding them and providing for their urgent needs. The prince was very impressed by her compassion and humility. She used to dress in a very simple way. Yashodara fell in love with the prince very soon. The prince too was moved by her beauty and her noble soul.
According to the story, Siddhartha first saw the cremation pyre of a corpse when he was with Yashodara. He first saw an elder and sick woman when he was walking with her in Kapilavasthu as well. In both cases he was well supported by Yashodara, because she knew very well the suffering in the world, and probably she affected him with her humility and great compassion.
One day their parents organised a big competition where Siddharta participated just because the award would be delivered by Yashodara, while their parents would prepare the conditions for a wedding. The most formidable other contestant was Devadatta, who had his eye on Yashodara.
Of course Siddhartha won the competition, he was very good at martial arts as well as at cultural disciplines, so he received the award from Yashodara and also gave her a precious gift as a clear sign of asking for marriage.
The marriage was a great ceremony, Yashodara was as beautiful as a goddess. All was perfect and desirable, but a slight shadow was there in Prince Siddharta and Yashodara felt an inquietude about this, also because of the Asita prophecy. Asita predicted that the child would become a Buddha.
The couple were happy. They loved each other a lot, but the prince was often absent-minded and always keen on exploring the world outside. After seven years they had a child, Rahula, and there were celebrations for the great event. Yashodara felt very tired, not only for the childbirth, but because the sense of inquietude grew, even though she didn’t clearly know the reason.
As we know, one night Siddharta left the house and Yashodara was devastated by the pain. She asked his charioteer (Channa) to look for him and to convince him to come back, but the mission didn’t have the result she hoped.
So, after Siddhartha's departure, the life in the house went on, even though the pain was still in the heart of the inhabitants. Rahula grew up, he was a lovely child, but, when he played with his friends sometimes he got dark, and the servant, Lalita, once asked him what was happening. The little Rahula answered: “ All my friends have got a father. I'm an orphan instead!”, and : “When he’ll come back I don’t want to see him”.
Yashodara’s servant Rohanna recommended going to a woman who knew all kinds of herbs, and who could make a potion for Siddharta to come back home. Yashodara didn’t agree, she didn’t want him to come back without his will. Finally, moved by the pain of her son, she went to the woman for the potion, and the woman said: “Sometimes there are big commitments to do in life, and one has to accept to sacrifice something. I wouldn’t give you any potion for a person that doesn’t love you”, so she prepared the potion for her.
After seven years away from home, Siddhartha came back to visit his family. Like a strong wind that brushes the field, the news that Siddhartha had become Buddha spread everywhere. He came with his disciples. His face was radiant, wearing an ochre cloth, and only a slight ripple on his forehead showed emotions. Yashodara came along, elegant with simple dresses, regal in bearing. She was angry, saying to him: “How could you leave me and our infant, did you forget all the saptapadi vows?”
She told him all she had suffered in her heart, living alone and knowing that he was in the forest like an animal! She survived because a superior power supported her, she said. Siddharta listened to her very carefully, then he answered in a very kindly manner, saying that he has always loved her and he still loves her, but “another power” called him: he has to follow the path to liberate all sentient beings.
When he finished speaking Yashodara saw him enveloped in a violet light, and suddenly realized that the truth was inside him. Rahula, instead, was suspicious and surly towards his father. When Yashodhara, remembering the potion, gave it to her husband, he didn’t want to drink that nectar, leaving it to the son, who sipped it. The result was that the son clutched at his neck and didn’t want him to leave anymore. The Buddha told him that he would follow him in due course. When the Buddha left again, Yashodara said to her son that Buddha never goes away, he’s always with them. The child, surprised, thought he must have the sun in his eyes, because he saw a great halo of light around his mother. Even Devadatta changed his behaviour and was moved by the Buddha.
The story contains both love and dukkha. Dukkha of Yashodhara who loses her husband and dukkha of Siddhartha who has to leave his beloved family, for something bigger. Yashodara affected Siddharta in many ways, showing him the reality of the world, always being beside him, as a support. She didn't surrender to other suitors. Yashodara, as a woman, has a close connection with the earth and with the phases of the moon. But the prince has to experience all that suffering, not only see it. Only after crossing the hell could he be enlightened.
Lifestyle descriptions in the palace lead us to an imaginary stereotype, where material things and blindness of the suffering is supposed to be what we want, but a noble person wants the truth, and Buddhist psychology helps see the truth. I can see the different “sacrifices” they both gave for the same aim.
In Buddhist psychology we spoke about rituals, and this story started with one of the most ancient: the ploughing. The life of mankind has always been dependent upon mother earth. The ritual to propitiate was very important. After the ritual Siddhartha experiences birth and death going together for the first time, whereas Yashodara experienced that in her charity commitments towards untouchable people. At the end of the story we can see the importance of listening, and how love changed Yashodara's perception, so that she transformed anger into love, and in Rahula as well. When I read the book, I was very surprised about the episode of the potion, but now I see it as an alchemy, a transformation.