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Cannabis is medicine

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:13


The research that says cannabis causes psychosis and schizophrenia is weak. It is just a modern day slant on the 'reefer madness' propaganda from the 1930s. The truth is cannabis can be helpful for people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems, the reason being it contains cannabinoids that are natural anti-psychotics (not just CBD, the whole plant is needed, as the cannabinoids work together synergistically). Which is why people with schizophrenia use cannabis a lot, and why there is a statistical correlation between cannabis and schizophrenia. It isn't because the cannabis is causing schizophreia, it is because many people with schizophrenia and other mental health problems are self-medicating with it as it brings relief from their symptoms. There was a tutor on a college course who had schizophrenia and he would have a spliff and it would make him feel much better and calmer afterwards.

Anyone who has done basic maths, knows that in statistics correlation does not mean causation. For example there is a correlation between high shoe sizes and intelligence, but it is not because people with big feet are more intelligent than those with small feet. It is because adults have bigger feet than children. Politicians and the media often misuse statistics to push forward bad policy. And one should always use critical thinking when it comes to statistics, especially now in this age of big data and data science.

 Cannabis is a damn site less harmful and unpleasant than the nasty pharmaceutical anti-psychotics that are pushed on patients. There's a good reason why people come off their meds and don't want to take them anymore, it's because they are fricking horrible, many decide they would rather have the psychosis than the horrible side-effects and locked-in depression that comes with prescription anti-psychotics. Rather than a treatment, these meds feel like a punishment. Not to mention how much harm these prescription meds can cause the body, something cannabis does not do, it is harmless on the body, in fact it is impossible to overdose and die from consuming too much cannabis. The only way cannabis can kill you is if a block the size of a piano was dropped on your head from a great height. 

 The truth is government scientists/researchers aren't really scientists at all, they are just paid 'Yes' men in white lab coats, whose job is to invent research and nonsense to fit a government's agenda and point of view, they use confirmation bias deliberately so they can justify dodgy policy to the public. And any scientist who goes against what the government wants to see in the research is fired by the government. If you don't believe me, research what happend to professor David Nutt for evidence of this. I ask you dear reader, how is this science?

 I know for a fact cannabis helps me. It calms me down, improves my mood, helps me concentrate better, helps my memory, helps me get my work done, helps me sleep, helps me get out of bed, helps me eat, gives me pain relief from chronic physical pain, helps me exercise, stops me feeling stressed and het up about stuff, and perhaps most importantly, helps me feel pleasure and joy again, something I struggle to feel without it. Cannabis greatly improves my quality of life. It is also fast acting, providing almost  instant relief, which is great for agitation. In fact I never feel suicidal on cannabis, it takes those thoughts and feelings away, but when I don't have it and go without, the suicidal thoughts come back. I think it is because life without cannabis is just too unbearable for me. I just feel like life isn't worth it without. I feel too much pain both emotionally and physically and it is frustrating knowing that smoking/vaping a bit of cannabis is all I need to do to fix this, and makes me angry as well knowing it is unfairly prohibited by an ignorant brainwashed society and jobsworths that keep denying me my right to this natural medication. It is cruel and unfair.

One thing I know is the mind does not work well when it is in constant pain both physically and mentally, it is impossible to get enlightened when one is in pain. The Buddha even said that, and he advised folks to take medicine for pain relief as he knew pain does not lead to enlightenment. He tried the path of trauma and pain for years, and it didn't lead to enlightenment, just brought him to the brink of death. It made his mind miserable and in the end he gave up on trying to get enlightened through deprivation and pain. Austerity and austere practises are useless, they just depress the mind and one cannot reach enlightenment that way. Here's a fun fact, cannabis would have grown wild in India at the time of the Buddha, and would have almost certainly been used as medicine, people back then would not have had a problem with it at all; the Buddha himself may well have used it on occasion, especially as he suffered from chronic back pain. It is only in these tyrranical modern times where it has been demonised and suppressed unfairly.

 Cannabis is medicine and I think it should be freely available to all who need it without prescription. And if people want to use it recreationally, so what? Let them, they're adults, we don't need a deluded hypocritical nanny state dictating what people can and cannot do, it is unpleasant living in a nanny state, we are grown-ups, let us choose; besides cannabis is the least harmful of all intoxicants.

 I am angry and fed up with these bad laws that criminalise it. Especially now other countries around the world have woken up to its benefits and legalised it. It is about time the UK did the same in my opinion. We are becoming more and more like a backward country.

 I also suspect the reason it is kept illegal is because of lobbying from the alcohol industry and pharmaceutical companies who don't want the competition. Alcohol is the most destructive drug of all (fact), even more destructive than heroine. Yet it is legal and even pushed and encouraged. When I am online I get  constantly bombarded with advertisements for it. And as someone who has had problems with alcohol addiction in the past this is not helpful. This advertising is an example of how these algorithms governing things can get things catastrophically wrong. Now I am not calling for a ban on alcohol, even though I know first-hand of its harms, I will never tell others what they can or cannot use, and I would never dream of stopping others from enjoying it. It is their life, they're adults, their choice. I just wish all the drinkers out there would also respect my right as an adult to choose to use cannabis, especially as it is much less harmful and medicinal.

 This brainwashed society is hypocritical and I am tired of the stigma, which is based on deliberate lies and ignorance. And is why I am speaking out. It is time things changed.

And change they will, the karma is ripening, and this government and any future government that continues to uphold this bad law will not last, their own karma and the energetic momentum of truth will bring them down. Legalising cannabis is one way for them to bring some good karma for themselves.

Free the herb!

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Asoka

The metta sutta

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This is what should be accomplished by one who is wise.

Who seeks the good and has obtained peace.

Let one be strenuous, upright, and sincere.

Without pride, easily content and joyous.

Let one not be submerged by the things of the world.

Nor lay upon oneself the burden of riches.

Let one's senses be controlled.

Let one be wise but not puffed up.

And let one not desire great possessions even for one's family.

Let one do nothing that is mean.

Or that this wise would later reprove.

May all beings be happy!

May they be joyous and live in safety!

All beings. Whether weak or strong.

In high, middle, or low realms of existence.

Great or small.

Visible or invisible.

Near or far.

Born or to be born.

May all beings be happy!

Let none deceive another.

Nor despise any being in any state.

Let none through anger or hatred.

Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother at the risk of her life;

Watches over and protects her only child.

So too with a boundless heart should one cherish all living things.

Suffusing with love the entire world.

Above and below and all around without limit.

So let one cultivate an infinite goodwill toward the whole world.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down. 

Throughout all one's waking hours.

Let one practise the way with gratitude.

Not holding to wrong views.

Endowed with insight.

Freed from senses appetites.

One who realises the way will be freed from the duality of birth and death.


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Asoka

The metta path

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:09

Metta means: loving-kindness,friendliness, joviality, benevolence, altruism, goodwill.

Traditionally you start training by practising it for yourself. By becoming your own best friend and being kind and compassionate toward yourself. Which is not easy. Once you have got the hang of practising metta for yourself, you start practicing it for others, usually in this order: someone you love, then a neutral person, then an enemy, and then all beings everywhere, radiating the energy outwards in all directions. It is an energetic practise, the first of the four Brahma viharas.

There are lots of tricks one can use to get metta going. Sometimes the sea brings it up in me or the singing of a songbird, even fresh air and a nice breeze can do it. One can also use imagination to invoke the feeling, such as imagining a famous spiritual figure like Jesus, Avalokitishvara, Maitreya, a saint, or the Buddha.

The idea is to invoke the feeling of metta within and then keep it going. Cultivate it, strengthen and increase it.

Saying phrases can help, such as "May I be happy. May I be safe and well. May I be serene and boundless. May I be relieved of suffering. May I be at peace." (Obviously just replace the word 'I' for the name of a person or 'all beings' when practising metta for others). Make your own words and phrases up that help you generate it. In time you won't need words to invoke it, it becomes a warm sensation in the heart area that radiates outwards. 

Sometimes praying for those you love can invoke it. When I ask angels and devas to help with stuff, that can invoke it. Memory can invoke it, most of us have experienced metta at some point in our life, popping an ecstasy pill (MDMA) at a rave and feeling pure empathy and love for everyone is a memory that helps me invoke it at times. Metta (once it builds up momentum and gets going) can feel a bit like that in the first jhana (first stage of meditative absorption). And gradually settles, becoming more tranquil, serene and still, till it reaches equanimity.

The four Brahma viharas are: Metta (loving-kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (joy in another's happiness), Upekka (equanimity).

Karuna and Mudita both come from Metta. Karuna is loving-kindness for one who is suffering. And Mudita is loving-kindness towards one who is happy.

For example, today I saw my crow friends when out walking, this brought up metta within me, I felt compassion for them so gave them some peanuts 🥜 this made them happy and I felt mudita as I watched them enjoy eating them. Then I continued my walk and feeling satisfied and content in the crow's happiness I settled into equanimity.

Metta and equanimity compliment each other like a knife and fork.

Metta, Karuna, and Mudita can take one up to the third jhana (third stage of meditative absorption). The fourth jhana is always equanimity regardless of the meditation object used, so it is said that metta, compassion, mudita can only take you to the third jhana, but to reach the fourth jhana you have to let go of them, as the fourth is pure equanimity. Well technically speaking it is mindfulness purified and born of equanimity. Equanimity actually begins in the third jhana, and the fourth is where it is refined and isolated by itself. In the fourth jhana there is neither pleasure nor pain. The fourth jhana is said to be the ideal state of mind to gain the liberating insight which leads to nibanna. But one does not have to wish for insight, apparrently from that lucid state of mind insights naturally arise. Then once one has fully realised nibanna there is no turning back and the liberation cannot be reversed and one never incarnates ever again in any world. Yet the mind still exists, it is like what fire becomes when it is no longer held captive by its fuel. The fuel being (greed, hatred, and delusion). 

Greed covers lots of stuff such as lust, craving for intoxicants, eating a little more than you needed to, to the extremes of hoarding wealth and stealing - there's many different levels to it.

Hatred also covers many things such as boredom for example which is aversion to the present moment, or aversion from lack of stimulation. Hatred also covers conceit, being boastful, as well as the more obvious extremes such as arguing, fighting and murder.

Delusion can also mean ignorance. It is a lot about the stories we tell ourselves about reality. The excuses we make to justify different behaviour. Or just believing in misinformation, disinformation or acting out of ignorance due to lack of information. The mind is a delusion generator. And delusion is the hardest of all to remove. Greed and hatred sprout from delusion. They also feed delusion. The four Brahma viharas can be helpful at weakening the power of greed and hatred, enough at least to be able to get to the root of the problem which is delusion.

When one has fully uprooted greed, hatred and delusion from the mind that is the state of mind known as nibbana and one becomes a Buddha (fully enlightened being).

 I chant the metta sutta sometimes to help me invoke Metta.

You can be creative with Metta, it is like a craft; and yes it can be a magical practise. For example, when walking along the street I will get focused while walking and invoke the feeling of metta and then think of Maitreya (Bodhisattva of metta and the next Tathagata) and as I do I become a channel and imagine multiple copies of Maitreya coming out of my heart in all directions, holding a bell shaped object that when shaken fills all those around with loving-kindness. I have a weird imagination lol.

But I am sure you can think of your own ways of radiating metta. Sometimes I imagine it as energy waves radiating outwards, and sometimes I don't need to imagine at all it just radiates out if I set the intention to radiate it to all beings and it happens. Different moments require different methods, you have to learn to be spontaneous and do what naturally feels right in each given moment. 

I have different mood cycles. And sometimes during the negative cycles there are days when I can't invoke Metta at all, I feel nothing. It isn't easy and equanimity and patience can help here, although they can be hard to generate too. Patience can be invoked sometimes by imagining the depressed cycle as me retreating from the world and being in a womb of sorts. In a state of becoming. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, or a nymph becoming a dragonfly. It can be very painful and challenging. And it may take a while and fill me with doubt and stagnation. Then when the cycle changes and I feel better energy arise and feel well again I am able to practise metta once more, but I find this time it has mysteriously grown deeper, like some part of the unconscious during the gestation period has been working things out and changing things, rearranging them, almost like the mind is rewiring itself. It is unpleasant and can really test one's endurance, shake you to the core, demolish your beliefs and perceptions. But afterwards one gains a new found clarity and freedom, and develops in the eight-fold path. This conscious part of me, let's call it the ego mind has very little to do in the process of becoming, you just have to be patient. Most of the growth happens outside of one's awareness in the deeper hidden mind. Another way of looking at it, is as being like pearls of wisdom. 

Also it seems from my experience that there is a malevolent outside agency that will try its utmost to deter you from the path, so be prepared for a bit of a fight. The sceptic can think of it as a trickster part of the mind. But my experience is there is both an internal and external enemy that will do what it can to make you lose your way. This energy is very tricky, and it can be oppressive as well as seductive. In the suttas this being is known as Mara. 

So don't despair if you can't do this right away, it takes years of practice, perhaps lifetimes for some. You have to persevere, pick yourself up after every failure, brush yourself down and try again. If you do this you will get a bit stronger each time and eventually get there. But don't burn yourself out, try to find a balance between laziness and over-doing it; look for a nice middle setting that works for you, and be prepared to be in it for the long game. 

Also remember to take refuge in the Buddha. The dharma. And the Sangha whenever you need to. These three are known as the triple gem and it is a powerful jewel. And  don't dismiss the power of doing this. There is lots of grace out there I am discovering. And I find whenever I take refuge in any one of these, (again depending on the moment and what feels right), helpful energy and support will come to my aid. I think there are spirits and other beings seen and unseen who are devoted to this practise, and like angels, will help when you struggle. The sangha also includes all Buddhists everywhere, and those who practise Buddhism in the deva worlds as well.

Metta itself is also protection if you can generate it suffiently enough, the good energy will protect you and make you fearless.

I am not enlightened yet, see my previous blog posts and rants for proof of this. But I will keep trying. 

This is the spiritual path I have set for myself, even if it takes me lifetimes to accomplish I will get there one day, although I am aiming to do it in this very life if at all possible.

Peace, metta and good luck on your own journey to nibanna.

The Metta Sutta

Alternative translation of metta sutta

The eleven benefits of practising metta 

Here's a great collection of talks and Q&As done by Ajahn Sona on the topic of Metta:

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLodJ_OuDCKlexVt5B4exeYkiyM7sE8u5e


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Asoka

Sacred herb

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Life is hard. I try my best, I really fricking do. It might not seem like it to others. To most I guess I am pathetic and weak-minded. I am always getting critisized, judged and misunderstood. But none of those people are living inside my head, they don't know what I am going through, what it feels like to be Richie. They just look at the world from their limited perspective and expect everyone to be able to see what they see, and cope as well as they do. But we aint all the same, and I am honestly fricking trying.

 I honestly don't know how other people do it, how they keep their head together in this world. I seem to be completely incapable. The only thing that really helps me consistently is smoking weed (a strain with a ratio of moderate THC levels and high CBD), it is medicine for me. It calms me down, helps me concentrate better, helps me meditate, helps me work and get things done, helps me see things different, helps me exercise, helps me sleep. Without it everything is unbearable, and I am not joking. I really cannot handle being straight,  I just fall apart. I don't know what normal everyday consciousness feels like for everyone else, but it is suffering for me, I can't stand it. It is full of unpleasant feelings and horrible thoughts that are hard to ignore, and I have been practising meditation for over two years now, and I still have trouble with my thoughts and emotions. Constant thoughts about suicide, pretty much every day at the moment (don't worry I won't act on them, but they are tiring nonetheless). I feel constant agitation, and anxiety. I can't think straight, my head is always scattered, even with all this Zen training and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour therapy) I still struggle. It is a mission to get anything done at the moment, to function, as this agitation is the wrong kind of energy, not a helpful energy at all. I can't sleep well, I'm lucky if I get a couple of hours a night at the moment. This mood I am in is really unpleasant, my brain seems to be constantly stuck on this setting at the moment. It is unbearable. I think this is why I constantly write on here as otherwise I am just pacing around my room, getting irritable at the slightest thing, with noises put me on edge, I can't think straight or think rationally, I can't get any work done, and  desperately looking to find some relief, but not getting any. I have been in this state of mind for weeks now and it won't ease up, the prescription meds don't help and I am tired of seeing doctors and trying different pharmaceuticals. I wish they would just prescribe me cannabis, I know that works and I would be fine then. 

It is hard to get enlightened when one's own brain is like this. Meditation feels impossible at the moment, and spiritual practise is a real battle. If I get some weed I know I will be able to meditate, and practise the eight-fold path. But without it I struggle, I seem to be incapable of practising with this agitation. The stuff I read in the suttas or have learnt from Buddhist teachers about dealing with agitation doesn't work, and the four right efforts are not working for me, they work for others, but I guess it is much harder to practise if one has a mood disorder unfortunatley. Although I miraculously find it all much easier when I have some cannabis, the whole path seems doable then, is strange I know. 

But then if I got enlightened whilst using weed, would it be real? Or would my mood deteriorate again once I went without the cannabis, and then it wouldn't really be enlightenment. Is it possible to get to nibanna when one is so dependant on a herbal medicine. I don't know. Buddhists do tell people to take medicine if necessary and not to suffer needlessly, and for me it is definitely a medicine I need to function. I do know that cannabis would have been freely available at the time of the Buddha. It would have grown everywhere, and would have been used as medicine for sure, possibly even by the monks and nuns at the time, although there's nothing written in the suttas about it as far as I am aware. So I don't know. Would the Buddha have been okay with me using cannabis? Did the Buddha use cannabis? Who knows. I know the sages who created kundalini yoga were all on cannabis, it was an essential part of the practise. And I do know it is bloody difficult for me to function without it, but the stigma in society about it is no help. A stigma created by this modern world and its ridiculous hypocritical war on psychedelics. Anyway I know I can never be a Buddhist monk as they would never approve of me using cannabis. Most Buddhist groups have the five precepts, and the fifth one is: no intoxicants, and I imagine most would class cannabis as an intoxicant. However I will be studying with a different Buddhist group next year and they have changed the wording of the fifth precept slightly to: I will refrain from using intoxicants that make one heedless. Which I feel does give me some wriggle room, as cannabis definitely does not make me heedless, if anything it makes me more mindful, calms my thoughts down, and I can meditate much better on it. For me it is meritous. It is medicine, and I am sick of hiding that out of shame and fear of persecution in an ignorant brainwashed society. I think it is a miraculous plant, a real wonder. It saved my life, it really did. I wouldn't be doing this degree if it wasn't for cannabis helping me get my head together. And I also wouldn't have even started practising Buddhism if wasn't for cannabis. So giving credit where it's due for this sacred herb.

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Wisdom of the sangha

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021, 18:28

This is a tough module I am studying (M269). Spent hours trying to understand and answer a question on the TMA. I tried so hard, but had to quit in the end and submit the assignment, leaving the last parts of the question unanswered, I will lose a lot of marks, but I did try my best. I am honestly wondering if I am going to pass this module, it may be that I'll have to resit it again next year if I don't. 

After submitting the assignment, I sat in Zazen over Zoom. I was feeling stressed about a lot of things during the meditation. And felt quite dark in mood while sat there. I was worrying about the assignment; but also anxious about the state of the world and all the crazy stuff happening just now. Sad and mad about seeing species go extinct, something I am witnessing with my own eyes. 

 Then there's the homelessness crisis, in part due to banks kicking people out of their homes due to missing their mortgage payments, not their fault either, these familes lost their income because of the lockdowns. The government is so keen to save lives by treble-vaxxing everyone, yet I can't help but feel if they really were trying to save lives, why don't they help these poor folks trying to survive on the streets in the middle of winter? Why don't they help the old and vulnerable dying in care homes due to staff shortages or dying in NHS hospitals because relatives can no longer afford to pay for their care. I feel afraid of the huge poverty that is coming from the fallout of this pandemic. Why are they doing nothing to help these people who are at risk of death from extreme poverty?

 I also feel so sorry for the refugees. it was horrifying to hear on the news about that large fishing boat that purposely put itself in the way of drowning refugees and the lifeboats trying to save them. How could they be so heartless and cruel. I cannot understand why people can become like that. 

And I am sick to death of all the happy clappy fake plastic smiley corporate advertisements. Sick of all the celebrity bullshit, blah blah blah so what. All this being broadcast while the Earth is in a major crisis right now. I wish the governments of the world would show more enthusiasm, effort and coordination over reversing the sixth mass extinction event than this mass-vaccination campaign. If they can put so many resources, logistics, academics and energy into vaccinating everyone, surely they could do the same for turning this terrifying mass extinction event around, and also help all those suffering from poverty and homelessness. The governments are so fake, them and the media.

I spoke of all my concerns with the Zen group today (one can stay and have a discussion with the group after meditation). They were all very kind and said a lot of helpful things to cheer me up and help me feel better. Reminding me there are lots of good people out there. And although it all seems futile at times, whatever small way we can help others means something to those we help. That one needs to fight back with compassion. They advised me to read about someone called Joanna Macy, saying she was someone who may be a kindred spirit for me in these dark times, and might help me feel some hope and rekindle love and compassion in my heart.

 I also stated to my friends in the sangha that I had made a vow to never take my life no matter how hard things get. After confessing to them that I had felt like doing so. Mainly because I couldn't bare the thought of seeing any more species go extinct, or witness any more refugees drowning at sea, any more war, poverty or suffering, I didn't want to live in the Orwellian, dystopian world we seem to be heading towards. They were happy to hear that I have made a vow to never commit suicide. I feel publicly making this vow and the painting I made to seal it is a kind of protection for me. Because the thoughts do constantly whirl around my head at times, but seeing my painting and remembering my words can help me stay alive I think.  

One bit of advice that stuck out for me was to try and see my negative mood cycles as like being in a womb, a state of becoming. A time to retreat, nurture and take care, not get too overwhelmed with the sorrow of the world, but care for it with a tenderness like one would a growing baby, and all that sorrow can give birth to something beautiful if one is patient and gentle with it. It can become love and compassion instead of anger and hate. The bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteshivra has many many hands and eyes, and those who have taken the bodhissatva vow are her many eyes and hands in this world.

I was so glad that I sat with them today and that I stayed to chat at the end. I nearly didn't, my mood was so negative I didn't want to bring it into the online zendo, but at the last minute I decided I would sit with them. And it did help, not just me, but the other people there were grateful for the discussion we had at the end, as the words of wisdom shared by the different members of the group seemed to help everyone. 


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Sour times

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021, 16:40

It is a horrible experience being alive. One is just born in a body with whatever genes one is given, and this body just grows by itself and life gets increasingly more complicated and one is stuck with whatever personality and DNA they are born with and expected to just get on with living in a cold and often cruel world. Noone gets to choose who they will be, what they will be good at, what kind of body they will get. No-one can help being who they are; and yet we get judged for it and made to feel guilty if we aren't up to the task of fitting into this bloody difficult world. Being a human sucks. Being any being on this planet sucks. Being alive sucks.

 I can only seem to meditate when I feel good. Meditation when depressed is not helpful at all. It just makes me feel worse. I am trying my best, but I keep failing catastrophically. I can't generate any joy at the moment, I am trying but it is like an engine that has run out of fuel and won't kickstart. 

I am also feeling broken hearted as well. Particularly for the local wildlife. So much life has disappeared at the local beach. Tangled up in the seaweed are the bones of seabirds that have starved to death from lack of food. The beach here used to be teeming with life of all different kinds, it was magical, but now it is like a watery graveyard, an oceanic desert. The sea here is dying and nobody else seems to notice or care. I read that now one in four species of bird in the UK are on the endangered list, and insects have been steadily disappearing, every summer there's fewer and fewer.

 Then there's refugees drowning at sea escaping all kinds of different horrors in the world caused by the greed, hatred, and delusion of the West; while the super rich just compete to be the first to reach outer-space so they can colonise dead planets, their rockets like penis extensions, ignorant of the poverty and environmental destruction their greed has caused. 

And the government is determined to vaccinate everyone, is obsessed with it; but if they really cared about saving people's lives why don't they help those who are now homeless in the freezing cold of Winter after been kicked out of their houses by banks who repossessed their homes after lockdowns destroyed their incomes. And why don't the government help the old people abandoned and dying alone in care homes and hospitals? I thought all this pandemic and vaxxing was to save their lives, but it seems to be more about destroying them.

I am sorry for the rant dear reader. I feel so unhappy just now, sometimes writing it out of my system is the only relief I get. (Albeit temporary.) I wish I could feel hope and write something uplifting, but I feel there is something terribly wrong with the world just now.

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The four foundations of mindfulness

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 25 Dec 2021, 15:08


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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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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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, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:10

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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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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Ode to joy

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 26 Oct 2021, 14:14

I regularly sit in Zazen with a Zen group via Zoom. And there is a chant we do at the beginning of the sitting called the verse of the robe. And I have a pet jackdaw, and she has recently started chanting along with me and the group, and it made me laugh today whilst I was chanting. But in hindsight I hope it didn't upset or offend anyone. Obviously we are muted, so it was my Zoom self laughing away on the screen whilst we were chanting, which may have looked inappropriate and odd to anyone looking who couldn't see the context of my situation. Still, it did help me to generate some joy and gladness in meditation today. Something I feel is an important and necessary step in training the mind. Joy can help one work better and stop becoming too dry, dark and grim in thought.

 In my experience whatever the mind focuses on tends to snowball. 

There is the middle way where one is neither excessively happy or sad, but I am not someone who likes to be dead-centre in my emotions. I imagine equanimity as being like a dial, and for me the ideal spot is where the needle is a bit off-centre to the right towards joy and pleasure, but not completely all the way, because if that gets too excessive that is not helpful either. But I find without any joy or pleasure I feel a bit like a stone Buddha, so for me a bit of joy and joviality brings the mind to life I find. 

Ah well enough of my crap, back to my studying. M269 has been the most challenging module I have studied yet, but is stretching my brain in good ways I think. Very chewy module, so have to study in bit-size chunks and have regular breaks.

Anyway have a good day wherever you are, at whatever point in time and space you are reading this.

May all beings know profound peace and wellbeing.


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My spiritual practise is friendship

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021, 15:41

This is a nice practise I learnt in Buddhism. It is called sharing your merit with all beings. Merit being your attainments, virtue, knowledge, wisdom, benefits of spiritual practise, wellbeing... all the good wholesome stuff. And you share that freely with all the beings around you. Both seen and unseen. It can help bring a nice vibe I find, especially when out walking. I feel the presence of many different beings, and some I call Devas, (we in the West call them spirits.) I feel them all around me at times, and they bring good energy, and I have found they really appreciate it when we share our merit with them.

We of course lose absolutely nothing when we share our merit with others, what you give out energetically comes back to you exponentially. This means your merit will grow from this practise, and then you will have more to give, and the more you give, the more comes back to you, and so on, it grows and grows.

However, the intention behind giving is also important, as it is our intention that will be the flavour of what comes back to us energetically. What we reap is what we sow. As a rule of thumb, right intention tends to come from the belly or the heart, intentions developed in the brain and our thoughts can generate the wrong kind of intention.

 I think it is a blameless practise, that causes no harm and nothing bad can come from it. 

It has also helped me a couple times with grief. Where I offered to share my merit with loved ones who had crossed over this past couple of years. I felt their presence as I did this and that they really appreciated the merit. All spirits appreciate it when we share our merit with them, I think it can really help them out where they are.

 I think this practise is also a good training for the mind in developing  generosity, good will and friendship with other beings. It can be done silently in one's head, and nobody has to know that you are practising this at all.  You don't have to be wealthy, you can be in poverty and still practise sharing your merit. We have all had moments of genuine kindness, there's some merit right there that can be shared. Share your entire life's worth of merit with all the beings around you in all directions, and dimensions throughout all time and space.

Keep doing that as often as you remember to. 

In Buddhism this energy is known as metta or loving-kindness. It also means friendship, warmth and joviality.
Compassion is a form of metta, it is metta towards another who is suffering. 
Empathetic Joy is also a form of metta, this is where one feels joy in another's happiness. You could say (for anyone who has encountered object-oriented programming) that compassion and empathetic joy are both subclasses of metta (;

Equanimity is also very valuable, and compliments metta perfectly. Ajahn Sona describes metta and equanimity as being like a knife and fork. They work well together. 

Equanimity is welcome for times when generating metta feels impossible, when the grief is too much, and for the times when you make mistakes and fail, when things don't go to plan, for the things you can't change in the world. Nobody can solve all the world's problems, neither me nor you are responsible for solving the world's problems, that's an impossible task. We also should not suffer with other beings. That just leads one to sadness and the complete wrecking ball of depression, which doesn't help you or any other being. The best help we can be to other beings is to practise keeping our own minds bright and lucid, keep our spirits lifted up so we can offer support and friendship, compassion, and uplift others. This world is going to need that now more than ever. One can also radiate equanimity energetically, which can help bring calm to a difficult situation.

This practise takes a while though, lots of repetitive practise, lots of failures, but don't beat yourself up for those, just learn what you can, pick yourself back up and try try again.

 It is good to try and find something that invokes that feeling in you. Can be anything: a loved one, a pet, any person, a mythological figure, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, an animal, a tree, the ocean, something neutral like the snow, water, air, colours, can be something imaginary. Use anything that brings up that feeling of love within you. Even if you get just a finger snap of the feeling, that's good enough, it snowballs. And the mind will find its way back there again, and again, and get better at finding its way back there. And sometimes it will do it without you consciously invoking it. Once it gets the hang of it, the mind will get quicker at finding it, and the amount of time the feeling lasts for will also grow both in intensity and duration.

Remember that what we practise now is what we will become. A way I have found that can help to keep fuelling the determination to practise, is to imagine having compassion for my future self and others. It is a gradual training, much like learning any other craft or skill in life, but with repeated practise it can be done, and the beneifts will blow your mind. Your future self (and all the people around you) will be glad that you did (-:


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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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Metta bee

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Dec 2021, 22:15

Found a bumble-bee struggling on the road earlier today, wasn't moving and seemed barely alive. I put my open hand next to it on the ground, and to my amazement it clambered on, and I carried it home.

 I was taking part in a meditation and writing retreat with a Zen group via Zoom. So I sat in Zazen meditation with it cupped in my upright hand. Where it just rested and warmed up, and over the course of the meditation it perked up and started cleaning itself and stretching. Then began crawling from one hand to the other, seeming to become more and more alive, its feet tickling my palms. At the end of the meditation (30 mins), the group leader on Zoom rang the bell, and the bee started buzzing excitedly and I got the sense it was ready to leave me. So I went back outside and stood on my doorstep, felt it vibrating as it buzzed on my palm. And from my open outstretched hand it took off perfectly, and flew away, seeming to be in good health and happy. I wished it well. 

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Disillusionment is OK

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 20 Jan 2022, 21:38

Am disillusioned with this world, not much passion for anything just now. Career, painting, technology, science, books, music, films, romance, intoxicants, pleasure, pain. I no longer care for any of it, it all feels so unsatisfying. Politics is a load of crap, same old story of the wealthy shafting everyone else and the planet. Victims of greed they hoard and hoard, and never feel happy or content, there's always that niggling feeling of dissatisfaction in the background, and to fill this they automatically grasp for more wealth and power, but they never fill that emptiness within, never cure that feeling of how unsatisfying everything is, why? 

This modern world we live in is fuelled by greed, hatred and delusion. And all of it is doomed to end, nothing lasts, all things are being constantly chomped away at by impermanence, everything is in a state of entropy. Is why I just stick my paintings to my walls with masking tape, I don't give a shit, I know they're impermanent and I am not attached to them. I don't even know who paints them, it doesn't feel like the Richie tapping away at the keys here, some other geezer and we are both impermanent, empty, and always changing.

Is it possible to feel happiness on the spiritual path? The happiest memories I have are the days in my youth dancing at rave parties high as a kite feeling connected to everything and feeling free. Those were the best feelings I ever had, nothing else I have ever experienced has been as liberating as that was. Full of immense love and empathy for everyone around me, and they also feeling the same way towards me, all of us one, smiling and expressing our good nature, a feeling of unity, of oneness, being completely at ease with everyone and everything. In that place I forgot who I was, forgot my story and didn't care a jot about it anymore, It didn't matter who anyone was, nobody cared, we were all the same, no judgement, no shame, no exclusion, just goodwill, friendliness, and a shared feeling of connection and space to be who we are. Those beautiful  memories stay with me, even now at the age of 46, and they remind me that deep down, all of us, whoever we are, have a good nature underneath all the layers of shit. We all want to love and be loved, to live in peace. I believe that our original mind before it is tainted by the world is good-natured.

It makes me think of the spiritual practise of metta. Metta means unconditional love, kindness, friendship, warmth, benevolence, and jovial good will. Metta also has a good-natured sense of humour, which can help one to not take things too seriously or personally. Metta is the Pali word, but there isn't really a satisfying equivalent that captures it in the English language. So I just use the word metta, as it is easier than listing all the qualities it embodies. It is a nice feeling, and there have been times when practising metta where I thought I came close to how I felt at a rave party (but without the dreaded comedown). Equanimity is also a nice state of mind, and very useful. It is the best one to look at reality with. Not a cold dry dead equanimity, it is alive, warm-hearted and kind, but doesn't take the suffering of the world upon itself. With equanimity one no longer clings to anything, no longer chases after anything, and one doesn't get shaken or swept up by the random nature of things, one is centred. With equanimity one remains calm in a crisis, unshaken and unsuprised by the changing nature of the world, in that lucid state of mind one can look at reality with clarity and see things as they are.

A Zen teacher said that my feelings of disillusionment with the world are a good thing, they are the first noble truth. Disillusionment means one has seen through the illusion.
The second noble truth is to see it is my attachment to the illusion that causes me suffering.
The third noble truth is to come out of the trance and let go of the illusion, stop clinging to the inner story of self.
The fourth noble truth contains the practical instructions on how one trains the mind to let go of and go beyond the self-centred dream. To (through the gradual training of the noble eight-fold path) reach a state of mind that doesn't die, doesn't suffer, and experiences a profound freedom that remains and never ceases - nibbana.

Peace and metta




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Compassion's way

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 3 Oct 2021, 18:36

The Buddha once asked a king, "Suppose there are armies coming for you in all directions, crushing and killing everything in their path. There is no hope of escape from this impending doom. What would you do?"

The king said, "I would practise generosity, give, and be kind."

The Buddha praised his response, saying that was indeed the wisest thing any of us can do in that situation. Our deeds generate our karma, and that's what we take with us to our next existence.

For the king it was easy, but for some of us we don't have wealth or possessions to give away, so how do we give?

What is compassion's way? Is a question I have been mulling over and reflecting on for this past week or so.

Perhaps sometimes compassion's way is to remember the spiritual practise, other times to help another being in need, to get up and be of service to others, to practise loving-kindness and radiate that all around as you go about your day, maybe it is to be kind to yourself, to let go of something, maybe it is to have a moment of stillness, when we meditate we are not causing harm and this can be a way of giving, a Zen teacher said to me he thought my paintings were a way of giving. I had never thought that before, and that gave me something to reflect on.

How can we practise generosity and kindness? It seems there are a myriad different ways to do this, and when one thinks about it, one can find a way that fits with each moment.
 It got me thinking of all the different ways we can give. That's what matters in the end, the choices we make in each moment, and despite what the world does, how crazy and disturbing it gets, when that doom comes for us over the distant horizon, we can choose to be kind, to give, despite it all. This includes being kind to yourself as well, no room for judgement or shame, you are a being too. Unconditional love for all beings means just that, all beings. Be a friend to yourself as much as to others. 

The world just now feels a lot like the one in the story of the Buddha and the king. But whatever time in history, there is always an impending doom coming for us, we are all dieing after all, a doom none of us can escape, every body has an expiry date. Death is natural, when we die we should remember our good deeds, not the ones we feel shame for, so we should feel good about ourseves, happy that we learnt from any mistakes and grew. We should focus on our acts of giving, of kindness and love. We should remember the friendships and that both the good and bad times created the depth of connections we have. We want to die with a warm, loving, kind, generous, serene heart, as that is what will be the seed for our next existence. 

The hardest part sometimes is to remember. The word mindfulness means to remember, to keep something in mind. 
The five wise reflections are something the Buddha recommended people chant regularly to help them remember what really matters in this life:

The Five Wise Reflections

"I am of the nature to age; I should not be surprised by old age.

I am of the nature to become sick; I should not be surprised by ill health.

I am of the nature  to die; I should not be surprised by death.

Everything I hold dear, and everyone I love, will become separated from me due to the nature of change, due to impermanence.

I am the heir of my karma, owner of my karma, born of my karma, related to my karma, abide supported by my karma. Therefore should I frequently recollect that whatever karma I do for good or for ill, of that will I be the heir."

We can also practise compassion for our future self. 
What we practise now we become. 


Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 17 Sep 2021, 20:32)
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Asoka

The five wise reflections

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sep 2021, 22:15


I am of the nature to get ill,
I have not gone beyond illness.

I am of the nature to age,
I have not gone beyond ageing.

I am of the nature to die,
I have not gone beyond dying.

Everything I have which is beloved and pleasing
will be taken from me.

Whatever I do, for good or for ill,
I will inherit the results of that (karma).

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Asoka

Mindfulness of the body

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sep 2021, 22:29


A talk about meditation on the body and the four elements (earth, water, fire, air).

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New blog post

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 11 Sep 2021, 22:28
Not ordained with any Buddhist group; but I like listening to and reading different teachings on Buddhism. Practising can be challenging, but I do the best I can to fit it in with my circumstances and the changing moments of the world around me.

I don't mind being a lay practitioner though, I also prefer to work at my own pace. One interesting side-effect from the pandemic has being monasteries putting out virtual retreats for lay people to follow (instead of the usual physical retreats). 

I am learning we all have these same minds, but our bodies and brains are wired a bit differently and we all have unique karma, so no two people are conditioned in the exact same way.

It is a long path to liberation, and it is helpful to accept that, and realise that being a meditator is something you practise throughout your life all the way to the last breath. So it is also about learning resilience and to keep on practising through the good and the bad days; however long it takes to skillfully train this mind. Could be lifetimes.

It is also good to remember to smile at others, (obviously in the right context) a genuine smile is like a light that can make someone else's day. Sometimes I forget I'm not the only one lost in my head. We all have problems, we all long to feel peace, for the Earth to be at peace, for an end to the disconnection with nature and one another, an end to the divisive delusion of self and other.

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