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Newsletter: Friday 20th November

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NL Nov

Happy Birthday

It’s now thirty years since this humble pair of old gamekeepers’ cottages began their transformation into Warwickshire’s first and only Buddhist monastery. Immediately after the Rains Retreat of 1985 Luangpor, accompanied by his dog, Toby, arrived here and set about establishing Wat Pah Santidhamma (the Peaceful Forest Monastery), better known as the Forest Hermitage.

Three decades later it would appear that not a great deal has changed. It’s still a small, unassuming place tucked away amid forest and fields, and Luangpor continues to have a trusty pooch at his side, only these days it’s Jimmy.

Now many of you know that, though the Hermitage is certainly quiet, and nicely secluded from the crowds, it is actually a little powerhouse of Buddhist activity. With Luangpor’s prison work (Angulimala is also thirty this year), Ajahn Manapo’s involvement with local schools, the twice weekly public sittings, monthly retreats, the Sunday school, the Warwick Uni Buddhist Group, and various other projects, the Forest Hermitage contributes much more than its small stature might indicate.

So thank you, Luangpor, for creating this place and enabling so many people to benefit from the Buddha’s Teachings. And thank you also to everybody who has supported him and all that goes on here along the way. May the Forest Hermitage and all it stands for continue to blossom in the Heart of England for many years to come!

Such a significant milestone couldn’t be passed without a good old birthday party. On the 1st November about 300 people gathered here to celebrate thirty years and to mark the end of this year’s Vassa (Rains Retreat). 300 is a record for us, and fortunately (or unfortunately, if you’re concerned about global warming) the weather was clear and mild. (Frozen festival-goers, it would seem, are a thing of the past.).

Khun Peter and Co. sponsored this year’s robe offering (we didn’t have a kathina as for this to happen you need to have had at least five monks in residence during the retreat). He also provided vast quantities of hot, vegetarian Thai cuisine. One coach came loaded with students from Warwick Uni, and another with supporters from London. Many other people arrived in cars, bearing dishes of food and bags of supplies for the monastery stores.

Dancing girls and Thai boxing were, as usual, not on the program, and instead everyone was treated to the tried and tested practices of virtue (taking the five precepts), generosity (offering food to the monks), and mental development (meditating and listening to Dhamma talks).

Waiting to offer food to the Sangha

As is tradition in our family of forest monasteries at this time of year, each Sangha member was invited to give a Dhamma talk. Luangpor reminded us that the conclusion of the Vassa is a time to focus on the importance of the Sangha – the order of monks and nuns. He then moved on to talk about external vs. internal cleanliness; most of us, he said, might be clean on the outside, but inside is often a different matter, what with all the greed, anger and delusion swirling around. The Dhamma, he pointed out, is aimed precisely at cleaning up this inner mess.

Ajahn Manapo recounted a favourite sutta where the Buddha compares the relative merits of giving, keeping the precepts, developing loving-kindness, and gaining deep insight into impermanence. The latter, the Buddha said, surpasses all. Ajahn Manapo finished with a little story which illustrated how the contemplation of our own impermanence (i.e. the fact that we will die) puts everything in perspective.

And then we held our collective breath as Sister Bodhi, our newly ordained Italian nun, took the mic and gave her First Ever Dhamma Talk. If she hadn’t admitted in her opening sentence that she was terrified you would never have known. But she quite rightly went on to point out that it was her practice to attempt to observe and understand this state of mind, and not be swallowed up by it.

All in all it was a very successful day. To commemorate the occasion we gave away our 2016 calendar as well as a small postcard with the two photos of Luangpor plus pooches, past and present. If you’d like copies yourself we can send them to you, or you can pick them up when you’re next here.

Just last Sunday Luangpor journeyed down to Amaravati, near Hemel Hempstead, for their Royal Kathina. As a Chao Khun he was asked by Ajahn Amaro (pictured with Luangpor in the left-hand picture below) to offer the blessing to the King of Thailand. Afterwards he gave a Dhamma talk in the large meeting hall, using the opportunity to speak to the lay people of the importance of supporting the Sangha. He also touched on both the recent attacks in Paris and the Coventry bombings of 75 years ago, saying that the Buddhist response to violence should be rooted in reconciliation and loving-kindness. 

Luangpor at Amaravati, and Ajahn Manapo visiting Alcester Primary School last month

With Autumn comes a new academic year at Warwick University. During the summer Luangpor agreed to the Buddhist Society’s request to hold an extra weekly session, and so as well as the long-standing Monday meetings, students can now attend the new Thursday session, which is led by Ajahn Manapo. So far both nights have been well attended, with numbers generally ranging from between twenty and forty students. Please remember that these evenings are not only for students but are open to all. They take place every Monday and Thursday, from 6:30 – 8 pm.

This weekend Ajahn Manapo will be at Bhavana Dhamma leading a retreat, the penultimate one of the year. The Kumarasinges have very kindly offered to cook and serve the food. And on Saturday the 28th Luangpor will welcome Buddhist prison chaplains from across the country for Angulimala’s last workshop of 2015.

Newsletter: Friday 9th October

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Two Saturdays ago Luangpor paid a visit to the The Orchard, a charming retreat centre situated just this side of the Welsh border in Herefordshire. Eighteen people gathered there for a day retreat, and he was invited to join them for the latter half, leading a short meditation, giving a Dhamma Talk, and answering questions. It was a very pleasant afternoon. Many thanks to Ad for organising it.
Last Saturday we made room for the large and devoted Win family, who came to remember the late U Nay Win and make offerings. Mr Win had been a very great supporter of this place since the early days, and Luangpor has many a vivid memory of him, particularly from the time when the pagoda was being built almost three decades ago.

After the meal Luangpor gave the Wins a Dhamma talk, speaking among other things of the need to support one another as we navigate these unforgiving seas of birth, suffering, ageing and death. And as a number of medical doctors were present, Luangpor took the opportunity to remind them that, just like medicine, the Dhamma should be taken and used, not just placed on a shelf and revered.

On the Sunday Khun Peter and a coach of 70 Thais came for their monthly gathering. It was the usual happy mix of precept taking, giving, eating, meditation and Dhamma Talks. The weather was fortunately excellent, and so we were able to do an alms-round outside. Please remember that these events are open to all.

Khun Peter is sponsoring next month’s robe offering ceremony which marks the end of the Rains Retreat. This will take place on Sunday 1st November, from 10 am.

On the full moon day marking the passing of the second month of the Rains Retreat, Luangpor read ‘Understanding Vinaya‘ from a book of Ajahn Chah’s teachings. It contains a classic mix of straight talking, practical and sometimes humourous instruction given to monks and novices. In part of it Ajahn Chah recounts his own early experience of progressing from information overload as a result of too much studying, to a simpler, more direct approach to practice. And he also speaks about overcoming the hindrance of doubt – not by shunning it or fighting it, but by observing and investigating it so that one can understand its nature.
Last week Ajahn Manapo took another school assembly, this time at St. Gregory’s RC Primary School in Stratford. The formula of these assemblies is usually much the same, but the responses from the children are certainly not. During the Q & A section at the end, Ajahn Manapo spoke about the monks’ rules, including the one about not using money. ‘If you’re not allowed money, where do you get your food from?’ asked one little boy. ‘People give us our food,’ Ajahn Manapo replied, before adding: ‘And do you know what we give in return? Have I given you anything today?’ Without hesitating, the young boy replied: ‘You’ve given us happiness.’
Inspired by this response, in his Dhamma talk on the following Monday, Ajahn Manapo spoke about the reciprocal nature of the relationship between the Sangha and the laity, which is based on an Economy of Gifts, as Ajahn Thanissaro puts it. Recalling the Sangha’s role as the nurse that helps administer the medicine of Dhamma, Ajahn Manapo reminded everyone of the Buddha’s famous injunction to his first 60 enlightened monks, telling them each to wander forth to teach the Dhamma, no two in the same direction: ‘Go now, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world.’
We’ve finally got round to re-using some of the old kitchen units from the recently refurbished Wood Cottage kitchen. As you can see from the photo, we now have a much-improved office area in the back porch and lots of cupboards to lose things in…
We have also had a new gas heater installed in the small shrine room, and the electric Aga has been woken from its summer hibernation. The Aga – which someone very kindly donated last year – is charged during the night on the Economy 7 tariff, and works out quite a bit less expensive to run than our old oil-fired Aga.
Buddhist monasteries are often refuges not only for suffering humans, but animals, too, and this one is no different. Adding to our menagerie of rescue dogs, cats, a tortoise and a cockerel, we now have a couple of ferrets. They’re young, healthy and tame – and so have most likely been dumped. They found their way here and it looks as though they’d quite like to stay.
And finally, if there are any friendly lawyers or solicitors out there who would be willing to give us advice concerning various matters (for instance, we are considering changing the status of our charity in order to switch banks), we’d be very grateful if you got in touch.


Newsletter, Tuesday 22nd September

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Springhill Buddha Grove

The recent unusual spell of mild, clear weather thankfully held on until yesterday morning, meaning that Sunday’s annual Buddha Grove celebration at Springhill Prison went smoothly. Ajahn Amaro and three other monks from Amaravati joined us, as did four monks from Wat Santiwongsaram in Birmingham and two monks from the temple in Oxford. We began the evening with a short puja in front of the prison shrine (pictured below), before hearing speeches from governors past and present, a transformed ex-inmate called Tom, and finally Luangpor.

Luangpor told the story of how this unique space came to be, and reminded us of Sam Cutler’s wish for it to provide a ‘Buddha Field’ of wholesome energy that might affect the whole prison for the better. Incidentally, Sam, who was the brain of the operation, was the former road-manager for the Rolling Stones

Khun Peter and co. took over the prison kitchen for the afternoon and ensured that inmates, staff and guests (excluding the monks, of course) had their bellies filled with warm, tantalising Thai grub. After that we all made our way back outside for the candlelit procession around the grove. To cap it off, presentations were made to deserving recipients. Sadly, Lord Avebury, who has been a stalwart of these events since the beginning, was not able to be there because of ill-health.

Visiting Monks

Yesterday Ajahn Amaro and a contingent of monks from Amaravati came to formally pay their respects to Luangpor. It’s custom in our tradition for groups of monks to visit the elders of the Sangha during the Rains Retreat to ‘ask for forgiveness’. It’s not that we tend to upset each other very often; this ceremony is simply a way to promote harmony, concord and good-will between us all.
After spending some time in the shrine room at the Hermitage, we walked around the grounds and then headed over to Bhavana Dhamma, where Maureen and Sister Bodhi – our new 8-precept nun – brewed up some tea. All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon.

In addition to his usual round of prison visits during the last two weeks, Luangpor ventured a little further afield to HMP Usk in South Wales. He also had a couple of engagements in London, one of which concerned recording some suttas for an audio book.

Doing things a little differently in his recent Dhamma talks, Luangpor has taken to reading a text from the Pali Canon before commenting on it. Just the other day he narrated the account of the Buddha advising Rahula on the importance of not lying. The Buddha demonstrates his point with the vivid analogy of the water pitcher and eventually states that a person who feels no shame when telling a deliberate lie is not only empty of virtue but incapable of developing it.

Ajahn Manapo’s week included visiting the Banbury Buddhist Group to lead a meditation and give a talk. As their current theme is concerned with deepening the practice, he spoke about the importance of determination and how best to go about cultivating it.
On Thursday he paid a visit to Lillington Primary School, which lies on the outskirts of Leamington, to hold a short assembly. Time was limited but he managed to give the children a brief outline of the Buddha’s life before moving on to speak about the three classes of good actions: giving, morality and meditation (dana, sila, bhavana). After that he led the c. 250 kids in a guided meditation, which, judging by their responses (‘I feel happy! Refreshed! Relaxed!, etc.), was a great success.
And the Sunday before that he also hosted our first Sunday School Class in many years. The next one will take place on 11th October at 12:30 pm.

Over the weekend we had a group staying at Bhavana Dhamma for the monthly weekend retreat. Many thanks to Benyapa for cooking, and to Simret for providing some lovely dishes. Ajahn Manapo’s talks were centred upon loving-kindness, and particularly on the need to develop it for that person who needs it most: oneself.

(Walking meditation at Bhavana Dhamma)


Other Stuff
During a routine inspection of our various gas appliances we found that the shrine room heaters have developed a problem. Regular Monday and Friday evening meditators will have no doubt experienced the popping sounds emitted from the heaters when they are on (which you may say is not often enough!). Well, it seems the steel of the main heat exchangers has begun to split, and so these parts need replacing before we can use them again. And unfortunately just today we discovered that the same has also happened to Luangpor’s kuti heater. John, our friendly local gas engineer, is on the case.

Newsletter, 7th September, 2015

One Month Down…

It’s been quite a busy start to the annual three month Rains Retreat. Two weekends ago Luangpor led an Angulimala Workshop. There was a good turn out, with Prison Chaplains from the major Buddhist traditions coming from all corners of the country to meet, discuss prison matters, and collect supplies. In the week prior to that Luangpor paid one of his regular visits to the Isle of Wight prisons, teaching the inmates and providing them with books, meditation beads and Buddha images.

As for Luangpor’s search for a new driver, we have good news: Douglas has very kindly offered his services and will be starting this week. He will be staying with us three nights of the week and driving Luangpor on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
In mid-August Luangpor chaired a TBSUK meeting at the Thai Temple in King’s Bromley. Theravada monks from many temples in England, including Amaravati and Wat Santiwongsaram, met to discuss Sangha matters. One important thing worth noting is that TBSUK is in the process of compiling a formal database of all fully-ordained Theravada monks in the UK.
A new kuti has just been erected at Bhavana Dhamma. It will provide us with more accommodation for the retreats, and give the residents a little more simplicity and space when they need it. We built it from scratch with the help of Andy; and many others who happened to be staying lent a hand painting, cutting and nailing.

Just before the Rains Retreat began, Ajahn Manapo spent 8 days walking around the Peak District on tudong – meaning he carried neither food nor money – relying solely on people’s generosity. He survived to tell the tale, and reported that it had been an inspiring, if thoroughly challenging, experience.

Bhavana Dhamma Retreats

The monthly retreats at Bhavana Dhamma are going very well. A group of nine intrepid meditators were led by Ajahn Manapo on a 7 day retreat in mid-August. It was a very international gathering, with Thailand, China, Spain and Scotland represented. There was even a smattering of English people, too. Periods of walking and sitting meditation dominated the daily routine and noble silence was maintained throughout. Ajahn Manapo gave a Dhamma talk every morning and evening – the morning talks focussing on practical aspects of meditation and mindfulness, and the evening talks on cultivating the Ten Perfections.

The dates for the upcoming retreats are as follows:
18 – 20 September
23 – 25 October
20 – 22 November
29 December – 2 January 2016

The September retreat is full, but there are still spaces available on the others. You can find out more here.

Retreat Help Needed

The retreats are made possible through the generosity of many people, not least those who come in and cook. We’re very grateful to Aung and Aye, Sarah, Trish, Kanlaya, and Anne for providing the food during the last retreat.

If you think you might be able to help cook for a retreat, or bring in some food to contribute, please get in touch. As only one meal a day is served there are just two meals to provide on a weekend retreat (Saturday and Sunday), both at 11 am. We have plenty of food here, including rice, curries, vegetables, Quorn products, bread, sweets, etc. which can be used.

Please email us or call 01926 624564 if you’d like to help.

Buddhist Sunday School

We’re pleased to announce a new addition to our calendar: a monthly Buddhist Sunday School. We have a core group of keen Sri Lankans who requested that we start one, and so that’s just what we going to do! As for the age range, no younger than 6 or older than 16 is what we recommend, though that’s just a rough guide. Ajahn Manapo will lead them, and as he has 13 years worth of experience teaching school children of all ages about Buddhism we think the classes will be worthwhile.

Children of all nationalities are welcome, and no prior experience or knowledge of Buddhism is required. Classes will last for about an hour, during which time Ajahn Manapo will talk about a particular topic, answer questions, and lead a meditation sitting. If the weather’s good they’ll look at the grounds, too.

The first Sunday School class will take place on Sunday 13th September(this weekend), beginning at 12:30 pm. We will then hold one a month. Dates to follow.

Damsons in Distress

Yes, we have many damsons about to fall to the earth. We also have bushes chock full of blackberries and trees laden with plums and apples. If you would like to come early to a sitting, or at another time, to pick some, please do. You could use the fruit to make crumbles, jams, etc. for the monastery, as well as keeping some for yourself.

News, 19th December, 2014

If you happened to have clicked onto the home page of the Huffington Post on the afternoon of Tuesday 25 November, and you weren’t prepared to see a huge photo of Luang Por dominating the headlines, you would probably have had quite a shock. No – he didn’t scoop the EuroMillions jackpot. ‘From the Stage to Sage’ ran the headline, and beneath that was a photo of him perched on his seat in our conservatory, surrounded by the familiar assemblage of model tortoises, skeletons, money trees and Buddha images.

So what, you might ask, was he doing there?

Well, several weeks ago he was approached by a young journalist called Louise who was keen to pen an article on his life-story. It was to be part of their ‘Beyond Belief’ series which chronicles the lives of British people who have used their religious and spiritual paths to create, as they put it, a force for change, She was particularly interested in his prison work and was also curious about his transformation from actor at the National Theatre to penniless Buddhist monk.

So a date was set and she eventually arrived complete with Biro, notepad, and Dictaphone. During those two hours they covered everything from Luang Por’s conventional Christian upbringing, to his part in a London drama school revolution, to turning down Laurence Olivier’s home-made punch, to travelling overland to Thailand and eventually ordaining with Ajahn Chah. And of course there was his prison work to discuss. Two hours later, and after taking several photographs with her phone, she gathered her things, called a taxi, and was off.

The following week she contacted us to say that the article was online. We logged on and – low and behold – it was headline news! But there you have it: from the stage to sage to the front page. You can read it here.

LokaOn the 10th November we were fortunate to receive a visit from Venerable Lokanata, a Burmese monk who once lived here but who hasn’t been back for almost 25 years. Some of our older supporters will no doubt remember him, and those who met him for the first time the other day will certainly not forget him. Lokanata’s warmth and cheerfulness were captivating, as was his humility: even though he is now very senior, he instinctively fell into attending to Luang Por – carrying his bag out to the car as Luang Por left for a prison, and so on. It was inspiring to see. It’s taken Lokanata so long to return because he’s been staying at various monasteries around the globe, including ones in Texas and, would you believe it, Jamaica. Then, about two years ago, he was invited to London and he’s been staying there in a Burmese temple ever since. We hope it won’t be another 25 years before we see him again.

On Sunday 7 December Khun Peter’s London group came up by coach. As you are hopefully aware, Luang Por’s visits to the restaurant in London have stopped and instead they are coming here on the first Sunday of every month – unless there is a festival close to that time, in which case they’ll come to that instead. Khun Peter has retired from the restaurant business and now intends to devote much of his time to the study and practise of the Dhamma. These monthly visits, which have become a bit of an institution, are all down to him, and we are so grateful for his generosity and dedication to this place and to the Dhamma. I should point out that these occasions are open to all.

That day, after everyone had taken the precepts, offered food to us monks, and then eaten, we all gathered in the shrine room for offerings and a Dhamma talk from Luang Por. He began by saying that even though humans may be of different nationalities, and speak different languages and observe different customs, we all have one thing in common, and that is suffering. We are all born, we age, get sick and die. We all suffer from the poisons of greed, aversion and delusion. And the Buddha’s teachings are here to address just this problem. The Dhamma does not focus on things that we cannot know. It does not instruct us to dwell on things for which there is no proof. It calls upon us to look carefully at our experiences: our greed and our aversion, and to understand why they arise. If we can do this then we will move that little bit closer to letting them go.

Luang Por and the London Group

Luang Por concluded by talking about his commitment to maintaining this little beacon of truth and virtue that is the Forest Hermitage. Just before he left for Thailand in 1971 one of Luang Por’s teachers at the time, Kapilavaddho of the Hampstead Vihara, told him that he must one day return to the UK. Others who had gone to ordain would stay in Thailand, Kapilavaddho had reckoned, but Luang Por was to return. And so, considering how much he had benefited from those pioneers who strove to make Buddhism available in this country and wanting to give something back, he did.

Now it’s easy to start a place like this, Luang Por said, as to begin with there’s a mass of enthusiasm and everyone’s eager to help: a bit of painting here or a spot of cooking there; but as time goes on keeping a monastery going proves to be rather more difficult, especially in this country where few people are Buddhist. But keep going we must, and Luang Por expressed his appreciation for the support and generosity given by so many people that enables us to provide this refuge where the Buddha’s Teachings can be taught and practised.

bukTwo weeks ago we hosted the last quarterly Angulimala workshop of the year. It’s usually the least well attended meeting of the four, but this one saw a good turnout, partly because Luang Por had managed to secure a visit from Helen Dearnley, an advisor for Prison Service Chaplaincy Headquarters. It’s her job to go around the prisons ensuring that the Chaplaincies are doing as they should, and she spoke a little about her experience doing this before fielding questions. Another draw was the 2015 Angulimala Calendar, 1,000 of which had just arrived fresh from the printers (and we’ve just ordered another 500). Most of these were taken on the day, and the rest have been collected by individual chaplains or sent to them in the post.

On the subject of calendars, if you would like a Forest Hermitage one, please let us know and we will send you a copy. Alternatively, we will be happy to give you one when you are next here.

During November Ajahn Manapo was kept busy visiting schools. It’s not usual for him to risk his neck in the unforgiving hallways of secondary schools, but a few months ago he was asked if he might lead an assembly each day for a week at Henley in Arden High School. So, it was with a little trepidation that he accepted the offer, and on a drizzly Monday afternoon in mid-November he went along. But he needn’t have donned his bullet-proof robe as the week turned out to be a great success.

He spoke to a different year each day, beginning with the oldest group: 150 16 year olds. As it was likely that this group would be most interested in his reasons for becoming a monk, he based his brief talk on that. Afterwards he led them in a short meditation (which went surprisingly well), and took questions (which were fairly sensible apart from the first: ‘Can you float?’ ‘No’ was the answer to that). The whole thing lasted about twenty minutes. Walking away from that first assembly he wasn’t sure how successful it had been, but his doubts proved to be unfounded when on the following day the teacher reported to him how well it had been received. Many children were now questioning their own values, she had said, and one girl had even expressed her interest in becoming a nun! We’ll be having concerned parents on the phone soon!

In one of his recent talks to the Banbury Buddhist Group, Ajahn Manapo delved into the term mindfulness, and in particular how it is defined in Buddhist teaching, a matter which is of great importance as its now widespread usage is draining the word of its original meaning. As Buddhism has come West we have quite rightly translated most of the key Buddhist terms into English. But there are some which we feel should sometimes be left in the Pali because we have no adequate English alternative. An example of this would be dukkha (often rendered as suffering, unsatisfactoriness, stress, etc.); all Buddhists are familiar with this term, and by using the original we are able to preserve its different shades of meaning.

Although the word mindfulness has served us well since it was utilized by Western Buddhist scholars about a century ago, many of us are becoming increasingly concerned that as it enters the mainstream it is becoming less and less recognisable as that which the Buddha taught. One of the most disturbing examples of this aberration is MMFT – Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training – a course to help American soldiers function in high-stress situations – in other words, while they’re shooting someone! And so, with a wish to preserve the integrity of Right Mindfulness, and to dissociate ourselves from the likes of MMFT, perhaps it will soon be time to drop the word altogether and return to the original Pali word, which is Sati.

Retreats at Bhavana Dhamma

On a far more positive note we are very pleased to announce that the Bhavana Dhamma Retreats will be starting up again next year. Ajahn Manapo used to lead one a month from 2006 until he left for Thailand in 2011, but even though he returned almost two years ago we didn’t get around to reinstating them. Most of the retreats will be a weekend in length, with a longer Easter retreat, a seven day retreat in August, and a five day retreat over the new year. You will find the schedule and retreat information here, as well as a new and efficient online booking form. If you’re interested in attending one be aware that spaces are limited to about nine.

As January approaches Luang Por and Ajahn Manapo are gearing up for their annual trip to Thailand to attend the Ajahn Chah memorial day on January 16th. Luang Por will depart on Tuesday 13th January, enabling him to lead the first Warwick University Buddhist Group meeting of the new year on Monday 12th. He will then return on Tuesday 3rd February. Ajahn Manapo will head off on the 30th December, giving him a couple of weeks before he meets up with Luang Por. Ajahn Manapo will return on 29th January, in time to lead the Warwick Uni group on the following Monday. While they are both absent the Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening meditation sessions will continue as normal, and an audio CD with chanting, guidance and a talk will be played.

As usual we will be holding our special New Year’s Eve meditation here at the Hermitage. The evening will begin at 8 pm with chanting, meditation and a Dhamma Talk. Tea will then be served and there’ll be a chance to talk to Luang Por. About 30 minutes before midnight everyone will gather again in the Shrine Room to meditate the new year in. Then, as the clock strikes twelve, those present will be invited to approach the shrine one by one to light a stick of incense, all the while determining to let go of all that has happened in 2014 and to make the most of the year that awaits. If you have no commitments that evening, please join us.

And finally we would like to wish you all a Happy New Year.