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Embodied

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 1 Jan 2023, 17:09

The human body can't stay comfortable in the same position all the time. It has to move, has to rest, has to eat, has to go to the bathroom, has to sleep, gets sick, gets tired, aches, is full of all kinds of icky stuff, is vulnerable, fragile and changed by hormones that pull it this way and that. The body is driven by the desire for survival, the desire to continue, the craving for existence. 

We are not our bodies. If we were our bodies we would be able to tell them not to age, not to change, not to get sick, not to ache, not to be ugly, not to be forgetful, not to be weak, not to malfunction, not to die. 

But we do not have control over our bodies. The body grows by itself. It came from nature, from biological processes. It appeared and we did not create it, it built itself. 

 The body does not belong to us. It belongs to nature and will have to be returned one day. 

There's no guarantee that any body will live long. Beings die both young and old, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly. All species of life on Earth experiences this sorrow, death does not differentiate between young and old. It comes for all. Old age is not guaranteed. Death can come at any time, at any age, and this is normal, natural, the way things are.

Even though the body is not me, not mine, not self. I must try my best to take good care of it. Make it comfortable, see to its needs, be kind to it, be a friend to it, not an enemy. It is a home to a myriad different beings and minds and consciousnesses of all kinds. A world within a world. An interdependent ecosystem of different beings working together in symbiosis, fuelled by the desire to live. 

The body likes it when we become aware of it. Which is why I think the feeling of embodiment is pleasant. It is the body showing appreciation that we are paying attention to it. It helps it when we do, even if in pain, it can be a kindness to acknowledge that pain, that part of the body which is suffering, to not just be in our heads. Feeling loved can be a powerful medicine.

One nice thing about being centred in the body, is the body doesn't think in words, it just feels. It is another language, a language before language.

 It can be a kindness to our minds to move the attention away from the incessant thinking that goes on in our brains and just be in the body, fully present to the here and now. The body also appreciates it when we do this. It is a kindness to the body when we acknowledge its presence and connect with it. And the emotion of loving kindness always makes us feel better. 

The suffering of having a body is shared across all species of life. It is something we all have in common. Knowing this can help us show kindness to others as well.

Enlightenment is as much about the heart as it is the intellect. 

Wise head. Warm heart.



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Right Livelihood

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Ghost tree

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

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

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Knowledge from one generation to the next

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

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

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

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


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Humble and not conceited

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

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

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

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

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

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