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N° 47

If the traveller cannot meet a wise person
to accompany them on the road,
let them continue alone,
for there is no companionship with a fool..


Dhammapada verse 61

Purity of the heart

One year, during my early days in Budh Gaya, I became friendly with a young German man. Even now I cannot remember his name, but it is not important because he was known to everyone throughout the town as 'that lucky German'. This nickname arrived because of an accident on the road to Kathmandu some weeks before we met. He was travelling on a full bus of Indian and Nepalese people when the bus careered off the narrow, winding road and plunged into a deep valley. Any of us who have made this journey know how dangerous these long roads to Nepal can be and so cannot be surprised to hear of accidents.
The bus tumbled and turned until it finally came to a halt on its side. Many people died, but he survived. Some months later whilst taking the same route to Kathmandu, we passed this place on the road, and there was the bus of 'the lucky German,' lying on its side as witness to his story. He was pulled out of the crashed vehicle and taken to hospital in Kathmandu. Seeing his nationality on his passport the hospital staff knew him as a German man who had survived a terrible accident, hence the nickname. When he arrived in Budh Gaya some time later he came to learn meditation with me and we became travelling friends.

One day sitting in a local cafe he spoke to me. 'You know,' he began, 'every time we see you in the street you are accompanied by a beautiful woman.' I had not thought of this before, but it was true. My preconception of female travellers being strong, sturdy women in mountain boots and calf length trousers had been completely demolished, and I had met young, attractive women, independent and happily travelling alone in a strange land. I was a quite well known in Budh Gaya by this time and the small town itself was a very social place, so often I would be accompanied as I walked along the single road to the stupa or back to the Burmese Vihar. Of course, I was very happy to think that beautiful women were attracted to me and so I left the cafe with a slight ego based smile on my lips. Some time later I met 'the lucky German' again and he was excited to tell me that he now knew exactly why these young women were always happy to walk with me. 'It's because they feel safe with you,' he said smiling. At first this was not the reason I wanted to hear, but when the disappointment of not being likened to Robert Redford or some other handsome movie star of those days passed, I experienced an enormous joy in my heart. Is this how others really perceive me? That I want nothing from them and so they are safe with me? That they know I will not try to manipulate them or exploit them in some way? Without realising, after so many years of sitting and applying love and awareness to my life, the results could be experienced by others. The true manifestation of the loving Dhamma heart became apparent, with each aspect of every relationship based in integrity and love for all living beings. Not to exploit or manoeuvre, but to serve and support. It is said that true Dhamma practice is like walking in the mist or fog, and that slowly, slowly without realizing it, we become soaking wet. Our Dhamma heart and opens love becomes the gift in our life, first for ourselves and the for all beings. To be in a relationship, no matter how short lived, with someone who does not make demands on you is a great gift in your life. To be with someone who is not, even at a very subtle level, trying to manipulate you creates an environment of safely. In this environment you can find the space to be foolish and not be judged. Here you can be relaxed knowing that the other will not mock to humiliate you. This is the highest relationship in life, and when you struggle with your relationships it means only that you are not moving from this place. That this moment and this situation is conditional and you are making demands. Let go of that and all the difficulties just fall away. Even if others cannot do this for you, you are always able to do this for them. Simple, but not easy. To cultivate a life based on how everyone should or should not be can only be a life filled with frustration. Look at the world. Look at its diversity, and look how people struggle to control others so that they themselves can feel secure in their view of how things should be. Beings are the way they are, that is their choice. You are the way you are and that is your choice. Live with love and be aware and let all your demands on the universe for you to be happy be seen as the manipulative devices they really are. When this happens, happiness is already there. Pure Dhamma works in a beautiful and consistent way provided that we stay on the path. Slowly, slowly the fear we have always justified and explained falls away and we are left with a simple purity of being. If we let go a little there is a little peace. If we let go a lot, there is a lot of peace If we let go completely, complete peace. This is the way of Dhamma.

Excerpt from the autobiography of Michael,  A Journey to Awakening - the memoirs of a Dhamma disciple. 332 pages from Panna Dipa Books.

May all beings be happy.


One being my disciple

People sometimes ask if they can be my disciple, but I rarely explain what this really means because I think, often naively it seems, that simply by asking they have an understanding of the commitment they say they want to undertake.

However, this is not always true, and so I want to share some necessary guidelines taken from my own training with my Master.

First: We are not friends. Although our relationship may be on friendly terms, we as individuals are not friends. We do not live in the same world or see, know and understand life in the same way. I know your world - you cannot know mine.

Second: I am not interested in your private life or the personal things you tell me except from the perspective of Dhamma and your unique struggle with suffering and the First  Noble Truth. My place is only to serve your journey to liberation, not to take a position on your old story.

Third: If you are my disciple, you represent me and the lineage of Masters beginning with the Buddha. This is a great responsibility and means that in every moment, in public or alone, you must endeavour always to guard your integrity, your honesty and your humility.

Fourth: Especially when we are together or you are on retreat with me your responsibility is to set the example to others. To lead from the front, to submit to the rules exactly and not think that there is a special dispensation for you because I gave you a Dhamma name. In fact, exactly because of that, you must work harder that everyone else. Show all beings kindness and respect, and if you cannot say something of value it will be better to stay quiet.

Fifth: The training is to become invisible, to move through all aspects of life like a cool breeze on a summers day, always bringing something of value, but in all that, remaining inconspicuous. Don't impose yourself on others. Even with good intentions it is easy for what we do or say to be misunderstood and therefore bring the Pure Dhamma into disrepute. We are not a cult.

The disciple serves the Master, the Master serves the disciple and together they both serve Dhamma.
If you can commit to these simple conditions you can call yourself my disciple. You must decide for yourself, but without true dedication to the path all that is left is someone making their show, and whatever you may believe, you are always seen. Remind yourself that everything is training and service the the greatest gift we bring to ourselves and others.

The robes and bowl of the Noble tradition now called Pure Dhamma, were handed to me by my teacher. I accepted them with humility and have honored them ever since. This is the way of true training.

May you and all beings be happy.

Michael Kewley
(Dhammachariya Paññadipa)


The practice of the lay disciple

The purpose of your training is to realise for yourself, directly and intuitively, the beauty of Dhamma. Without a structure for your practice you will simply fall back into your sleep filled life and so never be free. Here then, are the Dhamma supports for your practice. They are given to help you in times of stress and difficulty and lead only in one direction. To the place of freedom. Meditate every day. No excuses, you have the time to sit for at least twenty minutes once a day. Twice is better. Make a shrine if that helps you and always include Loving Kindness. You can add a simple chant or even the triple bow if that is inspiring, but above all, do your sitting practice. Make Ahimsa a goal of practice. Ahimsa means harmlessness, and becomes the unavoidable part of our Dhamma life. The simple five rules of conduct are: Not to harm any other living being. Not to take anything that was not freely offered. Not to manipulate or cajole others into doing what you think they should do. Not to speak in cruel and harmful ways. Not to take mind altering drugs. Empower the loving mind. Stop complaining and just do what you're supposed to do. It's only life and you are determining the quality of that for yourself, so empower love. Affirm the beauty of life, your relationships and everything that you meet. Affirm clarity and decisive action. Be brave and don't listen to the nonsense in the mind. Empower the Pure Dhamma. Your heart will always connect with truth, so listen to that. Pure Dhamma is love, compassion, balance and joy. These are the qualities of freedom. The head is always about fear and will never bring you to peace. Be free from emotions. Emotions are only what they are, movements of mind that arise and pass away. Don't build your life around these powerful, yet impermanent clouds that pass through the sky of mind. Serve others. Take care of yourself whilst at the same time kindly and lovingly serving others. Take yourself past the places in your life where you usually stop. Self identity (ego) is always the obstacle to realisation.

It is hard to be a disciple, but hard also to live in the world.
Living in the world one meets many difficulties and the consequences can be hard to bear.
Dhammapada  verse 302.

Here you can watch a short video from Michael called 'Being the disciple.' https://youtu.be/XPUfdzrDYgY

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A monk entered the monastery and said to the master.
“I am new here, please teach me.”
The master replied, “have you eaten your breakfast?”
“I have,” answered the monk.
“Then wash your bowl,” finished the master.

Dhamma quotation:


That which we empower becomes our reality.

From The Reality of Kamma by Michael Kewley

Follow Michael on twitter @MichaelKewley and Facebook

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