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A life of Celebrations

These current few weeks in the past and in the future, for me, seem to be coloured by celebrations.

We don’t often look on the bright side of things. Researchers tell us, we as humans have a negative bias, always looking for what has gone wrong. An ancient survival instinct so that maybe we can fix it.

But it is good to spend some time counteracting that tendency and giving life, your thoughts a positive bias, if only for a little while. We can simply do this by creating, partaking and enjoying celebrations of events that are happening around us. So I will just mention a few of the celebrations that have been going on in the Ipswich Sangha and some outside of that sphere.

We have just had a great celebration to which all the Sangha where invited. That is one of our Mitra ceremonies. There four members of our Sangha declared themselves as Buddhists, and more particularly as Triratna Buddhists. So with over 40 people in our Shrine room, we witnessed Simon, Henrietta, Andre and Jodie make offerings to the 3 Jewels and become Mitra’s. The rejoicing in merits of those four new Mitra’s was very
inspirational and gave a such a positive spin on a troubled world, that mine and probably many others’ hearts were gladdened for days afterwards.

As is often the case we had the family and friends of the new Mitras present, and from talking to them afterwards they where surprised at such a positive and uplifting atmosphere that was created by our love and gratitude for having those new Mitras in our Sangha.

An event that was celebrated at the Centre, and for which there will be more celebration to come at the Colchester Centre, was the death of Advayamati. Many of you have started your Buddhist journey in one of his introduction to Buddhism classes. Classes which he gave for 14 years at our Centre. In the last few years of his life he moved to Bristol where he continued to teach the dharma. So the gratitude that we feel toward Advayamati, the help he has given many of us, is something to celebrate.

The last event I am going to highlight in my list of celebrations is the meeting of the Triratna International Council. Which may seem an unlikely choice. But, like many in-person meetings it has been postponed for 3 years. Triratna worldwide has had difficulties in many areas during the pandemic years, and the work of resolving those difficulties has had to rely largely on online meetings. Now with an international gathering of delegates from around the world we can assess the state of Triratna, set priorities and prepare to move forward once again. The increase in numbers of people looking for a meaningful way of living, that we in Ipswich have experienced, has been repeated all around the world. So just like us in Ipswich, rising to that challenge and those forces of expansion is something that we must meet if we are to, as the Buddha might say: “cure the world of its sickness”.

So a word to the future. In your life, and the lives of those around you, look for reasons to be grateful and celebrate the joy that is contained in every moment. You can use ritual, in its many forms; you can sing and dance; or you can just be joyous internally and quietly celebrate the beauty that is all around you, in all endeavour, but more especially in spiritual endeavour with a Bodhi heart that leads all beings towards Enlightenment.

As a Buddhists, we are lucky that we have a tradition that does celebrate the positive aspect of life, that is active in helping us see, through cultivating positive mental states in Meditation and in rituals, that the world is really a joyous place and to spend as much time as we can being aware of that fact, and not giving in to our all too human negative traits and biases which are typified by the three poisons of Greed, Hatred and Delusion.

Saddhu to all those who tread this path, in the past, in the present and in the future. Have a good month and don’t forget to come and celebrate Sangha day, with the rest of the Ipswich Sangha.

Bodhivamsa, November 2022

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