February retreat with Bernd Bender

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Our dear dharma friend Bernd Bender will offer a retreat in Belfast the weekend of February 15-17. The retreat has three modules: Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday, and you are welcome to come to one, two or all three parts of the retreat. This offering is dependent on a sufficient number of attendees, so please email us here to register in advance.

Introduction to Zen Meditation:
How to find ease and joy in your everyday life

Zen meditation is a very simple practice which helps us to cope with the stress and increasing complexity of our daily lives.

By just sitting upright in the middle of our thoughts and emotions we can train our mind to be present, flexible and joyful, experience these qualities and integrate them into our daily activities.

This retreat is open to beginners as well as people who already have a meditation practice.

Friday evening will start with an introduction to meditation, followed by a talk on Zen practice. Saturday and Sunday we will sit meditation together, listen to a talk and take time to share and reflect about our own experience.

Please bring lunch to share, and we will eat together in silence.

“I think the 2,500-year-old teachings of Zen are very compatible with our modern forms of living and thinking. Not only has science proven that meditation is a beneficial practice for our well-being, but science is very close to what can be called the ‘world view’ of Zen. So I try to find a contemporary language to express these practices and views in order to make them available to all people.”

—Bernd Bender

Bernd Bender has practised Zen since 1987. He went to California in 1994 to continue his studies at San Francisco Zen Center. Bernd received Dharma transmission (authorization to teach), and in 2012 he moved to Berlin to open Akazienzendo, a place for a contemporary expression of Zen.

In order to make this practice available to anyone who is interested, it is offered on a donation basis. If you can, please give in order to support Zen practice in Belfast. The suggested donation to cover Bernd’s flights and travel costs is £25 for the whole weekend, or £10 for each module. If your funds are limited, please feel free to come and give your interest and effort. 

The BMZC Carbon-Offset Forest

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At last, a bit of good news for the planet. At Paul Haller’s request, we’ve spent the last few months investigating ways to offset some of the carbon burden of Paul’s flights from California to Belfast. The wonderful Fr. Ray at Benburb Priory has offered us a free hand with the available land, asking only that we plant local varieties, and we have just received approval from the Woodland Trust for a free tree-pack of 105 saplings – for more information, click here. This beautiful “Working Wood” pack contains a mix of Silver birch, Rowan, Wild cherry, English oak, Field maple and Grey willow trees. We will receive the pack later in the winter and plant them out in early spring, and then our sesshin jobs at Benburb will include weeding and maintaining the young saplings. In the meantime, anyone who has experience in planting trees, please get in touch with us here.

Well-Being Service on Friday Mornings

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Medicine Buddha

Every Friday morning, at 8 am, we chant the Metta Sutta (LovingKindness Meditation)  and the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, and then we dedicate the merit to the comfort and recovery or peaceful transition of our friends. We recite a list of the names of those to whom we dedicate this intention. The dedication goes as follows:

May all awakened beings manifest through the Three Treasures their luminous mirror wisdom. With full awareness we have chanted the Metta Sutta and the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo for protecting life. We dedicate this merit and virtue to

The well-being, comfort and recovery or peaceful transition of our dear friends:

 Names are read aloud

And to all those who are suffering from physical or mental illness, who are lacking shelter, food or safety, who are victims of natural disasters, or who are exposed to violence of any kind

May they be deeply supported in the Dharma, peaceful and free from suffering, and may they, together with all beings, realise Buddha’s Way. 

If you would like to add a name that we will keep on the list for three weeks, please email us here.