International Practice Week 2018: 'Turning Arrows Into Flowers'

Resources for International Practice Week: 22-29 September

Posted by aparajita on Wed, 12 September, 2018 - 12:02
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Turning Arrows Into Flowers

This world-wide international practice week is based on the image of the Buddha on the cusp of his Enlightenment, at the point when Mara attacks him with all he’s got - but the Buddha does not react with anger, hatred, defensiveness but instead sits in complete peace and openness: the arrows, abuse & weapons hurled at him drift down around him as harmless flower petals.

In essence, the message to be communicated is: this is what we need to do all the time. The constant practice is

1) no blame, or defence, or reactivity, complaining,

2) turning towards whatever the challenge is with openness, interest and kind awareness

3) developing the attitude when faced with challenges “great – here’s is an opportunity for practice!”

The dharmic teaching underpinning is this:

The Seven Mind Training verses as laid out by Atisha: ‘taking adversity onto the path’

(Since this theme was agreed in 2017, the Eight (not Seven) Verses for Training the Mind have of course been popping up everywhere! Material can be found on buddhistcentre.com on both versions - no matter, it’s all good!)

Other Practices to include:  metta bhavana, readings from Shantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara, Sevenfold Puja, ways to allow the Bodhicitta to arise…perhaps even the Bodhicitta practice itself?

Resources and support:

Download a guide for participants 

Image for your poster: Aloka has made available an image of his black & white line drawing of Mara attacking the Buddha.

Short Talks: Yashobodhi has recorded 7 short talks especially for this occasion; a short (8 mins) intro to the mind training verses and then 7 talks about 20 minutes long on each of the verses. They will be available on this page. The Lojong slogans she uses are attached.

Banner with images for the shrine: Sanghadhara from Clear Vision kindly designed a poster out of the images of ‘dharma doors’ from around the world. 8 x A4/Letter posters can be printed out by Centres and stuck together to form a long rectangular banner that can be placed against the shrine. 

Guide ‘How to Run an Urban Retreat’ - with helpful suggestions.

Metta Wave: on the first day retreat, before the puja to ritually dedicate this week: during this metta wave you may wish to bring to mind all the different Triratna Centres around the world - attached is a list and of course don’t forget the many Triratna Groups  

Puja: you can also bring in an element of internationality in the puja – perhaps with having the positive precepts in different languages

Preparation for the event:

Leaders of the week may wish to prepare by listening to talks by Yashobodhi  and/or Dhammadinna, or the short talks given at the International Council earlier this year.

You may wish to explore for yourself the different ways of ‘turning weapons into flowers’; i.e. developing the mind of bodhicitta in our everyday experience. Some points:

  • there is mara without (noise, people, late buses…) and there is mara within (anger, upset, rumination, blame…)
  • life just does not go as we want it to go, in both small and large ways …these are all part of Mara’s attack, and our task is to turn it into flowers!
  • this practice is included in the 7 Points of Mind Training as laid out by Atisha – whatever difficulties arise, take them onto the path, they are opportunities for practice
  • difficulties are in essence things not going as you want – what this does is confront us with our attachment to how we want things to be, confront us with our ego-clinging and self-centredness.

So, the main point of this practice: seeing difficulties that arise as opportunities to turn arrows into flowers.

Shantideva – “the power of evil is very great, ordinary goodness is not enough; only the bodhicitta can overcome it.”

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