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Excerpt from the Hartridge newsletter, October 2008

The last few months have been a time of rising uncertainty and anxiety in current affairs, and today most forecasters predict further turbulence ahead. It’s one of those periods in society when there seems to be more pessimism than optimism about the future. We face difficult challenges, and the possibility that rather than getting better – which is how we like to see the future – things may get worse. When our view of the future is optimistic, or things are going well then it can be exciting for us; when it is pessimistic and there are problems it can be frightening or depressing. And this happens on top of the everyday life events which can affect any of us at any time such as illnesses, accidents or bereavement. And even when there are no crises in our lives, there are the day to day frustrations, disappointments and dissatisfactions because the world around us simply isn’t the way we would like it to be, or hoped it would be. Or we ourselves aren’t the way we’d like to be or think we should be. These are just some of the ‘worldly winds’ which can so easily blow us around.

When the weather is stormy we need a safe harbour, or a strong anchor. The Buddha’s teachings point us to that place of refuge where we are better able to see through and relax around our fears and expectations. Whether it’s devotion to the Triple Gem, or confidence in our own practice – no matter how deep these may be – that helps us to bear with unwanted events and the unpleasant feelings that arise when they happen – when we let go, we allow something new to emerge which is a response from the heart. The heart can recognize that whatever is going on, whatever confusion, upset or longing we experience, there is also the capacity simply to be aware of this. And that in awareness free of assumptions and judgements, there is a peacefulness and willing acceptance. The heart is content simply to be, and in that being it is open, receptive and loving – even if not necessarily liking what is happening in ourselves or in the world around us. It is in this willingness to be that we find the strength and compassion to respond to life’s challenges.

This year Tan Adicco joined us from Amaravati and will stay on until the Winter Retreat. So, with Tan Subhaddo we were three bhikkhus for the Vassa here at Hartridge, along with Anagarika Chris who has now been here a year. Before Vassa Anagarika Yoshua came from Chithurst for a two-month stay, and we hope that Samanera Kondañño will come for December.

Over the summer we replaced the garden kuti near the cottage and work is almost complete to rebuild the hermit kuti in the woods. These new kutis are a bit larger than the old ones, properly insulated and altogether sturdier than the converted garden sheds that we were using before. Particularly over the winter months they will be much more welcoming and inviting spaces in which to stay and practise, and it looks as though we now have a waiting list to stay in them.

This year we were fortunate again to be able to hold a Kathina ceremony, this one arranged by Khun Noi and Khun Daeng. Luang Por Sumedho accepted our invitation to come for the occasion.

And finally, an architect friend has been working on drawings for a possible new shrine room and replacement guest accommodation. If and when things progress – applying for planning permission would be a significant step – we will of course publicize the proposals in more detail. 

Ajahn Jutindharo 

Icy field about Hartridge
Icy fields above Hartridge Monastery

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