Home' Nova National : Nove June 2015 Contents novamagazine.com.au
something different, a third option, the
“You remember that famous Buddhist
story of the seven blind men and the
elephant (make it a kangaroo if you
like!), how each man could feel a part
of the animal but only when the seven
put together their different experiences
of the creature could they see the whole
picture? You just can’t always be right.”
An important Buddhist idea is that only
in calm still waters can you see a clear
reflection; only when your mind is still
can you see a perfect reflection of the
truth. If you have stillness, you won’t
argue so much. In many cases, instead
of just clear thought processes, we need
processes that are clear of thought. This is
where the practice of mindfulness comes
in, as a tool for the cultivation of wisdom.
It sits right at the heart of society, inside
families: this is domestic violence.
Try just one of the countless statistics
available: more than two women are
murdered by an intimate partner
Why is there so much anger in the
air? Why is it so often directed at those
supposedly nearest and dearest to us?
And what can we do about this?
Practitioners of mindfulness
meditation, including Buddhists, think
they may have the answer. They point
to our frequent failure to seek out the
silence and solitude that can enable
regular “inner inspection”, a personal
check-up on our own minds. We need
to be kinder to ourselves. We need to
vocalise less, and reflect more.
Try jail, or try meditation
It was interesting recently to see National
Rugby League star Russell Packer, now
on parole after a one year prison sentence
for a violent assault in Sydney in
2014, tell of his “cathartic”
jail experience and
“It was a very humbling experience...
because you have nothing. What I did
learn, particularly in jail, because you’re
in such a confined space, is that unless
you let go of your anger, you can’t really
move forward,” he said.
The isolation in jail taught Packer to
calm down. But you don’t have to go to
jail to experience this transformation –
mindfulness meditation will do it for you.
It is this practice that is at the centre
of the upcoming 9th Global Conference
on Buddhism, Resolving Conflict With
Mindfulness, that the BSWA will host
in Perth, August 8–9, and which will
bring together a dazzling array of both
Buddhist and non-Buddhist minds.
They include futuristic “techies” like
cyborg and robotics engineers, as well as
hypnotists, psychic phenomena experts,
doctors and psychotherapists, even a
Beating ourselves up
Malaysian-born Bhikkuni Hasapanna,
the female Abbot of Dhammasara Nuns’
Monastery at Gidgegannup and Assistant
Director of the BSWA, is one of the
speakers at the upcoming conference.
She says that when we encounter conflict
or criticism, we ourselves add to the
suffering already naturally inherent in
life (death, disease and so on) by hanging
on to the hurt and “over-thinking” it.
The pain and anger comes from inside
us and from our own ego, not from our
critic or opponent.
As she says, “We need to look at
our own shortcomings, and we need to
forgive ourselves, accept ourselves, not
beat ourselves up and not impose our
expectations on others.
“The ball will stop rolling if you
leave it alone; only if you keep on kicking
it will it continue rolling. There are no
short cuts though, it takes time to reach
Get the big picture
Another speaker at the conference
is Ajahn Brahm, the British-born
Abbot of WA’s Bodhinyana
Monastery, Spiritual Director of
the BSWA, Spiritual Adviser to
the Buddhist Societies of Victoria
and South Australia, and
Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist
Fellowship in Singapore, an
His take on conflict is:
“Why do people always have
to be right? It’s all about a
need to feel superior to others.
It’s ego... In a marriage, you
should just make it clear from
the beginning that you are
going to be wrong often, and
this is okay. Listen to the other.
Neither is right. Just take the
two different perspectives, join
them together and come up with
hen we talk about “conflict”
our minds automatically
turn to what we perceive
as the great conflicts of our
times: Syria, I raq, Afghanistan...
It isn’t as intuitive as it should be for
us to recognise that the conflict we ought
to be most concerned about is the conflict
among individual human beings; and at
the micro level lies the conflict we often
experience deep within ourselves.
Conflict is of course endemic to
the human condition. But, says Cecilia
Mitra, President of the Buddhist Society
of Western Australia (BSWA), “Ability
to cope with conflict brings peace.”
Peace does not arise from the absence of
conflict, an impossibility, but rather from
how we choose to cope with conflict.
Statistics of suffering
One of the worst forms of human
conflict that we in Australia can observe
firsthand is found close to home.
Resolving Conflict with Mindfulness
Ilsa Sharp explores a key theme of the 9th Global Conference
on Buddhism to be held in Perth in August.
Bhikkuni Hasapanna, Abbot of Dhammasara
Ajahn Branhm, renowned Buddhist leader
Credit: BF Seminar Bright Hill Temple
Links Archive Nova May 2015 Nova July 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page