Generosity and the giving of time: a talk for Buddhist Action Month

As part of our Buddhist Action Month series on Generosity, this week I gave this talk on Generosity and the giving of time.

The official description from the Auckland Buddhist Centre’s website is below (thanks Mary Anna for writing these up!)… but it actually ended up shifting into something a bit more esoteric once I started pondering: what even IS time?!

A finger is sometimes pointed at Buddhism accusing its practitioners of sitting on their cushions, wishing everything to be well and happy but not actually doing anything practical to achieve it. Yet in Buddhism the Bodhisattva ideal exists, where Buddhists dedicate their lives to the alleviation of suffering of all, and tirelessly dedicate themselves to this task.

In this spirit Buddhist Action Month (BAM) was born. Buddhists commit to taking action in areas of concern, usually around the degradation of the environment or issues around poverty and other social concerns.

Most of us have intentions to act with care for the environment and a desire to help those less fortunate. However, many things seem to get int the way of translating this intention into action. For some, feelings of scarcity and lack shrink their perception of the resources they have available to offer. Others are overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness or dissuaded by feelings of hypocrisy from giving their resources to a cause.

This is where the “Perfection of Generosity” – one of the practices of the Bodhisattva, serves us well. Generosity is an act of love, and out of love comes the spaciousness, energy and resources to act. Generosity connects us and imbues our lives with wellbeing and meaning. Generosity provides the resources to act in any situation, so that we take action not only in Buddhist action month, but we live Buddhist action lives.

Over the month of June, we will cover the following themes:

  • evoking Ratnasambhava and the spirit of generosity
    • giving money
    • giving time
    • giving to the care of the environment
    • how generosity makes us happier, creates more meaningful lives and the science that supports this idea

29 June – Elizabeth U – generosity and the giving of time

Elizabeth gives her time to many unpaid causes. She will talk about the factors that enable her to give her time for free and for the service of others. She will speak to the busy-ness of our lives, how we need to evaluate how we spend our time and what makes time well spent. She will also touch on time scarcity and the perception of “enoughness.” She will explain why we need to make space for generosity in our lives and how we can do that.

Reflections on Death and Impermanence: a talk for the Four Reminders series

Last Monday for the Auckland Buddhist Centre’s online Dharma Night I gave this talk, Reflecting on death and impermanence, as part of our series on the Four Reminders.

Here’s the official description from the Auckland Buddhist Centre’s website (with thanks Mary Anna for writing these up):

At this time we are facing dramatic and unexpected loss: loss of certainty, loss of income, even loss of life, maybe even our own. All of this creates huge anxiety in the face of overwhelming change and uncertainty.

It is at this time that our spiritual practice will enable us to ride the waves of change and find peace despite our circumstances, if we are prepared to apply ourselves diligently to the task.

The purpose of the ‘Four Reminders’ is to help establish the kind of psychological climate in which we will be motivated to enter a path of spiritual practice.

The subjects of the four reflections which we will be exploring over the course of these talks are:

the precious opportunity offered by human life;
death and impermanence;
karma, or the fact that actions have consequences;
and the reality of suffering.

These might be called ‘the facts of life’ in the Buddhist perspective. They are wake-up calls, jolts to our complacency, articulations of the troubling voice of reality as it speaks through our immediate experience. As we go through them, we are saying to ourselves, ‘Remember, reflect, wake up to the truth.’

11 May
Death and impermanence with Elizabeth U
‘Ready or not, one day I shall die’, so go the words of the morning puja. It’s a thing we all know intellectually, but how does knowing it emotionally change how we live the life we have now?

How “Mindful Emotion: a Short Course on Kindness” influenced my decision to become a Mitra

Back in May, Vajrajyoti forwarded me a request from Windhorse Publications, the publishing company that publishes Sangharakshita’s writing, and almost all of the books written by Triratna Order Members. They were asking if people would create a short a video explaining how one of their books had influenced their lives.

So I made this video about how Mindful Emotion: a Short Course on Kindness, by doctors Parabandhu Groves and Jed Shamel, influenced my decision to become a Mitra:

You can watch the rest of the videos in their #lifechangingbooks series here.