Golding Dowsing


Silencing the chattering monkey - Jan van der Elsen, Thursday 14th February

Do you have a chattering monkey? You know, that constant voice in your brain that races away with all sorts of thoughts, unbidden, that seems impossible to ignore. Buddhism is about silencing your chattering monkey.

Buddhism isnít a religion, because Buddhists donít worship anything or anyone. Itís just a philosophy, a way of life. Devout Christians and determined Atheists can all be Buddhists too. Thereís nothing to convert to, and once people learn what it is, they often say, “Well, thatís common sense. I live like that anyway.”

The man who became Buddha was born a Prince in Nepal in 536 BC, and named Siddhartha. His father, the King, naturally wanted his new son to follow in his footsteps, so decided to bring him up behind city walls in an environment of absolute perfection.

Not until he was married and had a son of his own did Siddhartha, then aged 29, venture out into the real world, where he was perturbed to discover suffering in all its forms. He saw that just living was hard work. He saw a bird eating a worm and was upset. He saw a starving old man and woman begging, and was shocked by old age and the depth of their need. He had not previously seen illness and dying, and found them deeply distressing.

Siddartha was a gentle and compassionate man, and set out in rags to wander the world. After many years walking and meditating, he finally realized that we subconsciously choose our doubts and fears. We allow our inner demons to take us over. We “decide” how we will respond. Buddha spread the word and told his followers about his discoveries - and Buddhism spread throughout the world.

Another great realisation - for Buddha and for us - is that Attachment causes suffering. Being attached to a house you canít afford, a nice car with high running costs, being overwhelmed by bills, remaining in a wrong relationship.

Jan van der Elsen Jan van der Elsen at the Gloucester Buddhist Centre aboard the Sula Lightship, moored at Llanthony Quay, just south of Gloucester Docks.

Our speaker, Jan van der Elsen, of the Gloucester Buddhist Centre on Sula Lightship moored at Llanthony Quay just south of Gloucester Docks, believes the key is to detach - from things, from the people who arenít right for you, from wrong behaviours and thoughts. Only you can decide; first and foremost you are accountable to yourself.

The major tools of Buddhism are meditation, sutras and mantras, the Buddhist equivalent to prayer. Jan ended by leading us into a beautiful meditation, inviting us to simply envisage ourselves on the beach. “Enjoy the beauty that surrounds you,” he said. “Picture the sounds and smells - the sea, the sound of the waves . . ”

Afterwards we came back to reality refreshed, recharged, feeling calmer and more peaceful. That chattering monkey can still intrude; thoughts can still come unbidden. Which is why some people chant a mantra over and over to keep the monkey mind at bay; concentrate on “Ohm” or the delicate ringing of a struck Tibetan singing bowl.

Our next meeting will be on 23rd February with a talk titled “From Atlantis to Orionís Belt”. All welcome. Visit or phone 01452 614345.

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