Saturday, 12 December 2009

The Brahma Viharas

Since September we have been following the theme of the Three Fold Path - that's Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom. Lately, we have been looking more closely at samatha meditation, to develop calm and concentration. During the first session every Tuesday, we practice the Mindfulness of Breathing to help calm our minds and concentrate on our breathing. After a break this is followed by the Development of Loving Kindness, a more imaginative samatha meditation, which helps us to develop friendliness and kindness for ourselves and others.

The Development of Loving Kindness is one of a set of four meditations called the Brahma Viharas, which are especially helpful to develop positive emotions and states of mind. They are the
Metta Bhavana - to develop loving kindness
Karuna Bhavana - to develop compassion
Mudita Bhavana - to develop sympathetic joy
Upekkha Bhavana - to develop positive equanimity

We are currently trying the Brahama Viharas on Tuesday evenings. You are welcome to join us and experience these meditations with us.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Do you know the Way?

We're looking forward to seeing you at the next meeting of Hertford Buddhist Sangha, downstairs at 33 The Vaults, in The Wash, Hertford on Tuesdays at 7.15pm. It's opposite the 'Six Templars' Weatherspoons pub. If you don't know the way in, you need to go down the passage at the side of The Lounge cafe, through the doors of no.33 and down the stairs.

We offer two sessions in the evening, at 7.15pm and 8.15pm as we have found that some can't come early and some can only come late ! In the first session we will practice the Mindfulness of Breathing and, in the second, the Development of Loving Kindness. Come to one or both, we will be pleased to see you. If you arrive a bit late for a session, just quietly come in and join us. We meet every Tuesday evening at the Vaults, with the exception of the main school holidays. All sessions are suitable for beginners and you don't need to be a Buddhist to participate.

Over the last few months we have been looking at the Threefold Path - that's the path of Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom. We have read about and discussed Buddhist Ethics - the 5 Precepts and the 5 Dharmas. Next Tuesday, we will be practising meditation and, for our discussion topic, looking at the second stage of the Threefold Path, Meditation. In particular, we will be looking at setting up the conditions for meditation and, in weeks to come, practising different kinds of meditation.

Hope to see you on Tuesday evenings then!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Photos from the Retreat at Buckden Towers

We did lots of meditation and had some fun too! You can see Peter Bentley's photos here.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Autumn Retreat at Buckden Towers 16th -Sun 18th October 2009

'Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels....what does it mean?'.

Dear Friends,

Just a reminder that we have our Autumn Retreat coming up at Buckden Towers with Friends from FWBO Letchworth.

The dates will be Friday 16th -Sun 18th October. We will start at 6pm on the Friday and finish at around 3pm on the Sunday. If anyone wants a lift from Hertford or Ware, ask Rob.

What’s a Retreat?
It’s a chance to get away from the hurly burly of everyday life, to spend more time with Buddhist Friends, meditating in beautiful surroundings, practicing and sharing in community living. It‘s open to anyone interested in meditation and who wants to find out more about Buddhism. The Retreat will be led by Aryadhara, a member of the Western Buddhist Order. On the Retreat, we will have a chance to explore what it really means to be a Buddhist, and how we can put it into practice in our lives. We share together in meditation practice, walks in the beautiful grounds, discussion, reflection and cooking. All food is vegetarian. If you have a special diet, please advise.

There will be one talk on the Saturday morning, as well as opportunities for group discussion, silent reflection, reading and, of course, meditation and puja.

The cost of the weekend is £80 /£60 concessions. The fee covers the hire of the premises and the purchase of food. An advance deposit is requested, the remainder is payable on arrival.

Buckden Towers is the ancient and historic castle of the Catholic Bishops of Lincoln. We will be staying in the castle keep. Sleeping accommodation, accessed by ascending the stone spiral staircases, consists of two double bunk dormitories, one for men and one for women. The dungeon has been converted to a large kitchen/dining room and on the first floor is a large meeting room, which will be our shrine room for the weekend.

Buckden Village is located on the A1 about 32 miles north of Stevenage. For more about the history of Buckden Towers, see

We expect that it will be a vibrant and refreshing weekend for all.

For more information, please contact me, Rob Mew.
Mobile: O7754 - 930902

Monday, 17 August 2009

Poetry is Awareness

Do you love visiting the woods? Do you catch a moment of mindfulness, just watching the leaves?

When All Thoughts

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of sheperds purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

Ryokan Taigu 1758 - 1831

for more, Google 'Ryokan'

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Date Correction

Sorry folks! Yes, we will resume on Tuesday 1st September, same time and place.
See you there!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

August Holiday Break

We are taking a holiday break in August. We are not meeting on Tuesdays 18th and 25th August but will resume weekly meditation meetings on Tuesday 2nd September, at the usual time and place - that's 7.15pm, at 33 The Vaults, The Wash, Hertford, SG14 1PT.

See you there!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

What is Buddhism?

Here's a question that comes up regularly - what is Buddhism? Who was the Buddha and what is this Dharma that we speak of? What about the Sangha?

The Buddha was a man, born Siddhattha Gotama in northern India about 2,500 years ago. It's important to understand that he was just a human being, like you and me. He was not a god, or a celestial being, just a guy who, in his thirties, achieved an understanding about reality, about life and his place in the universe. We call this achievement enlightenment or nirvana and he went on to teach his understanding and how to practise it for the next forty years.

This teaching is called the Dharma and it is a practice - we practise the Dharma in the way we think and act in our life. Buddhism is not a belief system, it is a hands-on, find-out-for-ourselves system; we discover what works and doesn't work. Indeed, the Buddha himself told people not to blindly accept his teachings, but to try them out and only then accept them if they were of use.

People who practise the Dharma and ultimately, have made a commitment to do so are called Buddhists and these Buddhists make up what is called the Sangha. A sangha is a group of like-minded people who come together to meditate, discuss the Dharma or perform Buddhist ceremonies. The Sangha supports the individual is his or her practice.

These three things, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, are collectively called The Three Jewels because, like real jewels, they are incredibly precious. As Buddhists, we place the three jewels at the heart of our practice which is why, if you come along to the Hertford Sangha, you will see a Buddha rupa (statue), a book of the Buddha's teachings and a photograph or similar representing the Sangha.

Please feel free to ask questions when you come along, it's always great to be able to talk about this to people who are eager to learn.

If you want to find out more, you can visit for lots more information.

By the way, although we don't know what the Buddha actually looked like, that fat, laughing Buddha that so often carries his name is not the historical Buddha, but a Chinese monk called Budai.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

You can come earlier or later !

You are welcome to come to the earlier session (7.15 - 8.15) or to the later session (8.15 - 9.30), or to stay for the whole evening. We usually practice meditation in both sessions.

We learn and practice mainly two concentration meditations; the Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati) and the Development of Loving Kindness (Metta Bhavana) . There's opportunities to learn about the Dharma and we also find time for refreshments - free! - and chat.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Welcome to the Hertford Sangha

Welcome to the Hertford Sangha blog. We meet every Tuesday (details to the right) and the evening is broken down as follows:

From 7.15 to 8.15 we introduce ourselves, explain one of the two meditations we practise and then sit in meditation for about half an hour. Don't worry if you've never done this before, we'll tell you what to do. You don't need to be a Buddhist to come for this, meditation is suitable for all people of all ages. If you have your own meditation cushion, please bring it along.

From 8.15 to 9.15 we'll explain the other meditation practise and then sit for about 20 minutes or so. We'll also discuss aspects of the Dharma which is the Buddha's teachings. If you're not a Buddhist, you're welcome to stay, but there is no obligation.

You are welcome to attend either, or both, sessions. Admission is free but a donation to help cover the cost of the room is always welcome.

We're a small, friendly group and we always welcome new people. If you're interested, please come along one evening and find out more.