September 2018  -  Meditation Newsletter

from Vipassanā Fellowship

"And what is the highest manifestation of Love? To show to the world the path leading to the end of suffering.” - Nyanaponika Thera


Meditation Newsletter

Zephyr Cove


Join our September online course


Vipassanā Fellowship's meditation course has been offered online for over 20 years.


The course runs for 10 weeks and our next session begins on September 29th 2018. It is a great way to explore the joy of a steadily developing meditation practice. Do join us.


The course is an opportunity to learn to meditate or to refresh and deepen an existing practice. We focus on developing a fruitful and sustainable meditation practice inspired by over 2,500 years of tradition but appropriate for today's lives in many cultural contexts. Many people have found it to be an inspiring and supportive way to begin or refresh a dedicated meditation practice.


The session serves as a practical introduction to samatha (tranquillity or serenity) and vipassanā (insight) techniques. Intended primarily for beginners - of any faith or none - the course is also suitable for experienced meditators who wish to explore different aspects of the tradition. The emphasis is on building a balanced meditation practice that is compatible with home life.


Meditation can be joyful! It is sometimes approached as a heartless, mechanical, activity - a daily chore to be endured at all costs through gritted teeth.This is simply the wrong approach. On this course we take the middle way and integrate what might be called both "heart" and "head" practices directly from the advice given in the Pāli Canon.


The course offers daily material for each of the 10 weeks, interaction between participants and support from the tutor. Participants also have access to audio guided meditations and chants to support the text. The course will be led by UK based meditation teacher Andrew Quernmore, a meditator with more than 35 years' experience.


The course begins on September 29th and ends on December 7th. Application details and further information is available here:


2018 Courses Announced



Each month our Parisā members focus on a particular topic from the tradition. Over the year we cover practical meditation, cultural background and philosophical topics to help nourish our ongoing daily meditation practice. Parisā is a dispersed community of dedicated meditators around the world who have come together through engaging in one of Vipassanā Fellowship's 10 or 12 week meditation courses. If you recently finished one of our courses this is an excellent way to nurture your ongoing practice.




by Bhikkhu Sīlācāra


 “Verily not by hatred do hatreds cease here ever; by non-hatred do they cease; this is the eternal law of things.”


So runs one of the best known and most widely quoted texts in the Dhammapada, rendered in English that exactly follows the Pali word for word, except for the addition of the two words “of things” at the end, an addition made in order to bring out the meaning of “Dhamma” as something not made or invented by men, but inherent in the universe, in things as they are.

We use these words “universe” and “things” because they are terms of current speech, and there are no others available to express more nearly what we mean; but in the Buddhist way of envisaging life there is no “universe” and no “things” in the sense in which these words are ordinarily used. For the Buddhist way of envisaging what is here is one that is not satisfied to skim surfaces, but goes into things, penetrates them, and seeks to find out what they are at the bottom. In so doing, Buddhism finds that the primary reality is thinking; that the world is not a world of things, but a world of thinkings, of thinkings that for us have got themselves externalised and solidified into so-called “things.” Hence the problem of “how to make the world better” hardly troubles the Buddhist. All he troubles about is how to make his thinking, and the thinking of others, better; and then the “world” will become better of itself, without any need to trouble about it.

It makes a Buddhist melancholy sometimes—he cannot help it—to see numbers of excellent, well-meaning people running around in the world, all fussily engaged in “doing good,” as they think, and all unwittingly doing a great deal of harm. If only they would sit down quietly sometimes, and try to “think good” and teach others to “think good,” they would come much nearer to actually helping the world than they do with their present activities. The most that can be said for these busy-bodies is that they do themselves some good by these expressions of the goodwill that is in them; but that they do others all the good they imagine they are doing them, is very, very doubtful indeed, notwithstanding all their goodwill and earnestness.

If the apples in an orchard are unpleasant, small, sour and hard, and not what the gardener or anybody else wants, the gardener does not go around the trees with a paint brush in his hand and paint all the small green fruits a pretty pink to make them look well. In fact, he does not trouble about the apples at all in his designs for improving his orchard. What he thinks about is the trees, from which the apples grow. And if he is seriously determined to have a better crop of apples, he resolves to change his trees. When he has done that he knows that he does not need to think about the apples. With better trees, better apples will follow, surely, inevitably, because they must, because they cannot help it.

With regard to this big orchard of the world, the Buddhist is in the position of any sensible orchard gardener. He thinks about the trees in the world orchard, and these trees are thinkings, thoughts. With these mended, everything is mended. With these not mended, nothing is mended, no matter how prettily you paint them and try to pretend that, in vulgar phrase, “everything in the garden is lovely.”

Now what is the ugliest tree that grows in the world-orchard, producing the ugliest, most poisonous fruit? Surely it is the tree of hate, of hating thought. Could anything be uglier, more repulsive than the words and deeds that spring from hating thought and poison and darken the world? Great is the need, then, to change these all too plentiful trees of hating thought into their opposite, into trees of non-hatred. For “non-hatred” as Buddhists use the word, is the opposite of hatred. It is not simply a negative term of neutral import. As the word “untruth” in English conveys the positive meaning of “lie” to anyone who hears it; or the word “uncertain” the positive meaning of “doubtful,” so the Pali word averenawhich we have here translated as “by non-hatred,“ conveys to a Buddhist’s mind the opposite, positive meaning of “by love,“ that is, by metta. Hatred, then, according to our text, never ceases by hatred, by hating back; it ceases only by love.

And the business of a Buddhist in the world is to bring about the ceasing of hatred (and other undesirable ways of thinking). It is not his own gratification he is to think of, like the satisfaction which some people get out of hating back the person who has shown hate towards them. His business is to abolish, to wipe out, to neutralise, to destroy, a hating thought directed towards himself which he finds in the world, and to not add another hating thought of his own to it, and thus make two hating thoughts in the world where before there was only one. And the only effective way of doing this is to send forth a thought of love to meet the thought of hate, and so to cancel it and wipe it out of the kammaaccount book of the world.

But what is this love, a thought of which will cancel out a thought of hate? Is it what is usually called love? Far from it! Love as it is usually spoken of is mostly kāma, a burning flame that seeks to get something for itself, which wants to devour and eat up, to feed itself. But Buddhist love is metta, an altogether different thing. We do not say, as one grievously mistaken translator of this very book from which our present text is taken, makes a certain passage in it say: “By love comes sorrow, by love comes fear. He that is without love is without sorrow and fear.” What we say is: “By lust comes sorrow, by lust comes fear. He that is free from lust is free from sorrow and fear,“ which, like every word that comes from the Exalted One’s mouth, is an indisputably true statement, as indisputably true as that other is indisputably false.

Accordingly we are instructed how we may beget in ourselves thoughts of metta, of love, of real love, such as a mother has for her child. A mother never wants anything back from her child in return for all that she does for it. All she asks is to be allowed to do something for it, to give it something, anything at all that she has, any service at all that she can render; and whether it pays her back for it or not, she does not care, does not even think about. So we have to learn to practice mettatowards others, and with metta, with love, to wipe out and cancel hate. But how?

Well, the first thing is to think of someone whom we love selflessly, with some approach to metta, to real love, free from all self-seeking of any kind. When we think of such a one, we do not find it difficult to hold a thought of mettatowards them in our mind. Indeed, we find it fairly easy, for it is already with us a habitual, natural thing to do. And now, having dwelt on this mettathought long enough and steadily enough to make it strong in our minds, we now have to think of another person who is further away from us in our thoughts, one for whom we have not so strong a natural liking or love as we have for the first person we have been thinking of in our practice of metta. And of this second person we now must think steadily and strongly, until we have produced in our minds as strong a feeling or thought of mettaor love towards him as we had towards the first person with whom we began this practice of metta or loving thought. And now, having done this successfully, we next turn our thought or feeling of mettaon to some other third person we know still further removed from our natural, ordinary feelings of affection that the first and second persons towards whom we have been directing our thoughts of metta, until, towards this third person also, we have begotten in our minds feelings and thoughts of mettaas strong and sincere as those felt towards the first two persons. Thus on and on we go, spreading our thoughts a little further and further away towards others, towards whom we naturally feel rather indifferent, until at last, with this practice, our thoughts of metta, from being a mere thin stream, have become a broad flood. We are able, or we ought to be able, to direct them and maintain them active in full tide, towards some person or persons against whom we usually have feelings of dislike, perhaps even, of active hate, of desire to injure and hurt. This is the full triumph of the practice of metta-thought, its complete victory. When we are able thus to feel love, metta, even to those who have injured us, we are acting on the principle expressed in our text; now we are actually putting into effect the only true alchemy there is in the world—the turning of hatred into love, the dull dross of hate into the bright gold of affection. Now we are making the practical proof that hatred never ceases by hatred, that it ceases only by love—the old, the never-failing, the eternal law of things.

This practice of metta-thought is called a Brahma-vihāra, a dwelling with Brahma, a dwelling with the highest god, and that is indeed what it is. To be a god is to be able to create good, and here in this practice, if we practise it successfully, we create gold, the richest metal in the world, the gold of love. But it is in the power of the gods also to destroy. And the man who practises mettabecomes thereby also a destroyer, a destroyer of the ugliest, the most unbeautiful thing there is in the world—hatred, enmity, ill-will.

Thus, by the practice of mettā-thought as taught by the Buddha, a man becomes an equal of the gods, a creator and a destroyer of the most beneficent kind—a creator of good and a destroyer of evil. Such a one, after death, must surely go to the realms of the gods to be one of them, to be one of the beneficent forces of the world, sending down showers of blessings from his loftier seat to those on lower levels. And then, when the good doing that has brought him so happy a lot, has exhausted its course, he will be born again on the lower levels, not as one condemned to unhappiness, but as one happy in himself, whatever the wealth, or lack of wealth, the fame or lack of fame, the high position or lack of it he may have to enjoy or endure in the world of the kāma-loka. For love makes happy, now, and in the future and always. It makes happy him who gives it and him who receives it. May we all seek this one sure way to be happy, and to make others happy—the way of love that makes hatreds cease because they cannot live in love’s pure atmosphere, but must wither away and die. May all beings be happy; May all beings learn to love! For when all beings love, then will all beings be happy.


Source: BPS Bodhi Leaves 80 (excerpt), Kandy, Sri Lanka.  For free distribution only. Originally published in the Buddhist Annual of Ceylon, 1927.







The more sensitive your listening

the more silent you will be.

The more silent you become

the more sensitive will your listening be.



Source: 'Wellspings' by Anthony de Mello

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