Next meeting: 27 October 2023
Time: 11am – 12pm
Each month, our Book Group facilitator will choose a book from the Library’s collection of free e-resources. You download the e-book, and read and reflect on it over the month. Then on the last Friday of the month, meet up online via Zoom to exchange ideas and opinions with others who’ve read the book, and expand your understanding of Buddhism.
Please be sure to register each month so we can email you the Zoom link before the meeting.
Theme for the October Book Group meeting, facilitated by Patricia McLoughlin:
‘Whilst much of this month’s article is concerned with our fear of death and some advice on how to be with death – our own and others: the Story of Anathapindika illustrates this in some detail. I am most interested and challenged by his ideas of ‘rien ne se cree, rien ne perd’ – no birth/no death and so no Fear? So, things (including the self I know as me) ‘manifest’ when conditions are right/sufficient and cease to exist – ‘de-manifest?’ when conditions are not. The example of the sheet of paper continues to baffle me.
So my suggestion is, if you choose not to read the whole article (which is not strictly necessary), is to begin at the bottom of page 5 and skip the long Story of Anathapindika (pp 6—10) and then pick up from page 11 and read through to the end.
You might also like the words of this Gatha composed by Thích Nhat H?nh.
I have taken the words and teachings from this sutra “The Teachings to be Given to the Dying” in the Anguttara Nikaya and made them into a song. It is a lullaby song that can be sung to the person who is nearing their last breath:
This body is not me; I am not caught in this body,
I am life without boundaries,
I have never been born and I have never died.
Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies All manifests from the basis of consciousness.
Since beginningless time I have always been free.
Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek.
So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye.
Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before,
We shall always be meeting again at the true source,
Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.
Singing this song to a dying person can help them be free from thinking that they have a permanent identity that is connected to any part of the body or mind. All things that are composite decompose, but our true selves do not disappear into oblivion. This kind of guided meditation helps us to avoid being caught in the idea that we are this body, we are this thought, and we are this emotion. We are actually not these things. We are life without limit. We are not caught in birth, we are not caught in death, we are not caught in being, and we are not caught in non-being. This is the truth of reality.
I hope to see you on Friday 27th October’
– Patricia McLoughlin
Reading for October:
Overcoming the Fear of Death, 1997. A Dharma Talk with Thich Nhat Hanh.
Click here to download the article
Please be sure to register so we can send you the Zoom log-in details.
About the facilitator
Patricia has been exploring and practicing Buddhism, in the Theravada tradition, since 2008 and is currently a member of the Association of Engaged Buddhists (AEB) under the spiritual guidance of Venerable Tejadhammo.
Until embracing fulltime retirement earlier this year, Patricia worked in both the public and private health sectors in a variety of roles and settings, including Alcohol and other Drugs; in Pastoral Care and from 2014-23 as a Bereavement specific counsellor for the Sydney Local Health District.
Most recently she facilitated a module on Sickness, Ageing and Death for the AABCAP (Australian Assoc. of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists) professional training program. Hence her interest and attraction to Thich Nhat Hahn’s views on ’non-fear’ and how they can be applied to these universal areas of concern.
All Sessions are by Donation (Dana) to the Buddhist Library. All donations to the Buddhist Library of $2 and over are tax deductible.
Dana is the traditional practice of generosity, the extending of one’s goodwill, which is fundamental to Buddhism and other spiritual traditions. The dana you give helps to maintain the Library and allows it to offer more teachings on the Dhamma so that others may benefit in the future. It is up to each person to determine the amount of dana they’d like to offer. We understand that this is a difficult time financially for many and people will give what they can. An appropriate dana can’t be prescribed but requires sensitivity to its intent and to the individual’s own situation, as well as awareness of the cost of organising events and supporting teachers who spread the Dhamma.