Most times I examine my actions and motives and those of others. I try to fathom what is behind it all. Do we always see clearly the truth of the situation or do we engineer how we perceive reality to fit our egos wants and whims?
Our interactions with ‘our’ world , with each other – no matter how engaged we imagine ourselves to be , how intellectually evolved we believe we are…, could it be driven by a base animal instinct ?
I wondered the premise of the triune brain and if it had any bearing on our anger driven emotions, but it seems that another theory of how the brain has evolved in mammals has now debunked that theory. There is however a marketing movement that has the crocodile brainas its totem and how we are compelled to ‘believe the hype’…but that’s another avenue of debate.
The very basis of meditation is to learn to be alert and yet relaxed , to observe the oneness and the connection to every atom that pervades the universe. The end goal is to not act or react to anything in particular and to accept reality as it is.
How does this translate into the everyday world that we inhabit ? From my point of view it should manifest in being compassionate and understanding , a very difficult thing to achieve when those about you have no inclination towards the same goal. It’s a lot easier if one is living in a monastery or on retreat, but out there in the shopping mall or in the workplace it’s a different ball game.
Perhaps we were better beings as apes, with no aspirations to build and conquer, just sitting in the trees and being.
“Believing in Buddhism and studying Buddhism are two totally different things. Believing in Buddhism implies a lifestyle that follows a particular cultural tradition. On the other hand, studying Buddhism means to glean the truth through the Buddhist teachings.”
“The truth has no religious affiliation, it belongs to no sect, and it is blind to ethnicity. Each one of us is capable of experiencing the truth through the wisdom of the heart to obtain simple, true happiness and free, unlimited joy.“
After an unpleasant ebay rigmarole I finally have a new secondhand machine. It came about by an unmindful tea spillage that wrote off the previous macbook. Hmm, that was a lesson that I needn’t have learned . I found that I managed quite well without it for most of the time and it was refreshing to not be glued to the screen as is the norm. I was helped out by my wife Freia who kindly lent me her machine when I was in ‘need’.
Non attachment and addictions are what I’ll be alluding too here. Once in a while it seems to be my experience that I force an issue. Did I mean to spill the tea on the laptop or was it truly an accident? It is said that there are no such things as accidents, and there are plenty of witty quotes to appease the thought that one could have or should have been more careful, more mindful.
According to the oxford dictionary the word accident is from “Late Middle English (in the general sense ‘an event’): via Old French from Latin accident- ‘happening’, from the verb accidere, from ad- ‘towards, to’ + cadere ‘to fall’.”
Being aware of ones surroundings of the potential dangers of ‘Accidere’ IS being mindful , however this doesn’t explain the chaos of things bumping ,crashing …or not happening at all. Isn’t this the way the universe came into being , by accident ?
Is Karma at play here , I’ve been wondering if the laws of ‘Karma‘ are at all applicable to anything , is karma an excuse or a pacifier for the process of the way things are or meant to be ,…a man made alibi for control ? Here’s where addiction comes into play , my thoughts on what I believe to be true has been on the say-so of others more knowledgeable or ‘enlightened’ than myself , on their investigation of what is generally perceived to be reality. I have clung to this premise as one of the fundamental laws of Buddhism.
But is Karma true or real , or have I become ‘attached’ to the idea of the excuse for things happening in a certain way and possibly not the way I wanted them to be. Have I become ‘addicted’ to dogma, a fixed obedience I had been previously been guided towards with my Irish Catholic upbringing ? This is something I thought I could abandon after I became interested in the ‘awakened’ teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama.
To see things as they are or as Suzuki Roshi says“Seeing things as it is“, making ones own mind up as to how reality truly is. If this means dismissing karma and being pragmatic without being dispassionate , still engaged with being human, happy or sad, in health or with ailments, without the flim-flam or bingy-bonginess of organised religion or philosophy….then so be it !
I’ve been meaning to post for sometime, but living life seems to get in the way.
A couple of years back I read Stephen Bachelors‘Confession of a Buddhist Atheist‘ and it seemed to appear at the period of self-reflection, perhaps I was looking for it? I spoke to friend whom I’d assisted with putting on retreats and asked if Stephen would be a good speaker to invite for a weekend retreat, He said that he was ‘boring and geeky’. We had been centered on Tibetan/Bhutanese Buddhism with all the smells and bells so I imagine that ‘Plain Buddhism’ would not appeal to the previous or regular retreat goers.
My own views differ, what Stephen has to offer and details in his book is an insight as to what Buddhism is really about. Bachelor points towards a ‘culturally free’ more accurate interpretation of what the Buddha said according to an oral recitation that then recounts what is remembered to form a collection of his sermons. These became known as the Tripitaka. There is much debate as to the interpretations and recollections of what was said, that is where it all becomes complex, something the Buddha was trying his utmost to avoid.
If we apply the core of Buddhist teaching we will soon see that there is little cultural baggage. Simple words of wisdom that are relevant for anyone at anytime, anywhere, with the ultimate goal of ‘Compassion and Wisdom’.
Every day, every moment one has to examine reality, where the truth is, or as Stephen’s teacher Ven.Kusan Sunim asked, “What is this?”
I was thrown in the deep end at my friends seaside walk-in shop. Previously I had been working for a local MP as the head gardener to make money and exhibiting my paintings and illustrations to make a small amount of money. The first few weeks of tattooing full time was certainly an eye-opener. In those days it quite an ugly place to be and work, but what attracted me most were the possibilities of using the medium artistically.
As with any form of expression it has its limitations, one has to stay within the limits of the medium and learn to use them thoroughly, then that will enable one to push the boundaries and make advances for the benefit of that particular art form.
Today I have been painting, It feels as if I have returned home. And as I was preparing the paint I was thinking of what my tattoo mentor said when I was earnestly and slowly tattooing someone’s arm.
“Hurry up you arty farty wanker , we’ve got a queue out here !”
This is a photo of my mother aged 16 on St. Patrick’s day 1926. Had she been alive today this would be her 105th birthday. Every year I have endeavoured to visit her grave on her birthday as mark of respect for not only Peg but for all my ( our ?) ancestors. I’m usually accompanied by my children, It’s something we know we should or need to do. It has nothing to do with religion or guilt, it’s just a lovely reminder of celebrating a life. This will be the first time in many years that we’ll miss our pilgrimage.
Peg , I’m sure you’re still smiling your sunny smile, you were a great teacher and Mum, I love you.
Here’s to celebrating all our ancestors whoever and wherever they may be.