Sunday, January 19, 2014


Horsing Around- Part 2

When you ride a horse, you are as much the passenger as the master. Riding is a negotiated agreement between you and a half-ton creature with a mind of its own. Just ask Ian Millar. He never failed to acknowledge the respectful relationship between he and his beloved Big Ben.

This year we are reminded of this as we consider our sangha. We are a growing and energetic youngster ( a mere 10 years old!)  who is trying to find its footing. We have strength, energy and spirit. We do, however, need training and care.
Over the weekend I outlined some of the changes and challenges we face as we enter our second decade. Have a look at the Directions 2014 tab above for more on that. I was heartened by the positive reaction, creativity and excitement that followed in our conversation. There is reason to feel confidence in where we are headed.

If you missed the live talk, I encourage you to check out the text of the talk and the list of ideas. It is my hope this will call to you in two different ways. First, I re-iterate my personal invitation for you to attend our practice sessions in Pembroke, where we will dedicate most of our energy this year. We will promise more of the same authentic and accessible practice and teaching you have participated in or heard about. Secondly, I welcome your suggestions and ideas about how we can present the Buddha-way in the most dynamic and engaging way possible for our local community. Our sangha will grow and thrive because its participants care about the Dharma and dedicate energy to help Red Maple deliver its message widely. Mount up!

Yours in the Dharma,                          
from Akashaloka,                  
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu 


Sunday, January 12, 2014



We have just passed the Western New Year date of January 1, and are approaching (January 31) the Chinese New Year.  I like to use this calendar designation because the Chinese system overlaps with zodiac signs, all animals, which point to a theme for the year. We are just moving out of the Year of the Snake into the Year of the Horse.  What might this suggest to us?

Horse are primarily modes of good and quick transportation, so is a symbol of traveling, but also a because they get you to where you want to go, sign of speedy success. Horses are also symbols of competition. The pursue freedom, passion and leadership. Horses are social animals, with the herd, l but also in company of humans both as transporters and military collaborators.

Chinese wouldn't let horse to the farm work. Instead, all the farmland jobs go to the ox. This is because Chinese have higher expectation on horses. Horses can help human to reach a goal or win the battle. Horses are intelligent but still needs to be trained to become useful to human.

For us then, we are alerted this year to themes of:
    •    transportation and travel, getting swiftly to our destinations
    •    learning more to live together and protect and promote our “herd”
    •    demonstrating leadership
    •    engaging in brave endeavours in support of ourselves and others
    •    displaying our intelligence and being open to training and discipline
More on this to come.

Yours in the Dharma,                          
from Akashaloka,                  
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu                      


Sunday, January 05, 2014


As we pack up our gifts, decorations and lights, we enter into that extended period of winter, which, for some, promises ski trails and snowmen. For others, it ushers in a long and dark season, full of physical and/or emotional hardship. Statistically, we know this is one of the most difficult times of the year for all ages. This was brought home to me, just before the Christmas break, when so many lives in my work location community were shattered in a young woman’s deeply desperate act of self destruction. I’m always astonished at how wide are the ripples from such loss and pain.

Sometimes those of us who are bringing Dharma practices into our lives lose focus on the real purpose of our practice. Ours is a practice of attention and compassion. We are dedicated to the relief of suffering in the world. It is especially important for us to attend to those close to us at this time of year and be sensitive to how they are doing. This can be catching up with that person who we didn’t quite connect with over the past few weeks. It can be taking a few extra moments to listen attentively to someone who wants to share something personal with us. It can be taking an extra breath before reacting to the person who cuts you off in traffic or who blunders past you in the grocery store.

We refer to the Three Obstacles (kleshas) in our human lives - passion, aggression and stupidity. These characterize everyone’s life and behaviour. It is these tendencies which keep us locked into the cycle of suffering and scarcity we feel. Its never too difficult to see these at play in the lives of others, and dismiss them. Our practice calls us to recognize that such behaviour is our own behaviour too. It is recognizing our shared entrapment that allows us to bring our compassion and loving kindness into our lives and make it available for others.

Yours in the Dharma,                           
from Akashaloka,                   
Innen, doshu
om namo amida butsu              

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Wednesday, January 01, 2014



Each year we set time aside for a backward and forward consideration of our lives, individually and as a community. In December, we shared our reflections on how we have contributed to our own, our family and the community’s progress for the passing year. Now, around the time of the Western and Chinese New Years, we look ahead and consider how we will contribute to our own, our family and our community’s prosperity.

Here is a framework of guiding questions for the New Year Intentions reflection.

This question invites you to reflect on your coming efforts to cultivate knowledge and understanding in yourself and for others.

  • How will you cultivate knowledge for yourself? (Reading, study, training, hobbies)
  • How will you contribute to and foster the knowledge of others, including the larger community?
  • In what ways will you balance the emotional and intellectual sides of your life?

Practice is both the formal practices we apply in our lives, but also the many ways we bring our growing practice skill to everyday living.

  • What practices will you work on this year?
  • How will you apply your formal practices to your everyday life?
  • In what ways will you develop your power of concentration?
  • In what ways will you develop your capacity to pay attention to your life?
  • In what ways will you strengthen the practice environment of the Red Maple Sangha?

Knowledge and practice remain private experiences unless they are applied to everyday living. Our teaching recommends we focus on the wholesome expression of our practice, on actions which fulfill what we are learning in our practice and what we come to understand through study.

  • How will you express your practice, in language and purposeful action?
  • How will practice impact and shape your work situation?
  • How will practice shape and impact your home life and relationships?
  • How will practice shape your relation to the immediate and world-wide community within which you live?