Monday, November 30, 2015


Here is the Life Cycle exercise, with directions below

 For the Life Cycle exercise, we begin by selecting the appropriate time frame, which in this case is checking the Past box and the duration of one year.

The Life Cycle exercise display is divided into eight boxes. It takes the form of three on top, three on the bottom, and two in the middle. The three on the top represents the inner aspect of our life: body, mind and spirit. The two on the bottom represents the external aspects of our life: intimates, community and world. The boxes for knowledge and insight represent the bridging between inner and outer.

Body, mind and spirit are self-explanatory. Knowledge refers more to acquired learning. Insight might be seen as identical with intuition or instinct. In the bottom row, intimates refers to those people who are our most immediate sources of personal and emotional support [ family and closest friends]. Community is deliberately meant to be vague so that it can include community of neighbourhood, groups such as churches or other informal collectivities. The box for world is even more vague and is open to your interpretation, so it can include the larger community, the natural world, the nation or the planet.

The main question that we're asking with each one of these boxes for this exercise is "In what ways have I contributed to this aspect of my life?". You will find it easy for some boxes and more difficult for others. That is precisely the purpose of the exercise, namely to indicate areas of your life where you may be paying less attention than is called for. The point is to view your life as a whole and to recognize that all eight boxes need your attention.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Recent vacation was an entirely Christian Catholic experience. It's almost a traveller's cliché to pass every day inside yet another church, chapel, monastery or convent . From previous travel experience Europe these Portuguese churches seemed like minor variations on church architecture seen elsewhere, everywhere. The artwork and  statuary would always be beautiful but not really unique .

Then without warning we would find we would find ourselves in places like Remedios where there lies a small but celebrated church at the top of the hill overlooking the town. For some reason the interior of this particular church struck me as especially moving. It may have been the presence of one or two older women on their knees but I think it was rather the simplicity of the interior. This church had no specialty corners or alleys or aisles. It was no cathedral. It was simply one room with a magnificent statue at the front depicting a mother and child.

There was nothing about Portugal that suggested a Buddhist presence, no posters or advertisements that I could see. I did check online for active groups, and there are less than 10 groups in the whole country according to a major European Buddhist directory. These groups seemed equally divided between the usual Tibetan, they Pasanda, end then communities. And is in communities is in Zen . The search I did of population data shows that the percentage of Portuguese population who would self-described as Buddhist is roughly the same as in Canada, that is about .5% or about 50,000 people. Given the tremendous difference in population this represents a small number of actual practitioners. With the serious drainage of population through emigration, these numbers will only decline.

There are very few Buddhist texts in Portuguese. Most of them are created by the Buddhist centres in Brazil (which has a significant Japanese presence). Unfortunately these are in Brazilian Portuguese a version of the language with major differences from Portugal. There is some effort to translate a few books, but in general they have very little access to the majority of any sect literature.

Monday, November 02, 2015



Since we relocated back to the town of Renfrew, we have been developing a new practice space in the lower level of the house. This has gone through a number of iterations, and we are proud to have the final version complete and open for practice. The central point of the practice space is of course the altar or butsu-dan, and that is focused on our temple Buddha, Amitabha. Sharing the altar is Quan Yin, one of the two traditional manifestations of Amitabha. The other altar figure is Jizo, who we have selected instead of the usual Seishi, because that bodhisattva has always been of special importance to our community. Our altar is located on the western wall, as is appropriate for this Buddha who is traditionally located in that direction, based on the association with his Western Pure Land.

The walls of our space are finished with burlap which gives it a warm and welcoming feel. Before entering the formal practice space participants will pass through a genkan, or foyer. In the foyer one will find images of Amitabha, Quan Yin, Seishi, Jizo and Kokuzo. The connection with the foyer allows us to perform circum-ambulation or walking practice in an extended space, and it allows us to perform the Earth and Sky Energy Series (EASE) of movements which we perform at the opening of every session.

Adjacent to the spaces is the Red Maple office which includes our extensive collection of Dharma literature which participants may borrow from for their personal study.

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