I recently tried to watch a documentary on Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist. I say try, because after watching for a few minutes strong emotion surfaced within me and I cried. To consider that the fate of our ability to live on this planet rested on such young shoulders was a very emotional and sobering thought.
Throughout human history it has been down to a few individuals, holding a clear vision of the problem and what needs to be done, to lead the way out of whatever mess we have managed, collectively, to get ourselves into.
Sometimes their voice is not heard and they are forgotten, sometimes their voice is strong enough to be heard, even after many years have passed.
One such person, maybe an idealist and certainly a visionary, was the Buddha. He saw that we, the human race, were going about things in completely the wrong way. Allowing our distorted sense of personal security and success to cloud our view of the world around us and our relationship to it. We could not see that those relationships, those conditions which we need to survive, can so easily be destroyed or stopped from even existing. There is no getting away from the law of Pratītyasamutpāda – ‘Conditioned co-production’ or ‘Dependent Origination’ which the Buddha explores in all his teachings.
The Buddha, even though he talked with Kings and came from a privileged background, led a very simple life. He trod lightly on the earth, with few possessions or accoutrements, being far closer to nature than we, in our modern age, would feel comfortable with. He walked, probably barefoot, the flat lands of North Eastern India, a landscape with many similarities to East Anglia. In this complex, modern western materialist world it is hard to lead a simple life. However, we can learn to simplify our lives, and not continue to make them even more complex. Whenever we buy something we should ask ourselves this very pointed question: Do I really need this thing? One of the ways we hide from the Truth of the world around us, and build an ego to protect ourselves from understanding that Truth, is by ‘consuming’. The economic business world looks at you and I as consumers, with needs that can never be satisfied, because those needs are actually emotional and not material.
So at this time of year we, as Buddhists, celebrate that great liberation from that type of thinking, we celebrate human Enlightenment. Something that the Buddha achieved and that we too can achieve, if we continue to open our eyes to the beautiful world around us and see its Truth.
Our celebration of that world shaking event is on Sunday the 30th May. It will be a two-part celebration:-
Part one will be an online event when we will hear more about the Buddha and imaginatively walk with him as we share the path to Enlightenment.
Part two will be an in-person event held in Christchurch Park. The start of our ‘Meditation in the Park’ series of events. At this event we can recall that the Buddha sat outside under a tree on the day that he became enlightened, close to nature and awake to the world. The Buddha did this alone, but we are lucky in that we can sit in the park surrounded by the friendly Ipswich sangha, our Buddhist community all striving and moving forward in our efforts to become Buddha.
Whilst thinking about the Ipswich Sangha, I would just like to celebrate the efforts and generosity of our wonderful Sangha. The Pilgrimage Team have been raising money for the Indian Triratna tour company, Bodhi Tours, who have this past year, been left without an income. They have turned their attention and all their efforts to fighting the deadly second wave of Covid in India. Last night we raised over £4,000 to help this very worthy group of Order Members and Mitras. Saddhu to all!
And finally thinking of the Buddhist Centre, I am looking forward to when we will be opening our doors to you all, and the resumption of classes and events. This will occur in the week beginning the 21st June, if all goes according to the Government road map.