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White feathers

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 21 Sept 2023, 20:45


I am enjoying writing and reading on Medium, and I have joined a publication on there called: 'Mystic Minds' that publishes articles on spirituality, and a story I wrote was published there today. I feel quite chuffed about it (-: My first article in a publication. 

I know it will be a long journey, and I am only just starting really, but I feel like writing is what I am meant to be doing. I find writing cathartic.

I keep seeing pristine white feathers on the path in front of me everywhere I walk. People kept telling me to look out for signs after my Dad died. I didn't have clue what they were talking about. But I wonder if these white feathers are my Dad telling me I am going in the right direction with my writing, I don't know. 

I feel my Dad's presence sometimes, it feels like he is with me. I miss him so much. I had another bout of tears earlier, and just now actually writing this wee article; but it is reassuring to know he is okay. I feel his support in the spirit world. And whenever I do something kind or generous I try to remember to dedicate it in his memory, and say a little prayer for him.

I feel blessed at the moment. 


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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.











Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 31 Aug 2023, 22:06)
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Asoka

Water

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 23 Aug 2023, 21:14

A photo of a barrel jellyfish


Rain drops fall like a tranquil melody. 
As I walk to take a break 
from a mountain of studying.
So much revision to do
for an upcoming exam.
And my heart is just not in it.

The green of plant life
is luminous in the rain.
Green shades of every kind.

I stop to watch a
huge jellyfish in the water
Pulsating rhythmically
as it swims back and forth.
A barrel jellyfish I think.
Beautiful being. 
Blind as a bat though
As it bumps into the sea wall.

I get back home.
Shake off my umbrella
Sit at the computer.
Log in.

Then the tears start...

It comes in waves.

...

A photo of a barrel jellyfish




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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

Psychic weather front

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Sometimes I feel alive, enthusiastic, full of excitement and wonder. Other times I am like a flat battery that can't seem to hold its charge or see much hope in anything. Other times there's an odd mix of brain chemistry that is so horrible I can't put it into words. 

It is helpful for me to remember the brain is the body. It is dependent on conditions largely outside my control, meaning it will change. It won't always function in the way I wish it would, and eventually it will cease when the conditions it depends on cease.

That is the way of things with dependent origination. Conditioned phenomena is impermanent. It isn't gloomy to think this way. It can be a helpful tool to bring some equanimity to the mind. It helps me let go of the clinging and aversion towards things, and to stop taking it personally. Which decreases the suffering somewhat.

Sometimes difficult things happen that are outside our control. And sometimes it’s our own fault, we behave in unskilful ways and reap the kamma for it. Whatever it is, we then go and add more suffering to the situation with the longing, aversion, and taking it personally. This is the mental pain we add to physical and worldly difficulties. This is what makes us suffer.

I remember one night I got stranded on the mainland after missing the last boat back to the island. I had just completed a lengthy 10-hour journey coming back from my dad’s funeral. And I arrived at the ferry terminal late due to a delay with the coach. I felt exhausted and a bit unwell. There was nowhere to stay, and a long wait till the next ferry in the morning. So I went to sit on the beach, tried to roll a joint to make myself feel better. And I'd almost finished rolling it, when there was a huge gust of wind that blew it all away, and then it started raining. I felt like the person off the Hamlet advert, but without the cigar.

Then the day of the funeral all came back to me, and I burst into tears. It all just gushed out. I felt so lonely.

Then I saw my dad’s face in the sea. And I said I was sorry for not getting chance to speak to him before he died. I wished him well and told him he was loved.

Then the wind and rain became unbearable, so I went to find some shelter. I spent the rest of the night alternating between walking, standing, and sitting meditation.

I went through so many mood swings in that one night. Like the mind was changing, morphing into all sorts of different shapes and patterns. I was even seeing things that weren't there. It was challenging.

Through it all I tried to remain still and not get disturbed by the changing psychic weather. I just kept bringing my attention back to the breath and body to calm and centre the mind. Not engaging with anything else. Meditation felt like a refuge. There were strange eerie sounds at times like banshees wailing. (They turned out to be seabirds, the tunnel making their calls echo in ghostly ways).

 Eventually after many hours of this, the mind converged into a oneness, and it all disappeared. The psychic weather passed. Leaving behind a stillness and beautiful emptiness that I can't put into words. 

I was greeted at sunrise by a friendly pigeon watching me intently with smiley eyes. Then it vocalised a set of patterns, and some moments later another pigeon responded in the distance with a different set of vocal patterns.

The pigeon flew away. 

The wind and rain outside had stopped. It also dependent on conditions.

I went to get a coffee and my card was declined by the reader. I laughed, and the cashier laughed as well. She said that happens to her all the time, and that she keeps a supply of cash with her just in case.

Luckily, I had a few coins on me and managed to buy the coffee.

...


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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. 


Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 24 June 2023, 12:05)
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Asoka

Calm and cool

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 16 June 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 June 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 June 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

Sadness

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 18:06

A playlist about sadness, enjoy:

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLodJ_OuDCKlduVJ5RGQQzV8FKxBfKfc1B

I find melancholic music can be strangely soothing at times, like sonic therapy.

As Suzuki Roshi famously once said: 'What's wrong with sadness?'

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Knowledge of suffering

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 15 Dec 2021, 18:07


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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