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- Buddhist Monk
Venerable Amaranatho was born and brought up in the Jewish faith, and in his late teens had severe doubts about Judaism and left all religion behind him. He went on to work within the computer industry and took a degree in computing and artificial intelligence. He then traveled around the world for four years, where he learnt about meditation and the thought began, to become a monk. He has been a Buddhist monk for eleven years and trained at Amaravati Monastery near Hemel Hempstead. He know lives as a alms mendicant.
He leads residential family, young people and creative retreats for adults at the retreat center at Amaravati (www.family.amaravati.org), in Ireland,Malaysia, Bali, Australia. These events are based on co-exploration, creativity, fun and a willingness to honestly look at oneself. The main emphasis is on a contemplative or reflective attitude towards understanding who we are. This is based on accepting or welcoming the way life is and allowing our natural wisdom to arise. He recently started to run Jewish Buddhist meditation retreats in London,Gardening retreats at ( www.oakcroft.org.uk ) and mens retreats.
Amaranatho has recently trained to be a Source Process breathwork therapist, which uses the breath for healing any life limiting decisions we made when we took our first breath. Part of this training is understanding the birthing process, which for some couples can be a very spiritual experience, when done in a conscious way (http://binnieadansby.com/ and http://www.fatherstobe.org/). He is also deeply influenced by Ken Wilber's integral approach and shadow work.
Your can find more about amaranatho www.playfulmonk.net
He has edited two books of Ajahn Sumedho, the Abbot of Amaravati, one called Intuitive Awareness which is available for free distribution and has been translated into several languages, and another called The Sound of Silence available from Wisdom Publications. The following is taken from the introduction to the Sound of Silence and explains the style of meditation the approach used in the topic material (essays) and the stuff under Buddhism:-
... This book in its entirety is a contemplation, a reflection on the “way it is.” in Ajahn Sumedho’s words, this reflective approach is an empowerment. I am presenting things for you to investigate. I am not telling how you should think or even practice but presenting things to stimulate you, to look at things rather than just accept what I say or disagree with it.
Reflection is not something that you can do—it’s what the mind inclines to when you are relaxed and open. Another way of saying this is, it’s an attitude: the way you look at yourself and the world, is a choice—a choice to be who you really are, rather than what you think you may be.
Contemplation, on the other hand, is using the thinking mind to reflect. It’s taking a thought consciously, letting it affect the mind arid seeing what effect it has. To help with understanding this, Ajahn Sumedho reflects a lot on self personality or who we think we are...
The Theravadin monastic lifestyle is often portrayed as dry, sterile, and escaping from the complex issues of the world. Yet Ajahn Sumedho’s reflections offer humor, and deep insight into the conditions that support these complexities. He suggests that in reacting to these complexities, we tend to refer back to something we have learned, through our social and cultural conditioning. This is already the past, a memory. So we get manipulated, either by our own memories or by the social, cultural, and political environment. In this process of waking up, you are asked to investigate who you are, what the world is. In this way when we come from stillness, rather than reaction, we can then serve ourselves and humanity...
Humor is an important part of the reflective style of Ajahn Sumedho as sometimes we can take life so seriously. By taking some of the human conditions and turning them into absurdities, we can get perspective on the way we bind ourselves to those very conditions. So, when we start to accept ourselves as we are, not as some ideal of who we think we should be, a relaxation can take place. This creates space for insight to arise. For some people this space is recognized as what Ajahn Sumedho refers to as the sound of silence, or simply a quiet or empty mind. However it manifests, this points to the unconditioned, beyond body and mind objects...
From this place of spaciousness, social and personal conditioning can be investigated or reflected upon, thus freeing the heart from the delusion of identifying with the personality. This is not a process of rejecting ourselves, of considering certain thoughts and feelings as wrong, but of learning to be a silent witness to all that arises without attaching to that experience or rejecting it. In essence it’s about trust, accepting what arises in experience as “the way it is” or, as Ajahn Sumedho often likes to say, “welcoming the suffering.” It is about listening, being receptive to and fully including everything...