Mantra on Monday

OM AMIDEVA HRIH

This Monday we ended the class by chanting the Amitabha mantra. We chose this for several reasons: the previous week a discussion about chanting had arisen in the tea break; it is good to end the class with something meditative; it is the mantra Nandaketu was given at ordination and the simple tune has a haunting, pleasing sound.

A mantra is a sound symbol for a particular quality of the enlightened mind. They also have a written form (see visiblemantra.org if this interests you).  They are associated with a particular Buddhist figure which personifies these qualities in an archetypal way. Try an internet image search for ‘Bodhisattva’ if you want a taste of this colourful symbolic world.

A mantra can be chanted silently as a focus for meditation but can also be chanted (or sung) aloud. It is not as subtle when chanted aloud, however you get the advantage of instant feedback as to the quality of the effort you are making from the sound of the mantra.  If you are chanting in a group the harmony (or otherwise) between those chanting also becomes apparent.  Just as we can return to the breath during the day, to reconnect with our meditation practice, a mantra can be chanted silently for example when walking or  on public transport.  Mantras are a  nucleus around which many symbolic associations and memories of experience can congregate. This makes them a very rich object of concentration. They can even  be experienced as being protective. If your mind is in an unhelpful state, such as animosity then  the positive influence of the mantra, with all it’s positive associations, can help to change your state of mind to one that is more positive.

Here is the basic tune: Amitabha mantra

If you want to hear a more talented vocalist enjoying sung mantra try: http://mahasukha.bandcamp.com/album/longing

For more information on Amitabha and his mantra: http://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/amitabha

Nandaketu and David

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Why the breath?

As we breathe the sensations that are experienced can be used as the basis for concentration in meditation. It is not the only possible ‘object of concentration.’ There are other practices that use for example: metta, a mantra or a coloured disc. On Monday night we started talking about why the breath is a good focus to use. Here are some possible answers:-
The breath is internal so draws us inwards
The breath is always present
The breath is very linked to us being alive (no breath, no life)
The air we breathe is shared so links us
The breath is always changing so is interesting and connects us with a sense of change
The quality of the breath is intimately linked to our emotional/mental/energetic state

Best wishes

Nandaketu and David

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Thanks and more resources

This evening we revisited the Mindfulness of Breathing and told the story of the life of the Buddha up to the point of Enlightenment. We have been adding documents and links to the Resources section of this website including introductions to Buddhism and Meditation and a list of suggested books. Thanks so much for the all the help with gear and tea making. Hope to see you again next week.

Best wishes

David and Nandaketu

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A brief guide to Buddhist Meditation

Good to see many of you again this week and also some newcomers. Don’t worry if you miss a week just return whenever you are able to.This week (Jan 21st) we introduced the Metta Bhavana (universal loving-kindness) meditation and Nandaketu spoke about the Threefold Buddhist Path of Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom. Next week (Jan 28th) we’ll introduce the life story of the Buddha and return to the Mindfulness of Breathing; we will be alternating the two practices week by week from now on. Below is a link to a PDF document introducing both meditation practices.

Buddhist Meditation – a brief guide

Best wishes

David and Nandaketu

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Welcome to the Hornchurch Buddhist Group

Classes will commence at 7.15 pm on Monday January 14th at the Fairkytes Arts Centre in Hornchurch, Essex. All are welcome and there is no need to book.

Come along to learn to meditate, discover Buddhism and meet others.

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Fairkytes Arts Centre is easily accessible for people living in Havering, Romford, Collier Row, Upminster, Elm Park, Rainham, Harold Wood, Harold Hill and Cranham.