Working with a negative cycle of the mind just now. But practising not getting entangled and caught up in the story about it all. It is hard work, the bad mood can be sticky like superglue and hard to shake off. But one has to persevere.
The breath can help, feeling the cool air going in, the warm air going out. Bad moods have unpleasant sensations, so focusing on something neutral can bring some relief. Especially if one is unable to feel or generate any pleasure, a neutral feeling can feel pleasant after a negative mood.
Paying attention to the breath can help with abandoning unwholesome states of mind; but more often than not you will need to talk your monkey mind into a more chilled out zone of thinking before it will even settle with the breath. So one has to reason with the mind, I sometimes do this out loud (when I am alone of course). I have a conversation with myself like a crazy person. Hey don’t judge me, it works!
This evening I was experiencing intense agitation, anger, sadness and mental pain. I went for a walk and as I walked I thought about what this unwholesome state of mind was: just sensations, feelings, thoughts, memories, emotions, so what? Why am I so bothered about them? Why do I need to tell myself these stories about it? I know nothing lasts in this world, everything is always changing, other people, me, the weather, society, time, day, night, seasons, this body is ageing and dying. Everything is impermanent, and loss and separation is fated for all, which makes it all feel a bit disatisfying and stressful. Which is the first noble truth: ‘there is suffering.’
The second noble truth is about the origin of suffering. I reflected on our attachment to things, things that are always changing, we chase and want what we think will make us happy, only to find when we grasp for them that there’s nothing but phantom air, just an insubstantial moment that is gone. Our mind comes into contact with something external, which triggers a sensation and a mental feeling, which triggers a perception of like or dislike, which triggers craving or aversion, which then becomes grasping for, or pushing away; and the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves about the world and who we are, which becomes our consciousness.
When one looks deep into one’s being for a permanent soul, there is nothing there. We are just a process that’s always changing. The jewel at the heart of the lotus:l is emptiness. Because everything is changing there’s no substantial self.
I thought about the third noble truth: ‘there is an end to suffering;’ but I find that one difficult to reflect on as I have not yet experienced the end of suffering. So I tend to reflect on that one with faith – faith that there is an end to suffering. That it is possible to be free. There are many others who have achieved this throughout history, and they all say it is possible to put an end to suffering, so that gives me hope and faith.
Which leads nicely to the fourth noble truth: the path that leads to the end of suffering: the noble eightfold path. Which has led many people throughout history to enlightenment and the end of suffering.
And there you have it, talked myself into feeling a bit calmer about it all. I focused on dispassion. Dispassion for my senses, my feelings, dispassion for my emotions, dispassion for this body, this life, the dramas, the ups and downs, the beautiful and the ugly, dispassion for this world and the things of it. Every time a thought popped up in my head and before I got entangled in the stories I just said the word: ‘dispassion’ to silence them. It became like a mantra and did help to quiet the mind. When I got home I even wrote ‘dispassion’ in big letters and hung it on my wall. And you know what it worked! At least sufficiently enough to weaken the unwholesome state of mind so I could then move onto invoking a more wholesome state of mind in its place. Equanimity felt natural at that point, so I worked with that, brought it into being, and cultivated it, equanimity is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. I kept saying the word like a mantra, filling my mind with equanimity, until it all felt a bit like water off a duck’s back and I finally let go, settled into a meditation posture and enjoyed the breath.
I have now got a free Wordpress website up and running. Going to post my paintings and writing on there. People will also be able to download good quality scans of my paintings and print them for free for their own personal non-commercial use. People will also be able to buy the original paintings from there and there will be links to where professinal quality prints and other merchandise featuring my artwork can be purchased. Also a donation button for anyone who can afford to and wants to support my work.
Not got much on it just now, two posts so far, one a painting and the other an article, but I aim to try and post stuff on there regularly and over time gradually get all my paintings scanned and on there and available for download.
Website address is: https://thestonecub.wordpress.com/
Have been listening to dharma talks a lot lately. Especially when out walking with my headphones on. I wear headphones in the town as I find the constant sound of traffic and construction wears my awareness down into a dull grey fatigue. I am practising though, sometimes I don't wear my headphones, and I suspect my aversion to industrial noise is to do with what the Buddha called: 'unwise attention to the fault.' (N.b. there is also 'unwise attention to the beautiful.' The gate swings both ways. )
In the first of the four Right Efforts of Buddhism, one works at preventing negative states of mind from arising. This is done by becoming aware of unwise attention to either the ugly or the beautiful and changing it to wise attention. As it is what we attend to in our consciousness that becomes the stories we tell ourselves about the world, which in turn generates either craving or aversion, which then entangles us in unhealthy unhappy states of mind.
If one fails to prevent negative states of mind arising, then this is where the second right effort comes in, which is to abandon negative states of mind when one becomes aware of them. There are different ways of eliminating them. Some suggestions by the Buddha are to try to invoke the opposite, i.e. wanting and desire comes from a feeling of lack, so the opposite of lack is to cultivate a feeling of contentment. One can also reflect on impermanence, observing how everything is always changing, this can help with developing some equanimity towards it all and dampen the craving a bit. The Buddha also advises one to see the negative mood as a great stain on one's personality, and to imagine it being like having a dead snake around your neck that you want to remove post-haste as you are about to go to dinner with some people you respect and admire. Other techniques are: to distract oneself till the mood has passed; talking oneself out of it; or the last resort, suppress the mood until it is weakened enough to allow one to use some of the other elimination strategies.
The third right effort is bringing into being wholesome states of mind. And the fourth right effort is cultivating those wholesome states of mind so they thrive and become continuous and fully-developed.
The hope I get from this is that no-one has to be a prisoner of who they are. We can change ourselves if we want to. Transformation of one's consciousness and emotions is possible; but we are the ones who have to put in the right causes and conditions to make this happen. And do so with equanimity, with the right balance of energy - the middle way. One should not push oneself so hard as to burn out and become unwell; nor just sit on the couch and do nothing. One needs to find a sweet spot, which maybe means something a bit different to each one of us, it doesn't have to be perfectly in the middle. I imagine it as a dial with a section in green that I try to keep the needle steady in by making necessary adjustments; and with two red areas at the extremes of the polarity which I am trying to keep the needle out of. I know its a daft metaphor, it occurred to me while I was adjusting the water pressure for our boiler, but visualising it like that seems to work okay for me.
I have found a nice spot in the Winter gardens which provides adequate shelter from the rain. And I have made friends with a blackbird that hangs out there. It came to say hello as I was meditating, and perched on a stump directly in front of me, watching me in its intent birdish way, at one point it did this cute cartoon-like yawn that opened my heart right up, and then there it was, a great whoosh and rush of something that swept and carried me off in the strength of its current and for a moment took me away from it all, leading to a free-floating spacious rapturous serenity which was a very pleasant state of mind.
I think an elusive feeling I have been trying to pin down for a good year or so now in meditation, is in fact rapture, which for me at least is a better description of what one is trying to invoke in meditation than joy. Rapture is much more ecstatic, it carries one away in its intensity. With plenty of rushes, tingles and otherworldy feelings, there is a slowing of time that makes sensations exquisite with pleasant trails and echoes as they rise and fade away like the tide of the sea. Rapture feels like a connection to the divine, to the heavenly realms.
I reflected on what one-pointed attention is. Remembering what I heard in a dharma talk that it means an embodied awareness, a wholeheartness involving the whole of one's being paying attention. One should be aware of the whole body, of one's presence while paying attention to the breath. Using the metaphor of attention being like the peak of a mountain. When one is looking at a mountain, it isn't just the peak one sees hovering above an invisible land-mass, one sees the whole of the mountain. This understanding of what one-pointed attention means, and my encounter with the blackbird brought a genuine feeling of rapture which lead to serenity and a happiness that felt otherwordly and freer than anything I have encountered before in the material world.
I left an offering of sunflowers seeds on a nearby stone for the blackbird. Nature has often been a teacher on my journey to enlightenment.
"All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you."
I went for a walk and sat down and meditated for a short time on a sheltered bench in the Winter gardens here. And I managed to steady the mind enough and reach a point where I felt quite serene, then feeling better from my anxiety and worries I went home. And suddenly ping! The idea came that I should get on with building a website, and I could use WordPress to quickly get a free one up and running, that way it doesn't matter that I don't have any capitol to invest in it just now. Once I got a wordpress site ready I can then use my knowledge of web design to tweak it to how I want it to look and feel, then upload my paintings on there, and try to sell them through that, as well as offer free downloads of my paintings that people can print for free on their own printers at A4 size (which is the original size of the paintings). And if anyone wants to have a bigger or more professionally done print, I will put a link to some sites that will print larger sizes for them and also offer the paintings on other products. And I will earn a small amount of income each time a print is sold there. I think it is roughly 15 - 20% or something like that, maybe less, but if there's enough sales it could add up. Anyway I will try to think of other ways to make money with a free wordpress website. Trying to think of multiple streams of income. I have a (payme) paypal link I could use so that visitors can both buy the paintings or make donations towards the free downloads of the paintings I will offer, but no obligation, just if they can afford to, with no judgement for anyone who can't.
Anyway enough of the boring waffle about my sudden flash of insight into what I could try to improve my financial situation and create a livelihood to support myself. The magic thing about it was as I was sitting there in front of my computer working out the design for the site, I felt this serene feeling and warmth in my heart, I have felt it before when I was doing web design during one of the assignments in a previous module. And got a strong feeling that perhaps this is what I should be doing, that I am better suited to web development. I think the serenity and warm heart was like big mind confirming this to me, that I should give this a go. So I have decided I am going to change my career path to web development instead of software.
I can do a little bit of coding, enough for website design anyway; but the maths and kind of complex coding I am learning to do at the moment is too difficult for me and my mind doesn't feel good about it, I do not enjoy it or understand it very well. It does not give me the happy serene vibe I feel when it comes to website design.
Anyway it seems that meditating and getting nice and serene taps into the deeper mind, the unconscious, or big mind; which gives it the opportunity to talk to small monkey mind and this produces insights, but only if monkey mind is still enough, quiet and steady enough to be able to listen to what big mind is saying (-:
The cost of living has sky-rocketed here. Food and energy bills are a lot more expensive than they were this time last year. We are really not able to live within our means anymore and have become dependent on generous family members to help us out. I feel ashamed, but also trying to balance that, as I know from experience self-loathing is no help at all. The other extreme is also unhelpful: too much self-grandiosity. So one has to get as close to the centre as possible with these states of mind. (I imagine it like a needle on a dial, where I am trying to keep the needle in the green area.) But do so with kindness towards oneself, this makes the experience all the sweeter and easier I am finding. The mind works better when it feels loved, especially by oneself.
So I am finding myself stuck on the 'Right Livelihood' aspect of the path just now. I have discovered this year, rather unpleasantly and quite painfully, I do not seem to have much ability for maths or computing anymore. I really seem to be struggling with the module I am studying this year on computability and algorithms. I am suddenly not sure software development and coding is realistically going to be something I want to or can do anymore as a career.
I enjoy painting, but I cannot support myself financially with painting, I have not yet sold a single painting or a print after nearly a year of trying. I just cannot for the life of me do the marketing involved, I have tried and failed repeatedly. I do not seem to have the right personality and not really cut out for it. I just want to paint, not spend all my time in self-promotion, my mind just won't work that way.
Sadly chronic pain and faitigue makes even shelf-stacking at the local supermarket impossible. I think from now on I will only be able to work part-time from home, which is not enough to live on these days. I am at a loss with how to realise 'Right livelihood' if I am honest, this is not an easy part of the Noble eight-fold path for me. I am very uncertain as to how to proceed or how I am going to support myself in the coming years. Again I have to be careful not to get overwhelmed by negative states of mind here. I must face all this with kindness and equanimity, remembering to cut myself some slack, because shame and self-loathing is no help either. It is important to balance my life with the other aspects of the path and not just spend all my time and energy focusing on livelihood. One must not neglect the other parts of the mind. If I do not look after the whole of the mind. I will be in danger of becoming burnt out, unwell and unable to do anything.
Equanimity is a careful balancing act, which is itself balanced out by kindness. Metta (loving-kindness) and Upekkha (equanimity) are like a knife and fork, they compliment one another and support one another perfectly on the path to enlightenment.
There was a truly majestic moon earlier this evening. It was large full and coloured with a reddish yellow glow that shone across the ocean in a line towards me - its tranquil light reflected in the rippling water. I had to stop for a moment, almost hypnotised by wonder and just look at it and send it metta - beautiful moon (-:
Very sleepy meditations today, I seem to be struggling with drowsiness just now in my sitting practise. Exploring, when I remember, the treacle-like surrealness that lies on the edge of sleep and the effort involved in staying lucid in that state of mind. Sometimes giving in to the songs of drowsiness only to wake suddenly with a start and feeling disappointed to see that not much time has passed on the clock with still many minutes to go. Then training myself not to feel disappointment whilst simultaneaously being kind to myself. This challenge is teaching me about the sleepy mind at least.
I am enjoying walking meditation a lot just now, there are moments when I get into a nice flow of footsteps, embodiment and breath that feels invigorating, and freeing when for those moments one realises that one has not been thinking. It is lovely to be able to just drop thought like that, to be fully in the body, in sync and flowing with the present moment, not clinging to any of the senses or caught up in the head. It is a bit like riding a bike, once the balance is right it feels effortless and enjoyable. However, once a thought does arise, one's balance starts to wobble a bit and if more thoughts appear the flow state suddenly pops like a bubble and it can feel a bit uncomfortable and unpleasant when this happens, the thoughts feel like torture and an unwelcome interruption to the experience and I then have to be careful not to get tangled up and involved in the stories or react to them. Instead just gently drop them without feeling guilt for not thinking about whatever it is; or that I need to tidy up whatever I am thinking about before I can get back into the pleasant flow state. It takes effort and a bit of will, and some kindness as well, without judging myself; but with practise and getting the balance right, I can just let the thoughts go and return to the body and breath, the sensation of movement and the feeling of the outside air on the skin. Be with the feet and get back into the beat (-:
Walking is a kindness to the mind, a rest from the incessant thinking and sedentary lifestyle that many of us lead in the modern world. So when walking one should set aside all the internal dialogue and busyness of study and work, and just enjoy the feeling of embodiment. It is possible to train oneself to do this, I have done it, and the monkey mind does become steadier and wanders less. It does get easier with practise - and then it feels wonderful, like one has gone beyond it all and connected to something much deeper and more real.
I am practising regular meditation at the moment. And currently doing three sittings a day, one in the morning, one at noon, and one in the evening. Just for 30 minutes each time, although I am contemplating the idea of doing a 2 hour long sit on a Sunday afternoon, as I want to experiment with sitting for longer to see if it will help me settle into deeper states of serenity. Out of the three daily sittings, the morning one is the hardest, I often battle with drowsiness in the first sitting (even with coffee) and I was experimenting this morning with trying to remain lucid during the drowsy surreal states of mind that arise when one is on the edge of sleep. I sometimes experience what are known as hypnagogic hallucinations just as I am about to doze off which alters my perception a bit and things can get quite weird, so I practise staying still and being mindful during those experiences, which can generate some interest in what is happening and help me stay awake.
The easiest of the three meditations is the evening one I find, I seem to feel a much stronger connection between mind and body and a greater depth of stillness and can feel energy that at times feels otherwordly but profoundly peaceful, with some interesting visual effects behind closed eyelids. The evening meditation also seems to go by the fastest, and I am often suprised by how quickly the time seems to go in the evening sitting. The morning meditation however seems to drag on, one minute can feel like ten and it can be very challenging to stay sat there.
It is interesting how one's perception of time changes, and how the mind seems to be able to alter how slow or quickly the passage of time goes by, but only relative to one's mind, everyone else's perception of time is not effected by ours. I am reminded of how Einstein said that time is relative, that time can be a unique experience to us all. This goes quite deep when you think about other species of life. Plants for example have a completely different sense of time to us humans. Their world seems very slow to us, but to them it is normal. Birds apparently experience time seven times faster than we do, and insects even more so, to insects we appear to move very slowly. And there are apparently bacteria that live deep under the ocean floor that are as old as 100 million years and reproduce once every 10 000 years.Yet despite our differences in speed, to each species of life their experience of time feels normal.
An interesting thing that I experimented with one time in music was slowing down bird song, and when I did this it sounded like a human singing, and vice versa when I sped up the human voice it sounded like a bird singing. I saw one time on a documentary that when humans are sped up seven times faster than normal on camera their movement looks similar to the movement of birds.
Perception of time is an interesting phenomenon, time really is relative. But one thing we can all be sure of, is whatever species of life - time comes for all.
Fear is a strong emotion, not an easy one to work with. I got bitten by a large dog last night. It was on a leash and I was just walking past it on the street, when it suddenly turned after I had walked past and bit me hard on the back of the knee, drawing blood. The owner was apologetic. But dazed and in shock I just said: "What was that all about?" She looked worried and kept asking me if I was okay, and I saw the dog coming for me again and I just backed away and said again: "What was that all about?" Then turned and walked home as fast as I could.
When I got home I cleaned the wound, which was quite nasty, with mouth shaped teeth marks, it looked like a shark bite. I put some antiseptic ointment on it and practised letting go of any feelings of ill-will towards the dog or the owner, and instead practised wishing them goodwill. Although I feel maybe I should mention to the dog owner next time I see her that a muzzle for the dog might be a good idea in case it bites someone else; as next time it could be a child or an elderly person.
The incident has left me feeling somewhat anxious about going outside though, and I was brave enough in the end to go for a walk today, but didn't walk far due to my knee being a bit painful, and also I felt paranoid about any big dogs I saw about, feeling mistrust towards them. I was relieved to get home and shut the door. I think I was still in shock and kept wondering why the dog attacked me. I wonder if it is karma from a past life. I know that practising the spiritual life does not make you immune to past karma. I read that even enlightened beings still have to deal with negative karma from their past, even the Buddha himself did.
Reflecting on equanimity and dependent origination, I understand that unpleasant things can and will still happen to one, and being on the spiritual path does not take one beyond this.
I find myself facing yet another dharma gate. And find my courage is a bit weak suddenly, I feel a distinct lack of confidence today. I am trying to look at it as a spiritual test, maybe the Buddha is testing me. So I am determined not to believe the stories my negative depressed mind comes up with, I have learnt listening to these stories leads to erroneous thinking, so I can't trust those thoughts. I am realising more and more that our delusions come from the way we narrate our experience of life - how we talk to ourselves.
The stories we tell ourselves about experience programmes our unconscious minds. So I am going to try and feed my unconscious mind clear information about reality and also feed it wholesome stories about letting go, clarity, loving-kindness, compassion, generosity and equanimity, so that this becomes automatic behaviour instead of the old unhelpful habits of the past.
Reprogramming the unconscious mind is hard work and tricky, because it goes against the grain, its like trying to teach yourself to fold your arms in a different way, it feels uncomfortable. The mind does not like to let go of well-entrenched habits and clings to them even if they are not helpful. 'Neurons that fire together wire together', and once wired there's a strong resistance to rewiring them, but with enough repetitive practise, persistence and patience it can be done, one can change one's mind and automatic behaviour by telling ourselves a different story about reality, one based on lucidity and clear-seeing, and kindness towards oneself and others.
I can't seem to stop the automatic thoughts that appear: delusions of grandeur, the inner critic, the low self-esteem, the strange weird invasive thoughts that remind me of how crazy I am, the self loathing; but I keep working at interrupting those thought patterns (gently and with kindness), encouraging myself to tell a different story, and it does feel uncomfortable and at times like asking the impossible, but each time I do I am training my mind, and it gets a little bit stronger, a little bit steadier, and a little bit freer. The new enlightenment grooves will slowly and gradually get more habitual. And by training myself to let go of the old negative conditioning when it arises, and replacing it with a new story; I will teach myself slowly but surely to not take personally the events caused by an impersonal universe.
Knowledge and serenity practise are like two wings of a bird 🕊️
Nourished, well cared for and balanced they can take one to the liberating insight of nibanna.
What is nibanna?
It is said to be a liberated state of mind that cannot be reversed.
Like what fire becomes when it no longer clings to its fuel.
The breaking of the 12 links of dependent origination.
Something permanent in an impermanent universe.
Something secure that cannot be taken away.
The mind freed from greed, hatred, and delusion.
A radiant samhadi.
Luminous with generosity, kindness and clarity.
A safe haven where one can finally know peace.
Emancipation from grief and suffering.
Final liberating knowledge here and now.
And the realisation of the eightfold path.
At least that's my understanding.
Next year will be a bit different for me. I will be taking part in the Upasaka/Upasika 2022 training program under Ajahn Sona starting January 1st.
So it will be a new beginning for me as Upasaka Richie. And this post is like me wiping the slate of the past with the intention of being much more careful of what I say and do from now on.
I have taken the five precepts which are:
No lying or harmful speech
No sexual misconduct
No intoxicants that make me careless
They are not commandments. They are there to protect one, and to help one have a clear mind that is not plagued by regret or worry over past misdeeds. With a clear and peaceful mind one can then go deeper into spiritual practise and meditation.
I never thought I would actually get this far on the spiritual path. I am a bit nervous and will try hard not to let anyone down. Although I understand it is normal to make mistakes, and so will not beat myself up about my past errors, everyone makes mistakes, it is one of the ways we learn, and grow into wiser people. Noone is perfect, and if there are any perfect people in this world they are few and far between and they didn't get there without making a few mistakes themselves. Some of the Buddha's disciples did far worse things than any of us would ever dream of doing, yet they changed their ways and got enlightened - remembering that gives me hope. Thankfully there's a lot of forgiveness and grace on the path, and if one is trying their best then others can see that and don't abandon or judge you. There's a lot of support both seen and unseen in the spiritual life.
I am going to be training with another 108 people from around the world. And we are all just starting to get to know one another through email and discussion groups and I look forward to deepening my practise and growing with them in the coming year. This is a big deal for me to commit to Buddhism like this, I have always stood on the sidelines not wanting to plant my flag anywhere; but I feel the time is right now. And am looking forward to it.
Wishing everyone else the best for 2022.
I find this time of year a bit challenging. I feel depressed just now. Am a bit sick as well, no idea if it is covid, couldn't give a shit if it is. I am isolating myself just in case though as do not want to pass it on to anyone else, so just talking to family on zoom. It is a very mild illness, although my glands are swollen to Hell and I am a bit light-headed and weak on my feet. Some part of me doesn't care though. I honestly don't mind if I live or die, if I die now I will just see it as a mercy and try to feel equanimity instead of a negative state of mind. Mindstate is important at death as that is the seed that becomes your next life.
It is getting harder and harder to survive in this world anyway. I am struggling to get anywhere with right livelihood and I can't work full-time due to my health problems and mood swings, it is tough to stay afloat and tiring trying to. I am not the only one, there are many of us who are feeling this way all around the world. It is a tough world just now and not getting any easier. Many are struggling to make ends meet at the moment, the cost of living has sky-rocketed. Food is twice as expensive as it was this time last year, and so are the utility bills, and the money coming in hasn't changed for many of us. And it is hard to feel much joy living like that. Anyway who wants to live and watch the world go to shit and more animals go extinct. I don't want to see all that. Although I promise I won't take my life, I have made a vow not to do that and will honour it. If I survive and live I will try my best to be a light in this darkening world, and show kindness and compassion to other beings that are suffering where I can. It isn't always easy to do this though. Sometimes my energy is too low, and fatigue gets the better of me, I feel like a weak battery that is unable to hold its charge at the moment.
I think those who go on about how important it is to feel joy on the spiritual path and try to enourage everyone to feel the same aren't struggling with their finances, if they were I imagine they too would be finding it challenging to feel much joy. But nonetheless it is true what they say, joy is important and it is one of the seven factors of enlightenment, albeit for me the most challenging one.
I read an article that said the world economic output has reached $100 trillion for the first time in human history. What it didn't mention is how much of this belongs to the super rich and that most of us won't see any of that, it is being hoarded by humans whose minds are possessed by greed, hatred and delusion. The super rich continue to invest in their rocket-sized penis extensions, with the 'my rocket is better than yours' mentality; trying to be the first to colonise cold dead space, while they leave this rare miracle of a planet behind to die a bleak unhappy death in the aftermath of their greed and madness of mass industrial consumerism. Instead of using all that wealth and power to help this living planet; they dream instead of colonising a much colder smaller dead planet far far away. Strange logic, but delusion does that. The more greedy one becomes, the more deluded one becomes to justify hoarding such large amounts of wealth, and the more they hate others who criticise them and try to get them to share it with others. Greed, hatred and delusion, the three psychic poisons.
I was wondering today why do some young men kick the shit out of homeless people. I guess they are looking for someone to hate, to blame for their crap miserable lives. Homeless people are easy targets. I remember when I was homeless (many years ago now) and I met another homeless guy who had been beaten badly by the police of all people. I gave him all the money I had made busking and flagged him a taxi and asked the driver to take him to the hospital so he could get stitched up by the A&E as he had a large gaping bleeding wound on his head. Why do people beat up those who are homeless? Is it because they are vulnerable and don't stand a chance of being able to fight back against the attackers? Perhaps there is fear also, the knowledge that many of us are close to homelessness ourselves, some maybe only a paycheck away, and that fear becomes hate. I don't know. What horrible times we live in where this happens. Are we really civilised? It makes me sad. There seems to be so little love and compassion in the world at the moment. But I know not everyone is like this, there are still many good people out there, I just have to try to remember that, no matter how alone and depressed I feel.
I am trying to see my depression as a state of becoming, with the understanding that it is better to retreat from the world when I am like this, as I often will say things I later regret, and if I am alone, that is less likely to happen. It is hard to do that at this time of year though, as everyone expects one to be sociable and happy. It was difficult doing a zoom call with family yesterday as my mood was low and it was hard pretending not to be, and everyone I spoke to was happy, festive, and enjoying their day, but I felt miserable. I felt like a failure after the zoom call that I couldn't enjoy Christmas day like everyone else or feel happy.
So I am currently retreating from the world. I look at the depressed cycle now as being like a caterpillar in a cocoon becoming a butterfly, it is an unpleasant painful experience, a complete destruction of the self, like entering the womb again, and birth is painful, but when it is over one emerges as something new, a different person each time and hopefully someone who has grown deeper in wisdom and more developed spiritually. And when one feels renewed strength and energy then one can act and go out to meet the world again. In the meantime, I just have to be patient and try really hard not to believe the dark thoughts about myself or others. Try hard not to react to other people's energy in a negative way. And avoid what the Buddha calls unwise attention to the fault. That automatic critic that pops up iin the mind and judges others, perhaps because it doesn't like the way someone dresses or looks, the sound of their voice, the way they behave and so on. That's unwise attention to the fault. There's also unwise attention to the beautiful, such as desiring the happiness others are feeling, seeing pretty displays in a shop window, or desirable objects online, or lusting after someone you feel attracted to. That is unwise attention to the beautiful. And both unwise attention to the fault or the beautiful can upset the balance of the mind and stop it being centred.
One must also remember as well not to be hard on oneself when these things arise in the mind, none of us can help it, we all do it, it is automatic and outside our control, it happens so fast and much of it is due to DNA, evolution and past conditioning of the mind. One thing we can do though, is to try to let go of it as soon as we notice it and try to bring into being a more wholesome way of thinking, such as loving-kindness, compassion, joy-in-another's-happiness, or equanimity. Try instead to wish other beings well without wanting anything in return. It is hard, but we can persevere and keep trying.
Depression for me is very difficult at times, and feeling any joy or pleasure is a challenge. But abiding in equanimity whilst retreating from the world can be helpful. I quite like focusing on change and impermanence at the moment, noticing how everything keeps changing. Some changes are immediately apparent, such as the constant information coming from the five senses of: vision, sound, smell, taste, touch. But thoughts are also always changing, and so is the time. Then there are the longer changes that one can contemplate, such as the body as it ages and eventually dies, the sense of self, the world, civilisations that rise and fall, the weather, the seasons, the sky, friends and romantic relationships, day and night, the tide, the moon, even this patch of space is constantly changing as the Earth spins around the sun. Understanding that everything changes can help with developing equanimity and with letting go and being patient.
'Everything I hold dear and everyone I love will become separated from me due to the nature of change.'
There is not much else the ego can do, much of the process of awakening/enlightenment happens unconsciously in the deeper mind outside of one's awareness, and it can feel unpleasant as the rest of the mind processes the insights one gains through spiritual practise and rewires itself based on the new information it has received. One just has to sit tight and accept this state of becoming and try not to react. Be patient with it, let the process unfold in its own way, its own time, it cannot be rushed.
keep waking up at 4am and not being able to go back to sleep again. Just lying there staring at the darkness.
I don't judge the vaxxed.
I just don't trust the governments, media or pharmaceutical companies. And I am annoyed with the media calling for the unvaxxed to be punished and the talk of mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports. It is all unnecessary and illogical. The jabs just protect the one who is jabbed and don't stop transmission of the virus. And the hospitals are not overrun by unvaccinated patients. Also there are now much better treatments for severe COVID than at the beginning of the pandemic, which makes the vaccines more irrelevant. I read an academic article that said using asthma sprays can prevent severe COVID, and so can supplements of vitamin D and zinc. As well as opening one's window regularly for at least 20 minutes a day to suck out all the virus particles, as the viral load in the air grows indoors which is why we get so sick in the winter with cold and flu viruses.
I don't understand why they are being so pushy with these jabs? Something feels off about it. Especially when the pharmaceutical industry is making so much money from these jabs. I don't trust it when someone somewhere is making large amounts of money.
It is the government who is to blame, (not the unvaccinated,) for the current state of the NHS after years of austerity and deliberately and systematically weakening it. The Tories loathe the idea of free healthcare and want it to collapse under pressure so they can open the door to privatisation. They've been planning that for years.
I do not want to play a game of chance with an experimental medical procedure, these new COVID vaccines have killed people and caused adverse effects in others. However much we would like to brush that inconvenient fact under the carpet. (See the yellow card reporting scheme). There is a real risk of death or injury from these vaccines, and looking at the data, more so than the regular vaccines we have been using for decades. I think there's a good reason why vaccines take twelve years before they are approved as safe to use. It is the only way to know for sure what the long-term health effects of them are.
The idea of mandatory vaccines and punishing those who refuse them gives me the creeps and feels dystopian. It opens the door to governments and pharmaceutical companies being allowed to inject us with all sorts of experimental shit in the future. And there's also the danger they will add something to the vaccines to make us easier to control, perhaps make us more docile and obedient like robots, and I wouldn't put it past them to do that either.
People's right to refuse a medical procedure should be protected. It is part of the Geneva convention on Human rights, created after the horrific medical procedures performed by the Nazis. This right is there to protect people from something like that ever happening again.
That's why I am writing about this. Else I would have just remained silent.
Opening to the higher states of consciousness:
Sadly I think we are going to have to cancel our Christmas plans of travelling down South. As I don't want to risk getting stranded or use public transport if they suddenly announce lockdowns. I also don't fancy wearing a facemask for six hours on the train. Plus Scotland is getting increasingly uncertain about what sort of restrictions might be coming, and it is possible it might be difficult getting over the border.
They should just let omicron go endemic and become the dominant strain as it is fairly mild. And also constantly vaccinating everyone means the virus will be more likely to mutate to evade the vaccines and then there's a risk of it becoming more deadly because of excessive vaccination. Apparently this has happened in the past with vaccines. Honestly, the unvaxxed are heroes and are doing everyone a favour if they catch COVID, as natural immunity is much better protection for the herd. Not that I am criticising anyone for getting vaccinated. I respect other people's decisions, I wish they would respect mine and not believe all the hype. People should have the right not to play a game of chance with their health or lives by being forced to have an experimental medical procedure. I firmly believe this. And I will be standing my ground on that, even when the Nazis of the Fourth Reich come knocking on my door to take me away to a concentration camp, just kidding, or am I?
The truth seems to be that Big pharma doesn't want to lose the huge profits it's making from these vaccines. And all this stuff about protecting the NHS is bollocks. It's the government who are to blame for problems with the NHS, they have been systematically undermining and destroying the NHS for years, a planned demolitian job; there's now 50% less hospital beds than there was in the 1980s, and a much larger UK population in 2021. So don't believe what the government are saying, and don't blame the unvaxxed for the over-stretched health service, it isn't their fault. If you need to point a finger at someone, point it at Westminster.
Here's a not so fun fact: a third of hospital beds in the UK are currently being taken up by old people who no longer need to be in hospital but have nowhere to go due to lack of social care available for them. And also there are more vaccinated patients in hospital just now than unvaccinated. So the government and media is full of shit. It is just pointing the finger at the unvaxxed because they make an easy scapegoat at the moment. It is an old tactic, governments have always used scapegoats to distract, divide and conquer; and sadly much of the public seems quite happy to go along with it, almost everyone likes to have someone to point the finger at and blame for their problems, someone to hate. It is a political tactic as old as human civilization.
Anyway I am still standing my ground in this corner of the world, and will continue to do so. And if like me you are declining the vaccine and sometimes get a bit of flack (for what inmho is a sensible decision) and need a good factual counter-argument, then read this letter written by a law firm who have written to the government with proof the jabs are causing harm and are seeking an injunction.
The unvaxxed are well within their rights to decline these experimental injections, and in doing so are no threat to anyone whatsoever, in fact they are doing society a huge favour if they catch COVID as natural immunity to COVID has better and longer lasting protection than these experimental vaccines that you have to keep having boosters of. Those who have acquired natural immunity to COVID don't need booster jabs. And over-vaccinating the population can increase the risk that the virus will be forced to mutate faster to evade the regular boosters and as a result potentially become something more deadly. So unlike what the media and politicians tell you, the unvaxxed, (or refuseniks as the media likes to call them) are actually the unsung heroes in this pandemic. Hats off to them I say.
What threat exactly are the unvaccinated to society?
The research that says cannabis causes psychosis and schizophrenia is weak. It is just a modern day slant on the 'reefer madness' propaganda from the 1930s. The truth is cannabis can be helpful for people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems, the reason being it contains cannabinoids that are natural anti-psychotics (not just CBD, the whole plant is needed, as the cannabinoids work together synergistically). Which is why people with schizophrenia use cannabis a lot, and why there is a statistical correlation between cannabis and schizophrenia. It isn't because the cannabis is causing schizophreia, it is because many people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems are self-medicating with it as it brings relief from their symptoms. There was a tutor on a college course who had schizophrenia and he would have a spliff and it would make him feel much better and calmer afterwards.
Anyone who has done basic maths, knows that in statistics correlation does not mean causation. For example there is a correlation between high shoe sizes and intelligence, but it is not because people with big feet are more intelligent than those with small feet. It is because adults have bigger feet than children. Politicians and the media often misuse statistics to push forward bad policy. And one should always use critical thinking when it comes to statistics, especially now in this age of big data and data science.
Cannabis is a damn site less harmful and unpleasant than the nasty pharmaceutical anti-psychotics that are pushed on patients. There's a good reason why people come off their meds and don't want to take them anymore, it's because they are fricking horrible, many decide they would rather have the psychosis than the horrible side-effects and locked-in depression that comes with prescription anti-psychotics. Rather than a treatment, these meds feel like a punishment. Not to mention how much harm these prescription meds can cause the body, something cannabis does not do, it is harmless on the body, in fact it is impossible to overdose and die from consuming too much cannabis. The only way cannabis can kill you is if a block the size of a piano was dropped on your head from a great height.
The truth is government scientists/researchers aren't really scientists at all, they are just paid 'Yes' men in white lab coats, whose job is to invent research and nonsense to fit a government's agenda and point of view, they use confirmation bias deliberately so they can justify dodgy policy to the public. And any scientist who goes against what the government wants to see in the research is fired by the government. If you don't believe me, research what happend to professor David Nutt for evidence of this. I ask you dear reader, how is this science?
I know for a fact cannabis helps me. It calms me down, improves my mood, helps me concentrate better, helps my memory, helps me get my work done, helps me sleep, helps me get out of bed, helps me eat, gives me pain relief from chronic physical pain, helps me exercise, stops me feeling stressed and het up about stuff, and perhaps most importantly, helps me feel pleasure and joy again, something I struggle to feel without it. Cannabis greatly improves my quality of life. It is also fast acting, providing almost instant relief, which is great for agitation. In fact I never feel suicidal on cannabis, it takes those thoughts and feelings away, but when I don't have it and go without, the suicidal thoughts come back. I think it is because life without cannabis is just too unbearable for me. I just feel like life isn't worth it without. I feel too much pain both emotionally and physically and it is frustrating knowing that smoking/vaping a bit of cannabis is all I need to do to fix this, and makes me angry as well knowing it is unfairly prohibited by an ignorant brainwashed society and jobsworths that keep denying me my right to this natural medication. It is cruel and unfair.
One thing I know is the mind does not work well when it is in constant pain both physically and mentally, it is impossible to get enlightened when one is in pain. The Buddha even said that, and he advised folks to take medicine for pain relief as he knew pain does not lead to enlightenment. He tried the path of trauma and pain for years, and it didn't lead to enlightenment, just brought him to the brink of death. It made his mind miserable and in the end he gave up on trying to get enlightened through deprivation and pain. Austerity and austere practises are useless, they just depress the mind and one cannot reach enlightenment that way. Here's a fun fact, cannabis would have grown wild in India at the time of the Buddha, and would have almost certainly been used as medicine, people back then would not have had a problem with it at all; the Buddha himself may well have used it on occasion, especially as he suffered from chronic back pain. It is only in these tyrranical modern times where it has been demonised and suppressed unfairly.
Cannabis is medicine and I think it should be freely available to all who need it without prescription. And if people want to use it recreationally, so what? Let them, they're adults, we don't need a deluded hypocritical nanny state dictating what people can and cannot do, it is unpleasant living in a nanny state, we are grown-ups, let us choose; besides cannabis is the least harmful of all intoxicants.
I am angry and fed up with these bad laws that criminalise it. Especially now other countries around the world have woken up to its benefits and legalised it. It is about time the UK did the same in my opinion. We are becoming more and more like a backward country.
I also suspect the reason it is kept illegal is because of lobbying from the alcohol industry and pharmaceutical companies who don't want the competition. Alcohol is the most destructive drug of all (fact), even more destructive than heroine. Yet it is legal and even pushed and encouraged. When I am online I get constantly bombarded with advertisements for it. And as someone who has had problems with alcohol addiction in the past this is not helpful. This advertising is an example of how these algorithms governing things can get things catastrophically wrong. Now I am not calling for a ban on alcohol, even though I know first-hand of its harms, I will never tell others what they can or cannot use, and I would never dream of stopping others from enjoying it. It is their life, they're adults, their choice. I just wish all the drinkers out there would also respect my right as an adult to choose to use cannabis, especially as it is much less harmful and medicinal.
This brainwashed society is hypocritical and I am tired of the stigma, which is based on deliberate lies and ignorance. And is why I am speaking out. It is time things changed.
And change they will, the karma is ripening, and this government and any future government that continues to uphold this bad law will not last, their own karma and the energetic momentum of truth will bring them down. Legalising cannabis is one way for them to bring some good karma for themselves.
Free the herb!
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