Thursday, December 30, 2004

Engaged Life; busy life: Sri Lanka relief work

This morning David phone Amrita, our Amida chaplain in Manchester, to see how her plans were developing. Amrita has been planning to visit a village in Sri Lanka at the invitation of IBRO (the International Buddhist Relief Organisation; a small Buddhist charity based in UK) Having talked with members of the Sri Lankan community she decided to bring her visit forward. As a result she is current fund raising and collecting goods that can be sent our by the Sri Lankan High Commission. This morning she appeared on TV making the appeal and she has also been doing radio broadcasts. Next Tuesday she will go to Sri Lanka by air, paid for by supportive Sri Lankan families.

With her experience setting up a health centre that now serves 70 villages in rural Zambia on a shoestring and a lot of ingenuity, she will no doubt be a great help in working with people to rebuild shattered lives.

Tsunami in India - news from Modgala

This morning I received an email from Modgala who is running the Amida project in Delhi:

Today I heard from our Amida friend in Tamil Nadu - Mr Ponnu Durai. He had organised a tour for me to Chennai, Pondicherry and Madurai. Two of these areas have been badly hit by the Tsunami at least 6,000 dead in Tamil Nadu alone and many more missing. Homes businesses are destroyed, water supplies contaminated by sea water, corpses still unburied and putrifieing. Already there is one severe outbreak of dhiarrhoea in one of the camps and there is much fear of diseases and these will make the death toll rise even further.

Ponnu Durai wants my tour to continue so I hope Amida can give me some donations so that I can offer help to the communities we visit. I leave Delhi on 15th January. Ponnu Durai is in Chennai at the moment helping with the rescue, fortunately his family live inland so he has not personally suffered. However the groups he worked with - young people from the slum and very poor areas and with Hiv/Aids groups will have suffered. I will know more their needs when he comes to collect me in delhi on 13th January. I think it would be a good idea to have cash available in order to purchase some of the most needed things - at present it is food and water, disinfectants and medicine, but in two weeks time the need will maybe be more for shelters and clothing - I will see nearer the time.

We are inundated with students and they have been talking much about this disaster. There is a sense of loss not only of the people but of part of the land of India itself, many islands will be lost forever. They also feel very deeply for the people of Sri Lanka, worst hit by the diaster. They feel mostly powerless to help much but also want to help donate to the survivors who have lost so much. We debated whether to cancel the New Year party, but decided that is necessary to also be aware of the good things in life as well as the suffering anf to pray for the bereaved and concretely offer some aid.

The papers each day show the increasing magnitude of loss and destruction.
The death toll overall is expected to be 100,000 and possibly even more
Smaller stories get lost when something of this magnitude occers. Yet some bring other griefs close to home. Priyajyoti is grieving for his Chakma friends and relatives in arunachal Pradesh where they are barricaded into their homes and unable to tend their crops and where 20 of their homes have been burnt and young people almost beaten to death in troubles there.

And yet too they laugh and enjoy life despite sleepless nights. It is a joy living with them and this project offers so much to them and the local communities. We now have over 100 students and to see both their English and their confidence increasing is a joy. They take great delight in teaching us too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Buddhist Psychology Questions

Have set up a new blog site for questions relating to Buddhist Psychology and Amida courses at

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Happy Birthday Lynn

A very Happy Birthday to Lynn, one of my oldest friends.
We have known each other since school days. I saw Lynn a few weeks ago and we had a delightful walk, remembering many walking holidays we had as teenagers. This picture is of a stream in France, but it reminds me of walks we have had together. Have a good day Lynn!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Bradgate Park

Went for walk in Bradgate park today. A magnificant area North of Leicester. Full of people enjoying the winter sunshine, the ground frozen crisp and white underfoot. The park rises to high crags from which one can view the city of Leicester and a huge panorama of Leicestershire out to the South and East.

On the hill top, a memorial. Remembering soldiers lost in battle. A small bronze plaque says "remember you are on holy ground". Is not all ground holy? I will take this plaque as my moto today.

Primeaval forms of rocks and old twisted trees. Oaks and pines, clinging to sparse soil between the rocks. These remind me of the eternal. This is the land of Vairochana, the ultimate or cosmic Buddha, the Dharmakaya. I am reminded of a poem I wrote two years ago and my sense of connection to the spiritual heart that inspired it. I rather think I was somewhere near that monument when I wrote it.

Bradgate Park

Dark volcanic crags
Erupting from the bracken
Break the winter sky
In cold air rising, my heart,
Embracing the sunlight, leaps

Amida Trust Poetry: Bradgate Park:

Jenny's graduation

My daughter Jenny had her graduation last week at Plymouth University. You can find her photos at


Crisp bright morning. Sun on frost. Easy to see Amida in a million diamonds today

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Getting Started

First words in an open space...