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Keep on keeping on

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 8 Sep 2022, 22:04

Though these are dark days

I feel something good coming 

The wind changing 

Re-invigorating hope

Bringing an end to greed, hate, and delusion

Emancipation from ignorance and confusion.

Though the heat is on

And the planet burns

We will sing our song.

Skint and emaciated 

Struggling to make ends meet

As the waters come flooding

And the suffering comes spinning

We will go on singing.

A song of genorosity, kindness, and clear-seeing.

About the path of peace that leads to the end of suffering.

About profound friendship and harmony with all beings.

We will go on singing.

Till the day is done

Till extinction's won

And all things fade away 

Become undone

Transient 

Like a Bubble in a stream

A dream within a dream.

Where is the self?


Insubstantial


Gone.



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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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The five remembrances and the nature of change

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A bit under the weather today. Woke up with a touch of sickness this morning. Didn't feel comfortable lying in bed as had sweated a lot in the night. So I got up and had a bath. Then sat in meditation with a Zen group I sit with regularly. Felt quite unwell whilst I sat, and have an annoying cough which kept interrupting the flow of meditation and stopped me getting into a deep state of concentration. At first I wondered why on Earth I was sitting meditating with others on Zoom when I just wasn't feeling it. But I remembered a story about a monk who got sick with malaria, and he carried on sitting and meditating with the sangha every evening, and even though he felt like he was on death's door, and felt gravely ill, he kept meditating and it was hardwork, he struggled; but he also persevered and eventually managed to reach a flow state known as samhadi (A profound deep stillness, lucidity and unification of mind) and from then on his sickness turned around and he got better. I have heard other stories like this, so I think there is something to it. There's something powerful and healing about getting into a state of samhadi. I didn't manage to do that today, after 30 minutes I felt like I had had enough and left the sitting to lie down for a bit. 

But it was not a wasted effort, there was merit there. I think just sitting with the sickness and learning how to flow with it and be kind to myself was a helpful experience. I tried to remain aware and mindful throughout and learn what I could about the mind and how to be okay with ill health and pain; not reacting, accepting things as they are, letting them be, without the suffering. 

 I can't seem to generate the energy of metta (loving-kindness, goodwill, friendliness) today, feel a bit weak and fatigued, athough I will persevere with that as I have found doing metta practise for the bacteria/viruses causing sickness in my body has powerfully turned things around for me in the past. I can't seem to bring up that feeling just now though, so am spending a lot of time in equanimity. I may listen to a playlist of dharma talks on metta later, as using the voice of another can help to generate the feeling of metta when I am struggling to be able to.

Remembering the five wise reflections oddly brings me comfort, and seems to help the mind to accept the way things are. It reminds me that the first four reflections: ageing, sickness, death, and separation  are natural, and happen to all living beings. The last reflection reminds me to show kindness to myself and others, and develop a generous heart and try to give in whatever form I can, even if that is just silently practising metta for myself and others, it still helps. As these are actions that can bring one good karma. 

The Five wise reflections

I am of the nature to age; I have not gone beyond old age.
I am of the nature to get sick; I have not gone beyond ill health.
I am of the nature to die; I have not gone beyond dying.
Everything I hold dear and everyone that I love,
Will become separated from me due to the nature of change (of impermanence).

I am the owner of my karma, heir of my karma, 
Born of my karma, related to my karma.
My karma is the ground on which I stand.
Therefore should I frequently remember:
Whatever actions I do for good or for ill,
Become the karma I inherit.



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Change

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 30 Nov 2021, 19:57

Whilst sitting in meditation today I was practising the anapana-sati sutta (the Buddha's teaching on mindfulness of the breath). And when I got to the thirteenth step which trains one to focus on change and impermanence. I stayed with this step a while, and I noticed how everything both within me and all around me is constantly changing, the sounds happening outside the window, time, sensations, feelings, the processes happening within the body, thoughts, emotions, the sense of self, the weather going from rain to stillness, the seasons, the changes in the trees outside the window as the leaves fall, the air around me as it constantly moves, the breath. I wasn't really thinking much about it, but experiencing the changes directly moment to moment as I sat there in meditation. It was strangely liberating to sit there just calmly observing each moment as it changed.

The next step in the sutta is to train oneself to focus on dispassion (for the things of the world,) knowing everything is impermanent, we stop grasping for things or pushing them away, there is nothing to cling to, everything is insubstantial, illusory, even those we love change moment to moment, and one day will die and become rotting corpses, 'Everything I hold dear, and everyone I love will become separated from me due to the nature of change.' Remembering this helps one feel dispassion and equanimity for the world.

The next step is to train oneself to focus on the cessation of suffering, and then on renunciation (letting go).

The last four steps in the anapanna sati sutta make me think of the four noble truths. I have never been taught whether those last four steps are the four noble truths, but seems to make sense to me that this is what they represent, albeit phrased in a different way, but these are just my thoughts on it and I could be wrong.

I will write a summary of the anapana-sati sutta below for anyone who might be interested.

I have been taught to do each step three times, but one can do each step for longer if one wants to depending on how much time they have and how strong their attention is. But doing each step three times is probably doable for most, as ideally one wants to be able to practise the whole sutta in a single session without forgetting (losing their mindfulness), as it is a training exercise for the mind, each step has something important to teach which can become invaluable in life, I often find different steps will come up automatically for me at different times during the day and help me bring some balance to the mind.

One should spend longer on a step that proves challenging till one can at least generate a hint of what one is training the mind to experience there before moving on. For example, I find the step where one is training the mind to be sensitive to joy can sometimes be challenging for me.

For the first step (and only the first step) I have been taught to intentionally take long deep breaths. And for the second step to let go of the intentional long breaths and let the breath do its own thing, which tends to naturally become shorter in duration after several long breaths. These first two steps I have been told are preparation for the training, as the third step introduces the words one trains. I understand this is open to interpretation and I merely post this to show how I practise this sutta. The first step is the only time I deliberately manipulate the breath.

For the fifth step, 'one trains I breathe sensitive to joy' - it can be helpful to use a memory of a time you felt joy, or use your imagination to intentionally invoke the feeling. Metta practise can also help generate joy. Joy has a bubbly effervescent quality to it and sometimes it may already be present, as there can be a feeling of joy that naturally arises when one takes time out from the stress of the day and lets go of whatever is on the mind to sit and practise meditation.

Anapana-sati sutta summary:

First one finds a quiet secluded place to practise where one won't be disturbed.

Find a posture you can comfortably be in for a while.

1. Breathing in long, one knows "I am breathing in long"; breathing out long, one knows "I am breathing out long".

2. Breathing in short, one knows "I am breathing in short"; breathing out short, one knows "I am breathing out short".

3. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to the whole body"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to the whole body."

4. One trains: "I breathe in calming the body"; one trains: "I breathe out calming the body."

5. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to joy"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to joy."

6. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to pleasure"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to pleasure."

7. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to thoughts and emotions"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to thoughts and emotions."

8. One trains: "I breathe in calming thoughts and emotions"; one trains: "I breathe out calming thoughts and emotions."

9. One trains: "I breathe in sensitive to the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out sensitive to the mind."

10. One trains: "I breathe in satisfying the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out satisfying the mind."

11. One trains: "I breathe in steadying (concentrating) the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out steadying the mind."

12. One trains: "I breathe in releasing (liberating) the mind"; one trains: "I breathe out releasing the mind."

13. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on change (impermanence); one trains: "I breathe out focusing on change."

14. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on dispassion"; one trains: "I breathe out focusing on dispassion."

15. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on cessation (of suffering); one trains: "I breathe out focusing on cessation."

16. One trains: "I breathe in focusing on letting go (renunciation); one trains: "I breathe out focusing on letting go."

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This moment

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 30 Sep 2021, 22:59

It is the breeze that moves the leaves in the trees across from my window.
The sound of someone using a chainsaw
My sadness
My aching body
And a flapping wing

A myriad vibrations sail across the element of air to my eardrum.

This is the moment where the wave energy of the Big Bang is currently at.
On its long journey back to the void from where it came
This is where all the magic and mystery and true knowing is.
Even just writing about this the wave has passed, it does not pause for anyone.

Even the mightiest of stars and black holes will one day disappear
Nothing lasts, not this civilisation nor any that will follow.
Our lives are brief flickers

If we are too caught up in beliefs and delusions about what reality is or should be
If we keep chasing things we think will make us happy.

We miss the voice of God

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