[Sticky] Please Introduce Yourself
I started meditating in 2011, using the secular mindfulness book by Mark Williams. I then read some Thich Nhat Hanh and attended a local sangha in Ham near Richmond. Through that sangha, I was introduced to the western dharma teachers and have since attended some retreats at Woodbrooke and at Gaia House.
I attend the sanghas in Kingston and in Twickenham and I'm a member of Kingston Quaker Meeting.
I'm interested in what my Buddhist practice can teach my Quakerism and vice versa. I've also had positive experiences starting a sangha and would like to see many more start up.
Kingston Quaker Meeting
Kingston Mindfulness Meditation Group
Twickenham Mindfulness Meditation Group
I have been seeking spiritually all my life, in many different traditions and none. I had a lot of Christian input as a child, and spent many years as a practising Catholic. I was introduced to the American Ram Dass and his book "Be here now" in about 1982 and his understanding of things informed by an eastern spirituality spoke clearly to me on a deep level. I gained a lot from the Discalced Carmelite monastic tradition (St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila and St Therese of Lisieux) which uses long periods of silent contemplation. However, I became unable to cope with the Catholic church generally, and joined a Buddhist Insight meditation group in Bristol, linked to Gaia House in Devon. Since moving to the depths of mid Wales I have not had a Buddhist group near to me and have been meeting weekly with a couple of friends to meditate, but mainly just meditating alone at home, and reading books, listening to audio - lately I have found Thich Nhat Hahn especially helpful. I was missing meeting with others in a sacred space on a Sunday so decided to try Quakers - I am still adapting to the different understanding of the silence in meeting, and the general approach.
I really appreciated meeting others at BYM last week and am keen to maintain conversation about what we are finding helpful or difficult in our spiritual lives, and how we each interlink Quakerism and Buddhism. I feel at present I need to find a Buddhist sangha too to support my Buddhist side, and suggestions of places to look given to me at BYM were very helpful.
Many thanks to Pierre for setting this up. Will there be an opportunity to email each other individually? I would have liked to have emails of people I talked to as well. I expect, like me, you are all recovering and catching up at home after a very full on week at BYM!
I've been practicing Soto Zen for twenty years via a group associated to Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey http://throssel.org.uk/ . There are some excellent Dharma talks on this site.
Affiliated Meditation Groups are here https://obcon.org/temples-and-meditation-groups/uk-meditation-groups-2/
Temples are here https://obcon.org/temples-and-meditation-groups/uk-temple-locations/
I also attend Carlton Hill Quaker Meeting in Leeds and I'm interested in the common ground between the two practices.
I'm a Quaker and a member of the same Local Meeting as Pierre, Kingston upon Thames. I've read a lot of Buddhism and think it very much enriches my spiritual experience but I wouldn't call myself a Buddhist. Am I a theist or a non-theist Quaker? Am I bovvered?
I blog as Quakerperson http://frankem51.blogspot.co.uk/ but beware: it's a bit of a rant against what I see as the domination of the Society of Friends by the political left.
I've studied a wide range of Buddhist texts, including In the Buddha's Words edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi and TNH. I recently got Jack Kornfield's Meditation for Beginners from the local Oxfam book shop - and it actually had the associated CD with it! I found it a very helpful reminder of the basics. I've a couple of books by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso of the New Kadampa Movement, which some people say is a cult. Favourite guru on Youtube is Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche but Tingu Tulku Rinpoche is also to be recommended.
I see Buddhism as essentially a system of mind-training, proven by the test of time. My younger daughter lives with me and is a very disciplined meditator, so I try to follow her example.
A question for discussion, perhaps, is 'what goes on in your head in Meeting?'
I was bought up as a Catholic and that is my "root" religion but for guidance on how to live a good life, I belong to the Community of Interbeing.
Quakerism is a major strand of my mother's life and from her I have acquired some knowledge of Quaker faith and practice.
I don't want to muddle my brain by exploring too many faiths so I only rarely attend Meetings.
Re what is going on in your head. In Mass - mind would wonder and be bored. Now - on cushion, in Mass (or Meeting), esp after reading bok below, can let word sink in, meditate on breathing, loving kindness.
Good Read if we are sharing our favourite books
What of "Experiment with the Light" which seems to be Quaker meditation? http://www.experiment-with-light.org.uk/
With a bow, Melanie
I've been a Quaker for over 35 years, nearly all at Watford meeting. I've also described myself as a Buddhist since 2010 when I formally received the 5 mindfulness trainings of the Community of Interbeing. I find meditation, especially metta meditation and mindfulness very helpful, though my practice tends to lapse. Jim Pym and Thich Nhat Hanh have been big influences. The difference between meditation and what we are doing in meeting for worship seems to me very hard to distinguish and I've largely stopped trying to. I attended Heart of London Sangha fairly regularly from 2013 to 2015. A combination of health problems and some doubts about the way the sangha is run have meant that I haven't attended since.
Favourite books: Jim Pym's 'You don't have to sit on the floor' and 'Listen to the Light'.
Like Melanie I found 'Living Buddha, Living Christ' very helpful.
'Experiment with Light'? Rex Ambler is happy to describe it a meditation. When I first encountered it I recognised it as one of the things I already did during meeting for worship (though it wasn't quite as formalised).
I've been meditating for over 20 years, I started with the Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson when my life was very stressful and moved through various stages to a mainly mindfulness based practice. I have been teaching introductory meditation for about 12 years and set up a meditation group at Wimbledon Quaker Meeting about 4 years ago. I have been on a number of Buddhist retreats at Gaia House and also have enjoyed Jim Pym's books and some weekends with him at Quaker Centres. I have been a Quaker for about 13 years.
I'm a member of Kingston Meeting and I was also responsible for getting our local Buddhist group to meet there: mindfulness meditation in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh , Gaia House and Insight Meditation.
We meet in the same room, so on Sunday its Quaker Worship and on Wednesday evening its Buddhist Meditation. Personally, I cannot see any significant difference, except that the Buddhist meeting is more programmed. Both are practicing loving kindness and compassion.
When I have tried speaking to my Quaker community I find a general misunderstanding of Buddhism and no interest. When I speak to my Buddhist community I find a general misunderstanding of Quakerism and no interest. This is curious. For a while I thought of organizing an inter-faith dialog. But then I remembered the important Quaker idea that we all believe something different and realized I was just trying to promte my own belief to others.
For me personally, I find the word worship unhelpful and prefer to describe what I am doing at both as meditation. I often use my kneeling stool at both as it helps me to maintain a comfortable posture. My Quaker friends do not seem to mind.
It may be the case that I find the two similar because I am a non-theist, non-christian Quaker.
My Buddhist friends keep administration to a minimum, not having any Buddhist property to manage, or any larger collections of people to coordinate. This feels different to the Quaker community. Though of course there are Buddhists elsewhere organizing retreats and properties.
Out of the 40 or so possible people at Kingston Meeting and the 20 or so in the Buddhist group, there are just three of us who attend both.
For me, these are two converging traditions and I wonder what they will look like in 50 years. I think that the general public are more interested in meditation than in worship and I wonder if Quaker outreach would benefit from such an insight.
I have been going to Wimbledon Quakers for about a year now. This has been a very refreshing change after going to a local Catholic Church for the previous 15 years. What I like about the Quaker tradition is that anyone can speak during meetings, everyone is treated as an equal and each person can have their own beliefs. I particularly enjoy being part of the Wimbledon Quakers community and get a lot out of going to the meetings on Sundays. Since joining, I have become an active member of the Wimbledon meditation group which was started by Susanna.
I have been to some different Buddhist traditions and for about a year I attended one that used to be based in Wimbledon and was following the Kadampa tradition.
I continue to read many different spiritual books but am most interested in those about non-duality. With my wife I recently organised a weekend event that was led by the spiritual guide Gabor Harsanyi and continue to work closely with him and his wife. There is more information about this on our website at www.treeofsilence.com.
For many years I have followed a daily spiritual practice, which is probably less meditation now than it used to be and more focusing on the now and the peace within whenever I remember to do so.
I had been interested in Buddhism long before I became aware of Quakers. However, I began attending Wandsworth Meeting in 2005 and this became my main spiritual home. After moving house I began attending Kingston Quaker Meeting in 2016. I don't go to Meeting for Worship as often as I used to, simply because I've been working away from home a lot this year.
Never having managed to maintain a pure meditation practise on my own at home, I'm grateful for the gathered silence of Quaker worship. At home I practise yoga and see this as a daily meditative routine.
The writings of Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chödrön, and more recently early Quakers cited in Quaker Faith and Practice, are my greatest sources of inspiration.
Hello, fellow Quaker-Buddhists or Buddhist-Quakers.
Having found a worrying gap in my scientific world view, I attended my first Buddhist retreat in Mid-Wales 30 years ago with the Western Chan Fellowship. The teaching of John Crook on the practices of Silent Illumination (Chan, Chinese Zen) and Mahamudra (Tibetan) have been invaluable. I established a sangha, still thriving, in Swindon, but now live in sparcely-populated Mid-Wales.
I was introduced to Quakers by a fellow retreatant, and became a Member ten years ago. Llanidloes LM is very supportive and socially active, and is in effect my local sangha. As it includes several Buddhists, I have established a monthly Buddhist-Quaker sit: Buddhist meditation, kin-hin walking meditation, discussion, and Meeting for Worship. There is often an overlapping theme, for example Metta loving kindness meditation followed in Meeting for Worship by quotations on loving kindness from QF&P.
It is sad that many Quakers are not familiar with George Fox’s basic teachings. For example, his letter of 1658 to Lady Claypole, which includes the text
‘Therefore be still awhile from your own thoughts, searching, seeking, desires, and imaginations, and be stayed in the principle of God in you… what the light exposes and discovers, as temptations, distractions, confusions; do not look at the temptations, confusions, corruptions; but at the light which discovers them and exposes them; and with the same light you may feel over them, to receive power to stand against them…looking down at sin, corruption, and distraction, you are swallowed up in it; but looking at the light, which discovers them, you will see over them. That will give victory, and you will find grace and strength; there is the first step to peace’
is not included in Q&FP. I find these words, which are at the core of the recently established Quaker practice ‘Experiment with Light’, invaluable in my personal meditation practice, alongside John Crook’s mantra ‘Let through (into consciousness), let be (without mental elaboration), let go (drop it!)’.
For me being Quaker-Buddhist is very fulfilling as the two traditions complement each other so well, each having strengths where the other has weaknesses. I hope this new web sangha will promote this, and that we may all be able to meet for a retreat occasionally.
J M Senior
I would say that Experiment with Light is a guided meditation, Melanie, based on four steps: mind the Light, open to the truth, wait in the Light, submit to the truth. I am a member of an EWL group that meets monthly.
I find that EWL, my daily Buddhist meditation practice, and Meeting For Worship are quite distinct from each other. The one thing they have in common is the distracting 'monkey mind'! I should be interested to hear your and other's views.
J M Senior
I'm not sure I'm a Buddhist or a Quaker but I have certainly been reading about Buddhism and practising meditation for over 10 years and I'm part of the meditation group at the Wimbledon Meeting House. I'm familiar with Quakerism as my father was a conscientious objector in World War Two and did relief work with the FAU in Europe. I'm fascinated by Buddhist philosophy and even more by the way that it helps me with the underlying truths of Christianity. I think the ultimate truths are independent of human cultures which to my mind often cause a lot of confusion.
In my working life I was a garden designer and my great interest is in helping people re-connect with the other than human world through the medium of the garden. I open my garden regularly for quiet contemplation and last weekend we held a silent retreat in the garden for just that purpose. If we are to come through this ecological crisis we must learn again how to love the Earth.
I should be interested to know whether we all find Buddhism and Quakerism entirely compatible, even synergistic, or whether there are any areas of difficulty. For example, I am a non-theist, but I imagine that for theistic Quakers the lack of interest shown by Buddha when questioned about the existence of gods could be a difficulty.
J M Senior