Green Tara

oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā

The mantra we are chanting at end of the class at the moment is that of Green Tara.  This intimate, approachable, enchanting aspect of the compassion of the enlightened mind is traditionally visualised as a beautiful sixteen year old woman.  She is the colour of verdant vegetation and has long flowing blue-black hair.  Smiling down at us, the figure has her left foot drawn up in cross legged meditation posture and her right extended as if she is stepping down to help us.  Her right hand is making a gesture of giving. Her left is held in front of her heart, the fingers are positioned in a delicate mudra with the third finger and thumb touching.  The remaining fingers are straightened as a reminder of the the Three Jewels. Tara is often depicted as holding her emblem an exquisite blue lotus flower (Utpala). To see some of the ways Tara is depicted try an image search on Google.

Tara is often considered the most approachable of the Buddhist figures and traditionally is said to always respond to cries of help.  She is known as Samaya Tara because she is always faithful to the bond of those who call on her.  She is popular in Tibet (Dolma in Tibetan) where there are said to be other Tara’s. Another popular  figure is White Tara which we will look at on another occasion.

Here is a sound file of the Green Tara mantra.

Tara

Best wishes to you all

Nandaketu and David

Establishing a Regular Meditation Practice

Morning all, hope everyone is well

Here is a link to Nandaketu’s handout from Monday the 11th on Establishing a Regular Meditation Practice

A couple of other points to note. There will be no class on Easter Monday as Fairkytes is closed on that date and indeed on all Bank Holidays. Also in the coming weeks both Nandaketu and David will be away on retreat at various times so we’ll be bringing along some other members of the Triratna Buddhist Order to help out and share their experience with the class.

Best wishes to all

David and Nandaketu

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Recognising and dealing with the hindrances in meditation

Hi everyone, I hope that all are well. Please find below the link to this week’s handout, we’ll be continuing to explore this area on March 4th.

Recognising and dealing with the hindrances in meditation (PDF file)

This is a brief summary of the traditional categories of hindrances, the traditional similes for them and some suggestions for working with them. It is good to learn to begin to recognise the hindrances as and when they arise as this then puts one in a in a better position to counter them and move toward deeper absorption in meditation.

One traditional antidote that couldn’t be fitted fully on to on to the sheet is to “Go for Refuge”, which means essentially to call upon one’s confidence and faith in the ideal, the teachings and practices, and in one’s own potential and abilities. The Three Refuges are synonymous with the Three Jewels of Buddhism and are the Buddha, being the ideal of Enlightenment to which we aspire, his teaching and the path of practice known as the Dharma and the Buddhist community known as the Sangha. See also Saluting the Shrine  and a Rough Guide to Buddhism.

Best wishes

David and Nandaketu

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This week and next

Hi everyone.

This week (Feb 18th) we explored the Metta Bhavana – loving kindness meditation in more depth. Here is a link to the aide memoire on the subject that was handed out, this is a PDF document.

Next week (Feb 25th) we’ll be returning once again to the Mindfulness of Breathing and looking more closely at those aspects of our meditation experience that can encourage us to become more concentrated and absorbed, and also those aspects that sometimes inhibit this.

Thank you all once again for helping so much with the tea and the clearing away at the end of the evening. See you soon!

Best wishes

David and Nandaketu

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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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