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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 21 Sep 2023, 08:35


Dhamma isn't that popular, the vast majority of people don't want to get enlightened, there are a few that do, but most don't. I have little passion for writing about much else though, the world just doesn't interest me anymore. The elephant in the room when it comes to worldly success is: Death.

One works hard for what? In the end all that one has achieved gets taken away. Sometimes quite suddenly, people can die unexpectedly both young and old. For me, death, is the most pressing concern. It renders everything else meaningless.

The world also changes quite rapidly and things one worked hard to learn years ago, are no longer relevant now, automation makes learning skills feel pointless. The ups and downs of the economy mean banks and countries can go bankrupt. Placing all your hopes in a career or finance is a risky bet, and in the end the house always wins, Mara (death) takes all. Even our memories get taken away from us, or change.

The only thing that I really like to write about is dhamma, and connection. But even friendships don't last, these too are impermanent, friends come and go. People change, relationships break. Placing all one's hopes in connection is also a risky bet.

The only thing that feels like it is worth making effort for is the dhamma. That's why I work so hard at practising it. For me it is the only thing that matters now. Life is uncertain. But if I can get enlightened then I will have found something secure, something that can't be taken away by Mara.

Death comes for all, and when it comes for me, I will take refuge in the dhamma.

 

...

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Asoka

Grief

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Death’s hard to bear.
It feels cruel.
Not fair.

Grief is lonely.

Dad was a good man.
Loved by many.

Lots of different people
attended his funeral.
His life affected them all.
It was beautiful.

The world feels a lesser place
Now he has gone.
Just isn’t the same.
Feels wrong.

He made things better.

Why did he have to die?

Dependent origination.
That’s why.

I’ve read that the wise do not grieve.
But still the tears fall.
Perhaps that means
I am not wise at all.











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Asoka

Grieving but not depressed

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Tough day.

I think I am still grieving.
Makes me behave in odd ways at times.
My moods go up and down like a yo-yo.

Every so often I remember, and realise he is not here anymore.

 I miss Dad, but I am not depressed. Don't get me wrong. I know my posts can be a bit raw at times. That's just the way I am, I have a bit of a chaotic personality. But I am fine. I know how to care for myself, and the dhamma is my refuge and strength. I have been practising Buddhism for a number of years now, since the start of the pandemic. The Buddha is also with me, and so are the sangha. I am perfectly alright, well-protected and safe. So please don't anyone worry about me, although I have appreciated the many messages of concern. It is nice to feel loved. 

I know it is all impermanent, and there's dependent origination, and that craving is the cause of suffering. And I understand the things we are most attached to are the things that cause us to suffer the most. Yet still I am human and the loss of one's parents is a seismic event.

The mind is complex. And I do not feel ashamed for grieving nor do I think that it is wrong to do so. I am not resisting the process, not suppressing anything, just letting it happen, out of kindness to myself. 

I realise I have known Dad my whole life, right since the beginning, I probably heard his voice whilst I was a foetus growing in the womb. Our parents have a huge impact on us; and so I think there are all these different parts of this mind rising up to grieve his loss and pay homage to him, each in their own way.

I have been told grief can last for years. I heard a monk say when he lost his Mum it took him five years to feel like he had got back to normal. 

 But this is the thing, I am not depressed, I am fine. I am just letting things arise and cease in their own time, letting it all be without clinging to it.

I find writing cathartic, and I know my Dad used to like to read my blog posts sometimes. And I know I could just be all private and keep myself to myself, but maybe what I write might help others out there going through something similar. I don't know. 

....


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Asoka

What heartbreak taught me

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 2 Oct 2023, 07:45


There was a time I yearned for romance. But that has passed now. I am not looking for that anymore. Falling in love is suffering, and I will never fall in love again. I did fall in love, but she didn’t want me. And when that happend, happiness left me like breath evaporating from a mirror.

Relationships are suffering. I don't need anyone’s emotional support; I don’t need a partner. I don't need anybody. I am okay by myself. And it is okay to be alone.

Besides, I am no one special, I am not particularly attractive, I am nearly 50, and financially unstable, I can barely make ends meet. It wouldn’t be fair on anyone else, but by myself it doesn’t matter if I am poor. I often contemplate becoming homeless because I struggle to live the household life, it is stressful trying to survive and live in these dark times. There’s a longing in me to escape it all, to leave the dusty household life behind and live simply, with few cares and burdens.

I have nothing to give anyway, nothing to offer in a relationship. I am not what women want in a man. And that's fine, I don’t care anymore. That’s why love can be cruel, because not everyone gets that happy-ever-after that Hollywood sells. And those that do often pay a great cost for it in the end.

 Perhaps it is a blessing to be alone. Without anyone to think about. I have the freedom to decide how I best want to use what little time I have left on this Earth.

It is one reason I write so much. Maybe these pieces of writing will help someone else out there. I feel if it helps just one person, it was worth it. 

I have not enjoyed my life; it has been mostly shit if I'm honest. Those brief drops of happiness are just not worth it in the end. The pain far outweighs the pleasure. The thought of coming back here and having to go through all this again, the thought of living another life is unbearable. It is that thought that keeps me making effort.

I am done with wanting things. I relinquish it all. All desire, all longing, all attachment. I release it all.

This world is a slaughterhouse, a cruel and brutal place for most of us. There’s much suffering here, so many beings suffering, and there’s a heartbreaking mass extinction event happening. That one just feels completely powerless to do anything about.

Mass extinction of life on this planet for what? A plastic deluded modern existence. The empty consumer dream of Ken and Barbie. Killing the forests, killing the oceans, and killing ourselves for what? Why? How did it come to this? What good has come from the insatiable greed of our modern times?

It is all so inane, tragic and vacuous. 

I plan to make this my last lifetime; I don’t want to return here. To incarnate here means another being will have to suffer so I can exist, that is the sorrow and horror of interdependence. It isn't beautiful, it is deeply disturbing. For one lifeform to exist it must feed on another. And no lifeform wants to be eaten. All beings value their lives. The cycle of life is not unicorns and rainbows. It is a horror show. 

 Even if you are one of the lucky few who succeed in this challenging modern world. If you do get to live that over-hyped American dream. It all one day gets taken away from you, torn away. All that effort, all that hard work to build the perfect material life is for nought in the end. It is a con. A scam.

What really matters in the end? What doesn't get taken away from you when you die?

When I sat next to my dad, holding his hand, while he fought for his life in that hospital room. I clearly saw anicca, anatta, and dukkha. The three characteristics of conditioned phenomenon. Translated as: impermanence, not-self, suffering.

I finally understood dependent origination. Life is fragile, the body is fragile. When those conditions that support it cease, so does life.

What is there to cling to?

What is real?

What is non-delusion?


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Asoka

Grief

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My father's death has hit me quite hard today. It has been a struggle. I am not sure how long grief takes. I still seem to be processing it and finding it hard to concentrate on much. It is hard to get anything done.

Perhaps it is because it will be his funeral next week. I feel this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, part of me doesn't want to go. But there will be family there, so that will be good, and I want to be there for them. Perhaps my Dad's consciousness will be there also in some form. He might be watching us all and listening to what we say. I want to be there for him too.

I keep remembering a story, I can't remember for the life of me where I heard this, or what sutta it is from. But there's a story where one of the Buddha's lay disciples was very sick with a horrible illness and he was struggling with pain and contemplating suicide. The Buddha went to see him and kept encouraging him to live. It was said that his presence brought comfort to the disciple and he felt at peace. But eventually the Buddha had to go and travel somewhere, as a Buddha has to keep their word when it comes to honouring invitations they have accepted.

When the Buddha left, the pain of the illness came back and the lay disciple committed suicide. When the Buddha heard about this he went back to the village to attend the funeral. And afterwards he stayed in the village with the relatives and offered them comfort and support while they grieved. 

It is a side of the Buddha one doesn't often hear about, but it moved me. 


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Asoka

Be a light

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 20 Jun 2023, 00:38


I know the world feels like a dark place at the moment. The doomsday clock ticking closer to midnight.

I am struggling to live in it. It is heartbreaking witnessing the intense suffering of this time. So many beings in pain just now. The greed, hate and conceit of the world is turning it into a Hell realm.

But remember, this life is brief. And it isn't all there is. It is a tiny moment compared to the length of an aeon. A bubble in a stream. 

Maybe there's no hope at this time, perhaps we are heading toward a dark dystopia, and maybe the world is about to end. Perhaps we will go extinct, who knows?

The best thing to do now, is not let these dark times take away your virtue.

 Practise kindness, generosity, and the way of peace, develop those tendencies of the mind. That is what will lead to a good rebirth, to a good destination in the next life, that's how to become a deva. It's what's in the heart that counts, that is the currency of the heavenly realms. 

Just because the world is getting more and more depraved and crazy doesn't mean we have to be that way. We can choose to practise the opposite. To love. To be different. To be a light in the darkness.

We all have both good and bad tendencies in the mind. And it's these tendencies that lead to our karma. It is better to die with a heart filled with loving-kindness and generosity than one full of hatred and stinginess. 

When we die it is the tendencies of the mind we have cultivated and developed in this life that decide where we end up in the next one. This is the only thing we take with us when we die. That is what will greet us on the otherside.

...


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Asoka

Mind web

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 18 Jun 2023, 21:40


Some cool air and rain at last. The breeze feels good.

It is pleasant converging the mind on the air around me and the feeling of it going through me. The whole body becoming filled with its cooling energy from head to toe.

The breath has become my favourite meditation object now. I practise breathing with any part of the body. Sometimes I will breathe through the feet, the hands, the spine, the lower belly, the back of the neck, the nostrils, the scalp. it doesn't matter. Whichever area of the body feels good at the time becomes my initial focal point and from there I then spread the breath energy throughout the body, going over each part in turn, till the entire body feels light and at ease. Then there is a feeling of relief, where joy and pleasure seems to naturally arise.

The focal point for the breath is a bit like a spider on a web. The spider is at the centre and sensitive to everything else happening on the web. The body and awareness of the present moment being like the web.

Every time I notice thoughts of longing, anger, or conceit. I immediately label and drop those thoughts and centre with the breath. I label the thoughts, because labelling them as either longing, anger, or conceit helps to put some space between me and them, and also trains the mind to spot them faster, which helps it get better at recognising and knowing when those states are present. 

It is getting easier to abandon unwholesome thoughts now, I can do it quite quickly. Which is amazing when I remember what I used to be like. I struggled so much with my thoughts. I got so absorbed in them and imprisoned by them, they used to cause me so much suffering. It is empowering to be able to just drop them now as soon as I notice them and not be so in the head anymore.

The challenge at the moment is keeping the wholesome states of mind going. It is like a game. I quickly swipe away the longing, aversion, and conceit. And re-converge with the breath. If I am feeling thoughtful and reflective I will incline the mind towards thoughts of love and equanimity, or contemplate the dharma. But if I don't want to think, (sometimes thinking feels tiring and unpleasant). I remain focused on the breath, and the feeling of embodiment, or on the natural elements (earth, water, fire, air, space).

It is a relief to switch thinking off sometimes and to just experience feelings as they arise and cease in the present moment without the internal dialogue about them.

I am trying to train myself to only think when I want to think. And to only use my thought processes when they are at their best. There's no point in thinking otherwise. As thinking when I am mentally fatigued, anxious or stressed is counter-productive and just makes things worse. Thinking isn't necessary to solve every problem. The heart doesn't need to think.

My main practice edge at the moment is maintaining applied and sustained attention to the meditation object for as long as I can. I make a relaxed light-hearted game out of it to keep the mind interested and engaged. Try to see if I can beat my own personal best before the mind wanders off again and starts daydreaming, then the game is how quickly can I notice the mind has wandered and bring it back to the meditation object. It can feel good to get a flow going, and it feels like it is really good for the mind to do this. I notice the difference on days when I don't meditate. Meditation really does help.

A meditation object is used to calm and centre the mind. Once one has got good at converging the mind round a meditation object and can keep it there indefinitely. The next stage is to let go of applied and sustained attention to the meditation object, and remain in the serene state of composure without needing the meditation object. From there one becomes stiller and goes deeper into samhadi. The meditation object is like a key that is needed to unlock and open the door to samhadi, but once inside one can put the key down.

Have been seeing my Dad's face a lot today in my mind's eye. Perhaps because it is Father's day. I keep sending him metta as often as I can, and sharing merit with him. I am fairly sure he is no longer in the ghost realm, which is good to know. I feel certain that he has moved on now. I also have a feeling he hasn't taken a human rebirth and may possibly be a deva now, but I am not sure. I think he might be a deva because it feels like he has gone to a good destination, but I still feel his presence from time to time, and when he visits it feels different than before. He doesn't feel like a ghost anymore, he feels like he is full of light, clear, his presence surrounded by good energy and there is peace.

In any case, my Dad was not someone who liked to procrastinate, he liked to be busy. He would not want to remain stuck in the greyhound station between lifetimes (the ghost realm). He would have been keen to move on to whatever comes next. I think once he saw where the exit was, and after perhaps a farewell to us all, he would have moved on. Bless him.

I miss my Dad. 

May he be safe, well, happy and peaceful. 






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Asoka

Calm and cool

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 16 Jun 2023, 00:23


I am catching up with the studying, only two weeks behind now. My plan is to get slightly ahead if I can, so that I can have some time off for Dad's funeral at the end of the month.


Grief takes a while, I am finding. It can feel lonely as well. Social situations can feel awkward at times. The world around continues, but I feel the need for time and space alone. I guess to process it all, reflect on it, meditate, find some peace in it all.

Sometimes the tears fall, then stop. Arise, flow, and cease. I wipe my eyes and get on with the day. Rinse and repeat. Sunglasses are helpful when out in public.

Is it heart-break or heart-opening? I don't know. I guess it's both. Perhaps heartbreak opens up the heart. It reminds us of what really matters in the end.

 I feel okay though. Not depressed. Just flowing with it. Accepting it. Seeing the dharma in it. Trying to hold it all with kindness, friendliness. Gently, with love, compassion and equanimity.

If I notice myself getting absorbed in thoughts about greed, anger, or conceit I immediately drop them, and re-centre with love and equanimity. It feels good to be with the feeling of embodiment. The breath. The elements. Converge the mind around that. Experience life as it is without words. Sometimes it is nice not to think. To just feel.

 I think he's alright, he let me know. I felt something shift in his transition whilst out walking in the woods, a strong knowing came to me that he had found peace, it felt like truth, and I felt reassured.

It feels like he's transitioned now. He feels both really near and really far.

...


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Asoka

Pea Souper

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 12 Jun 2023, 22:02


I am a tired one today.
High humidity and
brain foggier than pea soup.
Energy is a distant memory.
Body aches and grumbles.
The mind struggles to converge.
Would rather lay in the netherworld of sleep.
Can't face the world, let me be.
But there are things to do,
And effort must be made.
Albeit reluctantly...

Three weeks behind in my studies and it is hard to get back into them. Keep staring out of the window. Remembering things from my childhood. My father's face. 

It feels like he has had a peaceful transition at last. When I was in the woods the other day I felt this incredible peace like something had changed, and it felt like he was saying he is alright.

Later that day, an old message he sent me popped up unexpectedly when I logged into a social media account. The message from my Dad contained just one word: 'Thankyou'. 

It felt like a message from the other side. There was a warmth in my heart, and the tears fell. 

Bless him.

My shoulder hurts. I have been carrying about 5 litres of water each day into the woods to help some tadpoles struggling in the drought, but alas they are all dead now. The water evaporated faster than I could keep up with.

Part of me feels relief that I no longer have to carry the water. Another part feels guilty for feeling that way. And another part encourages me by saying at least my heart was in the right place.

How complex the mind is, all these different selves, where do they come from?

It is like a committee sometimes, these different minds within minds. Like fractals. 

How to gather them together and unify the monkey mind.

Meditation... 
Bhāvanā

.. keep putting one foot in front of the other.
That's how we walk the path to freedom.





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Asoka

I take up the way of cultivating a clear mind

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 10 Jun 2023, 20:27


I find myself in tears every so often. I just let them fall without trying to resist them.

It is hard to think I will never see Dad again. I talk to him on my walks in the quiet of the woods. Some part of him lives on inside me.

It is a kindness to myself to give the grief space. To hold it all without judging it, or adding any more to it, or taking any of it personally. Just flowing with it, letting it be.

 Life as it is, the only teacher.

I am learning it is okay to not know what to say at times. Sometimes being a silent presence is enough. 

I centre with the breath, and let everything happening around me be as it is. I breathe through it, flood my whole field of awareness with the breath, so it feels like the whole cosmos is breathing with me. 

When the mind is more serene I fill my awareness with love, with compassion, with peace, or equanimity. 

When not in sitting meditation. I take refuge in what is known as sati sampajanna, mindfulness of the present moment. Knowing where I am, what I'm doing. Whatever activity I am engaged in, I try to stay centred with it and with the feeling of embodiment. 

 When I notice I am getting absorbed in thoughts to do with greed, aversion, or conceit. I label them as such and then brush them aside like useless rubbish. Nonsense. Not worth investing in, or wasting psychic energy on. I let them be in the background, but I stop engaging with them, and keep centering the mind with some aspect of mindfulness instead, that feels calming.

It isn't easy. Sometimes I can dismiss thoughts quickly. Other times I have to talk myself into a better state of mind. And sometimes I have to do it gently in stages. 

Mindfulness, effort, samhadi they work together. Both in sitting meditation and in daily life.

It is difficult. But worth it in the end I am assured. Although not liberated yet, I am noticing benefits to dhamma practise, which keep growing steadily. Benefits in terms of increased peace of mind. So I am slowly but surely developing, and seem to be going in the right direction.

 The problem can be narrowed down to just greed, anger, and conceit. These are what harrass the mind. And when those three psychic irritants are absent, there is a feeling of great relief. The mind stops harrassing itself and there is peace.

 It just takes time to get there, perseverance, patience, sometimes endurance. But one day our future selves will be glad we took the time to train the mind - when it all bears fruit.

 What we practise now grows stronger and is who we become.

It is exhausting being someone, being a person. Maintaining an identity. It is a heavy suitcase we carry around. Our moods change, as does the world. And one's ego inevitably falls apart. A fragile house of cards swept up by the worldly winds.

A lot of psychic energy is bound up in the story 'I am'. 

When that psychic energy is released. It becomes unbound, limitless. Free. 

Deathless.

An energy no longer subject to conditions. Something difficult to define and put into words. To define it is to attach conditions to it. 

Anyway that's all I've got just now, and what I am currently working with in my practise.

Here's a poem attributed to the Buddha I have going through my head at the moment:

' Let not a person revive the past   
Or on the future build one's hopes, 
For the past has been left behind 
And the future has not been reached.
Instead with insight let one see 
Each presently arisen state; 
Let one know that and be sure of it, Invincibly, unshakably. 
Today the effort must be made; Tomorrow Death may come, who knows? 
No bargain with Mortality 
Can keep him and his hoards away. 
But one who dwells thus ardently, Relentlessly, by day, by night 
It is those, the Peaceful Sage has said, Who have had one excellent night. '

- the Buddha.

...


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Asoka

Happy birthday

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Photo of sunlight coming through trees in ancient woodland.

Grief is lonely. 
World continues 
Time 
streams on
Waits for none.
But I can't face anything just now.
I sit alone.
Still
Quiet.
In deep transitions.

Your life taken so suddenly.
It affected many.
Abides within us still.

Such a beautiful moon tonight.

Take care 
Wherever you are 
May you be at ease
On a golden shore
Expansive 
Sorrowless
Your mind at peace
Luminous
and

Free.

...


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Asoka

Karma coma

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Woke up feeling a bit feverish. Meditating in the woods is not without its dangers it seems, I've had a few tick bites, so hope it isn't that what's made me ill. 

Just wasn't feeling like meditating today, mind was hard to still, so I didn't sit this morning, but I got some studying done. I've almost jumped through all the hoops for an assignment due next week. 

Read how BT are planning to axe 55 000 jobs here in the UK over the next ten years in order to replace the staff with A.I. And Vodafone have announced they're going to axe a tenth of their staff and replace them with A.I. over the next three years.

This technology in all honesty, I don't think we need it. It is just another way for a few people to become more wealthy. Or is it? You have to wonder about the intelligence of these corporate CEOs. If they're all for profit, they aint gonna make much if we're all too poor to afford their products and services.

 I imagine it will mostly be customer support they lay off. And customers will phone in to get help with problems they are having, and the A.I. will only help in the way it has been programmed to, which I imagine will be blanket responses that aren't very helpful at all, designed to lead customers into dead ends, unable to resolve their queries. It will leave many people feeling powerless. I wonder if all this rush towards A.I. will blowback up the government and corporation's arses one day.

People may get angry, there could be unrest, riots. Society will come for those in charge, and it will all get ugly in the end. Ultimately you have to feel sorry for them. Their greed and stinginess will come back to bite them on the backside, either in this life or in a future one. There's no escape from the law of karma. The universe will have its pound of flesh to balance the scales. A wise corporate CEO should take heed of this and renounce their greed and delusion. Practise generosity, kindness, and selflessness instead as that will lead to better outcomes for them. Karma is no joke, it is very real.

I am reading a free book at the moment, which helps take my mind off being sick. It is the biography of a famous meditation master from Thailand in the Forest sangha, called Ajahn Mun. It is reassuring to hear the honest accounts of the times he struggled, and accounts of how other meditation masters also had their moments of doubt and weakness. They all made mistakes, and failed at times, did things they regretted. But instead of letting that defeat them, they got back up on their feet and kept going, learnt from their mistakes. Using them as fuel to practise harder, grow wiser and stronger. It reminds me that meditation is something that one practises for the whole of one's life, right up to death, even the Buddha in his last moments meditated.

It is inspiring hearing how these meditation masters lived in the forests of Thailand. They were hardcore meditators. Sadly, Thailand is very different now, the forest is much less than it was, being cut down as the country modernises, it seems no part of the world is safe from the greed of this right-wing capitalism that is causing so much harm to the life on this planet. I am not sure there will be much future for forest monks with the way things are going in the world, there might be city monks still. But I think the future of Buddhism may well be down to householders (lay followers) at this time, to keep the dharma alive for future generations. Perhaps one day when this relentless crazy destruction of the environment stops, and governments, corporations and shareholders start to see sense, perhaps the forest will grow back then, and one day the monks will return.

I experienced a fair bit of pain in the body today. It is unpleasant. But I keep remembering it is nothing personal. Most, (if not all) beings on this planet get sick. I have not gone beyond that. I remind myself of this periodically, and it can help me feel mentally okay with it. Makes me feel more determined to practise, remembering how cruel sickness, ageing, death, and separation is (SODS law). This is what keeps me motivated to practise, the suffering, because it really hammers home how much I really don't want to come back to this world, and have to go through all this again. This is were the law of karma gives me hope. One can use the power of karma to put in the right causes and conditions now, so that one day their actions will bear fruit and eventually bring about the permanent end of suffering.

l am worrying about a cat called Rango at the moment who has a bad eye. It has got really swollen and infected and he is not looking well. I worry it is going septic and needs medicine. But he is a large stray cat and wild, I don't think I will be able to catch him and take him to the vet. He sometimes hangs out in the woods where I meditate and often comes to our garden where I give him some food. A beautiful large ginger cat, with a peaceful temperament. Not sure what to do. It is hard watching him decline and feeling powerless to help him. I am worried the infection will kill him if it isn't treated. I have grown quite fond of him. Another reminder of how cruel and brutal nature can be. This world really is a slaughter house. The challenge for a meditator is how to feel well amidst all the sorrow and suffering of this world. It can feel like a koan. It is hard to feel empathy without also feeling the other's pain and suffering.

 Been working with a low mood today. Very unpleasant at the moment. It seems the kleshas  (The various negative mental states that cloud the mind and lead to unwholesome thoughts, words, and actions. They can all be narrowed down to the three roots of greed, hate, and delusion.) The kleshas tend to come out in force when one is sick or tired. It might sound crazy, but something I picked up both in my own practise and from reading about Ajahn Mun is that the kleshas do fight back, they don't want you to purify the mind, they don't want to be uprooted, they want to keep you trapped in Samsara, and they will even go to the extreme of killing you if they can get away with it, to stop you purifying the mind. It is a serious business this purifying the mind and taking on the kleshas, one should be aware of this. But one can protect oneself by practising mindfulness, right effort, samhadi and also the brahma viharas (loving kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, equanimity), and not taking anything personally, it is all bound up in the conceit 'I am.'

I keep sweeping the negative thoughts aside like useless rubbish, dismissing them, refusing to get into a discussion with them. If I notice I am absorbed in negative thinking, I give myself permission to not have to engage with them or debate with them anymore, no matter how dark, or how much I feel I need to tie up any loose ends to tidy them up. No matter how ashamed I feel for thinking those thoughts. I drop them, ignore them, centre my attention away from them. There's nothing to be solved by continuing to pay attention to them or have a dialogue with them. It doesn't lead to any resolution. One does not think at their best when the mood is low, the thoughts will be coloured by whatever mood one is in. So when depressed, it is best not to think then. I try to watch the sensations and feelings in the body as they are, with acceptance and equanimity, as they manifest in the present moment. The aches, the creaky pains in the joints, the feeling of weakness and dullness. I let it be there, accept it without following it, fighting it or wishing for it to go away. Just noticing it all without the story, without the mental proliferations about it. Without feeling attached to the body and the sense of 'I', seeing it as all empty of self. This can help.

Just letting things be as they are. It is all just sensations at the end of the day. Outside my control. I can't tell the sensations to stop, it doesn't work. They're nothing personal. They arise, persist for a bit, then cease. I can choose not to judge them though, not to follow them, or identify with them. 

 I can get into a bit of a flow doing that, just watching sensations as they arise and cease without adding any more to them, without liking or disliking them. Ignoring the thought processes. Just watching the contents of the mind flow by like a river, but not jumping into it and getting involved with it, not holding on to any of it, not clinging to it or taking it personally, without the story. And this can help decrease the suffering somewhat.

I also practise kindness towards the body. I don't despise or mistreat it, that is wrong. It is the home of many different beings and consciousnesses, this organic walking bag of interdependence. It should still be taken care of and loved, but without clinging to it or identifying with it. It is not me, it is just a vehicle for consciousness, a vehicle that has the potential to set one free, so one should look after it as best they can, make good use of this opportunity I have now, as nibanna is reached through the body. It is the vehicle of a bodhissatva (seeker of enlightenment). We borrow the body for a time from mother nature, but one day we have to return it. It isn't ours to keep.

Death is quite normal, nothing to fear really, except the fear itself. All one needs to remember is, when one is dieing, one wants to be in a good state of mind. Peace, love, kindness, compassion, gladness, joy, serenity, mindfulness, meditation, samhadi, and equanimity, these are all good states of mind to be in when dieing. There are other beautiful emotional states too. The rule of thumb is, if you have a good state of mind in your final moments, you have a good chance of either realising nibanna at death (if you are a Buddhist) or at least getting a more fortunate rebirth in the next life.

Easier said than done though. That's why one practises now, begins training the mind while one can. If one puts it off for too long, and waits till one is old and infirm, one will struggle then, it will feel impossible to steady the mind. The body gets tired as it gets older, wears out, and one's energy to practise will diminish somewhat. If one hasn't trained the mind, a lifetime of unhelpful conditioning will thwart one, and the negative thoughts will be hard to resist in one's final moments. All the meditation we do now, is like a rehearsal, and death is the moment when we have to perform for real. But it will be difficult to perform well if one has not practised and rehearsed beforehand. The monkey mind will be all over the place and the Kleshas will make sure you remain in the realms of Mara. That is why it is a good idea to practise the spiritual life now, because it gets harder to do it when you're older.

We are apparently living in an auspicious aeon just now, one where there will be five Buddhas. This is rare according to the ancient texts. As there can be aeons where there are no Buddhas at all or there may be just one or two. To have an aeon with five Buddhas is quite unusual. Gotama Buddha (our current Buddha) was the fourth. And we are lucky to be around at a time when his teachings are still available. Because they will disappear in time and the true dharma will become lost eventually. The world of humans is prophesised to decline considerably in the period of time between Gotama and the next Buddha and then rise again to happier times. The next Buddha is said to arrive at the tail-end of that golden era, just as things are beginning to decline in the world once again, and it is said the next Buddha will live to reach the ripe old age of 84, 000 years old. Anyway, it is safe to bet it will be a very long wait till the next Buddha arises in the world. Could possibly be millions of years in the future.

So the way I look at it is, use this rare opportunity now to get as far along as you can in the dharma, while the current Buddha's teachings are still available and accessible in the world. All you need these days is an Internet connection and some critical thinking to help you navigate through the thicket of views online. I recommend learning the early Buddhist teachings first, the suttas of the Pali canon is a good start, a good foundation. Then after that explore the later developments in Buddhism if you wish to; but use the early teachings as a reference and guide, a touchstone to check you are not being led astray by the myriad views out there. It really is a jungle of views out there, and the early Buddhist teachings are in danger of becoming lost to future generations if we are not careful. They are gradually becoming more and more watered down and changed to suit a worldly material agenda. I keep coming across memes with a picture of the Buddha on, attributing a quote to the Buddha which he didn't say at all. So one has to be careful of misinformation and disinformation, even in Buddhism. 
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Asoka

Transient

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This world doesn't last
Youth and beauty
Fade so fast
Like fireworks
that go off in the night.
Beautiful for a moment
But soon out of sight.
Forgotten
Even our memories change
Disappear.
In the long descend.

Is it all worth it, in the end?

...

 


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Asoka

What knowledge matters in the end?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 26 Mar 2023, 17:59


Back to studying today. Currently learning about cryptography and how it is used in cyber security. Very tiring to learn actually. Involves a lot of reading, making notes, and trying to understand at times difficult concepts. Feels like wading through treacle.

I have fallen behind by about a week now. And the amount of studying that still needs to be done feels daunting. I talked myself into soldiering on with it though, despite the great reluctance I felt to continue.

Cyber security will be a useful skill to know. So much of our world is run by computers now. And it could be of service to others, to good people, such as Buddhists and other noble organisations that have websites. They are just as vulnerable to cyber attack as anywhere else online. So learning this is not a waste of my time.

I just keep thinking, when death comes cyber security will be the last thing on my mind, it won't mean anything then. My career is not what I will turn to when the body begins to shutdown, when consciousness has to leave this body. It will be all the time I spent learning dhamma that matters then.

It is one of the sufferings of the world I guess, this need to have a livelihood and make an income.

'It's a bitter-sweet symphony this life.
Try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money - then you die.'

The worldly winds..... blowing one this way and that.... that way and this.... pain and pleasure, gain and loss, success and failure, praise and blame... these winds blow one across the treacherous seas of Samsara.



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Right Livelihood

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 1 Oct 2022, 14:00


Having abandoned wrong livelihood, one continues to make one’s living with right livelihood.’

This is the fifth factor of the noble eightfold path. It is about how we make an income or get food and shelter in this world. Our career.

In the context of the noble eightfold path we aspire towards a livelihood that causes as little harm as possible to ourselves and other beings.

Becoming a Buddhist monk or nun is one way to practise right livelihood. Remembering that the Buddha left the household life, turned his back on being a wealthy prince, shaved his head and beard and went forth into homelessness, begging, wearing rags for robes. He was dependent on the generosity of others to get his food. This way of living goes against the grain of the world, but the spiritual life is unworldly. And showing generosity to one who is on the spiritual path or at any stage of enlightenment creates good kamma (beneficial consequences) for the giver. Which will return to bless them both in this present life and future ones.

But there is nothing wrong with being a lay follower either, the monk’s life is not for everyone, and one can still reach advanced stages of enlightenment as a householder.

When it comes to work and how we conduct our business in the world. We must try to cause as little harm as possible to other beings, and to ourselves. So careers that deal in weapons, poisons, violence, deceit, stealing, polluting, killing, misinformation, exploiting other beings and harming them, are bad career choices.

Always remember as well that you are a being and you matter too, just as much as any other being does. So one should be kind to oneself, and take care not to strain the mind by working long hours. One should not be taken advantage of by an employer, one does not have to be treated like a factory farmed human. One is not a slave to money, to the economy, to a nation, or to any being.

Our time is valuable and we should spend it wisely. We should be calm, dignified, and composed in our dealings with the world whether we are rich or poor, and not allow ourselves to be mistreated by anyone; and in turn we should not mistreat other beings.

In our world of work we should show kindness and friendship to others, but that does not make us a door mat, we assert our boundaries, in a non-hostile way, coming from a place of peace and friendliness. One does not cut short on morals or the spiritual life to please a boss or work colleagues.

We should make time for the other aspects of our life, especially when it comes to the practise of meditation and the development of the spiritual path. There will at times be the need for solitude, to seclude oneself from the world and the energies of others, to retreat and focus on one’s own emotional and spiritual development, which should be prioritised above all else. Above our career. A career is transient and will one day end, but our spiritual development remains and carries over into old age and our next existence.

Right livelihood can also be thought of as right lifestyle. As some people may be retired and out of work for different reasons. In this instance, one should make good use of the time one has and focus on one’s inner development and spiritual progress. Aspiring to live a peaceful lifestyle that causes as little harm as possible to oneself and other beings.

To accomplish this it helps to reflect on the reality of death frequently, to practise the remembrance of it as often as possible. Because death helps energise and motivate us to practise the noble eightfold path and the spiritual life. It reminds us of what is important. Death is universal and comes for all beings, even enlightened ones, and it can come at any moment. We don’t know when it will pay us a visit. Beings in this world die both young and old, across all species of life, and it is normal. The body is fated to one day become a decomposing corpse, (or ashes if cremated,) and the Earth will reclaim it. The body does not belong to us, it is on loan, and will be returned to the elements one day. We borrow these bodies for a brief time, so we should use them wisely.

It is good to remember this, not out of morbidity or in a depressed way. Not out of fear. But in a calm lucid serene way. Making peace with the fact.

Losing attachment to the body now is like making a wise chess move in anticipation of the future. Because whether any of us likes it or not the body does change, it ages, gets sick, loses strength and abilities, gets weak, and eventually dies. Even if you are the most beautiful and talented being in the world, that beauty will not last, that talent will fade, abilities become disabilities. You have no control over any of it. The body came into being and grows and ages all by itself, and so do other people’s bodies.

By losing attachment to the body now, you save yourself a whole bunch of suffering in the future when the inevitable happens. It also saves you a whole bunch of suffering now, because much of our world is caught up in the body. What it looks like, how strong and healthy it is, how smart it is. It causes us so much anxiety, lust, misery, delusion and mental illness. To no longer be caught up in all that is a relief to the mind.

It doesn’t mean one doesn’t take care of the body though. One looks after the body, feels compassion for it and sees to its needs as well as one can. One tries to keep it alive as long as possible, it is our vehicle to enlightenment after all. It is through the body we can realise the end of suffering, stress, and craving, and liberate the mind permanently from the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion. But one does so without clinging to the body, knowing it is transient and fated to die.

Death will separate us from all that we hold dear. All that is beloved and pleasing to us will become otherwise. We cannot take our body, any of our friends, family, or material possessions with us when we die. It is a journey to a far place we must take alone. The only thing we take with us are our acts of generosity, kindness, and clarity. These are the friends that greet us on the other side and help us both in this life and in the next one to come; in whatever world that may be, there are so many different worlds.

Mindfulness of death (Maraṇasati) helps us remember what is important in life, that the clock is ticking and to use our time wisely.



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Asoka

Ghost tree

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 3 Aug 2022, 14:36

scan of painting, links to a place where one can download high quality scan for free (-:

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Knowledge from one generation to the next

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 4 Oct 2021, 21:04

I have decided I really want to make a go of the Buddhist path and learn as much as I can. Now my son is 16 I have more time to devote to spiritual practise, obviously inbetween studying at the OU, right livelihood is part of the path, so studying this degree is also part of my spiritual practise. 

 I feel the Buddha's teachings are important, especially now in these turbulent  times, and they should be available for everyone. Even though not everyone will be interested, they should be available for those that are. There are some really knowledgable experienced teachers out there, some of who started practising before I was even born. They are currently sharing what they know freely online, running free programmes, events, Q&As and practise discussions. I had the sobering thought that one day in the future these teachers will no longer be with us, so I should make the most of them and learn as much as I can from them. Then the scary thought came to me that twenty years from now it could be up to people like me to carry the torch of dharma forward. When that happens I hope I'm up to the task. I do wish to freely share what I know - I don't want the dharma to be lost. I have found the practise of buddhism has helped me a lot and I am keen to preserve it for future generations.

 Still, that's a long way off in the future, hopefully if I keep practising now, and I don't die any time soon, the Richie in the future will have enough experience, knowledge and wisdom to keep that flame burning, and hopefully be able to pass that knowledge on to the next generation and so on. If it wasn't for all the people in the past who shared what they knew and passed on the teachings of the Buddha, buddhism would have died long ago. The fact it is still so well-preserved 2500 years later is testament to how powerful these teachings are.  


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Humble and not conceited

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 25 Dec 2021, 14:48

Nobody gets to decide about what kind of human being they will be in this life. It is not like you go to a store before you are born and decide on the kind of body and personality you'll have on Earth. You don't get to choose. Nobody gets a choice with any of it. You are just born into this world, a blind needy crying bundle of flesh. And you have no control over any of it, what kind of body you get, what natural talents you get. Your body just grows all by itself, completely outside your control. It gets hungry, gets tired, needs to go to the toilet, needs to be exercised, and gets sick sometimes.  And as you get older things get more complicated and you are expected to learn different skills and adapt and survive in what can often feel like an uncertain world. And through it all, the body continues to grow and age, ageing till it aches and gets stiffer, and harder to move and starts falling apart, and developing problems that are outside your control. Like me, my hair is falling out, my bald head a potent reminder of impermanence when I look in the mirror. Eventually the body dies. And all that remains is a rotting corpse. What was that all about? What is life all about?

 We don't get a choice about who we are and what abilities we are born with. Nobody on the planet can be good at everything. So there is nothing to be proud of really. Whatever talents you have were given to you by nature, and one day will be taken away by nature. You might be smart, you might be attractive, you might be good at maths, might be good at playing the system and gathering wealth and assets, maybe you are good at sport, maybe you are strong, charming, good at communication, or an artist. But so what? None of it is really who you are, you don't own your talents, and when you die they will all disappear.  So don't get conceited and proud about who you think you are. Be humble.

One thing we do take with us to the next life is our karma. So whatever talents you have, use them wisely, try to be kind and peaceful. Benevolence makes us and other beings happier and puts you in a better state of mind. Don't feel you have to punish or hate anyone, you have no control over what others do, or how they behave. People who do evil will be punished by their own actions, either in this lifetime or a future one. Noone escapes their karma, not even an enlightened being.

 So use whatever you have got, do whatever you can, try to cause as little harm to yourself and other beings as possible; without judging yourself or others in the process. Keep striving, keep moving forward, picking yourself up from failure over and over if necessary. Persevere and keep trying your best to create good karma for yourself, and use this mind as an opportunity to liberate yourself from samsara and find a freedom that doesn't cease. Then you will never have to come back here and go through all this again.

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