Sunday, January 18, 2009

Retreat or Distraction?

Greetings friends, from sunny Thailand!

I haven't been blogging for some time now as i have come to my little hide-away in Phuket for 2 months winter break.
Apart from the obvious - sun, sea, the easy life - i have actually set this time aside for writing a major project called Buddha's Favourite Words. These 2 months give me a sense of retreat and offer a daily routine where i have nothing much else to do but begin to write.

Buddha's Favourite Words will be set out like an A to Z of key Buddhist words. It will serve as a collection of daily contemplations whereby Dharma students, old and new, can easily study and reflect on the essential teachings of the Buddha. The book will include a variety of words each of which unlocks a core teaching ranging from the most fundamental to the profound.

Of course, we don't know if Buddha had any favourite words or what they could have been. For all we know, 'curry' might have been his absolute fave ... or 'tea' or 'flush-toilet' ...

However, the A to Z structure i have chosen for this collection of daily readings provides a solid yet entertaining framework for the teachings. I include words you might expect of a Buddhist book, like Compassion or Meditation and some unexpected ones too - for example, Anorexia unlocks a whole teaching on Perception.

I wish to offer this Dharma book for anyone searching for these precious teachings and to express my deep gratitude and love to my own teachers - Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Sogyal Rinpoche and Thich Nhat Hanh - from whom the teachings come.

The other day, while sitting on the beach, i began to question whether this holiday was more like a retreat or a distraction. So i wrote this poem... enjoy -

Having escaped to the beach, again,

I question myself.

Is this a retreat? or a distraction?

Yet, every sensation -

The touch of the sun on my skin,
The sight of the waves rolling in,
The fresh taste of some fruit,
The pleasant scent that hangs on the air,
Even the joyous sound of Joni on my iPod,

Each thought, feeling, perception -

Everything seems to call me back

To the blessed present moment.

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