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Pearl of regret

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 8 Jan 2023, 12:54

Agitation bubbling, a feeling of discontent. Why? What is this restless feeling?

I feel regret for past mistakes, for selfish behaviour which has led to a restless sorrow. A melancholy agitation of the mind. This mood is unpleasant, at one point it felt like my consciousness had descended into the Hell of a thousand spears, them piercing my body from all directions, with several spearings a minute. A painful mood, unhappy, alone, broken by my own arrogant stupidity. Suffering feels like this.

I need to disentangle a bit from the story I am absorbed in, the one generated in my head about a reality not based on clear-seeing, i.e. an error prone delusion born of ignorance.

I become aware of the negative mood I am in. Notice my thoughts punishing themselves for past actions I now have no power to change. The mind is good at harrassing itself. An expert at it.

I gently interupt the thought stream, (without judging it), and remind it that the past is gone, and for all the will in the world nothing can change that. What has happened can't unhappen. No use crying over spilt milk as they say, (whoever 'they' are).

I remember something I heard from a wise teacher. The first thing one learns in judo is to learn how to fall. If you want to become free from suffering, to become enlightened, you need to be prepared for failure, and to learn how to fail well. Because you will fall many times on the journey to enlightenment, and the five hindrances to meditation: (longing, aversion, sloth, agitation, doubt) will beat you up over and over. They will come at you fast and hard, and you won't know what hit you. So learn how to fall, to take a beating, how to roll with the punches and then how to get up again. Your own negative conditioning will work against you and defeat you time and time again. It can be a frustrating experience, and one will feel like giving up at times. It takes time to practise and develop the forms and strategies, the skillset of the noble eightfold path, the internal kungfu needed to keep those five hindrances at bay. But once your consciousness is no longer harrassed by them, it becomes peaceful enough to experience joy and serenity and to then reach those deeper states of meditation and equanimity.

I can make this painful experience into a pearl of wisdom. Like how oysters go through pain to create pearls. That is one way to make amends. I can learn from this, I can use this pain as fertilizer to help me grow and develop into a kinder, less self-centred person. I can choose to let go of the story and see this suffering for what it is, understand why it happened, what caused it. Perhaps even feel some gratitude for it, because as unpleasant as it is, it has revealed a negative conditioning that I was ignorant of before. It has pointed out a blindspot in my awareness. And now I see it, it means I can do something about it.

It will take time and effort but it can be done. I won't notice the results straight away, but keeping in mind compassion and concern for the wellbeing of who I will become, my future self, and for those who are affected by this negative cycle. remembering the drawbacks of allowing it to continue, and the benefits of changing it to something more positive. Talking to myself like this helps to generate the desire to make effort to change.

The mind is run by desire, and there are many desires in there all vying for attention. The mind is composed of many different consciousnesses, some we aren't always aware of, but we can notice their energy when it manifests as desire, as intention. The mind is like a committee. And tends to go along with whatever desire is the strongest. And the one that gets the most votes dominates consciousness. The strongest desire will override the others. So to overcome these negative cycles, I will have to generate a stronger desire to change these habits. Which means putting in the effort to train this mind. The results may not be immediate and there may be no gratification straight away, it can be hard going, a bit dry at times, and there will most likely be more dark nights up ahead. There is a lonely desert to cross to get there, to get to the end of sorrow. Training the mind takes patience and perseverance.

I feel like I have done enough thinking for now and move my attention away from thoughts and anchor it in the body. I become aware of the hurricane of swirling feeling circulating in the heart area. It is tense and unpleasant. I put my hand there and wish it well, the feeling of the palm is soothing and the body responds well to this contact and I feel it settle.

I wish myself peace, and then start wishing all beings I have wronged to feel peace, I wish for them to be well and free from sorrow. I ask for their forgiveness. And I in turn forgive all beings who have wronged me, I wish them well and for them to be at peace and free from sorrow. Then as the well-wishing grows, I radiate that warmth in the heart to all beings in all directions, of all kinds, in all dimensions. Wish them all well, wish for them to be at peace, to be sorrowless. I offer to share the merit of my spiritual practise with them.

The heart then feels lighter and freer and now there's a quiet joy rising in the mind. And I become aware of the breath. I feel a sense of relief. The appearance of the breath in awareness like when one has been in a stuffy room and steps outside to get some fresh air and there's an invigorating sigh as one breathes in that cool refreshing air. The mind settles into a still and composed state, it feels lighter, grows quieter, and now I am just a lucid passenger, contentedly flowing with things as they are. The breath energy moves throughout the body, like the waves of the sea, it has a calming effect, and the body feels comfortable, at ease, the mind steady and at peace.

And I notice how when the mind stops harrassing itself, joy and serenity naturally arises. 


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The Very Short Sutra on the Meeting of the Buddha and the Goddess

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 25 May 2022, 18:07



" This I have made up:

       Once the Buddha was walking along the

forest path in the Oak Grove at Ojai, walking without

arriving anywhere

or having any thought of arriving or not arriving

and lotuses shining with the morning dew

miraculously appeared under each step

soft as silk under the toes of the Buddha

When suddenly, out of the turquoise sky,

dancing in front of his half-shut inward-looking

eyes, shimmering like a rainbow

or a spider's web

transparent as the dew on a lotus flower

--the Goddess appeared quivering

like a hummingbird in the air before him

She, for she was surely a she

as the Buddha could clearly see

with his eye of discriminating awareness wisdom,

was mostly red in color

though when the light shifted

she flashed like a rainbow

She was naked except

for the usual flower ornaments

Goddesses wear.

Her long hair

was deep blue, her two eyes fathomless pits of space

and her third eye a bloodshot

ring of fire.

The Buddha folded his hands together

and greeted the Goddess thus:

"O Goddess, why are you blocking my path.

Before I saw you I was happily going nowhere.

Now I'm not sure where I want to go."

"You can go around me."

said the Goddess, twirling on her heels like a bird

darting away, "or you can come after me.

This is my forest too,

you can't pretend that I'm not here."

With that the Buddha sat

    supple as a snake

    solid as a rock

beneath a Bo tree

    that had sprang full-leaved

    to shade him.

"Perhaps we should have a chat,"

he said.

    After years of arduous practice

at the time of the morning star

I penetrated reality, and now..."

"Not so fast, Buddha.

I am reality."

The Earth stood still,

the oceans paused,

the wind itself listened

--a thousand arhats, bodhisattva, and dakinis

magically appeared to hear

what would happen in the conversation.

"I know I take my life in my hands,"

said the Buddha.

"But I am known as the Fearless One

--so here goes."

And he and the Goddess

without further words

exchanged glances.

Light rays like sunbeams

shot forth

so bright that even

Sariputra, the All-Seeing One,

had to turn away.

And then they exchanged thoughts

and the illumination was as bright as a diamond candle.

And then they changed mind

And then there was a great silence as vast as the universe

that contains everything.

And then they exchanged bodies

And clothes

And the Buddha arose

as the Goddess

and the Goddess arose as the Buddha

and so on back and forth

for a hundred thousand hundred thousand kalpas.

If you meet the Buddha

you meet the Goddess,

the Goddess is the Buddha.

And not only that.  This:

The Buddha is the Goddess,

the Goddess is the Buddha.

And not only that:This:

The Buddha is emptiness

The Goddess is bliss,

the Goddess is emptiness

the Buddha is bliss.

And that is what

and what-not you are

it's true.

So here comes the mantra of the Goddess and the Buddha, the unsurpassed non-dual mantra, just to say this mantra, just to hear this mantra once, just to hear one word of this mantra once makes everything the way it truly is:  OK.

So here it is:

    Earth-walker/sky-walker

        Hey, silent one, Hey, great talker

    Not two/not one

        Not separate/Not apart

    That is the heart

        Bliss is emptiness

        Emptiness is bliss.

    Be your breath, Ah

    Smile, Hey

   And relax, Ho

And remember this:  You can't miss. "

- Rick Fields, Dharma Gaia, pp.3-7


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What's wrong with sadness?

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 12 Apr 2022, 22:25


A sad-but-peaceful mood today. Like flowers that are starting to drop their petals after their brief song of colour. I noticed the mind's tendency to move towards sadness as I went about my day and watched the mind's machinery whir and the cogs turn as it began telling itself imaginative stories that altered my perception and intensified and darkened the mood. I interrupted the thought processes, reminding them that all it was generating was just pure conjecture, and I steered the herd of thoughts away from the fields of delusion and gently back towards the three right intentions of: non-ill-will, letting go, and harmlessness. 

I kept telling myself: 'Ah mind! Do not worry, everything is okay. It isn't sadness that's the problem it's the aversion towards it that's the problem.'  The mind in whole-hearted agreement understood and let the aversion go, and then it just felt peaceful and tranquil like the rain, and I noticed there is an odd beauty to sadness that is hard to capture with words.

And I felt okay, held onto the sign of peace. 

Changing brain chemistry, fatigue and bodily aches is just the kamma of having a body. And sometimes I feel vulnerable and need to be in a quiet place, alone, away from the frenetic energies of others. So I can calm down the thought processes and rest in the womb of becoming, be the caterpillar once more, patient and content knowing it will become the butterfly again in due time. Not pushing away or craving for the butterfly. It is just an ancient tide, these changing seasons of the mind. And they don't have to be a problem. I can feel at peace with it all and live like a Buddha, serene, content, with dignity and a heart full of love.

I do not have the power to change what other beings do. Their kamma is their kamma. I only have the power to change what I do; how I choose to act in each moment. So I decide to not feel aversion towards anything. Because the mind is a much nicer place without any hostility, and that's what matters in the end, the mind is one's true home. So I will choose to radiate dhamma and peace of mind. Perhaps that is the best way I can help this suffering world. 

 I felt a centred whole-hearted calmness come over me and I sitting down, became quiet and still, perfectly in tune with the rain as it fell. Gently cooling the senses and the mind into a state of sweet equanimity. 



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Sign of peace

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A bit depressed at the moment. It is a difficult state of mind to shake off as it feels physical as well as mental, and very much accompanied by a distinct lack of energy, making it hard to find the strength to practise at times. I feel quite weak and vulnerable just now. I am trying to abandon this unwholesome state of mind however. I am much better these days at letting go of the thinking processes and resting my attention instead in the feeling of embodiment. But I find it hard being around other people's energies when I am like this, and I prefer solitude. Conversation can be challenging. I try to invoke loving-kindness, but it is hard to generate it consistently, even when using the voice of another (listening to a dhamma talk), I just struggle. So I have resolved to just feel non-ill-will instead, which is the bare minimum I think. I wonder if it might be that I find repeating words and phrases becomes tiring after a short while and yearn to just let go of them, so experimenting with invoking loving-kindness without using words, just going straight to the feeling.

The enlightenment factor of joy is also difficult to generate, so letting go of that one for now.

I feel very much like I need to retreat from the world and go into my coccoon, rest in the deep centre of my being and be still, so I can expend as little energy as possible and just let the world continue around me while I remain in my inner cave, taking refuge in the deepest part of my being. Unfortunately being still like this is not always practical, and feels unpleasant when it is disturbed by external forces, as I don't want to come out of the cave, and do so reluctantly.

So I am exploring other wholesome states of mind I can conjure instead. Equanimity works if I can conjure it, and so does serenity. I am getting much better at conjuring up serenity, and the sign of it can appear even when I am fatigued and depressed. It is a beautiful place that feels boundless, timeless, and can often spontaneously appear without me even trying to conjure it up, whatever mood I am in, it feels like home. I call it serenity, but in fact I think it borders on the edge of samhadi, or perhaps something else entirely, I am not sure, it is so hard to describe what it feels like to go there, but it is a very pleasant place and I often don't want to leave, it is so peaceful and balanced, it is different state of consciousness that transcends this world and the thinking processes. It is wordless, maybe that's why it feels so good. Is much easier to conjure with meditation, but can also be conjured outside of meditation in daily life sometimes.

One can still function whilst in that state of mind, but one feels unhurried, unconcerned and unstressed by things. It is like I am in another dimension whilst simultaneously interacting in this one. It sometimes feels like a secret place I go to, and nobody knows I have gone there. But I haven't perfected it yet and it can be challenging to maintain, especially when other people's energies forcefully intrude and take me out of that tranquil head space and back to this crazy modern world. Which is why I guess there is wisdom at times in seeking solitude. But this isn't always a luxury I can afford.

Still I am making progress with it, as when I first experienced this state of mind it only lasted a few seconds and poof it was gone, and try as I might I couldn't recreate it. But mysteriously it would often appear again when I wasn't expecting it to, then mysteriously disappear if I got too excited at finding it again. And I would try to figure out what I was doing prior to it appearing. But it was frustrating as it seemed to have a will of its own and try as I might it wouldn't play ball. Then after a lengthy time of absence it came back more regularly and stayed for longer, sometimes for minutes at a time. It is what I imagined the kingdom of heaven might feel like when I was a child, it is a beautiful peaceful state of mind that goes beyond time and space, almost dreamlike, but in a good way. Once its gone though a strange emotional amnesia appears and it is hard to remember what it was like to be there.


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Water

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 4 Feb 2022, 19:48

Sky go from lush blue to ominous grey, to crying a river of rain.
Soaked to the skin, a part of me almost grumbled
But I remained content, calm and at ease
A spiritual lesson in equanimity I thought
And smiling took shelter under a nearby tree
Soaked shoes squelching on the shimmering
Pavement-become-puddles as little birds 
Flew-danced across my path
Chasing each other's tails.


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Livelihood, kindness and equanimity

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The cost of living has sky-rocketed here. Food and energy bills are a lot more expensive than they were this time last year. We are really not able to live within our means anymore and have become dependent on generous family members to help us out. I feel ashamed, but also trying to balance that, as I know from experience self-loathing is no help at all. The other extreme is also unhelpful:  too much self-grandiosity. So one has to get as close to the centre as possible with these states of mind. (I imagine it like a needle on a dial, where I am trying to keep the needle in the green area.) But do so with kindness towards oneself, this makes the experience all the sweeter and easier I am finding. The mind works better when it feels loved, especially by oneself. 

So I am finding myself stuck on the 'Right Livelihood' aspect of the path just now. I have discovered this year, rather unpleasantly and quite painfully, I do not seem to have much ability for maths or computing anymore. I really seem to be struggling with the module I am studying this year on computability and algorithms. I am suddenly not sure software development and coding is realistically going to be something I want to or can do anymore as a career.

I enjoy painting, but I cannot support myself financially with painting, I have not yet sold a single painting or a print after nearly a year of trying. I just cannot for the life of me do the marketing involved, I have tried and failed repeatedly. I do not seem to have the right personality and not really cut out for it. I just want to paint, not spend all my time in self-promotion, my mind just won't work that way.

 Sadly chronic pain and faitigue makes even shelf-stacking at the local supermarket impossible. I think from now on I will only be able to work part-time from home, which is not enough to live on these days. I am at a loss with how to realise 'Right livelihood' if I am honest, this is not an easy part of the Noble eight-fold path for me. I am very uncertain as to how to proceed or how I am going to support myself in the coming years. Again I have to be careful not to get overwhelmed by negative states of mind here. I must face all this with kindness and equanimity, remembering to cut myself some slack, because shame and self-loathing is no help either. It is important to balance my life with the other aspects of the path and not just spend all my time and energy focusing on livelihood. One must not neglect the other parts of the mind. If I do not look after the whole of the mind. I will be in danger of becoming burnt out, unwell and unable to do anything. 

Equanimity is a careful balancing act, which is itself balanced out by kindness. Metta (loving-kindness) and Upekkha (equanimity) are like a knife and fork, they compliment one another and support one another perfectly on the path to enlightenment. 


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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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The middle way

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 23 Oct 2021, 14:38

Neither going toward nor backing away from.
Not grasping nor pushing away.

I breathe in and train my mind to focus on dispassion.
I breathe out focusing on dispassion.

A creeping feeling,
A voice says:
"Brace yourself for the darkness".

But I don't care for it much, I will fight.
By keeping my mind lucid and bright.

I am no use to the Earth or anybody else
When I'm depressed.









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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. 


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Abandoning the story

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021, 10:57

Whilst meditating in the garden, I reached a place of lucid stillness and became just a bunch of energetic processes happening moment to moment, and I forgot completely who I was and I didn't care. There was this otherworldly peace, and time slowed a bit and my awareness was perfectly in sync with everything happening around me. The boundary between external and internal seemed to dissolve for a moment and the world and me changed into this complex interwoven dance of energies. My inner story about who I think I am and what will make me happy, was meaningless - and I really just didn't care about it anymore. It felt good, it was a nice state of mind to be in. 

These nice states of mind are hard to keep going however. Not long after this I found myself getting stressed about something and I realised I was once again caught up by the things of the world and reacting to the push and pull of wanting, clinging, and aversion. But I did notice this time I no longer felt so attached to the inner story, like its hold on me had weakened somewhat and it is getting easier to drop it, (when I remember to practise).

Metta and equanimity


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Yogi mind

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Sunday, 3 Oct 2021, 18:51
Lovely day, but still in quarantine so can't go for a walk. Feeling much better, less achey, coughing a lot less, although head feels like it spent the night in a tumble dryer. 

Meditated for an hour, it took a long time for the mind to settle, but eventually it did and there was a blissful moment of stillness. Was captivated at one point by a robin singing in the branches of the bush next to my open window.

Life doesn't always play ball with our preferences, so it is good to develop some equanimity towards the world, towards pleasure and pain.

Sometimes it is a relief not to think, to just silently pay attention to the sensations of the present moment as they rise and fall in the body. If you do it for long enough, you can let go of liking/disliking and get very still and unattached and feel like you are just a flame burning in each moment.

The Buddha said that Nibbana is not the end of the mind, it is what fire becomes when it is no longer held by its fuel.

 




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