This week has been ‘reading week’ for students in the faculty of arts at U. Bristol, giving us time to stretch our legs, catch up on reading, visit the country, veg out, or party. Me? I’ve read, and read and read. My internet/computer at my flat is up and running now, so I have little excuse to even leave the house (If I had a toilet and a hot-plate I wouldn’t leave the room!). I should/will get out for some table tennis soon, I think, as I am getting a bit antsy.
The reading has been good though, “Civilized Shamans” by Geoffrey Samuel – a detailed text on “Buddhism in Tibetan Societies” as the subtitle reads. For an anthropologically based text it reads beautifully, and I find myself lost in it for hours at a time (my interest in the topic may play a large part in that as well).
Now I’m working on a website dedicated to the courses here for myself and fellow students to share notes, etc: www.mtfreethinkers.org/religion/buddhism/americanbuddha.html -- long URL, I know, but that seems to happen whenever I try to ‘rationalize’ the files on my website. Hopefully the site will be useful for fellow students.
Man, the week has gone by fast… too fast. What did I do? Read, we’ve got that covered. Oh, I visited the Lam Rim Bristol Buddhist Center on Tuesday. That was great. Heard teachings from Pobonka Rinpoche’s “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand” by a Tibetan Geshe. Tomorrow I’ll see Mattieu Richard, a senior Western monk and translator for the Dalai Lama here in Bristol, which will be fantastic I’m sure. Well, the speed at which time moves is indicative of how busy you are or how much fun you’re having, so I won’t complain that it’s going so fast. Ah.. I also started work on Geshe Michael Roach’s ‘The Book’ – a kind of Buddhist confession and aspiration book, kept daily, 6 times a day! Needless to say I’m not quite keeping it up as often as I should, but I’m working on it! I wrote a letter to my grandma, that was a major activity J Well – In any case, as the title states, it has been a dull time! The other (interesting to me at least) thing I did was discovered a couple fantastic advanced Tibetan Buddhist texts, one being “The Gold Refinery” a pithy text on the steps of the path to enlightenment by His Holiness the 8th Dalai Lama – a very good text. I hope to transcribe it to the above studies website with my notes at some point, when I get another free week or two!
Another Dharma project I’m working on/thinking about is a book/series of essays called “Buddhism in Two Words” – something that could introduce important Buddhist topics under pithy headings; suitable to new readers. Chapters would include “Free Yourself” “Choosing Reality” “Let Go” “Going Deeper” “Common Sense” and others; using the two words to set a theme, creating a simple center that new readers could come back to if the concepts get a bit out of their grasp: ie. describing the Buddhist Discipline in terms of “Common Sense” – showing how it formed based on actual events, and how it has changed in form and interpretation depending on circumstances – while cautioning a new reader from trying to reform it or question it prima facia, without looking into the “Common Sense” that arises with full understanding of the particular rules. Just another hair-brain idea floating around my cavernous, empty head! We’ll see what comes of it!