May 31, 2022

Nurturing a Buddhist Community - Dennis Sheppard

Nurturing a Buddhist Community - Dennis Sheppard

On this episode of Treasure Mountain Podcast we have a guest who has been a mentor to me and remains a personal friend. Dennis Sheppard has been involved with Buddhist community since 1978, joining with the Buddhist Society of Western Australia as a youn...


On this episode of Treasure Mountain Podcast we have a guest who has been a mentor to me and remains a personal friend. Dennis Sheppard has been involved with Buddhist community since 1978, joining with the Buddhist Society of Western Australia as a young man interested in meditation and spiritual practice, and going on to serve multiple terms as president, as well as serving in several other capacities including designing several buildings for both monastics and the lay community.

In this interview with Dennis Sheppard:

  • Getting involved with Buddhism in Australia in the late 1970s and what that was like
  • Sending lay people to Thailand to request Ajahn Chah to send monks to Australia
  • How Ajahn Jagaro changed the Buddhist Society of WA and his lasting legacy
  • The impact of Ajahn Jagaro's departure and the commencement of Ajahn Brahm's tenure as Spiritual Director
  • What the early years of the Buddhist Society of WA were like, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

Links from the episode:

Treasure Mountain links:

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May you be happy!

Sol

Transcript

Robot generated transcription - expect errors!

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00:00.00

sol_hanna

On this episode of treasure mountain podcast. We have a guest who has been amented to me and remains a personal friend. Dennis Shepherd has been involved in the buddhist community since one 78 joining the buddhist society of western Australia as a young man interested in meditation and spiritual practice. And going on to serve multiple terms as president of society as well as serving in several other capacities including designing several buildings for both monastics in the layy community. He has also been the main wedding celebrant ah for the buddhist society for many years in addition to his decades of service with the buddhist society of W A. Dennis has worked as a building designer for several decades and he has a part-time practice as a hypnotherapist specializing in past lives and stillness healing. He also has many other hobbies including astronomy astrophysics and poetry I've invited Dennis onto the episode. Um, to this episode of treasure mound podcast for a very specific reason in my research in recent weeks I've come across dozens if not hundreds of small buddhist communities in western countries that are in their early stage of development I'm myself am trying to establish a buddhist community in the region where I live. So I know how challenging this task can be because we can all learn from those who have gone before us I've invited Dennis onto the show to talk about his recollections of the early years of the buddhist society of western Australia from the late 1970 s to the late 1990 s a time in which the association grew from an enthusiastic. But rather small group of lay volunteers to a much larger more diverse community running regular events and running both a city center and large monasteries and much more besides Dennis has been part of that journey from the early years and I can't think of anyone better to tell this story. So join us as we find out about the early years of the buddha society of western australia get a Dennis thanks for joining the podcast. How are you this day. Well I'm really pleased that you came along. Um and I think we'll just get straight into it.

 

01:59.35

Dennis

Um, very well thank you soul Good Good to see you.

 

04:18.27

sol_hanna

I was wondering if you could start off by telling ah your story about how you first came to be involved in the buddhist society of Western Australia

 

02:37.65

Dennis

Yes, well I was traveling as a very young man I went in went on ah on the usual trip that australians often do to the yeah uk in my yeah early 20 s met. In fact, I met my wife. None wife on on the ship going over to the Uk and you know we spent 3 years over there and it was really right in the time of the Beatles and Carnaby street and all of those funky happenings if you like and and. Meditation was just one of those things that was was really you know on the upward swing but I kind of saw it really from a point of view of being a a person who was originally as a as a very young person interested in religion and i. Sort of got involved in Sunday school and church and the choirs and all of that sort of thing but really over the the journey of my youth I kind of lost a lot of that mainly I think mainly because of testosterone that was sort of coming along and the the way that.

 

07:01.86

sol_hanna

He.

 

05:10.39

Dennis

Way the girls and and all of that sort of fun stuff. Rock and roll were was sort of taking my interest and so the when I was when I was in england I kind of noticed and started to be around people who did. Sort of had to do this meditation and knew nothing about buddhism really but somewhere along the line there I I did start to hear about buddhism and there were certain certain people that were telling me all about it and I kind of realized that this meditation was really something that I could really. Work with you know I think what it was is that I kind of realized how important it was to to self-reflect and then I became political I came back to Australia then and then I became quite political. Venturing into the left wing of politics really I was sort of involved in in all that was happening around the labor government here in Australia when that none came in with Gough Whitlam and you know there was Kim Beasley and my my group was a fairly famous kind of a labor politician. Um, in in South Perth here where I live so you know I really got involved in that and then and then came you might remember Malcolm Fraser come come along in the third year of the Whitlam government and.

 

09:48.74

sol_hanna

Um, yeah.

 

08:06.35

Dennis

Result because I mean this is the none time that a labor government had been in Australia for 23 years I think it was and the conservative element were really quite narked about the whole thing and there was some terrible things that they were in my perception anyway, with what they were doing to the the government. And anyway, the yeah, the Malcolm Fraser who was the leader of the opposition kind of was running around. Everyone's behind. Everyone's back and sort of talking to the governor general too who was an appointee of the labor government at the time he he sacked the government. I can remember being in my back room I'd already started business for myself. Then unfortunately yeah I had a ah a man who I worked with at an architectural firm that I was working with who who looked after me, it was a time. It was a time when there was. When there was ah a bit of a downturn going on and I was kind of made redundant but he let me buy a lot of equipment and stuff and the drawing boards and whatever ah information what? ah, whatever material I needed really to start business which I did. So I was sitting out the back of my home I was working from home doing sort of like private jobs if you like then when all of this happened with the government and I can just remember sitting there and I just I just felt so angry I was just seething see I just it's very hard to explain or I just. So angry I was boiling over nearly and I know that in that moment. But I think a lot of other australian people may have might have felt that it. That's this at the time too. But if there was a mob going down the street I think I would have joined them I was just so angry. So furious that this had been done to the labor government.

 

13:45.44

sol_hanna

And for those who are listening are maybe outside Australia where what Dennis is referring to is the dismissal of the labor government which was a constitutional crisis and of course a lot of people were very very upset about it and that's what Dennis is talking about, please go on Dennis.

 

12:15.39

Dennis

Ah, yeah, well it was like that. But but in a very strange way because I had already started to do meditation I had this epiphany really where I could see that my anger was part of the problem.

 

14:50.52

sol_hanna

Fast.

 

12:53.87

Dennis

Kind of score in a very clear and precise way that going outside to sort of burn buildings down in Perth or whatever I've been cla in to do was not a very wise thing to do and I could see that. Problem was with me I could see the problem of the anger that I was feeling was with me and really from that moment on I really doubled down on on my practice and I found the buddhist society. That was a fledging a little little fledging and group here in in in Perth ive I'd already sort of been started to starting to go along to them and and learning bits and pieces from there but I might say too in a very in a way very fearful to I was very fearful at the time. 2 there was a group of people they called them the moonies I don't know probably people everywhere in the world would know about them. There were korean groups of people and they were. They had this ability to to hijack people and and because they were more or less very cultish and and these people sort of got. Involved in these cult programs and there was parents that were very upset about their children being sort of taken over by these people and that you might remember too. So at the time that there was I don't know you're a bit younger than me. But maybe you don't even listen. But that's but.

 

17:43.24

sol_hanna

Ah I know you're referring to.

 

15:52.71

Dennis

I Yeah the there was families that were hiring soldiers and detectives and people to sort of go into these little cult organizations and snatch their children back and and there was they had deep even had deprogramming centers that they. Would take their children too very forcibly and and try to deprogram them.

 

18:34.22

sol_hanna

So so you were concerned that maybe you were getting involved in a cult.

 

16:45.13

Dennis

Yeah, very much so like I I was kind of very fearful of my mind I kind of thought oh you know if if you you know if somebody's going to brainwash me, you know? Well I you know could I end up like that it was ah it was a sort of a feeling like that. But. Remember going along to the buddhist society and I remember this one way I'll never forget her her either. She was a young woman that I don't see that often now. But I've seen her around every now now and then but her her name was just trying to remember that just Slater. Anyway, yeah. Just trying to remember a None name. It doesn't that doesn't really matter that she she was there and it was just the way that she kind of held me I think when I was kind of explaining this this fear that I had and. Kerry was an Aunt Kry slater of course and yeah and I just sort of knew that it was it was going to be all. Okay so you know it was really from there that I just threw myself headlong into the practice. You know it was.

 

20:54.10

sol_hanna

M.

 

19:10.79

Dennis

Shortly after that about a year or so after that the muk started to arrive and.

 

21:14.54

sol_hanna

Before you go on I I mean I think you've raised an interesting point I mean if you go back to the 1970 S Australia was just not that far past the wide Australia policy and anything that was foreign was still looked upon with. Quite a bit of fear and of course it was still the cold war I remember 1 of the early presidents I think it was um was his name Donald um, cassim was it he he I remember talking to him some years ago and he said that in the early years there were even asio agents.

 

20:05.15

Dennis

Don Don Cashs him yeah he was. He was a friend goie frank.

 

22:26.50

sol_hanna

Ah, for those overseas asio is the spy agency like m I None or or um cia they you know they were they came along to some meetings to just to check that this wasn't a communist you know group that was seeking to infiltrate australian society. So I guess one of the things about the early days is that it was that different and there was people didn't necessarily understand what was going on. Would you agree.

 

21:19.90

Dennis

You know? Yeah, no that well that but that was right? It was yeah there was a lot of fear a lot of fear about communism around there and I think even especially from the right wing side of politics see there was. Because the the asio and all of those people are always more interested in the left-wing side. They never really followed up much on the right-wing side of politics. But in fact in Australia there was at that time a yugoslavian right-wing group that were actually training mercenaries and and.

 

24:05.78

sol_hanna

M.

 

22:27.21

Dennis

People who were firing guns and learning how to do all of that out in the Bush and you know Asio sort of missed that they ended up catching up with it at all. But but that was too again mainly due to the the change of government into labor at that particular time.

 

24:58.60

sol_hanna

I think I think it's interesting that you reflect upon that about how you've got involved in politics and and I guess you felt very passionate about it and I think especially as a young person in the 70 s how could you not be drawn to ah you know the Whitlam government and all the.

 

23:02.91

Dennis

If I.

 

25:35.20

sol_hanna

You know the flurry of changes that were happening at the time. Ah, but 1 thing that strikes me about what you told me is that it's nothing as much has changed with rest. We're still dealing with um you know people who still feel passionately about politics and I just wanted to.

 

23:50.50

Dennis

Ah.

 

26:10.00

sol_hanna

Actually dig down on that question because you said that you reflected upon having done some meditation you reflected upon how you felt and how your anger was part of the problem and I just was thinking about how often in Buddhist communities. There's this ongoing discussion about well you know you shouldn't just sit on the cushion. You should get involved. You should be an actively engaged buddhist who's going to go and change because there's all these problems in the world. Um I was wondering about your perspective on that. Um you know is what what is the priority from your opinion and your your experience. Is all of these political or goings on is it always just something that's always going on. It can't be solved or should we get actively engaged or was our priority to get to meditate none with with the but benefit of experience. What do you think.

 

25:49.97

Dennis

Ah, definitely to meditate None and to you know to and to understand because I think once the meditation starts to get deep you you do start to see that this world is really. It's it's really tricking us. It's it's a delusion. What's what's going on out there.

 

28:28.84

sol_hanna

Smooth.

 

26:27.83

Dennis

This world is being created inside our mind and and this is a little bit difficult I think for people to to see in the None instance but we all have a personal world. You know whenever we when it and this is what meditation shows you you've got to.

 

28:50.70

sol_hanna

M.

 

27:02.95

Dennis

Your world is a personal one the way that the way that you use your consciousness to to look onto things when really even that is the wrong way around to say it when we kind of sit meditation where this space and time world. This world of duca as the buddha talks about this world of duality. We're looking through this lens this lens of duality and we're looking back onto our consciousness and our consciousness is being formed around that that lens. Of Duca the duality that the buddha talked about in his none noble truth and that duality as long as we're looking through this lens of space and time that duality will never change just as the duke as the Buddha said dura is here with us as long as we're kind of. We're we're viewing the world through that portal and it's only when you get sort of deeper into the whole process of this once you start getting into see where the mind actually is and what the mind actually is that you you really do start to understand how it is that we're all involved in this.

 

30:51.38

sol_hanna

M.

 

29:27.31

Dennis

Magical experience that we're all, we're all inside here. So yeah I think it's it's I mean there's certainly places and times when when you do need to stand up and do something and there's some wonderful examples of all of that.

 

31:36.88

sol_hanna

Ooph.

 

30:01.63

Dennis

But you know in the in the world. But essentially I think if we're going to be really doing that properly. We need to have the wisdom of of knowing just what it is that we're involved with none to to understand and and that this would be true too for. Everyone especially politicians. You know when were when you're trying to change worlds of a government or a train. You know you know is is Vladimir Putin and right or wrong. You know he he seems to think that he's right in in in doing what he's doing in in the Ukraine. But yeah.

 

32:43.40

sol_hanna

Int.

 

33:03.34

sol_hanna

Um, enough.

 

31:16.95

Dennis

I Mean from my perspective. It's it doesn't look very wise to do what he's doing but you know he's clearly he's he's got his world. He's looking through his lens and that's what we've got to see.

 

33:35.64

sol_hanna

Well certainly? yeah, certainly no I think that's well put. Um, and I think I think your original statement also Holds is that meditate first get to know the mind first because if you act out of anger.

 

32:00.10

Dennis

E.

 

34:10.60

sol_hanna

Or greed or anything that distorts that lens of how we see the world as you said, then the way we act is going to be potentially quite harmful. So um, okay look let's get ourselves back on track and start talking a bit about the early days of the buddhist society and you were saying you.

 

32:24.49

Dennis

Who.

 

34:47.60

sol_hanna

To say about the time when the monks first came and I guess this is something I think our listeners would be very interested in because you were around in the late 70 s and early eighty s and there was a plan to invite english-speaking disciples of ajanah to come to Perth. What do you remember. About that time.

 

33:24.77

Dennis

Yeah, well I can I joined the society before all of that really came into being and it was really a wonderful little group when I think back on it. A wonderful little group of people our society the buddhist society of West Australia I think it would be probably true to say that we always intended to be terraardan or there was a leaning towards that way. But but even so at that time there were still invitations being put out to people from the mahayanan groups. And also the zen groups. There was ah None particular zen man that used to come come quite a lot to to give teachings and it was very was very useful to hear him but in the end I think and um, not I wasn't really even involved in anything like that I was really still. Looking in a little bit from the outside of all of this but I can remember you know people like Lynne Jackson and and sort of certainly Don Cassum he was the president of the man that you mentioned there before when when the the monks first first arrived but anyway and there was a man called vichi too. That's um. He was sort of very much involved in all this. In fact, the the people that I that I seem to remember mostly of going there was um, there was let me just think. Now. We'll just see there because I can I really underre remember 4 of them I was just thinking about this the other day and I'm just just trying to look up the the the names here just while we're while we're talking. But um. There was we might just have to edit this little bit out I think if you want to pause just permit it I'll just if that's all right? So there was a group of None people that actually decided that they would go to Thailand and I don't think they were necessarily even.

 

39:11.58

sol_hanna

Got.

 

37:36.11

Dennis

Intent on going to visit adjanar at that point Lynne Jackson tells me I didn't really know of ad gen chart but but her and this man v chi and then there was Jaine Priddy and Ian Doranan who who was part of the group. There was None other lady and I just just don't really remember her name. But anyway they they visited Thailand and they went around all of the monasteries in Bangkok just to see. If they could find anyone that might send a monk and it wasn't was not very fruitful for them apparently there but they did hear while they were while they were moving around in Bangkok about e andah so they actually went up to e andar's monastery and I think he was very very receptive. For them and you know they had realized then that this this monastery what pa pong had had had started up an international monastery. And in fact, there was this manager and char. There was very very famous very you know, ah very few people in the world that you could say you think might be yeah. Um, the enlightenment side of the board. But I think Agen Char might have been been there. You know he was. He was a very very wise monk and a beautiful teacher too. But he he had he was teaching western people. You know in a monastery, an international monastery. He called it. But he had them separate so that they could learn how to be abbots and learn how to run monasteries. So it was really he was really just waiting for this to happen I think Ed and edjun sha. In fact, later on if we but time I'll just tell you a story about when I went there with Ejen Brahm one time.

 

42:59.80

sol_hanna

F.

 

41:04.29

Dennis

Where one of the monks there was telling me that he showed me a photo of ejashar and him smiling and there you said it was just after Lynn and the team went there. You know so you' happy and so happy to to have them all there but they were you know though they went away they were a little bit. Not necessarily knowing what was going to happen. They made the invite and he he just said to them. Well you know you'll need to learn how to look after monks and what to do and so on and so they they went home and and were thinking about it and then all of a sudden just out of the blue. They got a. A message to say that they'd be arriving tomorrow two monks And yeah I mean it was such a I think Don Cassim at the time too. He didn't really appreciate that these monks were coming. You know for the long term and and to our great. Um.

 

44:21.40

sol_hanna

Wow.

 

42:55.81

Dennis

Joy one of the monks was was ed and jaggerro and adgen jaggerro had been. You know I think that was beyond the team's wildest dreams because he at the time was was the abbot of the this international monastery that Ajan Char was had set up and gen jaggerra arrived with another mon called a je peruso and though ah they were together here for about a year I suppose but a gen jaggerro was ah well, the whole thing was a game changer really because. I remember myself sort of being I don't know how my wife ever put up with it but I was over there just about every night kind of meditating and listening to their stories and listening to the dharma and sort of listening to the to the wisdom that was being told to me there and and it was. You know it was really there. Ah, there were nights of wonder I kind of look back on that time as although it was I was really just starting to divert to develop the whole thing. Unfortunately, it was very difficult for these monks to live in the house that we had because we had bought a year just before the team went over to thailer. We'd we'd arranged to buy a house in Magnolia street North Perth and it was still a huge mortgage that we owed on it at the time but the and I just what just the need to say perhaps for this for this fee. The accuracy of this ta two that.

 

47:30.94

sol_hanna

And I will.

 

46:02.47

Dennis

Was a man called Warren Smails and his and his wife who put up the money to buy that house. They put up the money. Yeah, and I I don't know I just think of the courage that it must have taken to do that for them because we didn't really have much of it a positive.

 

48:13.40

sol_hanna

Really.

 

46:38.15

Dennis

Was a time when you know the loans were available. But anyway, that's that's what he did and warren smiles died a couple of years ago now but yeah I did go and see him a little bit before he died and yeah, he was always always a wonderful man and he's why Carr and she's. She's still around and also their children still come around as well. So and.

 

49:24.38

sol_hanna

It sounds to me like ah the like some of the circumstances around the establishment were quite fortuitous. I mean it you like going to Thailand not knowing you know who you're going to invite and. Then just happening to find Junccha who's out in the northeast and then najusa happens to be very happy to welcome everybody and then you have someone who puts up money to buy a house that mean comes like the none center for the buddhist say there's some sense fortuitous things going on.

 

48:19.23

Dennis

Um, yeah, yeah, know it was let me just that's right? but just to clarify he he actually put his own house up as kind as as a guarantee for our alarm. So that's that's you know it was amazing Really that he did that.

 

50:44.92

sol_hanna

Yeah.

 

48:56.67

Dennis

And the courage to do it and and just just while we're on that topic too just so I don't forget it but a little bit later on when we bought the monastery at Bodon Yana there was a lady called Diane Watson who who who put the None

 

51:35.40

sol_hanna

Home.

 

49:34.63

Dennis

Substantial money up to buy that too. I mean before that we were. We were all you know with ah Gen Jaggerro and peruso were living in the house and it wasn't very conducive that kind of living there for them and and we were still really learning how to look after monks as well. And peruso he he he he really didn't he couldn't take it. You know after you know after mill up up to about a year I think it was he decided that he would go back to Thailand he didn't want to stay but Ed and jagarro and all of his. Grittting determinination and and is kind of the way hopeful when I'm just talking about I've just got this picture in my mind I this very neat italian australian italian man who you know he kind of he was. He was really. Well I mean I think he's it was probably a little bit of maybe even been a bit of a disappointment that he only had the one set of robes to you know to to use in his monastic order because he was kind of very fashionable in a way you know he kept me he the way that even he. Rolled up his robes. You know it was never in a loose or know if you see a gen brahm around a bit you know like its sometimes the the Rob's nearly falling off you and so on. But then I like that with e genjaggera was always kneeat and tidy and tucked in and rolled up and it was you know everything and that was really how he was really right? the way through. But anyway, um, perus I went back to to Bangkok and adn char seat out another monk and it just turned out to be a je brahm. Well you know Aen Brahmas she sorry about that I'm getting all these. Emails coming into there. That's um, yeah, so ah, je brahm came and and he was well he was. He was always a lovely man just a lovely lovely man. And I just remember little stories like myself I remember 1 time he was doing a funeral. He'd been asked to do a funeral and and I went to pick him up and and just my own kind of lack of mindfulness around monks I was. Taking him there maybe at nine thirty ten o'clock in the morning and and and then he was finished the funeral and then we were coming home. It was about eleven thirty or so and the truth is that he should have you know I I should have really.

 

54:53.43

Dennis

Been able to stop somewhere and get some a meal for him or something like that. But I'd forgotten all about it just didn't sort of appreciate it the one when we got back. It was about 5 minutes to None you know um had about 5 minutes left and jagoro said to him if you had your lunch if you had your meal yet. He said no. Ed Brown didn't tell me either. He didn't sort of say oh you know that's but I'd sort of forgotten one of the things I remember that I was always you know, really left wanting there really to to look after him in that way. But anyway we did manage to find. In the in the frig at magnolia street for him to sort of quickly walk down while before while he still had time to eat before the yeah, the rules of discipline stopped him from doing so and anyway there was all those little. Things like that that we're all involved with but just maybe the story I was telling you the other day two about a genjagaro just for for us for the lay peopleople I mean we'd never seen monks like this. Yeah, we'd never seen people who are dedicated to practice in that way and it was just so beautiful to see ah and and also I was. You know, even a bit skeptical. You know are these people for real that are they really for real and I sort of sometimes just watch a jenjara when he was on a binder bar I know you didn't get much food on a binderbater but he but he used to just walk really more for exercise. But I'd see him with his bowl and.

 

59:12.66

sol_hanna

M.

 

57:43.47

Dennis

Way that he was walking around and I used to sort of just watch where he couldn't see me and just just to see you know is he is he really doing this sort of writer or he you fair dinkum you know? and but yeah you know his his actions and you know for all of them really that just him pick a lot was just so impressive.

 

01:00:17.94

sol_hanna

Do you? So would you say that this was quite a bit of a big game changer having these very dedicated monks who were dedicated to their dis the discipline the vinea but also to to their practice of meditation.

 

58:21.93

Dennis

Say that he might practice at.

 

01:00:57.12

sol_hanna

Feel like that was a really big game changer for the buddhist Society Did it have an impact on upon people.

 

59:00.15

Dennis

Um, absolutely you know you just yeah just um yeah it was. It was really amazing. It was just amazing to see and and the truth of what was happening especially if you're meditating around them and you're sort of picking up. A little bit of wisdom you know in your meditation as you're sort of sitting around them is the truth of this is just so compelling to have monastics and and their connection to the buddha and the teachings and the and the suitors and you know as you're gradually trying to. Settle and relax because that's that's really just what the whole thing is you know it's just more or less you know meditation as you know is just that that ability to just not do anything the less the less you can do the better. The meditation is you know you just sort of stop and and and the truth just appears.

 

01:02:40.64

sol_hanna

And.

 

01:00:56.17

Dennis

The stillness and it was just astonishing really to see how these people and the stories of of Adjanar and the other enlightened monks that they'd all and and you know the people that he taught like Ajan Boer and and well he learned from ejan mu you know and these are. These people are legendary in buddhist terms you know they're all so wise and so you know so.

 

01:03:37.80

sol_hanna

M.

 

01:03:50.32

sol_hanna

It's almost like opening up a whole new world and because a moment ago you were telling us about how I guess like many young australians in the 70 s you getting quite preoccupied with the politics of the time and then all of a sudden you open up to this whole new world of spiritual development and. How far you can go to the mind into into the mind and this whole new way of conduct and as you say there's just it seems sounds to me like a whole new world was opening up for you and perhaps for many others.

 

01:02:45.73

Dennis

Oh definitely. Yeah, there was and you know well there's I suppose there was many people that come along just that the buddhist society's had many people come and go but it just really at that point though it really solidified for me just the importance of having the monastics and having that that lineage. Lineage that goes all the way back to the Buddha and even the you know the the buddhist society's idea ideas and dreams were all about really reestablishing the the order of nuns as well. So that was all there you know was swirling around in the in in those those beginnings. But really when a and Brahm came along. It took him quite a few years I think to hit his straps. He was usually always sitting behind a andjaggerro and edge because a jaggerro was just such a personable. Monkey he. He was such a good dharma teacher so introspective as well. He kind of was self-effacing and he but he had had a strong guidance because. I suppose the very none thing that happened after that after we got the the the monks there and we had the house sort of operating properly. Ah hopeful I should go back and just tell you though a little bit about Pra Candi Parlo who was there before the monks actually came it was because it wasn't necessarily true that we didn't have monks. But. Pra kevi palo was a monk who lived in Sydney and he used to come and really treat Perth a little bit like his dioceses there. This is probably just before oh all the time. Yeah, he he visited quite a lot.

 

01:08:08.88

sol_hanna

Um, was he visiting from time to time.

 

01:08:27.18

sol_hanna

Um.

 

01:06:26.61

Dennis

And he would stay sometimes for two or three months still remembering standing on a ladder out up and up against the gable end of the of the house in the None magnolia street hammering up a dharma wheel onto the onto the gable end. Robes flowing in the wind and the hammer. Yeah, he was ah he was really quite something was it. He was a bit fierce and you know when you went because he he used to conduct a lot of retreats here for us. Um, but he kind of didn't say you know you? if you were gonna. Move around a lot of fidget. You know he asked you not to be close near nearby like like that when you were nearby him now he was you know one of the one of the people that sort of was was really introducing Bama in a big way here in Perth.

 

01:09:49.24

sol_hanna

Since this instance.

 

01:08:17.97

Dennis

And and I think too was the catalyst to sort of make us go down the terra art and route rather than sort of looking at some of the other forms of Buddhism and gee. That's something that too I can say that I really enjoy I mean not that I'm quite like.

 

01:10:28.20

sol_hanna

M.

 

01:08:54.21

Dennis

Mahayjaan approach but I do find it a bit too a bit to be flowery a bit too Messy. You know it's not um, it's not as spare as as what the terra Arden approach is and I fully understand that both approaches have their fans and some people do need to have that. Ornateness. It's around the mahayanan tradition to you know to be able to sort of settle into the true message because the messages are the same but but you could say really that the the the culture around them is different. You know.

 

01:11:58.60

sol_hanna

My impression is I'd like to hear your your opinion on this. My impression of the early days of the buddhaist society is that it leaned more towards theravada because of the proximity to Asia now and that works in 2 ways one is that um. When we had monks or people who wanted to become monks. They would go to Southeast Asia because that's what was close but also and I did want you to ask you about this as well as ah, it sounds to me like ah we had um southeast asian people who had migrated. And not just and also south asian so we would have had thai people and Sri Lankans and so forth. Um, involved from the very early days so they were always an integral part of the society and that was a major factor. What? what is your opinion on that.

 

01:11:46.23

Dennis

Oh I think I think you're pretty yeah that that's accurate what you're saying there I mean our None president was Professor Jaya Suria who was he was a social services professor at the university and he used to. Um. He used to know a lot about pali the pali language in that too so he was very influential and yeah, there was many other people like that too. But but having said that as well. There were the the mahayan people there and I think because it's. It's a bit interesting really because in the on the west coast of Australia. Maybe you're right with a proximity to Asia we are a little bit closer to Asia but Asia but over in Sydney and you know if you think about our Australian broadcasting commission if ever they've got anything to ask on buddhism they always they all seem to find the mahayan and.

 

01:15:22.48

sol_hanna

Um.

 

01:13:30.15

Dennis

Spokesman and that's fine too. I mean the there's nothing. Yeah, but I guess in the you know and as you know, right? at the moment I'm actually just attending ah a maha yanan table at the moment to try and learn a little bit more about their. Way that they do things especially about some this this idea that they have a birdie Satford's which you know is a very very nice idea. But I not um, not don't know that personally I'm convinced you know about about all of that. So um.

 

01:16:24.76

sol_hanna

See.

 

01:14:35.99

Dennis

but um but I certainly respect and understand you know why? they why? that might necessarily be so especially with the Dalai Lama you know, supposedly you know rebirthing all of the time to to come back. Although I just do note too that he's said that he's not going to He's not going to be reborn again. When he dies. It's time because because of what China is has done to the to the you know the culture there in Tibet anyway.

 

01:17:28.00

sol_hanna

But wouldn't just but do you feel that ah because there's always this ongoing debate of ideas between mahayan and terravada but don't you feel that there was something else that was going on in terms of establishing theravada which was that person or contact and. Yeah, being impressed by how it feels to be with someone like um, not just Arjun Char because you know for some people met him but Ajan Jaggerro and his conduct and his the way he taught that was what made the difference is that am I right about that or is that.

 

01:16:34.77

Dennis

Yeah I What Oh I Well ah you know because all all of that was after the fact that that you know because the the decision was made before monks even cain to to go to a terab garden and country. We we were definitely not going to a mayja and country to try and.

 

01:18:44.70

sol_hanna

What do you Think. Ah.

 

01:19:07.60

sol_hanna

M.

 

01:17:12.37

Dennis

To try and bring monks from there so it was we were definitely conditioned I think to you know to to go that way and that's certainly why they went to Thailand um I guess you know from my perspective I was kind of just. Yeah I was yeah I was really just trying to understand it all at the time I you know I kind of appreciated what the zen teachers that used to come all of the time were saying and and also the yeah the the monks from the mahian and tradition that were there from time to time. But I think. In the heart of it. There were there was always in and around the buddhist society for as long as I can remember the pali canon so that probably did come from professor dar j asuria and and all of the um, all of that influence that came from the sri lankan side of things and.

 

01:20:33.00

sol_hanna

Um.

 

01:18:56.59

Dennis

And and certainly the thai side of things. There wasn't that many ties there at the time it was no excuse me. It was really mainly mainly Sri Lankans I think but anyway be that as it may we we certainly made the the choice to sort of go down that. Terrava and route and from my personal perspective I really am so overjoyed really that they went that way because I yeah I just kind of loved the spareness of it. You know the way that it just goes directly to the practice and and the teaching just takes you directly there. It's not um, there's no sort of.

 

01:21:56.58

sol_hanna

Um.

 

01:22:13.52

sol_hanna

So let's move on a little bit and let's think about that time during the 1980 s and into the early 1990 s I mean for anyone who's listening who's either involved with ah an association which might be in its early years. What were.

 

01:20:12.65

Dennis

Going around the roundabouts and.

 

01:22:49.20

sol_hanna

Some of the challenges that the buddhaist society of western australia faced at the time and you could even talk from your own perspective because I know you're involved after the acquiring of the Dunalloca Buddha Center in noummara and also bowanana monastery in serpentine. You had something to do with the the building. So what? what were your memories in terms of some of the challenges that were faced and how how you overcame those.

 

01:21:41.25

Dennis

Well, yeah I think the early challenges were really more about you know, finding the money and and just getting you know getting the wherewithal to to be able to um you know to buy and make things these things work and and I you know I just do. Remember Adinjagarro's guidance at that time I think was really essential I you know I think that he did steer us into a path of you know we've talked about and you know about the the 4 pillars of Buddhism you know? Yeah, he was very focused on that. There was a bit of a debate for a while of whether we should sell Magnolia street to ah you know to buy the monastery but adinjaggerro made a definite thies. No nari's no, we're going to keep the city center for the Lake Lake community and but we were looking at properties that were around about an hour out of Perth. And and just trying to find enough money really to or a place you know where the money the money and the place would sort of fit but we found the the monastery in kingsby drive in in serpent time and as I'd mentioned Diane Watson was one of the very none contributors that. Kind of gave us the heart to be able to put the money up as a deposit and then and then you know build the monastery but I think that the money came quite quickly for that afterwards and to jaggero's credit too. He he never really. Wanted us or encouraged us all to to do this sort of in a cheap way. He was saying oh you know that this practice needs to have solid a solid base. You know, not just we're not just building anything flimsy here. We're going to build something that's. And that was sort of typical of his character. He kind of um he sort of held out to that so we we did in the end get you know, quite substantial buildings that we've built there designed and built um that were and of course the the monks putting people putting the men putting their hand up become monks. Was they were very plentiful at the time probably more than we could ever handle. But the monks you know and and they're just thinking aje brah at that time too. He was ah he was certainly a wag all the way through you know because ah when when we first got the land and there was only None little building None little shed that we'd had. A dismountable that we sort of put up there and we used to sort of do the daras and everything in there. Just the practice was only about a you know 4 by 3 shared or something like that and but brahm you know he he kind of using his initiative.

 

01:27:17.47

Dennis

You know we went and got some sleepers and a lot of plastic and and he got a door and he was going to use that as his bed to sleep on it. You know it even had the he didn't even bother to take the kind of the the panels out of it. You know it was just a sort of flat a flat door that he was sleeping on and then we got a um. Ah, half round um water tank or a water tank and cut it in half really that's probably the right way to say it to fit on top of these sleepers. So we du a little hole in the ground put the sleepers so it was sort of none underground or about half a meter or so underground with the sleepers coming up. And and plastic all around it and then and then the water tank on the top and this was the none place where he and yeah I think that he he mostly stayed there so I don't know that how many how many cuies we made like that. But. I think when Jaguro was there. He probably stayed mostly in the in the house in the hut in that 3 by four meter hut that we had but the None thing we built of course was the toilets you know, just digging for the septic tanks. All that was done with our own labor and basically with donations of. People who were bricklayers and plumbers and and then we had a monk that came that was really very handy with being able to make concrete and use concrete. So I think even to this day that a lot of those the vanity basins and that were all kind of set up on ah on a. Poured an insitu poured concrete and bench top that sort of contained it all so all that was done pretty much on a shoesetring but then we gradually did start to get some proper money. You know to to build other things and we gradually built the. Dining hall and and more cooties and then we had ah an established model in forouties and cooties were always around about None by three meters long they are always usually brick and and with a tin roof and and we'd always put a maybe 20 to twenty five meter walking path in front of them and eventually those at none at the none those walking paths were uncovered but then we gradually made them all covered so that the monks can sort of meditate and walk meditation. You know with with at least that kind of comfort but then. You know as I say the dining hall came and the kitchen and bit by bit it all sort of came together and and then unfortunately yeah and gen jaggerro he or when he he left he he.

 

01:32:48.21

Dennis

Got to a place where he needed to disrobe So that was a you know as you know and I think that you'll maybe me more or less want to kind of highlight that too because it was a big shock really when because he'd been here for a lot of years and.

 

01:35:10.86

sol_hanna

So this is in the mid 1990 s about 19191 I believe

 

01:33:25.41

Dennis

Yeah, that's right, it was um yeah, it was.

 

01:35:32.00

sol_hanna

But how how did that impact the community at the time.

 

01:33:43.17

Dennis

Well, it was a shock it was ah because you know he was he was kind of like a fundamental foundation stone for for what we were doing I mean agen bra by that time though had certainly started to hit his straps I mean his talks. And improved you know immensely because it's hard hard to imagine a time when Aje Brahms talks were not very interesting or not but they were.

 

01:36:22.74

sol_hanna

M.

 

01:36:38.60

sol_hanna

It's interesting I think that's worth mentioning because I've heard some of the people who were there in the early days and they said people didn't want to go to ajubra's talks. It was if they wanted to go down John Jagaroo talks ah I think from the perspective of today that seems a little bit.

 

01:34:49.97

Dennis

Time. What.

 

01:37:10.90

sol_hanna

Hard to imagine but that that's what I've been told.

 

01:35:13.75

Dennis

But he was he was he was really learning and you can you really see this the way that the way that the monastic order works. You know the way that I mean I think Ed and ramh was always I mean edge and probably worth noting to say again as I've kind of written in many of the publications.

 

01:37:27.34

sol_hanna

Um.

 

01:35:50.51

Dennis

But a society had had though but I remember when Jaggerro ah was you know we were None hear perus I'd gone back and adn brahm was coming and he I remember jaggerro saying to me you wait. Do you meet him. You do you meet this je brahm he is a monk's monk i.

 

01:38:22.20

sol_hanna

Ah.

 

01:36:30.51

Dennis

You know it was and and you know when he did come. He had that sort of sense of humor and not only that it was sometimes was a bit of a bawdy sense of humor too or fun. Um fun. You play things that was really but at the heart of it though where you would still see that he was just very very grounded and natural.

 

01:38:43.42

sol_hanna

Still is ah.

 

01:37:09.59

Dennis

And and you know I guess you could see his potential. You know the potential was there I mean and then the storyte.

 

01:39:20.84

sol_hanna

I Think this is a really important point I mean I don't want anyone to ever think that if you're inviting a monk or a nun to come and reside with your ah community that they're a finished product and I guess one of the things to know is that if you invite a monk or a nun. And this is what your experience was. You've actually really got to um, nurture them and give them the conditions that they need to practice because they are still in the process of of um of doing their practice and of developing there are their in a capacity I suppose.

 

01:38:31.37

Dennis

Yeah, oh that's right and and and around about that time too and because Ajen Brahm was a particularly good meditator and you could see that he he loved to do that. He loved the isolation of meditation meditation. But at the same token I mean as everyone knows and Jen Brahm certainly is a person that.

 

01:41:04.68

sol_hanna

Ah.

 

01:39:09.81

Dennis

It has the capacity to be with anyone. He's not you know aware.

 

01:41:13.84

sol_hanna

Before we go on book go on to talk about ajam. Brahm's role I just want to talk a little bit more about ajanjaro what do you think was his um you know legacy I suppose ah ah, having left the buddhist society.

 

01:39:28.95

Dennis

Um, even.

 

01:39:41.45

Dennis

Ah, legacy.

 

01:41:53.50

sol_hanna

And gone gone his own way. What do you feel like was his legacy at the Buddhist society.

 

01:40:05.69

Dennis

Well I think he left a legacy of of a solid foundation. You know that's how I see him you know and whenever I look around the buildings and and certainly the parts that he was involved in it just reminds me of the way he he looks in his row. You know it's kind of neat.

 

01:42:37.32

sol_hanna

Oh.

 

01:40:45.13

Dennis

Tidy all rolled up tight. Nothing kind of falling off. It's all. Um, yeah, yeah, very much. Yeah I suppose it's like that Italian that Italian mindset if you like you know the the um not I'm not sort of meaning the showiness of it. But just the the.

 

01:42:49.70

sol_hanna

Attention to detail and meticulous.

 

01:43:22.78

sol_hanna

Um, craftsmanship.

 

01:41:22.13

Dennis

You know good italian shoes or good. You know like you you kind of look at Yeah, yeah, very much so he certainly he had. He had an eye for detail and he he kind of made sure that we didn't do things in a None nd-rate way and he kind of bought the whole society in a way. Towards that and he had a that in jaggerro 2 had ah had a very strong emotional side to him as well. He now he felt things very deeply and yeah I think that in.

 

01:44:19.60

sol_hanna

If.

 

01:42:35.59

Dennis

In the end I'm sure that all of that too will will see him in in in very very good stead in terms of the dharma if it hasn't already done that for him I haven't really talked to him for a long time now. But um, yeah, he was he was really he can never be never be really forgotten I don't think in in our buddhaist society's history. He he was really something very very special and he's you know he stories about adenar just the way that he that he saw the expose the None perspectives you know when you're listening to the way ajen brahm saw his teacher and Jen Jagarro sees teacher there was you know because there was you know a difference in the way that they even they even saw that and I think jaggerro was ah who was was a person who was always ah. Sort of grounded but but there was there. There was a real feeling a real feeling that was there with and and it's only really just recently because I'm I'm saying that because it's only just really in the last several years now I suppose in my own practice I've realized how important all of that is just. How important it is to well really the reason why the buddha sort of set out the 4 saty Pianas you know and starting off with mindfulness of body mindfulness of the body and then mindfulness of feelings. You know when you when you sort of see what he' he' done that way you sort of see the importance of. Just what he was meaning by that and then the none saty Piana Mindfulness of mind no that realization that you can actually experience mine in your body. The Buddha said you know that I've seen everything that I've I've come to know or or know inside this fathommon length of body. So. You know when you look at that the none saty Patana of mind mindfulness of mind and then mindfulness of the phenomena of mind. So though. All of that can be kind of experienced and known inside this body and and so feeling is really very important to.

 

01:48:45.66

sol_hanna

And.

 

01:47:04.87

Dennis

And the more as the practice comes and the more subtle that feeling is the you know the the deeper you can go to understand just exactly what those resonances are in your body and just start to see why why it is that we come to be how we are and. Why we're here. You know that sort of thing the mystery on it All. No.

 

01:49:43.86

sol_hanna

Um, so it was a big shock for other community to have this ah founding Abbot and spiritual director Janjagarra leave. How did the community adapt afterwards and and what changed when Ajam Brahm became his spiritual director.

 

01:48:16.77

Dennis

Well, um, yeah and I think that that did there was maybe a year or so of of probably grieving grieving a bit you probably would say but Legend Brahm at that point though, there was really a. You know from my perspective anyway, there was a real term in his practice. He kind of e and brahm at some point just before jaggerro left or and around about that time he went very deep. He kind of.

 

01:51:12.40

sol_hanna

And.

 

01:49:21.29

Dennis

And you know I can see that there was reasons for that too. We had some wonderful visitors coming from Thailand we had a Gen Char's cousin ain gun harcane and and they stayed in our monastery for for for some time and I think that egen brahm. My observation of of of him over that period was really that that he he all of a sudden went from being a maybe even just an intellectual kind of ah because he he always had the capacity to study the suitors. He's always known the suitors. Pretty well but he went from that kind of intellectual capacity to being the whole thing you know his the feelings and the you know as I often think about it I think of the head as the intellect and the and the heart as the emotional side but but somehow or other edja brahm at that point it sort of. Became the the balanced package and his way of explaining and and understanding darma just just went through the roof and I think that's probably around the time when you got involved too started to you know to pick all this up. On the web and on you because the the world wide web was well well I don't think there was even an existing there but the existence center. But when you came along and then started the you know doing the the websites and. Putting the talks online and things like that I mean that's when all of that was just seemed to be right at the right time and and he'd written written that book you know opening the door to your heart of your heart and that was ah that turned out to be a world's bestseller and ah.

 

01:54:47.20

sol_hanna

So after ah, a bit of a shock and a period of grieving things started to really go from strength to strength from that time onwards um drawing it all together now.

 

01:52:54.95

Dennis

Whole thing just sort of started to fly.

 

01:53:11.10

Dennis

Um, that's right? yeah.

 

01:55:24.74

sol_hanna

Um, and looking back over that period of time from you know the early eighty s or even from the late 70 s through to the ah late 90 s what do you think? I mean we should say that this was a period of tremendous growth in the buddhist society. Um. But it could have gone either way as you know it wasn't always um yeah, that people were terribly well prepared or knew what was coming next. But what do you think were the factors that led to success during this period of time.

 

01:54:29.91

Dennis

Well I I think too There's probably just one little thing that I could maybe insert just in before that before our Gen Jaggerro left I mean because we know je Jaggerro is here we rebuilt Dma Loke of the City Center Now that that was done.

 

01:56:54.80

sol_hanna

Is.

 

01:55:04.43

Dennis

Really again on a shoestring I can remember having what we called a hamburger club where we were all sort of contributing $3 a week which was you know with just offhand saying at the time it was a price for a couple of cups of coffee or something and. Just to to pay for that mortgage of of but of buying damaloca up in Nolamara so we'd sold the house in http://magnoliastreet bought the it was an Anglican Church an Anglican Church and a and a a. residence for the minister that was there. We bought those None properties. There was another big property that went with the land and went with these buildings and and made it quite a big stretch of land there in Nolamara and we really immediately started to think about building a dharma hall there. And this was going to take a lot of resources a lot of money and we'd already established to to an extent the boat and yana monastery but Jagger at that point of time you know he certainly focused on the on this building of dmaloca and. And there was sort of several people. You know like for instance Ron Badtersby who was ah sort of None of the key members of our society. He his company. You know he arranged with his boss that he would be the cheapest price for the whole Ron that Ron Battersby ended up being the.

 

01:59:45.34

sol_hanna

From.

 

01:57:56.93

Dennis

Labor labor are in charge of the building for this company chip and dile constructions. It was so his boss. Let him let him come to build this and I mean I remember sort of watching him sort of doing things and you know we we really got the best of what. What you could expect and in terms of a building he he yeah he managed to do everything so perfectly. But when.

 

02:00:43.24

sol_hanna

It sounds to me like that you know there was a fair bit of sacrifice and and giving was a major factor that helped helped us succeed and maybe also a little bit of faith because it sounds like you took on these you borrowed money to buy land to.

 

01:58:58.87

Dennis

Oh definitely. Oh.

 

01:59:17.83

Dennis

Are.

 

02:01:23.60

sol_hanna

Build new like new dharmahas etc and at each step of the way when you did this, it sounds like you really weren't sure where the money was going to come from and yet that constant generosity seemed to get things paid off.

 

01:59:54.73

Dennis

Yeah, yeah, that it's true and and certainly the the local membership was growing by then so there was ah you know we had a fair base to sort of draw from from the from there but but also just the connections that both thegen Jagarro and Degen brahm.

 

02:01:57.94

sol_hanna

Would you say.

 

02:00:33.25

Dennis

Head back in in Thailand was very important too. I think the farmer bank over there. They they were kind of watching us. You know there was several because um, mean Thailand was very interested in what was happening here I mean well mainly because you know was there. Monks that had been our monks that had been trained in Thailand and they were interested just to see how the whole thing was growing and there was a lot of money too came through through that avenue we used to get visits from from Asia we had bus loads of people sometimes coming down from Thailand and all around that were organized. Where people would come through and crike the donations that sometimes I left were eye watering. It was really just amazing to see because it really didn't take that long to pay off the the the loan that we had on on um on Umma Loca so

 

02:03:54.98

sol_hanna

M.

 

02:02:27.35

Dennis

Yeah, just really need to acknowledge all of those those considerations there as well. But the but the local membership too was just just amazing really in the way that everything came together so that when umma Sodarma Loca was was certainly well and truly established by the time that adja jaggerro were. Described.

 

02:05:05.64

sol_hanna

So What other was it apart from generosity and sacrifice and and and I guess faith to you know, go ahead with these projects not knowing for sure whether things would get paid off were there any other factors that you think were really supportive or that led to. The growth and success of of the community and the Buddha society during that period of time.

 

02:03:54.19

Dennis

Yeah, well I think the the main the main thing was really just the because but you know by that time. Ah je Bram had used his his magic personality to sort of reach out into all sort of facets of the. Of the Perth Community you know he started to know the politicians and they all liked him. You know they we yes, they still do you know Adja Brahmas ah a and and all of the other religions that were here in Perth. He was sort of making contact with all of them and the monastery was was zooming along that was sort of growing and. All of that was was happening and so but but I think essentially what I would say was the the factor that made all of this work and when I and when I look at this and compare it to say some of the other buddhist groups that are in Perth which are are all ah going along. Okay, but. Um, you're not on the same level as what the bsw a turned out to be but I would say the main factor was that the people that interacted with us whether it was governmental whether it was people that were maybe potential donors or anyone that was sort of interacting could see. The way that the monastics and the lay community were practicing. You know that you could see they they could see that there was nothing that was yeah where we were trying to sort of pull the wool over anybody's eyes or anything like that or trying to. Spin things to get things. You know the way to get things for but maybe what we wanted people would come in and they would see the sincerity the the impeccable nature. The impeccable conduct of the monks and the way and the way that they were all trained actually because on other. And Jagger legend me and Brahm you know they're they're really everyone is sticklers to make sure that all new monks and ma nuns that sort of come in are are kind of rounded in that gratitude for what they receive from the lay people and yeah and the and. Know that you know the the payment for that really is the personal practice to make that practice. So so good and I think that's really why these 4 foundations of Buddhism will that's the order of monks the order of nuns. The order of male laymen and the order of lay women will always be such a a necessary foundation to to make something last to make it grow and to make it last really. That's the I think that's been the key for the buddhist society really.

 

02:11:29.72

sol_hanna

Yeah, Thank you very much for that wise reflection upon the development of the Buddha Society I wanted to finish up with asking you about your personal experience. I mean you're someone who came along with an I guess curiosity about Meditation. But. Didn't just stay you really put a lot of your own time and effort into this venture and must have been very difficult at times I've no doubt what has been. Your feeling and why why have you stuck with it and what have you gotten out of this on a personal level.

 

02:10:50.83

Dennis

Well I think I think being with wise people is is gold actually just just well. You know when you're when you're because I mean this.

 

02:13:05.82

sol_hanna

Both said.

 

02:11:23.13

Dennis

Way that a human being is conditioned is really so it's it's so skittish you know you could you can be None way one moment and and another way the next you know this is just the way the conditioning is I mean you just see today with the way social media works you know in the way that's even now where you know you. And and there you know I can see too that there's some truth in in the in the way that this works but but without sort of being critical of Donald Trump you know you can see that he's got a. He's got his personal view of the world. You know his his portal into consciousness. Is is the way that it is and he's a very sort of powerful spokesman for for what he thinks so he in a way can sort of condition people so well, especially people that ah that are ready to hear you know if you're kind of disaffected. In any way and you're kind of looking around for someone to blame. You know you can get someone like that coming along in the same way that it happened maybe in the 1930 s just when when Hitler was coming to power too and you know and then all of a sudden you know you you get someone who's a bit charismatic and can and can sort of pick up on on. Issues or troubles that you might be having or a country even might be having in their lives and they can just model sort of change the the way that a whole ah you know a whole i' I'm thinking of a flock of birds. You know? yeah you because you know just just just to. Going with that some analogy a bit. You know you can look at a bird and you know you can sort of study. It. Well, it's wings and it's you know the way that it's got a beak and it's got its feet and its feathers and everything like that and you can find out all about that. But you never really know. What a what a bird that you've studied and known when when you get a group of birds a whole big group of birds and then they get together all of a sudden There's a consciousness that sort of takes over from them and you can see the way that they they sawar and they fly and they and it's just you know that that beauty of that. Ah, joined consciousness that that way that the whole flock of boy birds even though each bird is an individual component of that flock they fly in in sort of None conscious movement and that's that's where so. Vulnerable to that ourselves. We don't kind of recognize it I don't think but you know people like what I'm saying there where where you get a sort of a very charismatic or you know a person that can sort of take that consciousness and and then sort of bring it in the you know and I think scientifically too. There's.

 

02:16:56.49

Dennis

Physicist now starting to look at that too just to looking at the mechanisms that make all of that work. But um, all of that is sort of true for us. You know this consciousness can be so fickle and you know all of a sudden. Something you think is true is no longer true. It's a lie or it's a fake lies or you know fake news all of this sort of stuff and and it is very difficult to know where where the truth is because you know as we know because of duca because of the way Duca is we know that everything. Has a has an element of truth in it. You know you can never ever say that anything is is absolutely wrong because that's just the way the duca is duca has has got this duality in there. You know if you're going to grab and hold onto one side of of a feeling or whether it's ah you know it doesn't matter. Really what it be so ah. A material element the other side of it is going to be there. It's going to It's going to arise some somehow. That's the nature of duca. The none nobleval truth and and when this consciousness comes together like that you know you can very easily be sort of caught up. You know in. In the herd in this heardd mentality that sort of that that goes and sometimes it's very difficult just to sort of see see that just the truth of of your individual universe you know because when we look out I look out my window here now. It's quite a sunny day here now in Perth and. And you know I can see everything out there but at some level though I know all that is just a phenomena of my mind my mind has constructed all of this as complex and as wonderful and it all is mysterious as it all is. But if I come back into myself and come down with. Using my meditation to get deeper and deeper into myself I can see that this consciousness is it's Duca. You know it's probably the last Bastin of duca really just consciousness itself. But as you get sort of deeper into your mind and you kind of get right to the stillness of consciousness. You know what still consciousness. Is you? you know? then you've got the chance to sort of penetrate deeper into the consciousness itself and there you see that everything finishes you see you see clearly that there isn't a self there at all you know and je brahm has got a wonderful. Ways of sort of saying this his dream about the driverless buss you know which is pretty well known in our in our community you know, just such a you know? Ah, ah just a truthful way is to see the way that it is but when consciousness stops you can actually it's well it's it's a.

 

02:22:26.89

Dennis

And Oxymoron to say that you can know that consciousness is a stop but it's not that you know at the time because you don't really know at the time when Consciousness has stopped but when you've practiced and you know what mindfulness is you can use your mindfulness to know oh hey, something happened there and then you can. Sort of come back into mindfulness and and mindfulness will already play the whole thing now and you can see you can see this is a house of Cards. You know where we're living in a house of cards here. This is you can see the the wheels within wheels and the boxes within the boxes. You know, yeah going deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper back.

 

02:25:09.40

sol_hanna

M.

 

02:23:41.55

Dennis

Back in the into the way that everything is constructed the way that everything is everything comes about and then you realize that this eye this ego. This Dennis is not. You know there's nothing there at all. It's you know as just a it's a delusion

 

02:26:16.84

sol_hanna

Since instance.

 

02:24:17.99

Dennis

But doesn't feel like a delusion. It all feels totally real, but it's only when you start to practice and you get to the depth of that and you need you know as you know too. You need the whole of the eightfold practice to sort of get you there. You can't just sit meditation and and and get there. You've got to. Make your life in Harmony with all of that so you know just to make make sure that you've got a certain moral level that you're living your life on and you're not, You're not doing things that harm people or you know and you're practicing kindness and all of those things at the buddha.

 

02:27:29.34

sol_hanna

Well Dennis I think we might wrap it up there I do want to thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and recollections about the establishment and growth of the buddhist society and I think perhaps it's a good time to thank you for all your efforts over.

 

02:25:29.41

Dennis

Talk to us about.

 

02:28:05.64

sol_hanna

Ah, the last four decades to help establish the buddhist society your contribution to that I do hope that you'll come back again and talk to us maybe about your interest and death and past lives. Perhaps.

 

02:26:27.21

Dennis

Is in bit. So.

 

02:28:33.60

sol_hanna

Ah, it would be good if we can do that. But thanks, very much for coming on today and certainly we wish you all the very best until then may you be happy and well.

 

02:26:50.95

Dennis

Um.

00:00.00
sol_hanna
On this episode of treasure mountain podcast. We have a guest who has been amented to me and remains a personal friend. Dennis Shepherd has been involved in the buddhist community since one 78 joining the buddhist society of western Australia as a young man interested in meditation and spiritual practice. And going on to serve multiple terms as president of society as well as serving in several other capacities including designing several buildings for both monastics in the layy community. He has also been the main wedding celebrant ah for the buddhist society for many years in addition to his decades of service with the buddhist society of W A. Dennis has worked as a building designer for several decades and he has a part-time practice as a hypnotherapist specializing in past lives and stillness healing. He also has many other hobbies including astronomy astrophysics and poetry I've invited Dennis onto the episode. Um, to this episode of treasure mound podcast for a very specific reason in my research in recent weeks I've come across dozens if not hundreds of small buddhist communities in western countries that are in their early stage of development I'm myself am trying to establish a buddhist community in the region where I live. So I know how challenging this task can be because we can all learn from those who have gone before us I've invited Dennis onto the show to talk about his recollections of the early years of the buddhist society of western Australia from the late 1970 s to the late 1990 s a time in which the association grew from an enthusiastic. But rather small group of lay volunteers to a much larger more diverse community running regular events and running both a city center and large monasteries and much more besides Dennis has been part of that journey from the early years and I can't think of anyone better to tell this story. So join us as we find out about the early years of the buddha society of western australia get a Dennis thanks for joining the podcast. How are you this day. Well I'm really pleased that you came along. Um and I think we'll just get straight into it.

01:59.35
Dennis
Um, very well thank you soul Good Good to see you.

 

Dennis Sheppard Profile Photo

Dennis Sheppard

former President of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia

Dennis is a building designer, who designs and documents all kinds of residential and commercial buildings. He has completed many of the Buddhist Society’s projects, pro bono.

For 22 years Dennis was heavily involved with Samaritan Befrienders where he served as a Director and worked as a volunteer counsellor, attending to people with real and potential suicide risk.

His involvement with BSWA has ranged from counselling and chaplaincy, to teaching meditation. He has served multiple terms as President of the Buddhist Society of WA.

Dennis is an accredited marriage celebrant, as well as an accredited Clinical Hypnotist. His work in the field of hypnotherapy specialises in working with “Past Lives” and “Stillness Healing”. His other passions include astronomy, astrophysics and poetry.

The mind and the universe are wonderful things to study, especially with the systematic approach that is offered with Buddhist meditation.