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Fck God

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 7 Dec 2021, 20:20

I tell you what if there is a God, he's a bit cold and cruel. Not that kind really. He doesn't understand much about what it is like to be a human.To feel pain, grief and sorrow. What sort of psychopath creates a universe like this? A world like this? Where all the different beings have to consume one another to survive. What a horrible place. What kind of creator creates a world of suffering and makes everyone feel guilty for it? Puts his only son to death for it.  That's why I turned my back on Christianity. 

 I'm done with this world, done with being a human being, never want to come back here again. Onwards to nibbana I say Richie, onwards to nibbana. I don't think I am a Mahayana buddhist, and haven't got what it takes to fulfill the Bodhisattva vow, it's impossible. I really do not have the strength or energy to save all beings. I am sorry. I can't take no more, I'm offski, I'm heading for the exit.  

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F#ck Samsara

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 7 Dec 2021, 16:16


I feel like everyone is unhappy with me today. From the ice cold withering looks of friends. To my son walking into the room to announce he hates it when I am doing an olbas oil inhalation (my sinuses are painful), apparently he doesn't like the smell. Christ can I do nothing right?  Still it was the earliest I have seem him up and about in ages, it is a rare event indeed to see him about before 2pm, although I think he went back to bed after ranting at me, bless him, it is hard being a teenager, I remember it well.

I wish I wouldn't take everything so personal, but you know sometimes I can't help it. I just do and then the automatic tape-loops kick-in telling me 'nobody likes me, I am unlikable, that I don't have any friends, that I'm crap, always have been and always will be, that noone will ever love me. That I am a complete failure as a parent.' Thanks brain, real help that is. Those unhappy thoughts just winding me up increasing the feelings of being unwanted and alone in this shitty world. I couldn't even be bothered to try and work with the annoying tape-loops today, didn't have the will or inclination for CBT. I just let them keep putting me down, the inner critic, blah blah blah. 

The wind is howling out there, my wheelie bins are knocked over; but I decided to leave them be as they weren't in a place that would bother anyone, and they seemed harmless enough laying sideways on the ground. I will put them back up when the storm has passed. 

Went for a walk, the sea was coming right over the sea wall and flooding the road and pavement, huge waves that looked like something biblical.

 At one point I came across where the sea had flooded over the pavement, blocking where I wanted to be. And I remembered a story about the Buddha when he was with some of his monks and they came across a patch of road that had been flooded by the Ganges and the people around him where frantically making rafts to get across. But he just lifted his foot and like someone taking an effortless stride, teleported and placed his foot down on the other side along with all the monks who where with him. Apparently all the people there looked on in amazement. 

So I tried to imagine I was the Buddha and yes I really was about to make a stride across, then suddenly remembered I wasn't a Buddha yet and that my mind was too full of aversion (a psychic irritant) meaning I would most likely end up f#cking it up and getting soaked in the cold water and would look rather foolish. Luckily though, I spotted a way to get round it, which involved a bit of hopping from one jutting out stone to the next. I consoled myself as I did this by thinking the Buddha would have done the same. He only used miracles to get past obstacles when necessary, and if a non-miraculous alternative presented itself he would use that instead. He even once criticised a yogi who had spent 12 years practising how to walk on water. The Yogi was showing off, and the Buddha un-impressed and rather dryly said to him that he would have been better off using the nearby ferry to get across the river and instead spent those twelve years practising to be free of greed, hatred and delusion, as that was the most valuable power of all, the liberation of nibbana.

The weather today feels like it is reflecting my current mood.The angry bitter tears of Samsara.  I feel fed up and annoyed with everything. Fed up of trying and failing. Feel like I am going round and round in circles, getting nowhere. I try my best, I really do, but that doesn't seem to be good enough for the universe.

 There's also an assignment to do which I am struggling with and I don't anticipate I will get a good grade. It bothers me how bad my memory is getting. I seriously wonder if I have what it takes to do this degree. Still, I won't give up, I will persevere, and maybe one day I will succeed (I hope) and be able to tick the 'Right Livelihood' box on the road to enlightenment, either that or live the rest of my life in poverty. I suppose I could become a homeless solitary monk, meditate with a begging bowl. I think I would rather keep trying as a lay person though.

You know what, f#ck it. Shit days like this remind me of why I want to get out of Samsara. To never have to come back to this miserable existence ever again in any form. Knowledge of suffering is the first noble truth. So I will use this stress as nitro fuel for my practise, and tell myself the harder life gets, the more I will practise the eightfold path. F#ck Mara and his tricks.

Here is a 'F#ck Samsara playlist' - enjoy (;

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLodJ_OuDCKlf-EgR8Wx1goze7toOB4orL


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Knowledge of suffering

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Feel the pain and grief.
And let it give you power.
The momentum to move forward.
To go beyond this empty world.
Beyond the tears of Samsara.
On to the other shore. To higher things.
To the deathless, and the freedom of nibbana.

Use the sadness to break the illusion.
To see through the delusion.
As Mara crushes your heart and mind.
Smile with equanimity at the rain, the pain.

Strength through adversity.
The first noble truth.


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The four foundations of mindfulness

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 5 Dec 2021, 16:44


Here is a summary of the four foundations of mindfulness that I chant every day to help me remember the Satipatthana Sutta (The Buddha's famous teachings on mindfulness).

I find chanting to be a powerful tool for instructing mindfulness on what it needs to be paying attention to. After practising a while you will find that sati (mindfulness) works on its own volition like a trusted guard at the gate, a powerful ally, working independently of the narrator mind. I find the phrases I regularly chant  will often pop up out of the blue during the day to remind me of important teachings.

It is important to also bear in mind that simply being aware of these four foundations isn't all there is to the practise. One does so in combination with Right effort. Which in a nutshell is about four practise principles 1. Preventing unwholesome states of mind arising. 2. If prevention doesn't work, one abandons unwholesome states of mind as soon as one notices they have arison. 3. One generates and brings into being wholesome states of mind. 4. One cultivates those wholesome states of mind so that they grow and develop and become continuous, i.e. one's default behaviour. 

I have borrowed heavily from the Birken forest monastery chant book. And changed it in places, adding some extra bits that I find helpful in my own spiritual practise. Particularly in mindfulness of the body, where I have added an extra three elements (space, consciousness, and interdependence) to the traditional four primary elements of earth, water, fire, and air. I also simultaneously practise awareness of the seven chakras that correspond with the seven elements found in kundalini yoga. Which is not what the Buddha taught, but is something I find helpful in my own practise.

 I have also changed the part on cemetary contemplations, to the five remembrances, as in the West we don't have charnel grounds to visit where we can observe a rotting corpse and reflect on death. But I have added a bit extra to the chant to help with the contemplation of death. 

I have also added the eight worldy winds and the brahma viharas to mindfulness of feelings.

Be aware this is very much a chant I have tailored to help me on my spiritual journey, and it may not be right for others, so please bear in mind that some of it has deviated from the original sutta in places. So I would advise the reader to check out the original sutta if they find it interesting. Or read the summary in the Birken forest monastery chant book. 

The four foundations of mindfulness

The Buddha addressing the sangha:

'This is the direct path for the purification of beings. For the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation; the disappearance of pain and grief. The true attainment of the way and the realisation of nibbana. Namely the four foundations of mindfulness: '

Foundation one - mindfulness of the body

  • Mindfulness of the four postures: walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.
  • Mindfulness of the breath.
  • Mindfulness of the present moment.
  • Reflection on the different parts of the body. Hair, nails, teeth, eyeballs, skin, muscles, blood vessels, mucous, nerves, internal organs: brain, heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys, liver,  gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, intestines, bones, bone marrow. 
  • Contemplation of the seven elements:
    Earth element both inside the body and outside the body.
    Water element both inside the body and outside the body.
    Fire element both inside the body and outside the body.
    Air element both inside the body and outside the body.
    Space element both inside the body and outside the body.
    Consciousness both inside the body and outside the body.
    Interdependence both inside the body and outside the body.
  • The five reflections:
    I am of the nature to grow old, I have not gone beyond ageing.
    I am of the nature to become sick, I have not gone beyond ill health.
    I am of the nature to die, I have not gone beyond death.
    I could die at any moment, and that is normal; people die at all different ages. And when I die I will become a rotting corpse and return to the four primary elements (earth, water, fire, air), this is a natural process and the fate of all living beings. Every body has an expiry date. I should not fear death.
    Everything I hold dear and everyone that I love will become separated from me due to the nature of change and impermanence.
    I am the owner of my karma, the heir of my karma, born of my karma, related to my karma, abide supported by my karma. Therefore should I frequently recollect that whatever actions I do for good or for bad - that is the karma I will inherit.

Foundation two - mindfulness of feelings 

(n.b. in Buddhism feelings also means physical sensations as well as mental ones.)

  • Mindfulness of pleasant feelings.
  • Mindfulness of unpleasant feelings.
  • Mindfuness of neutral feelings (something that you are neither grasping for nor pushing away).
  • Mindfulness of worldly feelings. The eight wordly winds: pain and pleasure; wealth and misfortune; success and failure; praise and blame.
  • Mindfulness of unworldly feelings: metta (loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (joy in another's happiness), upekka (equanimity), samhadi (deep state of stillness, focus, absorption), jhana (profound state of samhadi), nibbana (liberation of mind that cannot be reversed).­­­­­

Awareness of the manifestation, arising and disappearance of feelings.

Foundation three - mindfulness of the mind

Understanding the mind as:

  • Greedy or not.
  • Hateful or not.
  • Deluded or not.
  • Vulnerable or not.
  • Conceited or not.
  • Collected or scattered.
  • Developed or not.
  • Focused or not.
  • Liberated or not.

Awareness of the manifestation, arising and disappearance of these states of mind.

Foundation four - mindfulness of dharma categories

­­­­­­The five psychic irritants:

  1. Wordly desire
  2. Aversion
  3. Dullness and fatigue
  4. Agitation and worry
  5. Doubt (lack of confidence)

Awareness of the manifestation, the origination and disappearance of the five hindrances.

The five aggregates of clinging:

Clinging to:

  1. Material form
  2. Feelings
  3. Perceptions
  4. Thoughts, memories and emotions
  5. Consciousness

Awareness of the manifestation, the arising, and the dissolution of the five aggregates of clinging.

The six external and six internal sense bases:

  1. Eye and visual objects
  2. Ear and sounds
  3. Nose and smells
  4. Tongue and tastes
  5. Body and tangible objects
  6. Mind and mental objects

Knowledge of them, of their arising, and of their abandonment (letting go); and the future non-arising of the fetters that originate dependent on both.

The seven factors of enlightenment/awakening:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Investigation of dharma
  3. Energy and perseverance
  4. Joy
  5. Tranquility
  6. Samhadi
  7. Equanimity

Knowledge of their presence, their arising, and their development.

The four noble truths:

  1. Knowledge of suffering
  2. Of its origination
  3. Its cessation
  4. And the path that leads to the end of suffering (the noble eight-fold path)

The noble eight-fold path

  1. Right view: Use the four noble truths and the other dharma categories as a guide/tool to help one spot, prevent, abandon and uproot the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion from the mind.
  2. Right intention: The intention of letting go (renunciation); the intention of non-illwill; the intention of harmlessness (non-cruelty).
  3. Right speech: I will refrain from false speech; I will refrain from malicious/divisive speech; I will refrain from harsh speech; I will refrain from pointless/frivolous speech.
  4. Right action: I will abstain from killing any being (including myself); I will abstain from taking what is not given; I will abstain from sexual misconduct.
  5. Right livelihood: Having abandoned wrong livelihood, one continues to make one's living with right livelihood. A livelihood that does not cause harm to oneself or others.
  6. Right effort: One generates the desire for the prevention of unwholesome states of mind, by making effort, rousing energy, exerting one's mind and persevering.
    One generates the desire for the abandonment of unwholesome states of mind, by making effort, arousing energy, exerting one's mind and persevering.
    One generates the desire for the arising of wholesome states of mind, by making effort, rousing energy, exerting one's mind and persevering.
    One generates the desire for the continuance, non-disappearance, strengthening, increase, and full-development of wholesome states of mind. By making effort, arousing energy, exerting one's mind and persevering.
  7. Right mindfulness: Having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world.
    One abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
    One abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
    One abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
    One abides contemplating dharma as dharma, ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
  8. Right samhadi: Quite secluded from worldly pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind. One lets go of the story of self and enters and abides in the first jhana. Which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, and has the rapture and happiness born from seclusion from the world and letting go.
    With the subsiding of applied and sustained thought. One enters and abides in the second jhana, which is accompanied by self-confidence and unification of mind. Is without applied and sustained thought, and has the rapture and happiness born of concentration (samhadi).
    With the fading away as well of rapture, one abides in equanimity. And mindful, clearly-comprehending, still feeling pleasure with the body. One enters and abides in the third jhana. On account of which the noble ones annouce: 'One has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.'
    With the letting go of pain and pleasure and the previous disappearance of sadness and joy. One enters and abides in the fourth jhana. Which has neither pleasure nor pain. And has mindfulness purified and born of equanimity.

The Buddha addressing the sangha: ' If one were to properly practise the four foundations of mindfulness for seven years; or in some cases just seven days. One of two results can be expected for that person. Either one gains final liberating knowledge here and now in this very life. Or if there is a trace of clinging remaining, in the next life one is reborn in the higher heavens and gains final liberating knowledge there. In both instances, one is never again born into this world. '


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I take refuge in Sangha

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I tell you something I do love about Zen. Is the focus on friendship and inter-relational practise. We truly are all awakening together - stepping through those dharma gates together. It warms my heart. 

The feeling of Sangha is strong in the Zen tradition. And I am learning how taking refuge in the Sangha is a beautiful powerful thing. 

The best way to learn the noble eight-fold path is with good friends and companions (-: 

We learn and grow together. 

 To learn the path is to see it embodied in others and others to see it in you; we change and shape one another. 

The circle of practice ⭕


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Follow the money

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 3 Dec 2021, 21:37

This might make me a bit unpopular, but I have been trying to understand this big push for vaccination. Especially as politicians and the media keep supplying misinformation about them. They use the argument one should be vaccinated to protect others, but the elephant 🐘 in the room is these new COVID vaccines don't work that way. The only person they protect is the one who is vaccinated, not anyone else. If I get vaccinated, I can still catch COVID and spread it. Therefore vaccinating myself does not stop me passing it on to someone else and therefore does not protect the old and vulnerable. If politicians really cared about the old and vulnerable they wouldn't be leaving them to die alone in under-staffed care homes. 

I also fear mandatory vaccines could become more sinister in the future, and things could get more dystopian, what if they insist on vaccinating us against extremism for example, or add things to them to make us all more docile and obedient, (as a way of controlling us.) If vaccines are compulsory nobody would have the right to decline them. Which is why medical procedures like that should never be made mandatory, it grants too much power to the state and corporations to interfere with our bodies. Any medical procedure should always be with the informed consent of the person undergoing the procedure.

What I think is happening here is the pharmaceutical companies are making huge profits. Moderna for example just announced a $40 billion profit from its sale of COVID vaccines. And I imagine giving everyone regular boosters has got them very excited, it is a big Kerching! for them, which is why they are lobbying governments to keep giving us boosters and make them mandatory because then they will make guaranteed regular profits. They also have nothing to lose, because if anything does go wrong they are not held liable, so do not have to pay compensation to anyone, as the governments have indemnified them. 

I know for a fact pharmaceutical bosses have been meeting with governments. They recently met with the UK government and shortly after the government announced they would be buying more boosters for everyone next year. It is all about money, follow the money as someone once told me and you will learn the truth of what is going on. 

The cynic in me thinks that is what is happening here. I heard a pharmaceutical boss being interviewed on the radio and questioned about the huge amount of money they are making from these vaccines, they just shrugged and said so what? They tried to make it out to be a good thing, that it will encourage more business to make vaccines and new medicines. But I disagree I think it will end in disaster. Doing things out of greed is wrong view. No good can come of it, eventually something will go terribly wrong. Greed is not a good motivation or foundation to build anything on.

My view will always be that I will not be coerced into having an experimental medical procedure or any kind of experimental medicine, I won't be a human guinea pig for pharmaceutical companies, especially because if something does go wrong and it causes me long term damage and disability there's no compensation. I'm on my own, with a damaged body caused by an experimental vaccine/medicine that nobody can be held accountable for; all while pharmaceutical companies announce record profits. 

Greed is wrong view. And only bad things can happen when the world is dominated by wrong view.

I wish instead of putting so much resources into vaccinating the world against a relatively mild virus that looks like it is about to go endemic and become fairly harmless with the omicron variant. I wish instead they would muster all that energy and resources into sorting out the awful pollution and environmental destruction happening on the Earth, and turn this mass extinction event around. Did you know that one in four birds in the UK are now on the endangered species list with red status?

 I also wish they would sort out poverty and stand up to these big corporations and make them pay their fricking taxes to help support the countries they suck the wealth out of. It is time to go after the Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and demand they pay corporation tax, as their greed is destroying economies and making the world poorer. And Amazon needs to treat its warehouse staff better, the way that company treats its workers is inhumane - shame on them. 

This idea of the trickle down economy is horse shit.


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The eleven benefits of metta practise

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 1 Dec 2021, 21:01

This a short sutta from the Pali cannon on the eleven benefits of metta practise. And is another chant I like to do every day. I tend to do my chanting mostly when walking on the beach, next to the sea. But If there are people about, I'll just recite it silently in my head.

Metta is a Pali word that means: love, kindness, friendship, benevolence, goodwill.

The Buddha addressing the sangha:

" There are eleven benefits that come from the practise of metta. That arise from the emancipation of the heart. That if repeated, developed, made much of, made a habit of, made a basis of. Experienced, practised, well-started. These eleven benefits can be expected for one who practises metta:

One sleeps well.
One does not have nightmares.
One wakes up feeling well.
One becomes affectionate to human beings.
One becomes affectionate to non-human beings.
The deities protect one.
Neither fire, nor poison, nor weapons can harm one. 
One's mind is easily calmed.
One's countenance is serence.
One dies without confusion.
And beyond that should one fail to realise nibbana; one is reborn in the higher heavens. "

...

[n.b. the seventh benefit: 'Neither fire, nor poison, nor weapons can harm one." May be a metaphor for greed, hatred and delusion.]

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Phasing

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021, 22:01


Tired.
And caught up in the things of the world. 
Hands up, it was me.
I lost my equanimity.
But feel closer now,
closer to the other shore,
Knock knock knocking on heaven's door.
Everything is insubstantial, empty,
just like you and me.
always changing,
rearranging.
Phasing.


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Strange times

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021, 18:03

When a friend went to get her jab, she was given a medical consent form to sign, which had a box she had to tick saying she understood that the vaccine was an experimental medical procedure and if there are any adverse effects, neither the people administering the jab, nor anyone else will be held liable for any damage caused.  

So basically, if one does have an adverse reaction, which many people have (check out the data on the yellow card scheme), one is on their own, with no compensation and no-one who can be held accountable for any injury caused by the vaccine. 

So I think people are well within their rights to refuse these experimental COVID vaccines and shouldn't be made to feel bad for declining. All this mass pressure and coercion to get vaxxed is wrong. 

The new COVID variant: Omicron, which sounds like a transformer, (maybe it's a decepticon). The scientist credited with discovering it Dr. Angelique Coetzeep was speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer on Talk Radio about omicron, and said:

“Patients I’ve seen with it had mild symptoms and recovered. None were admitted and no oxygen was needed. The hype makes no sense to me at all.”

So why are the media and government hyping it up?

Is there something fishy going on? If I question it, I just get labelled a conspiracy theorist, ridiculed or made to feel bad for practising some critical thinking. 

Bad governments like to have a war on something, it is a classic way to distract the people, used throughout history.

 By choosing to be unvaccinated I am harming noone. And if I do get seriously ill from catching COVID I will accept it, I won't put any pressure on the NHS and won't go to the hospital for treatment. And if I die I won't feel any regret for declining the jab, I have done nothing wrong, it is my choice. I am not a bad person for doing this.

 I am no threat at all. 

The vaccine does not stop a person catching or transmitting the virus. These vaccines only protect the person who has been vaccinated not anybody else. The viral load for a vaccinated person is pretty much the same as the viral load for someone who is unvaccinated. Being vaccinated does not stop the spread of the virus or protect those who are vulnerable, (other people can still catch COVID off you, even if you're triple-vaxxed). There is absolutely no need to vaccinate everyone, especially young people who get COVID mild. In fact children are at greater risk of harm from the vaccine than from the virus. It makes no sense to me, it is very strange and illogical, and the media is full of double-speak and misinformation at the moment. 

I also heard on the radio that many people in care homes have died, something that isn't been talked about much. They didn't say what the cause of death was but hinted it could be due to lack of staff.

Maybe there's not much use to writing my thoughts on this. I have no power to change what is happening in the world, it is outside my control. And I certainly don't want to divide people with my words, just merely offer my thoughts for whatever they're worth. The only control I have really is the choices I make for myself. We will all have to wait and see how this plays out in the end - time will tell.

 All my Buddhist friends have been fully-vaccinated, and they don't agree with my stance but they also don't judge me. 

It can be lonely being someone who stands on the edge and doesn't follow the herd. But sometimes I think people like that are necessary.


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The noble eight-fold path

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I try to chant this at different times throughout the day, and it can sometimes be a powerful tool for overcoming difficult thoughts; as well as a helpful way to remember the Buddha's teachings. I chant it either in my head, or out loud depending on where I am. It can also be a good way to start a meditation practise and gather and settle the mind.

The noble eight-fold path

This is called the noble truth of the way leading to the end of suffering.  

Right view

The four noble truths.

1. Knowledge of suffering

2. Of its origin. 

3. It's cessation.

4. And the path that leads to the end of suffering (The noble eight-fold path).

Right intention

The intention of renunciation (letting go),
the intention of non-ill-will, 
the intention of harmlessness and non-cruelty.

Right speech

I will refrain from false speech.
I will refrain from malicious and divisive speech.
I will refrain from harsh speech.
I will refrain from pointless (frivolous) speech.

Right action

I will abstain from killing any being (including myself).
I will abstain from taking what is not given.
I will abstain from sexual misconduct.

Right livelihood

Having abandoned wrong livelihood, one continues to make one's living with right livelihood. A livelihood that does not cause harm to oneself or to others.

Right effort

One generates the desire for the prevention of unwholesome states of mind; by making effort, rousing energy, exerting one's mind, and persevering.
One generates the desire for the abandonment of unwholesome states of mind; by making effort, arousing energy, exerting one's mind, and persevering.
One generates the desire for the arising of wholesome states of mind; by making effort, rousing energy, exerting one's mind, and persevering.
One generates the desire for the continuance, non-disappearance, strengthening, increase, and full-development of wholesome states of mind; by making effort, arousing energy, exerting one's mind, and persevering.

Right Mindfulness

Having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world.
One abides contemplating the body as a body. Ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
One abides contemplating feelings as feelings. Ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
One abides contemplating mind as mind. Ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.
One abides contemplating dharma as dharma. Ardent, clearly-comprehending and mindful.

Right Samhadi (Concentration, meditation, stillness, absorption, a deep serenity)

Quite secluded from worldy desires. Secluded from unwholesome states of mind. One lets go of the story of self, and enters and abides in the first jhana. Which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought; and has the rapture and happiness born of seclusion from the world and letting go.

With the subsiding of applied and sustained thought. One enters and abides in the second jhana; which is accompanied by self-confidence and unification of mind. Is without applied and sustained thought, and has the rapture and happiness born of concentration (samhadi).

With the fading away of rapture. One abides in equanimity. And mindful, clearly-comprehending, still feeling pleasure with the body. One enters and abides in the third jhana. On account of which the noble ones announce: 'One has a pleasant abiding who has equanimity and is mindful.'

With the letting go of pain and pleasure; and the previous disappearance of sadness and joy. One enters and abides in the fourth jhana. Which has neither pleasure nor pain. And has mindfulness purified and born of equanimity.

...

I don't expect anyone to understand it all. It takes a while for it to click (at least it did for me), and is best done under the direction of an experienced Buddhist teacher (online or offline). But if Buddhism is something that interests you, some sanghas I recommend are: Appamada (Zen), Just This (Zen), and Birken Forest Monastery (Theravada), but there are more out there, so just do some research and find a good fit for you, many are available to connect with online now.

Peace and equanimity (-;


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The essence of Buddhism

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 29 Nov 2021, 11:00

Buddhism can be summed up as overcoming the three poisons of Greed, Hatred and Delusion. (These three can also be phrased as worldly-desire, aversion, and ignorance).

Delusion is composed of three things:

1. Lack of information

2. Misinformation

3. and Disinformation

This creates wrong ideas about ourselves and others, about the world and the nature of reality, which gives rise to greed and hatred.

If we allow greed and hatred to flow through us it will increase our delusions. And vice versa, our delusions will increase greed and hatred. Which is why greed, hatred and delusion is often portrayed as three animals chasing each other's tails (see the famous image below), who in their ignorance are perpetually creating the unsatisfactory and painful samsaric existence.

But if we can spot and become aware of greed and hatred as it manifests within us and prevent it from arising, or abandon it ASAP if it does, our fundamental perceptions and attitudes about the world and reality will change. And eventually once one no longer has a trace of greed, hatred or delusion in them that person is then a fully awakened/enlightened being who is no longer generating a samsaric experience; but instead has gone beyond samsara into a state of perpetual freedom known as nibanna, a liberated state of mind that cannot be reversed.

In a nutshell, nibbanna is what the mind becomes when it is no longer fuelled by greed, hatred and delusion. And practising the noble eight-fold path is the training one undertakes to accomplish this goal.

                                            The Wheel of Life.


The image is a famous depiction of samsara called BhavaChakra in Buddhism.
The monster at the top is Yama, the God of death and represents impermanence.
The Buddha on the outside shows that liberation is possible and points to the centre to show the root of the problem.
In the centre, greed is depicted as a rooster, hatred as a snake, and delusion as a pig - they perpetually chase one another's tails and generate karma (represented by the second circle), which in turn generates the six realms of samsara (the third circle).
The outer circle represents the twelve links of dependent origination.



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Broken wing

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 28 Nov 2021, 12:48


Is there a way to generate joy that doesn't depend on anything outside oneself? 

Without it I feel like a bird with a broken wing, who longs to fly but can't take off.
Held down by the gravity of a crap reality.
The pain of separation, of living in a world that doesn't give damn.
A dream within a dream within a dream. 

What is real anyway? 

Is it the world out there? Or the world within?



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I do not trust the media or politicians

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 27 Nov 2021, 13:54

There are reports of footballers and athletes collapsing from myocarditis on the field and going to hospital, all quite close together in a short period of time, one cannot help but wonder if it is something to do with these COVID vaccines?

I also disagree with the decision to vax kids with experimental COVID vaccines, as the chances of getting myocarditis from the vaccines are much greater in young people, and the virus hardly touches young people anyway, they get it very mild and sail through it. These COVID vaccines don't stop one from catching and transmitting COVID, so I don't understand why the government is planning to vax children as young as 5 years old. Something doesn't feel right and I again feel the need to speak out about it, as the mainstream media is full of misinformation and as it has done repeatedly in the past over other things (such as the Iraq invasion, the Hillsborough tragedy and the blatant lies about and character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn being just a few examples), it has a track record of misleading people into believing things that aren't true to support the government's agenda.

 I have a heart murmur, and as these vaccines do carry a risk of developng myocarditis I don't feel comfortable injecting experimental MRNA technology into my arm. Because if something does go wrong noone can help me, or (like what happened to someone locally who had an adverse reaction to the vaccine) the doctors and nurses will fob me off and tell me it is nothing to do with the vaccine. There is this vibe now in society that nobody is allowed to criticize the vaccines at all, and anyone who does so is ostracised and made to feel bad. Things are way too biased at the moment and I don't trust it at all when things get like that.

Besides, I think I may already have had COVID (twice), so does a doctor I saw when I described the symptoms, but I never got tested because it was early in the pandemic during the first lockdown and there were no tests available at the time, so I may already have natural immunity which research is showing is much better than a vaccine. See what is happening in India where it has become endemic and the virus has stopped spreading and mutating due to natural immunity.

There is also strong evidence showing asthma sprays are able to prevent one getting severe COVID as well as vitamin C, Zinc and vitamin D3. The treatments and medical knowledge about COVID is also much better now than at  the beginning of the pandemic. 

And by the way I am not anti-vax or a conspiracy theorist, I have had vaccines in the past, and I believe the tetanus jab saved my life. I just do not feel comfortable with being coerced into having a new experimental technology injected in me that nobody can possibly know what the long-term effects on my health might be.

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Extinction

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 26 Nov 2021, 11:42

The life in the ocean is dying. I've lived here since 2003, and when we first moved here, the local beach was full of life, teeming with it. There where hermit crabs, crabs of all different types and sizes, fish, sandeels, starfish, shrimps, coral, sea anenomes, shellfish and seabirds of all different kinds. Now when I walk along the beach, look in the rockpools and the water, there's hardly anything there. I am lucky if I see the occasional tiny crab, even the shellfish are disappearing at an alarming rate and there's no more hermit crabs or sandeels to be found anywhere. The seabirds are fewer, and many species have gone completely, even the herring gulls are growing fewer. What can be causing this worrying loss of life? I don't know. I am guessing it is a combination of the horrible destructive practise of dredging, salmon fish farms, pollution and over-fishing. It breaks my heart man.

How is one supposed to feel any joy in this world?

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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 26 Nov 2021, 09:26

This world is a horrible place. I really hope I don't come back here again in my next life.

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Who am I?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 25 Nov 2021, 21:43
I am not sure I have what it takes. Not sure I'm anything. Will keep fighting though. Mara is clever, far too clever for me. I have lost my way a bit. I wonder if I will ever be a Buddha. 

So confused, which is a sign that I am holding to a wrong view. I feel the Buddha's presence with me though despite all my failings. Not sure how that's possible when he has gone on to nibbana, and I don't know why he encourages me with his presence. I feel like giving up, it is so hard to train this mind. But then I look at the world and I can't go back to it I feel no joy in the things of the world anymore. It is all so shallow and consumerism is dissatisfying. My ego is changed and no longer finds pleasure in what it used to. The things of the world just bore me now. I care not for the world of man anymore.

I feel a bit stuck on the path and alone in my quest for enlightenment. But the Buddha is with me, I don't know why, I could think of many who are much more worthy of his presence than me, yet he believes in me for some reason. I hope I don't fail in this quest and let him down. I wanted to get enlightened for the sake of mother Earth and all beings. Because things are so dark at the moment here on Earth at this time 2021, and look like they are going to get darker. I wanted to be a light and help preserve the dharma and bring peace and freedom from suffering to all beings, or at least as many beings as I can before this body dies. Though my flame is not bright at the moment and nearly extinguished I will keep persevering on the eight-fold path. By myself if I have to.

 Is it wrong to feel so sad? I can't help but feel this sadness sometimes. This human world is so cold cruel and crazy. I am so useless, why is the Buddha with me? I am grateful for his support.

Is this a delusion? I don't know, today I felt so lost and alone. Sat here and I felt his energy support me, it felt real. I don't want to let him down.


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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 24 Nov 2021, 05:50

I feel the need to speak out against the misinformation being spread by politicians and much of the media. 

Both The Lancet Journal and The BMJ have published evidence showing that, “Adults who have been fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 can carry the same viral load of the delta variant as those who are unvaccinated.” 

Oxford University scientist Carl Heneghan said that, “the evidence is clear that the viral load of the vaccinated and unvaccinated is very similar, it doesn’t reduce transmission.” Heneghan was speaking to Talk Radio.

Gibraltar and Israel are two of the most vaccinated places on Earth – yet infections continue to increase in both places.

To quote the historian Neil Oliver:

'History shows bad governments often look for people to blame, often some of their own people. Uniting a large part of the population against a smaller part – giving frightened, angry people a focus for their frustrations, and also for their disgust – is as old as the hills.

If the 20th century has a lesson for us, a lesson that ought to be as permanent, as indelible as any scar, or tattoo, it is that encouraging citizens to regard a minority of their fellows as unclean, as vectors of disease, generally ends badly, badly for everyone.'

https://www.gbnews.uk/a/161746


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A person of no rank

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 21 Nov 2021, 09:14

 I am not sure what a true Buddhist is but I have always been a bit of a wildcard. I have studied with both the Zen tradition and the Theravada tradition. I will be a lay disciple of Ajahn Sona starting next year in January. And I am a part of several different Buddhist sanghas now. I have decided to be a person of no rank. I dislike authoritarianism, always have and so I won't permanently plant my flag anywhere. I tend to be one who likes to think outside the box. I get a bit of flack for it from some Buddhist teachers and friends, but I think it is a gift I have. I used to think it was a curse, because it's lonely being someone who dances on the edge away from the herd, but it may be that someone like me is necessary, and who knows with the way this world is going, perhaps it will be up to people like me to keep the dharma going in the future, but without being tied to any particular tradition, like an Open Buddhism. If I survive that is, I could die at any moment and I am totally okay with that, I am noone special and I don't feel attached to any aspirations or outcomes, just open to possibilities.

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To vax or not to vax

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 20 Nov 2021, 11:49
I will continue to stand my ground on refusing the vaccine, even if it means I get fined and imprisoned like the government have decided to do to the unvaccinated in Austria. I will not be forced into having an experimental medical procedure with no data on any possible long term side effects. I have a right to do so under the Geneva convention, which was set up after WWII to prevent a repeat of the appalling medical experiments done by Nazi scientists. 

 I also have a strong intuitive feeling not to have the covid vaccine, and I have had dreams warning me not to have the vaccine. I trust my intuition more than I trust the government and the propaganda machine of the mainstream media. I don't trust them, they're liars. They manipulate us with fear and have been caught out lying to us over and over in the past. Don't believe the hype. The reason hospitals are struggling is because the Tory government have been practising austerity for over a decade now, leaving the NHS seriously underfunded and at breaking point well before the pandemic started.

 If this vaccine is so great why do you need three doses? And why are fully vaxxed people filling up the hospitals? And the argument that the vaccine stops you infecting others is bullshit. If you are vaccinated you can still catch and infect others with the virus. So vaxxing kids is completely unnecessary, the vaccine is actually more harmful to children than the virus itself. There's something fishy going on with these vaccines I feel. I don't trust it.

I also disagree with testing on animals, all synthetic medicine is tested on animals, and that doesn't rest easy on my mind. Every  being values their life, and other animals don't want to be experimented on, but they don't get a choice, humans just bully, exploit and abuse them. They are living beings that suffer and feel pain, what right do we have to treat them the way we do? This idea that some lives are more valuable than others is the root of all that is wrong with this world.

Anyway, what I write here makes no difference to what is happening in the world. I am just a tiny insignificant part of the population and governments are getting heavier on the unvaccinated and I imagine I will be increasingly ostrasized by society for refusing to play ball. But I won't be co-erced, and when things get heavier, I plan to turn my back on the world and disappear into the wilderness. I feel alone anyway. 

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Solitude

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 20 Nov 2021, 14:30
It is when you are struggling you discover who your real friends are. Those who don't care for you abandon you in those moments. 

Friendship is impermanent and subject to change just like everything else. One should learn to be fearless without needing friends by their side. I think the Buddha once said (at the time of his death) that we should become an island on to ourselves, we should take refuge in ourselves and the dharma. We shouldn't be dependent on anyone else, we should be our own teacher, our own guru, our own best friend. We should question everything, even what he says.

 Don't get me wrong, it is nice to have friends, but life and the nature of change can be a real bitch sometimes and the reality is people aren't always there for you, and there are shitty days where you will feel separated, disconnected and alone. Connections don't last forever, nothing does, and it is everyone's fate (whether we like it or not) to one day become separated from those we love.

 The only thing you can really depend on in this universe is that everything is changing, and it is up to you to free yourself from suffering. Friends come and go, but you will always be with yourself. So try to make a friend of your mind, and perhaps that can help ease the pain of separation. Besides one only feels lonely when they think: 'I am lonely'. It is just a state of mind, part of the story we tell ourselves. There are beings all around us, so noone is truly alone. It is all bullshit in the end anyway, none of it is real. At least that's what I am telling myself, I feel lonely as fuck just now, but I don't care anymore. 


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I need magic

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 19 Nov 2021, 19:15

I am someone who has always liked the fantastical, the magical. In the stories of the Buddha and Jesus I love the miracles. Don't get me wrong and judge me for this, because the wisdom is appreciated for sure, and I understand it well enough cognitively, but sometimes it would be nice to get some simple practical steps to enlightenment, instead of just what we're aiming for. I e. It is all very well talking about nibbana, love, serenity and equanimity, but how does one develop these states of mind? I also feel without the fun of magic and miracles, without the devas and the myriad different realms of existence, the wisdom contained in the scriptures would feel a bit boring. I am someone who likes, (no, needs to alter my consciousness,) and go beyond this reality. I find the industrial scientific money-centric consumer world tedious, dry, empty and dissatisfying. It makes me feel dull, unhappy and alone. I long to expand my consciousness and explore other spiritual worlds, other realities, experience the psychedelic, open my mind to other possibilities, meet other beings in different dimensions, see things that go beyond this mundane grey financial existence of the 21st century, with it's bleak concrete, algorithms and neverending traffic. 

Aye magic, I feel very drawn to magic, not the spell casting kind, just the boundless feeling that this crap material existence isn't all there is to life or the mind and that one can transcend it.

Sphongle - Divine Moments of Truth (DMT):



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Light and darkness

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 The world just seems to get more and more strange.

One where I continually find myself questioning if anything is real?

It feels like we are heading more and more towards a tyrranny orchestrated by those passionate about Greed, Hatred, and Delusion. And when the world becomes dominated by wrong view, nothing good can come of it. 

There's a lot of suffering in this world just now, and a lot more to come I wager. Sometimes it gets right into my depths and I wonder how I can help. What can I do? Me a tiny droplet in the sea of humanity. 

I help those I can, in the ways I can (I am not good at everything); but I can't stop the collosal tidal wave of Dukkha (shit) coming for us from all directions.

 I just hope that love wins out in the end and not fear. Perhaps if we show compassion and warmth to those who are suffering. And not judgement or shame, but forgiveness, warmth and friendliness  not distorted by differences of opinion. If we look out for and help one another. Maybe that's our best defence against the coming darkness. 

I have found studying difficult lately, and having problems with my memory and fatigue, struggling a bit with the current module. Will try my best though, if I work hard enough hopefully I will get a pass, but it is challenging.

Did some painting. I think painting helps train my visual sense. I sometimes leave things deliberately untidy in my room and can see patterns in the scrumples and textures. When out walking I sometimes see an intricate weave in everything, and interesting shapes and patterns in the cracks of the pavement and walls. Lights reflected  in the water of puddles and rainsoaked tarmac. The colourful orange yellow patterns of the fallen leaves on the ground. And if I get really calm and centred there's a beautiful soft ethereal light emanating from everything, and I see  Buddha/deva shapes in the stones, trees and sky. And rippling portals to other worlds in the ocean waves.

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Perseverence and connection

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 15 Nov 2021, 17:45

I completely fail sometimes, like yesterday, I got triggered into an unhelpful emotional state. The key then I am learning is to try to become aware of what is happening and then work at abandoning the negative state of mind. This can be tricky, especially with feelings of guilt or regret, or the feeling of loneliness. One must remember they are not alone. Our connections are always with us wherever we are. Our ancestors are also with us. I am with you dear reader, and I certainly don't judge you. I will be your friend at the gate if you need one. You are not alone.

Drop any guilt or regret about the past, learn what wisdom you can from the experience and let it go. Try again, persevere. That's how you honour it. 

These struggles are like the guardians at the gate, they were put there to keep one out of the sacred space. The guardians are not bad energy and can become useful allies, but first one must enter the sacred space, and to do that one must tame and go beyond the five guardians at the gate:

Wanting, 

Aversion, 

Dullness, 

Agitation, 

Doubt

(AKA the five hindrances.)

One should remember that one does not have to face the guardians alone. We can do it with friends by our side. We are energetically connected, even over great physical distances, we are still with one another on some level, and can share energy - step through these dharma gates together.



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The Wood Wide Web

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 8 Nov 2021, 20:53

abstract painting

An abstract depiction of the mycorrhizal web that lies beneath ancient woodland, it lives in symbiosis with plants and is used as a communication network by trees; connecting tree-roots together to form a woodland wide internet. 

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Our ancient twisted karma

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 29 Oct 2021, 17:23



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