Best wishes to you for 2022
Another challenging year has come to a close and we can be grateful for the opportunity that we have had to practise together. I would like to thank everybody who continues to support the Priory and share their training in all sorts of ways. May we all find peace and contentment in 2022. During the New Year Ceremony, we are reminded that whatever this next year brings will be the turning of the wheel of the Dharma and our work is to be still in that turning, through meditating and keeping the Precepts.
Events at the Priory
For the time being at least, the Priory can remain open to people attending in person, as well as joining online. We are asking that anyone coming along to the Priory be up-to-date with their Covid vaccinations (or else have a negative Covid test within the previous 24 hours). Now also seems a good time to remind everyone of a long-standing guideline, which is: please don’t come to the Priory if you feel unwell or if you have any symptoms which might indicate an infection, even if it’s “only a cold”.
There will be another day retreat on Saturday 8th January. As usual, there will be a morning session, 10.00am – 1.00pm, then a break for lunch, followed by an afternoon session, 2.00pm – 4.30pm. You are welcome to join for all or part of the day, either in person or online. More details and the full schedule can be found on our calendar.
On 5th December, the Festival of the Buddha’s Enlightenment was a lovely celebration, attended by six of our Sangha in person and they are pictured below, gathered around the altar after the ceremony. In addition, a few other people joined us online. The Dharma talk and discussion was centred around these lines of Great Master Dogen: “Should it be possible for us to understand that life and death are, of themselves, nothing more than Nirvana, there is obviously no need to either try to escape from life and death or to search for Nirvana and, for the first time, freedom from life and death becomes possible.”
A few days later, we were able to enjoy a Christmas meal at the River Green Cafe once again, having had to forego it last year. Six of us came together for what was a very pleasant occasion, chatting in a relaxed setting, enhanced by some delicious food.
The Priory held a four-day sesshin in mid-December, which was the first time we have scheduled one of these intensive meditation retreats. It worked very well, with several people joining in person or online for all of the retreat or for various parts of it. Besides several meditation periods each day, we ate our meals in our places in the meditation room, reciting the full mealtime scriptures, which felt quite special. The new Priory is an ideal environment for a silent retreat and those people who attended were enthusiastic enough to hope that we could do more sesshins, so we’ll aim to schedule a couple each year. It was a joy to come together to practise and to support each other in this way. A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the sesshin by sharing their training and especially to those who kindly cooked the lunches.
On 31st December, our New Year Ceremony was preceded by an evening of meditation. The ceremony expressed our gratitude for being able to train and our wish to continue practising, as one year flowed into the next. On the following day, we re-committed ourselves to our practice in a Renewing the Precepts Ceremony and our discussion afterwards focussed on how to keep the Three Pure Precepts as we go about our everyday life during the year that is beginning.
With best wishes and in gassho,